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Showing posts from February, 2016

Teacher's Make Mistakes

Teachers make mistakes.  We are not perfect.  I believe we are held to a very high standard, and I believe we should be held to a very high standard.  
Last week I made a mistake in one of my classes.  It has been bothering me all weekend.  I had planned on placing my students into small groups BEFORE class for a poetry analysis activity.  Unfortunately, I got side tracked that morning and ran out of time.  When it was time to get students into groups, I realized I had forgotten to create the groups!  Then I got what I thought was a "brilliant" idea.  It was anything but brilliant. I keep a cup full of Popsicle sticks on my desk with a student's name on each one.  I picked a student's name out of the cup and told them they could pick two people to work with.  Very soon, I realized I had made a HUGE mistake and wished immediately I could have a "do over."  
Basically, by allowing students the opportunity to pick students to work with, I was creating an uncomfo…

Book Club Fun

This year I went back and forth on whether or not to have my students partake in a book club (or literature circle, as most teachers call it).  I have had mixed success.  Some years many of the groups complained that they didn't like their books.  Some wanted to change books.  Some never finished their books.   The book club meetings sometimes lacked in the "discussion" department. Although I teach honors, some of my students don't even like to read! However, I decided to give it another try, but  I proceeded differently than in the past.
First of all, about three weeks before we started, I showed students the board approved books for book club.  I made it clear that I had plenty of copies of each book and that they were more than welcome to choose one of these books.  I told students that they had two weeks to research books they might like to read and to bring in a summary of each.  They were also told they could bring summaries of any of the board approved books.  …

Newsela in the Read 180 Classroom

Newsela has proven to be an invaluable resource for my Read 180 classroom.  This year I was able to get Title 1 money to  pay for a Pro Subscription.  If you really want to be able to monitor student progress, this is the only way to go.  Students see me for one single period and two block periods each week.  They are required to read two Newsela articles each week and pass the quiz on each.    

This semester I changed a few things and am finding much more success!  First, I created a log where students must write down each article they read, the lexile of the article, and the score they received on the test.  I find that it is helpful for them to "see" their progress.  Also, if they take a quiz and don't pass, they are reminded to take another one by the end of the week.  In addition, at least one day a week, I allow students to partner up with another student with a similar lexile.  They read the article independently and then meet afterwards to take the quiz together. …

Article of the Week

rYou may recall me mentioning Kelly Gallagher, my celebrity crush, in previous posts.  Well, I guess he's not exactly a celebrity but in my mind, he's a superstar! I stumbled across one of his ideas on Pinterest this summer.  This led me to purchase every single one of his books, which, in my opinion, has transformed, rejuvenated, and inspired me as a teacher!  One of his ideas that I implemented this year is the Article of the Week! Each week I assign students an article to read and annotate. They must also write a summary of the article (I provide a template), as well as a personal response.  For the latter part of the assignment, students have numerous choices.   Sometimes I choose articles from Gallagher's website, and other times I choose my own articles that complement what we are reading in class.  Here is a partial list of what we've read so far:
"That Flinty Taste"-about the lead in the drinking water in Flint, Michigan "Teenagers, Friends, and Bad…