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Showing posts from December, 2015

Candy Canes, Books, and Masks

What happens when you give a middle schooler a candy cane?  See for yourself!  Anyone remember the days of going to Farrell's Ice Cream Parlour and getting an Astro Pop just so you could turn it into a dangerous weapon and stab your sister in the arm with it? Not that I ever did such a thing!  

Anyhow, I ended the week by giving each student a piece of black paper and a piece of white card stock.  I read them the poem "Please Hear What I'm Not Saying"  by Charles Finn. It's about the "masks" people wear and why they wear them.  One of our essential questions for The Outsiders was "Why do people wear masks and try to hide their true selves?"  Students chose a character from the novel and created the character's self portrait using just black paper, scissors, and a glue stick.  After glueing it onto the card stock, they wrote a poem about the masks the character wears in the novel, as well as what is really behind the mask.  Students seemed t…

Never Quit Growing

Each year I set at least one goal for myself as a teacher.  Last year it was to start my own blog and to commit to blogging each week.  I did it!  The previous year it was to embrace technology in my classroom.  I did it!  This year one of my goals was to find a way for students to publish their writing-to have an authentic audience.  I did it!

I started off my looking into online literary magazines.  I tried a few but it was a lot of work for me.  I had to upload each piece of student writing.   To do that for every student was extremely time consuming.  Also, it wasn't visually appealing.  So I spent last weekend researching a solution online and found one-a classroom blog!  After researching a few student friendly platforms, I decided on  It is reasonably priced, EASY to use, and students have numerous choices of avitars and banners. They can also comment on each other's writing!  

This platform is quite safe.  Only my classes or people I invite, can see the cont…


Students have already finished chapter 6 in The Outsiders.  In fact, I gave them permission to finish the book over Thanksgiving break, and many of them did!  They love the book, so it's not hard to get them to read.  In an honors class, I have them read most of the book at home.  That allows us to use class time for discussions and activities.  

After the first three chapters, we had a fishbowl discussion.  After reading the next three chapters, I showed students Costa's Levels of Questioning and assigned them to write two Level 2 or Level 3 questions about the chapters.  When they returned to class, I divided them into three groups.  Each group had a facilitator, recorder, time keeper, and summarizer.  I gave students approximately twenty minutes to discuss their questions.  

As groups were discussing, I circulated around the room.  Most of the groups did a fantastic job and were very engaged in the discussion..  I observed that in a few groups seemed to interrupt one another,…


Before leaving for Thanksgiving Break, my students took the SRI test for the second time this year. This test measures each student's lexile level.  This is an exciting time for my students but  also creates a bit of anxiety in both my students and me, the teacher! These students give up their elective to take this class, so I definitely want them to feel as though their hard work is worth it! As you can see from the chart below, we would like students to be between a 970-1185 at the middle school level.  Before the test, I gave the students a pep talk, had them look at their first score, and then sprinkled them with fairy dust (aka glitter).  Don't worry!  I only sprinkled those who wanted to be sprinkled!  
I told students they were welcome to take a bathroom break, go get a drink, or just get up and stretch at any time during the test. They were so focused!  After about twenty-five  minutes, students began to finish.   One by one, I'd hear an excited voice say, "Mrs…