Sunday, November 24, 2013

Attitude vs. Ability

In the land of ESE there are many possibilities. Some students posses great ability while other are lacking. Over the years I have found that the one thing that makes the biggest impact on a student's ability is their attitude. If I had to choose between a student that is low, but has an outstanding attitude and a student that is high and has horrible attitude; I would pick the low student without a doubt! 
This year I have a class that has two students that fit into the category above. One is very optimistic, you know the type butterflies and sunshine every single day, while the other will fall apart and venture into the land of despair if someone looks at them wrong. I love them both, but they could not be more night and day.  There really should be some sort of color code in ESE to categorize certain students. 

The odd thing is that ability and attitude is really determined by the person themself; outsiders may try to influence it, but at the end of the day it's up to them. You can change your ability level if your are dedicated as well as your attitude if you shift your perspective. Sure having a disability can be a burden at times, but having a poor attitude only makes it worse. 

I know this first hand because in upper elementary school my outlook on my disability was pretty sour. My dad would give me pep talks regarding my attitude toward school and my stubbornness did not want to listen. One day he gave me a pad of paper that had the quote above on it. The pad sat on my desk and while I was completing hour three of homework nightly I would occasionally glance at the quote. Eventually,  my attitude melted away and I was able to embrace my disability as well as transform my attitude.  

Friday, November 22, 2013

What makes up a sentence

There will always be lessons that I am not thrilled about. I try to finagle a way to not teach a certain topic, but eventually I run out of reasons so I might as well dive right in. One such lesson was on clauses...ugh! To be honest I struggle sometimes with the reasons why students need to be taught certain lessons. Why in the world do they need to know the difference between main and subordinate clause? Originally, I thought teaching students to identify clauses would be pointless and a giant waste of time.  Then I slowly changed my mind as I thought of ways to teach this topic and how it would benefit them. 
We first began by just defining what made up a sentence. They filled out notes in their notebooks. Then we used the Smart board to sort all the different types of sentences. 
Next, they were given an article and they had to identify main and subordinate clauses as they read. They had to circle conjunctions that would help them identify the clause. 
For the last step in this lesson,  I copied the sentences they identified in the article as to having a main or subordinate clause and passed out highlighters. We read the sentences out loud and they highlighted what portion of the sentence was main or subordinate. This lesson took at least three days to complete, but once it was over I was glad I decided to teach clauses.

This lesson eventually lead the 8th graders to a show and not tell lesson.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The 4 sentences


Every year this lesson comes up and I am not one to use the same lesson over and over again. So this year I incorporated our novel that the 6th graders are reading. After they understood the difference between the four types of sentences they read a chapter and identified as many of those sentences while reading. While reading they referenced their fold-able on the four types of sentences in their notebook.
 Then they were asked to write their own sentences by using a table in their interactive notebook. They also used the smart board to sort the four types of sentences.
I always enjoy teaching the four types of sentences because its so simple and easy for students to grasp.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Interactive notebook set up

I made a few minor changes to our interactive notebook this year. It took us about a day to set it up. I wish there was a button that would magically put everything into their notebook without wasting time cutting and gluing. The page by page directions were on the white board and each page was on the back counter. The first couple of pages contained: classroom expectations, top five hand, interactive notebook rubric, rules for the notebook, quarterly goals and vocabulary data for quarter one. 
I love using interactive notebooks for so many reasons. They are a great tool for documenting student work as well as keeping students engaged in the lesson and since our Language Arts textbooks are older than the sun itself its our only real option.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Point of View

By the looks of this picture you probably think I'm a pretty nice person. 
Which is partially true. 
The thing is your point of view is limited. You have no idea who this student is. Allow me to create a visual for you: a scrawny Ray Romano. Now if you are like me and have watched Every Body Loves Raymond at least four times through from beginning to end you know that Ray can be a little annoying and a tad bit selfish at times. You also know what irritates him and may be tempted to push his buttons and he will gladly push them right back! 

Well you see those minuscule pencils on the left...they have a name. They are this students "babies" one time in class he dropped one on the floor and was frantically searching for his "baby." The name is semi-appropriate because when using these worthless pencils to write with will result in your handwriting to look babyish. 

On Thursday I had finally reached my breaking point with these little nubs. During lunch I kidnapped all of the babies and replaced what I took with a brand new full grown "family." I didn't say anything to the student I just waited for him to discover this gift inside his pencil pouch. 

While the class was studying for their spelling test I noticed that Chris was scavenging through his pencil pouch in desperate search of his precious pencils. This lasted a good three minutes and he never even bothered with the new pack of pencils. He finally gave up and pulled out a pen which prompted me to remind the class that they need to use a pencil for their test...back to the scavenging he went searching for his babies. I walked over to Chris and asked if he needed a pencil and he grumbled under his breath no "I have a pen" I asked him what about those new pencils gesturing to the brand new pack...he mumbled something and pulled out a pencil. 

Spelling test is over and we are into our lesson. I notice that Chris is sitting at his desk, not completing his work, but sharpening those brand new pencils to a nub. I casually walk over and stick out my hand motioning for him to hand over the pencil this point I can tell he is less than thrilled with my act of kindness, but he unwillingly hands over the pencil sharpener. He sits at his desk silently fuming at his normal size pencil...although he is doing his work.

Bell rings and my planning begins

I decide to spy on little Chris...because apparently I have nothing else better to do. I walk past his reading class and I can see him sitting in his desk and what is he doing...
sharpening those darn pencils to a nub!