Novels

I was very fortunate to meet up with the teacher whose position I am taking next year. I will be the only Language Arts teacher for the 6th grade at this Private Christian School, which is both exciting and nerve-racking. I was hoping to use the same novels that I have taught in the past at this school, but was informed I won’t be able to this school year. Parents have already been given the list of the novels they need to purchase for this upcoming school year. The novels I will be teaching are:

The Giver by Lois Lowry

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom

The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin

 

I have read the Giver before, for pleasure, but have never taught it. I have not read the other novels. I’m familiar with A Christmas Carol like most children through cartoons and Christmas specials, but haven’t read the actual book. I have never heard of The Hiding Place, and I do know many kids who enjoyed reading The Westing Game, but just haven’t done it myself yet.

I am extremely fortunate that the previous teacher is leaving all of her files for me to use next year. They’re organized and placed in the order they are used in the school year. This really is great. She did tell me that there is much more that she hoped to do, but that there really just isn’t time for it. I’m very big on doing projects, and she said they never really did those either. That makes me a little nervous, because those are the types of assessments I love. Of course I can change things up as I please with the kids. It’s too difficult to strictly follow what someone lays out for you. The school is still cleaning the classroom, so I am unable to really sit down and go through the filing cabinet and start planning out my year for myself. I am hoping to do this within the next couple weeks as my planning days begin in 3 1/2 weeks.

Please let me know if you have any suggestions or places to check out for the above novels.

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Interactive Journal

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Another Pinterest find. This was posted as a Vocabulary Journal. I like the idea of this mixed with another website I found: 

http://missklohnsclassroom.blogspot.com/search/label/interactive%20student%20notebook

I have used interactive journals with social studies classes before, and I am not sure why i have never thought to use it with Language Arts. I might have to figure out exactly how I will be using it this coming year. I will be teaching 3 Grammar classes and 3 Literature. I am not sure if I want to do just one notebook for both classes, or if I want to split them up. Either way, it’s something I am at least interested in considering. My students all have laptops as well for notes. This is one thing that has me leaning against it. 

Book Movie Trailers

One of the wonderful appeals of my upcoming job at a private school, is the use of technology. Each middle school student is assigned an Apple Airbook to work with fully loaded with software and fun programs such as iMovie.

As I was thinking of fun ways to integrate technology in the upcoming year, I decided to search through Pinterest. I then stumbled upon the above video, and fell a little in love.

This summer I will create a rubric for students to create their own book movie trailer. I might even do this towards the beginning of the school year with their summer reading. This way students can work on this in small groups. We have the equipment at the school, and I think it’d be a lot of fun to see what they come up with.

If you have done this or something similar please feel free to leave me advice and/or suggestions.

Edmodo

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As I am sure most of you know or at least have heard of Edmodo. Edmodo is a social media site with a format similar to Facebook. It is geared towards students and educators, and I absolutely love it! I have a friend that shared the site with me this past fall. I implemented it very soon afterwards, and my students seem to love it.

Edmodo is a wonderful way to upload and post hand outs and resources for students. If a student is absent, they are able to look for the date they were absent, and see what was done in class that day. I also love that students are unable to friend each other or send each other messages. I also am able to monitor what gets posted onto each class “wall.” The apps aren’t my favorite that are on there, but they do have things where students can review. I can also create quizzes that will get automatically grades if labeled multiple choice. It does make things a bit easier. I also enjoy that I can set things up by class period, as well as customize calendars per class.

It’s definitely a resource I would recommend for 5th grade and up. Most middle schoolers have computers at home, smart phones, and tablets with apps they are able to access the software.

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.

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.

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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.

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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.