Monday, October 7, 2013

October Update

I am linking up with Farley's Currently monthly linky party !!

Listening- I am in love with the show Shark Tank! I find it incredibly fascinating and it really makes me want to go into business!

Loving- The weather here has been AMAZING!! Cool mornings and evenings and sunny 70's-80's during the day. This weather reminds me of my I moved to AZ five years ago.

Thinking- I have so much work to get done by Friday! Grades close, math night, field trip ...the lost goes on and on!

Needing- A need to start cleaning and getting my house "company ready". I would love to hire a cleaning company to come while I am at work and make my house sparkle and shine.

Trick or Treat: I LOVE Halloween -- Check out my store on October 31st and get 5% off all of my TpT products.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

A Peek at My Week!

ONE MORE WEEK!!! Fall break is right around the corner and I am really ready for a break! I am currently completing my internship for my Principal certification and I am worn out!! Here is what is happening this week:

1. Since this is the last week of the term and break is coming I really want to finish our class novel "The Outsiders". We are just a few chapters away from the end and each time I have to say "Ok guys put away the books" I hear... "NO!!" Music to my ears!! When we finish a class novel we always watch the film or a live production. I love that in the CCSS it gives me permission to show films in class!! My students cant wait to compare and contrast the film vs. novel.
2. My district has moved to a more formal assessment system and one of the new additions to the assessment schedule has been adding in CFA's. CFA;'s are Common Formative assessments and all students K-8 take them on the power standards in ELA and Math. We rocked the first CFA on character aspects and need to take the second one on Author's purpose this week. One class has already taken part A and the beauty of these assessments is that there is a part B for retesting. I noticed many of my students had a hard time with understanding what the bias in the speech was so as an instructor I am able to use that data, reteach and give a second assessment to see if they have reached mastery level. As much as I hate testing this has truly made me a more proficient and effective teacher! Not to mention they are quick-- only 5 questions so it doesn't take that much time!

3. As one of my internship duties I have been planning our first Family Math Fright Night for this Thursday! I can't wait!! Each grade level will be creating different math games for students of all ages to participate in. I have a ton of work ahead of me but I am ready! I will post an update later this week to tell you how it went!

Picture 4. Did I mention FALL BREAK is almost here!!!! I have family coming into town so we will be traveling and having a great time! 

Have a great week everyone!! Don't forget to check out Mrs. Laffin's Laughing's blog to see what everyone else is doing this week.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Thursday Thorw Down!

I’m linking up with I’m Lovin Lit ‘s monthly Thursday Throw Down student engagement party. Social media is where most of my students express themselves on a daily basis. Facebook, Tumbler and Instagram are all social media outlets that allow teenagers to discuss their ideas and create an individualized digital presence. With all the wonderful qualities theses social media outlets can bring they can also be dangerous and students need to be taught internet safety. Last year I added blogging into my writing block during the second semester and I loved the response I got back from my students. I decided to use a program called Kid Blog-- for a few reasons.

The site is safe and secure – I set up a web page and add in users (my students) and only a student with a username and password can access our blogging world. I am able to monitor all comments and posts so, if a student creates a disrespectful or inappropriate response I can delete it before it was made public. Students are able to choose a background, avatar and other setting features that make their blog unique. Once you have set up your class students can access this site anywhere! I love that they can access their writing at home, on any computer at school and I can also access this information without a ton of extra paperwork. Since I am only able to secure the library on Wednesdays we spend Wednesday afternoon’s blogging. I will usually post a kid blog assignment that they use to guide their activity. My students love Wednesday Blogging days!!  Even my most reluctant reader’s and writer’s enjoy communicating their thoughts and ideas in this creative and technologically savvy way. I love that all my students are engaged in writing and commenting on other students blogs with constructive criticisms.

Many of my students chose to free write on their blogs! If you look above you will see an example of one of my kiddos poems! This week’s assignment was a Pre-Assessment on research skills. I chose Teen Drop Out rate as our main focus. Students were asked to first write a 2-3 paragraph opinion essay on why they think teens drop out of high school. Then they needed to go an research this topic and add the links to their post so that they can access this information later when we practice taking notes. Then they needed to read 3-4 student responses and give quality comments to each of those bloggers.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Five for Friday

I'm trying my hand at my first linky party! Hope I am doing this right.

This week was a whirl wind! We are quickly approaching the end of the first term so things are finally in full swing.

1. We started the week looking at Author's Purpose. The week before we created a foldable on the different types of authors purpose and Monday we finished our posters. Each group had a list of different pieces of text and they had to create a graphic organizer poster. Each group needed to explain how they would classify the different examples using text evidence. They did a GREAT JOB! Some groups got really into it and made amazing "posters". One group even created a cootie catcher authors purpose interactive game.


2. Moving into the week we worked on reading The Lorax and identifying the authors purpose for writing the book. They had to write a letter to another student explaining why they thought the book was written citing text evidence to support their analysis. I almost cried when one of my kiddos asked if I thought that the trees and the thneeds were symbols for bigger issues!! Made my day!!


3. In writing I assigned one of my favorite projects!1 It was Shark Tank Week! This project went over so well with my 8th grade friends. They are really excited to create their product and advertisement campaign. We watched a few clips from the show so they could get a better idea on how to present their product and what investors might ask during their sales pitch. I cant wait to see the final products. Check out my TpT store for the full project and explanation!

4. Reader's Workshop is going over really well. My students love being able to sit in the bean bag chairs and read for 15-20 min. everyday. I need to run back to the book store to get more books as they are reading them faster than I thought! I realized I need to stagger the new books I buy so I constantly have a new stream of books to add to the library every week.

Picture 5. I got my new logo and banner!! I am in love with it and am thrilled with how my site is turning out!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Accountable Talk and The First Few Days of School

As I contemplated where I wanted to begin in this  new venture of chronicling the school year through blog posts, I decided to start with the anchor charts and activities that I have started the year with. Many teachers are just now starting to return to the classroom but here in
lovely sweltering Arizona  school has been in session for about five weeks. I love the beginning of the school year as I see it as a fresh start- new kids, new supplies, and the wave of excitement from seeing my 100 8th graders run into the room!
     Every year we begin the school year by setting up our interactive notebooks; this is usually a very stress free activity for students. I ask that my kids bring in three composition notebooks, one for reading skills, one for writing skills and finally my new edition last year that went EXTREMELY well a bell work notebook. Each notebook will need to be numbered so a 100 page composition notebook will yield approximately 200 pages. Once they have numbered their pages they need to create a cover page and start filling out their table of contents.
     One of the first entries into our reading notebook is our Accountable Talk anchor chart. With the new CCSS standards it is vitally important for the next generation of learners to be able to communicate effectively. In order to stress this concept within the first few days all of my classes added the notes
to their notebook and practiced this skill. This year I decided to make a game out of it, middle schooler’s are notorious for being gregarious and truly enjoy expressing their thoughts and opinions. To harness this super power I asked that the students practice this idea of accountable talk by asking questions based on the amount of M&M’s they had picked out of their bag. I gave each student a personal mini bag of m&m’s and posted various questions linked to the different colors of m&m’s. Student one would ask a question to student two and student two would need to respond in a way that allowed the conversation to deepen by using their talking stems. Once student two had answered the question
student one would then need to follow up with either a question to engage deeper or comment on what was just said. Their favorite talking stem seemed to be “So what you’re saying is…” as I heard it multiple times throughout the day! Over all, this lesson went really well! I loved being able to slow down my instruction and teach this important skill. If we want our students to turn and address the speaker and look them in the eye we need to teach them how to do this. If you are interested I have included the questions I gave to my students during this activity!

Hope your first few days go smoothly!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Friends of Reading

Friends of Reading began a few years ago when a fellow language arts teacher and I were discussing the state of reading and writing in our school and state. We noticed that our area talked, planned and provided manipulatives for math. We felt that language arts and social studies were getting pushed to the side and we wanted to do something about it. So we would occasionally meet with other language arts teachers and we would jokingly refer to them as Friends of Reading meetings.  We would discuss ways we could improve our craft and help those middle school students still struggling with basic skills. I don't think we solved any of the worlds problems but we walked away with less stress and some great collaboration.  I hope this website can continue that spirit, where ideas can blossom and collaboration can occur for anyone who is a friend of reading.