Saturday, May 11, 2013

Color Wheel for Classroom Art

This week in my exploration class we studied the color wheel and how to make different colors. Most kids have a general knowledge of mixing colors in order to make new ones but there are definitions and terms that some students might be unaware of. Primary, secondary, tertiary, and then warm and cool colors. We took a few days this week to create our own color wheels inside our art notebooks and then we began drawing what would become a watercolor. Today students will be using their watercolors to make the different colors that will fit into
their painting.

This would make a great beginning to an art class but for my class it was a great start to how to blend colors when your watercolors only give you a few options.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Where is Your Thinking?

We talk about our reading until honestly, WE ARE BLUE IN THE FACE! Sometimes I miss just reading for reading and letting the kids go. But there are some many in my class this year who are so far below grade level that we do a lot of scaffolding to bring the reading and information to their level. We are building them up so that eventually they can JUST READ! So here's a simple chart that we created to help students talk about their reading in pair share partnerships. Sometimes they need a sentence starter to get started. The questions I want them to ask themselves are not just surface questions, but also deeper connection questions and eventually questions that force them to compare their reading to other readings. Gosh, wouldn't it be nifty to hear a student make the connection between the power of the Capital in The Hunger Games and the power of the Council in The Giver? Ah, pipe dreams...

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Monitor Your Discussions

I teach older students. In the future, once they've been accustomed to the new guidelines for discussion in the classroom, I would expect students to come to me in 7th grade with a greater knowledge of how to talk with each other in the classroom, outside the classroom, online, etc. The past year has been a big eye opener for me, and for a few students, because there are so many opportunities to communicate. Communication is a blessing but without understanding how our words affect others, words can hurt, break down, or ruin another person's day/week/life. We've watched Cyber Bully (Disney) and we've talked in class about how we convey ourselves in writing (hint: it's ALWAYS out there). So for this anchor chart we talked about how they could rate themselves on a 4,3,2,1 scale on their discussions and writing. This hangs in our classroom for English and History but it could totally be used for ALL subjects. Students need to be aware of what they are expected to do, and in history especially students always need reminding in creating full sentence answers with evidence. Evidence, evidence, evidence. Where's the proof?!?! We are consistently talking about that as Common Core Standards focus on showing proof with quotes and textual evidence. How do you keep students on task during discussions? How do they know if they are doing the right things or not?

Text Features - Expository Text

In history we are constantly talking about text features and while that's a typical area discussed in Language Arts, there is a clear connection to social science. We have been using this anchor chart for a few weeks now and there have been so many times that we've referenced it in class. I've often asked students, "How do you know that?" and they are noticing that information to answer the question is found in captions, sometimes the map is our tool, and even the different types of font or boldface type can clue us into information that we need. 

 I found this on Pinterest at one point, but there have been many reproductions since. It's a gem!

Proposing Prepositions

When I was in 8th grade, we had to memorize lists and lists of prepositions and we even timed ourselves and being the competitive person.... well let's just say that I still know them!!! I even rattled them off quickly for my class and yes, they were impressed. It's a good day in middle school when you can impress them. So here's the list we came up with with a few more added on. They started in alpha order and then.... well, we got off track a bit.

Are you still teaching prepositions? They serve a purpose in sentences with prepositional phrases still being on our state tests.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Roots in Rome

I teach English and History, but there are plenty of times when the two converge and the heavens open and connections in learning are made and....well, I can dream can't I?

As we were beginning out study of the Reformation I saw it as a perfect opportunity to break down a word that kids had no idea of the meaning to. Re means again. Form means to make. It was as easy as pie! We began this chart and kids added words to it that they knew and we learned a lesson in how even if we don't know the word or the meaning we can take the word parts and break it down to help us make meaning of unknown words.

Of course this skill can easily carry over to science. Redesign or retest an experiment. There are plenty of easy connections and this handy chart was perfect to add to their writer's notebooks. Enjoy!

Color Wheel for Classroom Art

This week in my exploration class we studied the color wheel and how to make different colors. Most kids have a general knowledge of mixing colors in order to make new ones but there are definitions and terms that some students might be unaware of. Primary, secondary, tertiary, and then warm and cool colors. We took a few days this week to create our own color wheels inside our art notebooks and then we began drawing what would become a watercolor. Today students will be using their watercolors to make the different colors that will fit into
their painting.

This would make a great beginning to an art class but for my class it was a great start to how to blend colors when your watercolors only give you a few options.

State Testing!!!! Oh joy....

State testing is always a downer when April or May approaches and students have to fill in ABC or D to prove what they have learned this year. Sometimes students are thrilled about the opportunity to showcase their knowledge and other times students dread coming to school for these long periods of testing.

I do my best to try and get students prepared for the test which includes pumping up their confidence and reminding them that they know the information but this test just wants them to put it on paper and prove it. In our preparation over the last few weeks we went over test taking strategies and we created this anchor chart to help them remember how to relax during the big test days. We used the word relax and maybe an acronym out of it. I found something similar online so it's not original, but what in teaching is these days?

My students seemed to use it during testing as I heard some referring to the process of elimination. Perhaps with Common Core coming down the pipeline we will no longer have bubble in test and get a more accurate measure of knowledge learned throughout the year. Wishful thinking right?


Saturday, April 27, 2013

Read, Discuss, Repeat

We do a ton of independent or partner reading during English but often times students would finish and start talking about what they did over the weekend.

Enter Anchor Chart: we are now referencing this poster all the time during reading and when a group gets to an off topic conversation I gently remind them to redirect back to the questions and starters on the poster. Easy peesy lemon squeezy!

How do you keep kids on task during reading groups?

Reading Strategies - Super Six!!!

The Super Six reading strategies were something I heard about my first year of teaching and it's still around but often gets called a million other names. I've been to inservices on these same strategies and recently created this anchor chart to reference in the classroom.

While I do teach middle school, kids never seem to have enough explicit instruction on how to read books or text. Some kids do these steps instinctively but others need a coach. Enter me. We've been talking about the comments students make and how they are actually reading strategies and aide in comprehension. Way to go class! (Pardon my really horrible drawing of a man. People are really not my thing.)

Are you using these same skills in your class? Have a book to suggest reading on the topic?

Hungry for the Hunger Games!



When I got pneumonia last spring I was stuck at home, alone, for a week. Nobody wanted to get me more sick and nobody wanted to catch what I had. So after a few days of trashy TV shows I turned to the books. I hadn't read the Hunger Games and really care to. I didn't think I'd like them so I just passed.

I started in on book one around 10am and finished it later that night. Book two went just as fast and book three... well if you read them you probably know that book three dragged on a bit. BUT! I just knew that my students would LOVE the first book. After an unsuccessful project on DonorsChoose wasn't funded, a dear friend's husband purchased an entire class set for me. Score! And thank you (you know who you are).

The Hunger Games (2012) Poster We began reading the Hunger Games in March and here we at the end of April with about 10 chapter to go. In class of course we read through things more slowly, doing activities and talking a lot about the character's motivation, etc. Because we were working with this one text for so long, I decided to create a PowerPoint for each day's lesson and activities  What started out as something just for my class ended up becoming a labor of love and something I spent hours and hours modifying and creating.

You are welcome to check it out here Hunger Games PowerPoint, and if you use it while teaching the Hunger Games in your classroom let me know how things go. I don't know too many teachers who've taught with this text and it's certainly very popular right now.
It's all Common Core aligned with speaking and listening, writing and reading standards.

Close Reading - Common Core Alligned

There has been lots of talk about close reading at my school site but there haven't been many people actually doing it. I tried it out after seeing another teacher's anchor chart and got up the courage to try something new in the classroom...once again. Seems like there's always something new doesn't it?

Anyway, my class and I were doing a close reading of a section in our history textbook. There are so many opportunities to incorporate reading strategies to all core content areas! So we took a stab at it (and idiom, I know) and came up with this anchor chart and even found standards that aligned to our work in the classroom that day. The kids had a great experience reading more deeply and I was pushing the work on to them. That's the idea...have them work harder than me. I already passed 7th grade! Have you tried close reading? What type of training have you received on it?

Telling Time in the Classroom

Even though I teach upper grade, some students never mastered telling time on an analog clock. Of course they swear that when they "grow up" there won't be clocks like these (yeah, I thought the same thing kiddo) so why bother learning to tell time on such an ancient device. Well, truth be told, there are lots of old clocks around and in places like schools and offices you just never know if you might need this skill.
So, in order to help my students learn this second grade standard... I created this clock with just some simple sticky notes and the minute increments on them. Of course some kids balked at the idea that they needed help, while others simply nodded with a slight approval and went back to their reading (I don't teach math, but am happy to find little spaces in our day or classroom to meet the ever growing needs of my students). Here it is! Have any of your students not mastered this skill? Anyone just given up on teaching this type of clock reading? I'd love to heard your thoughts!





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About Me

I'm a traveler, learner, and eternal explorer.