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 Theme

I have noticed that by the time students reach  middle school most teachers have chosen not to theme their room. Many classrooms are bare, minus a few motivational posters and reminders. I on the other hand, feel that the more welcoming the classroom, the more comfortable students are to be there.

Sixth grade is such a difficult age for students. They’re in a state of transition. They’re going through puberty. They’re awkward. I feel as though having a fun warm environment is essential.

Now, I’m not going to completely transform my classroom and over do it, but I do want to make cute. Let my students have a piece of making the classroom relatable to them, and a part in making it theirs. I am a huge movie buff, and a friend suggested to me if I had thought about using it as a classroom theme. I thought it was brilliant.

I have purchased some items including a bulletin board set that are all “Hollywood” themed. I haven’t quite made up my mind on what each thing will be used for, but I thought I would share what I have found. The Bulletin Board Set is called Lights, Camera, Action! and is by Carson-Dellosa Publishing. Have to give credit where credit is due.

Ok so I have some famous Los Angeles streets, as well as a big sign that I will be using for something.

Now the marquee I plan on having an entire bulletin board that will look like a marquee. So I probably won’t be using this one that is in the back. I also plan on making a clapboard as my welcome sign with my name, Room number, etc.

More famous streets that I will place around the classroom. I will also use the Oscar. I plan on using the Spotlights near my classroom library with some type of “Spotlight on Reading” sign. Also in the package, that I did not take a photo of are a pack of Hollywood walk of fame stars. They’re cute, but they give you about 20, I’m assuming to write Students names on. I have too many students to do that with. As a middle school teacher you get anywhere between 90 and over 100 students dispersed throughout your 4 to 5 class periods. I have thought about using another bulletin board and making larger Hollywood walk of fame starts with famous books that are movies.

Last thing found in the packet. More decorations that I will find a use for. Even if I can’t figure out what to do with it now, I’m sure later on I’ll be glad I have it when I can think of something.

Now Target has their $1 section which is always hit or miss when it comes to having items actually worth buying. To go along with my theme though, they do have plastic popcorn tubs:

I plan on using these to put supplies to pass out to students when they work in groups. They’re cute, it’s a way to keep things organized, and they go with my theme.

I still plan on doing a mini-theme of Harry Potter in a corner of my classroom. I can’t ignore the impact the books have had on kids and wanting to read. I love the books myself, and hope to use the first in the series in my curriculum next school year once my first year teaching is behind me.

Once I am in my classroom, which is in a short 2 weeks, I will take pictures of what the final product looks like in my room. If anyone has ideas or suggestions on anything, I would love to hear them.

“Children learn and remember at least as much from the context of the classroom as from the content of the coursework.”

~Lawrence Kutner