Wednesday, September 24, 2008

I Love My Job!

Today I returned to the classroom after two days of leadership meetings with HMS staff. Upon returning to one's classroom, there is much fear in the mind of what you may find. So many things can occur when a teacher is out of their room, and middle schoolers are notorious for testing boundaries. Looking over my susbstitute's notes, I was pleased to see that she noted a positive experience and only 4 "persons of interest" were recorded, a strong feat for two days and 78 students! Still, knowing it's crucial to support my subs, I knew I would need to address any issues that occurred in the time I was gone. From the time the beginning bell rang, until the last bell of the day, my students, your children, reminded me how lucky I am to be in a job that I love so very much. They welcomed me back and were excited to get back on the path of our learning. The 4 students previously mentioned graciously accepted responsibility for their actions and accepted their consequence of writing apology letters with no argument. People so often question why on earth I would CHOOSE to work with this age group, personally, I think I'm the lucky one. This group of children I am blessed to work with this year have such amazing hearts and minds and I feel so lucky that I get to help them shape their future's. Today I once again realized what a wonderful community we live in, and what an awesome job you all have done with your children. I am honored to be part of the village who continues to raise the children of Prosser.

How to Leave Comments...

I am hoping to get the individual class links up and running this week, so be looking for student samples of work to start appearing! In the meantime, I wanted to let you know one way that this blog can be interactive. I show the updates of the blog in class and kids often ask why no one comments on the posts. It made me realize that perhaps parents weren't aware that they could leave comments on the post. So in order to leave a comment under an individual entry here are the steps:
1. Click where it says the # of comments. (ex.) 0 comments
2. You will then be provided a link to leave your comment.
3. Under the orange link: “Choose an identity”, highlight Name/URL and you can leave your name, first, last, or whatever you are comfortable with. Or you can leave an anonymous comment without your name.
4. Choose preview to first see your comment.
5. Then choose publish for your comment.
6. The comment will be sent to me to approve and be added on to the blog!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Grading & Edline

I wanted to give you a heads up on the horrific errors that occurred with my grading program. I moved classrooms this summer and in the process of setting up my technology I accidentally deleted my grading system off my harddrive... For those who know me well, this was not a staggering development, and had literally somehow managed to delete this in such a way that it was extremely difficult to restore. Luckily, we have WONDERFUL technical support in our district and just yesterday I was able to get back online. After school today I will be focusing on getting these grades into the computer and on edline for all of you. I am terribly sorry I was not able to inform you of your child's progress before now!

Letter-Essay Format

Our first letter-essay is due tomorrow at the beginning of class! We finished drafting in class today so your child will DEFINITELY have homework tonight in order to either type or neatly hand write their final draft. The following is the format for what we decided will go in each paragraph of our letter essay. If you have any questions please feel free to email me!

Letter-Essay 1 Format

¶ 1 Introduce your book title and author. Explain your reasons for wanting to read this book.

¶ 2 Short summary of what the book is about. Focus on being concise and giving a general overview of the plot.

¶ 3-5 Analyze the author and the plot. Use the writing about reading openers to get you started thinking about the way the author wrote this story and your feelings about the plot. *These are the sections that should directly quote statements and passages from your book.

¶ 6 Begin your questioning section. What questions do you have about the elements of the book? Why the author wrote the book? About why the characters made the decisions they did or why they were written in a particular way. These questions should thoughtfully examine the areas of the book that you either disagreed with or felt strongly about.

¶ 7 Rate your book and discuss why you gave it that particular rating. Cite examples from the book; compare it to other book selections available.

¶ 8 Answer the Essential Question, “How did reading this book help you make sense of the world?” Remember that this is the MOST IMPORTANT paragraph. This shows me what you learned by reading this book, if this paragraph is not complete, it’s going to be difficult for me to assess your engagement level and learning from this book.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Ways to get Started on a Letter Essay

Often times it is difficult to find ways to help your child complete their homework assignments. With their first letter essay due on Thursday, September 18th, I wanted to provide a way that you can help your child with the most difficult aspect of writing a letter essay; getting started! This handout (which was given to students in class) describes effective ways to begin paragraphs within a letter essay.

Writing about Reading: Some Openers

I was surprised when/angry/about/satisfied with/moved
by/incredulous at/…
I like the way the author
I noticed how the author
I don’t get why the author
If I were the author I would have
I’d compare this author with
This book reminded me of
The main character
The character development
The narrative voice
The structure of this book
The climax of the plot
The resolution of the main character’s problem
The genre of this book
I’d say a theme of this book is
I wish that
I didn’t agree with
I understood
I couldn’t understand
Why did
This is how I read this book:
I rated this one _____ because
And always: I was struck by/interested in/convinced by this
passage: “…”
It shows … about this author’s writing.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Me on a Graphic Tee!

This assignment asked students to create a slogan on a graphic tee that represents their personality. Here are some of our great classroom examples:

Ula Ula & Oma Oma Classroom Read Aloud Novel

Ula Ula & Oma Oma will be reading, Behind the Bedroom Wall, by author Laura Williams.

Korinna, a thirteen-year-old girl in Nazi Germany, must question her involvement in her town's Nazi youth group when she discovers that her parents are sheltering a family of Jewish refugees. Filled with adventure, Behind the Bedroom Wall helps us to understand the madness that drove so many to turn on their neighbors and the courage that allowed some to resist.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

1st Reading Assessment

Last week your child completed their first reading assessment with a very challenging classic story, The Gift of the Magi. The pre-test questions them on every skill they will be learning in the 1st quarter of 7th grade Literature. The test is given in order to gauge what students currently know, and to provide a tool that will show them in the end how far they've come. Today we spent most of the class period completing student progress charts based on their results from the test. Be sure to ask your child what they've learned so far about their progress!

That which I am thankful for...

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