Summer Reading

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Since I am starting at a new school, I was unable to choose the books my students would be reading. I was given the list that my incoming 6th graders will be reading, and have already begun to read all the books on the list. I’ve heard of some of them, but not all. I am happy that I am being introduced to even more literature.

Book List:

Required:

The Summer of the Monkeys by Wilson Rawls

Students get to then select one of the following:

Elephant Run by Roland Smith

Under a War Torn Sky by L.M. Elliot

Gossamer by Lois Lowry

Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan

The Single Shard by Linda Sue Park

Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli

Of course, I will be reading all of the above. I’ve actually already read Under a War Torn Sky, Gossamer, Esperanza Rising, Maniac Magee, and I’m about halfway through with The Single Shard.

I will be doing my book movie trailer project with my students the first couple of weeks in school with these novels. They’ll work in groups. I’m pretty excited to see how it turns out. The books are fantastic, and I can foresee lots of wonderful things being turned in. I love being able to see what students put together, and letting their creative juices flow. It’ll also help me get to know them, and see how they work with one another.

Next year, I’ll get to do my own list, and I think I will be keeping some of the above novels on it. Does anyone else have any great novels they’ve enjoyed doing with their middle school students?

 

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Digital Goals

First off, I have to credit, Jacqui Murray and her post:

5 Digital Goals for Summer

It got me thinking about my own digital goals for this summer. Technically it’s not summer for me quite yet. I still have 7 school days left before I can truly think about it.

I am switching from a public school with almost no technology to a private school with tons. I do know how to use Smart and Activ Boards. Although, I do think there are many tricks I hadn’t learned with them. My students are 1:1 on laptops at the new school. This means that there is just so much that we can do in the class when it comes to writing, editing, and research. I am very excited! This wealth of technology also means that I need to really get myself acquainted with all of this technology. We are an Apple school. This also excites me as I am familiar and own Apple products. There is still much to learn though.

I have been registered to attend iSummit, which is a technology conference this summer. This should also help me in preparing before the upcoming school year.

I want to check out some other avenues of technology. There is so much out there, I only need to educate myself.

I also want to check out Teachers Pay Teachers. I think there is something to be learned through it.

I am taking a group of students on an EF (Education First) trip to Germany in a few weeks. This I am very excited about as well. Much to learn and do this summer.

Interactive Journal

Image

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

Edmodo-DEN

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.

Classroom Library

Like I mentioned in my previous post, I am teaching 6th grade language arts at a magnet school. As an avid reader myself, the first thing I thought of after accepting my teaching position is accumulating enough books to have a large classroom library. Most of the photos I’ve seen online are of elementary school classrooms, which have a different set up than what I would like to do in my own class.

One of my friends whose own blog: http://squirrellearnstoteach.blogspot.com/ shares a lot of what I’m about to say myself. She gave me the great idea of self-laminating my books so that they stay in better shape longer. Anyone who is around kids enough, or even remembers being a student themselves, can remember that when picking up books at school, most of the book was falling apart in your hands. Some of the books I’m bringing are my own personal copies that I love and don’t want to see get damaged, but would love to see used. Self-laminating strips are not that expensive, and you are adding years onto the life of your books by doing so. I was a little skeptical as to how easy it would be to laminate my book covers, but it couldn’t have been simpler. Feel the laminating sheet, place on book. Cut left overs and fold in. Simple and they look very nice.


I am still working out exactly how I plan on setting up my classroom library. I do plan on listing my books by author, and providing a check-out binder on or near the bookcase for them to fill out before taking a book off the shelf. This helps me keep track of who has books, and hopefully I won’t end up losing any. I also plan on having students have me sign off on them returning the book. Again, this just helps keep track of where everything is. With so many students it is hard to remember who turned in what without just being organized and setting an efficient way to keep track of everything.

Right now I have about 50 books for my library, and I hope to gain more through my own purchasing, as well as asking friends, and neighbors if they have any young adult literature they would like to donate. If anything, people usually have Twilight, Harry Potter, and The Hunger Games: three of the most popular Young Adult Literature series that I would love to have multiple copies of. I’m sure the school library will have copies of most if not all the books that will be available in my classroom, but this way they do not have to wait for a book to be in to read it. If I have an available copy it is another way to get these kids reading. I wish nothing more than for all of my students to become life-long readers.

“In a very real sense, people who have read good literature have lived more than people who cannot or will not read.”                                                                                            -S. I. Hayakawa