The end of another year….

We have reached yet another end of the year, and I have so much going on in my life.

First, I apologize that I have not updated in a year. As you will see in my About me page, I had a lot of changes this year. It was a very tough year, and I am excited to say that it is almost over, and I will be heading to a new school this next school year. I plan on blogging more often as I share ideas and my thoughts as I revamp my lesson plans for the upcoming year. I will be leaving public education for a Christian private school, but most things I talk about of course can be used at any school.

I hope you will enjoy reading about this next step in my career, and will continue to give me feedback and suggestions as I already begin to plan what I will do this next year.


Great entry that I couldn’t agree with more.

Balancing Act

As a 6th grade English teacher I spent the year trying to improve my students’ reading and writing skills, and instill a love of literature within them. Along the way, I hope I also taught them the following life lessons:

Focus on the Big Picture:

So you forgot your homework at home for once in your life. So you earned a mark or a detention. So you’re grounded for a couple weeks. So what? It’s not the end of the world. Life goes on, and in the grand scheme of things your detention won’t define who you are as a person. I know it’s hard to believe, but there is more to life than the short-lived wrath of a parent or teacher.

Work Well With Others: 

Whether you’re the slacker or the overachiever, group work never goes away. You will work on teams in middle school, in high school, in…

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Candy Cane Poetry Awards

As I go back and think upon the year, I start to think about our Poetry Unit. To be honest we didn’t spent about 3 weeks on poetry, and I felt that was just fine. I enjoy poetry, but it’s not my favorite thing to teach nor did most of my students love it.

One thing I assigned before Winter Break was that they had to choose a poem that was school appropriate (I seem to have to clarify this every time I assign things). The poem also had to be a minimum of 100 words not including articles (a, an, the). They were to memorize this poem and recite it for the class 2 weeks after they returned from break.

When they returned from Winter Break, the first few days of class we worked on collages of their poems. They got a half piece of standard poster board and I had buckets of old magazines. They were to paste their poem on the cardboard and make a collage that goes with their poem.

On the day they were to recite their poem there was a music stand I placed their collage on in front of them and they had to stand behind the stand and recite their poem for the class.

I know many people who are not fans of students having to memorize things, but I wanted them to care about their poem and have fun with it. The best reciters I had gave such performances when reciting their poems. It also is a great way for students to overcome their aversion of presenting in front of their peers. Adolescents hate it, but I think it is so incredibly important to be able to stand and speak in front of people.

I showed the students when I assigned the project a few examples of what does not meet the standard, what meets it, and what exceeds it. I’ve done this for about every project I’ve assigned throughout the year. It gives students something tangible to aim for and compare their work to. They know what to expect and it goes along with their rubric.

After my students presented their poems, I had ballots for them to vote on 4 different categories. I called it the Candy Cane Awards (since it was still winter and we had lots of candy canes we got on sale after Christmas break). The categories were Best Recitation, Favorite Poem, Best Collage, and Best Overall. The students really enjoyed it.

The next day I had made certificates and stars with the students names on it. The stars were placed on the projects, and placed in one of the main hallways for display. The certificates were presented to those students in each class period and they got to choose a candy cane.

I think I’ll do this again next year. The kids seemed to enjoy it.



This project above is a good example of how a student might not get a great grade on their collage (all the empty space), but can still win best recitation because of the way they recite it.


This last project brought a story that must be shared to go with it. If you count the words in the poem not including articles there are 93 or something along those lines. This student, after I told him he couldn’t do the poem, proceeded to do his collage anyways on it. I told him again that he’d have to go pick another poem to memorize and sent him to the library. Another student of mine in the library with him about 10 minutes later comes to be with a paper folded and tells me Adam told me to hand this to you. I wondered why he had sent this student, as opposed to handing it himself until I opened it. He had proceeded to print out the definition of what an article is. It was frankly a very smart ass move on his part, and so I pulled him out of the library and asked him what he meant by printing out the definition. He told me that it was to prove that articles are words. I told him Adam, that I had never said that articles were not words, but that they would not be counted in their poetry project. He was not happy, and I didn’t like what he had done as opposed to talking to me. This student tends to act out a lot. So I made a deal with him. I told him that it was fine that he kept the poem he wanted to do so badly, but that because he chose to not follow directions and pull the stunt that he did, he would also have to recite the entire paragraph of the definition of an article with it. He was not happy. His parents thought it was well-deserved.

As you can see, he did a great job on his collage. He even got it laminated. 🙂

One year down

I absolutely can’t believe it’s a few weeks into my summer break and my first year of teaching is over with.

I should’ve blogged more since I seemed to have fell off the face of the earth after September, but I lacked the motivation and frankly the time.

I feel as though this first year was so special to me, and so wonderful that it will truly be difficult to top it.

I’ve learned many lessons of what to do and not do. My incoming kids next year are going to have more rules than my students did this past year. I feel as though I have more control over things and I know what to expect.

I have way more ups than downs and I plan on chronicling what I remember from the past year so that I can blog about this summer now that I have the time.

My students voted and had our yearbook dedicated to me. It’s insane. There’s a picture and they wrote the sweetest description of me as a teacher. Again, I don’t know how I’ll be able to top this year.

So as I begin to go through pictures and lesson plans please bear with me. It was an incredible year and I plan on sharing it.


Man, time has been flying. I can’t believe it’s almost October. I’ve almost completed my second month at school. It’s absolutely insane. I’m so busy, I can barely think straight. I have a lot I want to update on, but for now, I’ll choose one thing: Storyboards. I did this with my practicum class last year, and the kids seemed to enjoy it. I changed it up a bit with these kids and added in the factor of choice. We spent last week reading 3 different short stories from our Literature Books. We discussed the stories and their regards to theme. So this week, I had them choose one of the three stories to do a storyboard on. I gave them a long piece of white paper that we folded together so that there were 8 boxes. I also handed them a rubric. They were to diagram the dramatic structure to plot with their story. The first box had to have a title. The other 7 boxes they were to use the 5 parts of plot to diagram it. We discussed that sometimes there’s a lot going on in the exposition or the rising action so that could take an extra box or two. If it had a big climax, they could use that as well to fill their box. They were given choice in the matter. We worked on it for 2 full class periods. I asked they used at least 2-3 complete sentences per box. There had to be a picture per box. No pencil in any project (we use that as a school rule). It had to be neat and colorful as well. The kids really enjoyed this project. It also showed me that they understood the stories, and that they understand how stories follow this structure.

Here are some student samples:


The All-American Slurp


Dog of Pompeii






Ghost of the Lagoon




Week 5

I’m ready for this week to be over and it’s only a 4 day week, and day 2 of that week. I’m just so exhausted. It has been the week from hell thus far. As a new teacher and the youngest teacher by about 15-20 years at my school, I’m being volunteered for everything. I really don’t mind, but it’s definitely starting to get a little overwhelming. We had grades due today which had me freak out even more as I’ve devoted 90% of my days now to getting all these grades done and finally in!

I’m also starting up this Reading bowl at my school for the first time in 5 years, and I have about 50 forms for kids who are interested. We have our informational meeting tomorrow for both the kids and their parents, and to add onto my work for the week I’ve been working on my handouts for that. There are so many kids wanting to join and I can only take 10 to make a team. So that’ll be fun. It’s going to suck to cut 40 kids.

On top of grades, clubs, and other things I’m being volunteered for, I’m now in charge of our Language Arts field trip that we’re supposed to take. They want a price estimate within the next couple weeks.

In a totally off subject, I changed my hair color from blonde back to dark brown and my kids yesterday were all too honest. I got lots of “Ms. S, No offense, and I still love you, but I liked you better blonde.” Then I had to tell them that I’m not naturally blonde, which they didn’t believe, and trust me when I say I do NOT look like I could ever be a natural blonde. It was so funny. During homeroom I had kids coming in my room from all over as gossip “spread” about my hair and they wanted to see. They’re so cute. I love my kiddos even if they tend to drive me crazy sometimes.


Character Sketches

As we start to finish up The View from Saturday I had my students create a character sketch. They were given a rubric ahead of time, and when they turned it in, I had them grade themselves before I grade them. They were given the profile of the body to work with. They were to mount it on a sheet of colored paper. They had to have the character’s name on either the top or the bottom of their project. The character had to have 2 excerpts from the text that describes the character of the character. They then had to have at least 2 accessories that symbolize or belong with the character. They had to be creative, colorful, and I have to be able to understand it.

I had lots of students do an amazing job with it, and then I had some students who just slapped it together. They had three days in class to work on it and two nights at home. So there were no excuses and I was not lenient on grading them.

Here are some of the character sketches I hung up in the hallway:

To finish up this unit, we are having a Novel Tea on Friday. I’ve purchased tablecloths to cover the desks that I will be placing together where they will sit. I also have 2 long tables that will go in my room with a tablecloth over it. One long table with have the hot tea brewers, and the other will have the trays of food. The tables will have fresh flowers in vases. Hot tea in teapots. And each student will have a plate of food inspired from The View from Saturday. This includes Ruggalach, Cucumber Sandwiches, Oreos, etc. It’s going to be a great time. I have parents volunteering each class period to help out by serving food for the kids. I think the kids are going to really enjoy it.

I can’t believe I’m almost a month into my first year teaching. It’s been stressful and exhausting. I’ve still really enjoyed it. I’m starting a Reading Bowl club at school and that’s going to be even more to take on. I’ll be sure to try and blog more of what is happening.