Skip to main content

Coffee Klatch and Tom Sawyer

Introducing her Word

I have a hard time just repeating what I did the previous school year. Although it would make my life easier,  I am always looking to both grow as a teacher and  for  ways to provide my students with valuable, engaging learning experiences.  This year over Winter Break, I decided I wanted to teach Tom Sawyer for the first time ever!  I hadn't read it in over twenty years but revisited it over vacation.  I downloaded it to my ipad.  Oh how I love my ipad!  It allows me to bring my books to the gym with me.  As I pedaled away on the stationary bike, I became a temporary resident of St. Petersburg, Missouri.  I got lost in Tom's world-a world of good old-fashioned fun and mischief-a world sans technology.  Many times while reading, I would find myself laughing aloud.   I would look around to see if anybody saw me.  I am sure people thought I was nuts.  Numerous times I texted my dear friend and fellow English teacher to tell her where I was in the book. By the way, working with amazing people is just another thing I love about my job!
I gave my students some essential questions to consider as they read the novel.  That way they know what to look for when highlighting and annotating the text.  I always hated when my professors wouldn't give us the writing prompt until AFTER we read a novel!  We read the first chapter in class.  I had two volunteers read the dialogue between Tom and the "new" boy.  That really made it come to life, and the kids thought it was funny, especially when the boy says that anybody that will take a dare can "suck eggs."

There is quite a bit of challenging vocabulary in the book.  Some is antiquated and not worth spending too much time on.  Many of the words can be figured out by looking at the context of the sentence.  For the first three chapters, I selected words that I felt would be useful for my students-words they will see and use!  We had a coffee klatch to introduce our first set of words.    Each student received a paper cup with a word and short definition.  Using a sentence frame, they had to introduce their word to several other students.  Those students had to use another sentence frame to show that they understood the word.  Finally, students  chose three new words and created word maps for each one.   

I hope that my enthusiasm for Tom Sawyer is contagious and that my students can appreciate it as much as I do!

Popular posts from this blog

Ditch those Reading Logs: Try Flipgrid Instead

If you've read my posts or follow me on Twitter, you know how I feel about pointless projects and homework!  This year I made it official and ditched homework.  It's the best decision I've ever made as a teacher.  My students are loving it, I am loving it, and I think most of their parents are loving it! I have completely transformed the way I run my classroom and feel like my students are more engaged and excited than ever. 

Student Example (Click to watch)

Like homework, I never felt quite right about assigning reading logs.  Whenever my own kids had to read a book on their own for school, they were initially excited. First, they were told they had to read twenty minutes each night. Then the dreaded reading logs began.  They had to write  down what pages they read, as well as a summary.  Urgh! I can only imagine lying on the beach with my own book and having to complete a reading log.  No thanks!  And I am not going to lie. I just might have signed one of my son's read…

Have a Dance Party Before Class Starts

This year I decided to play music as students are entering my classroom and before the final bell rings.  I had no idea what a difference it would make!  Why didn't I do this before?  It creates a positive, upbeat mood and seems to energize my students and ME! 

At first I thought they'd complain when I blasted disco tunes by artists like Chic, The Bee Gees, and Vickie Sue Robinson ("Turn the Beat Around").   I thought they'd groan when I played Bon Jovi, Journey, and Whitesnake. I thought they'd roll their eyes when I played clean versions of songs by Tupac and Snoop Dogg.  I really thought they'd lose it when I played Gypsy Kings.  NOPE!  They loved it!  I had NO idea that my kids would react they way they did.  Here are the results:

If I don't have time to put the music on, several kids will ask, "Where's our dance party?" I really like Pandora because I can create my own stations.  If you're looking for a way to create a positive vi…

Creating a Cell Phone Sanctuary

Over the past few years, I have noticed a change in my students.  Not only are they tethered to their phones, but they are more anxious than ever.  In the past two school years, I have had at least three students experience school anxiety so severe that they could not come to school.   Those are just MY students.  This year I have had one student leave our school after her mother spent three weeks trying to drag her to class each morning as her daughter screamed, cried, and sometimes refused to get out of the car.  According to an article titled "Teen Anxiety and Depression: the Kids are not Alright" published in 2016, "In 2015, about 3 million teens ages 12 to 17 had had at least one major depressive episode in the past year, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. More than 2 million report experiencing depression that impairs their daily function. About 30% of girls and 20% of boys–totaling 6.3 million teens–have had an anxiety disorder, according t…