Several people have asked what I put up on my “Six Traits of Good Writing” Board. I have added what I used to the lesson plan pages for each grade level. You can now download it and save it to your computer just like the lesson plans.
I have had so much fun getting my new classroom ready for my first graders, I thought I’d post pictures.
The 2010-2011 school year will present a different challenge for me. I will be moving to first grade – a grade that I haven’t taught since my first year of teaching in 1992. I truly enjoyed being the K-5 writing teacher and working will all the students in our small elementary school, but I have to say that I am thrilled to have my own classroom again.
I’ve noticed that this blog gets quite a bit of traffic, so I plan on leaving it up with all it’s content.
I can’t claim this as my own as it was forwarded to me from one of my fellow teachers of a testing grade. As we are preparing our students for the upcoming round of state testing this week, we are also conducting tornado drills. Which, in the school I teach at, means training students how to get to the cellar when the sirens go off.
In case of Severe Weather during TAKS testing:
1. Should a severe weather situation occur during TAKS testing, please remain calm. To display any kind of anxiety would be a testing irregularity and must be reported.
2. Please do not look out the window to watch for approaching tornadoes. You must monitor the students at all times. To do otherwise would be a TAKS testing irregularity and must be reported.
3. Should students notice an approaching tornado and begin to cry, please make every effort to protect their testing materials from the flow of tears and sinus drainage.
4. Should a flying object come through your window during testing, please make every effort to ensure that it does not land on a testing booklet or an answer sheet. Please make sure to soften the landing of the flying object so that it will not disturb the students while testing.
5. Should shards of glass from a broken window come flying into the room, have the students use their bodies to shield their testing materials so that they will not be damaged. Have plenty of gauze on hand to ensure that no one accidentally bleeds on the answer documents. Damaged answer sheets will not scan properly.
6. Should gale force winds ensue, please have everyone stuff their test booklets and answer sheets into their shirts…being very careful not to bend them because bent answer documents will not scan properly..
7. If any student gets sucked into the vortex of the funnel cloud, please make sure they mark at least one answer before departing…and of course make sure they leave their answer sheets and test booklets behind. You will have to account for those.
8. Should a funnel cloud pick you, the test administrator, up and take you flying over the rainbow, you will still be required to account for all of your testing materials when you land so please take extra precautions. Remember, once you have checked them out, they should always be kept SECURE.
9. When rescue workers arrive to dig you out of the rubble, please make sure that they do not, at any time, look at or handle the testing materials. Once you have been treated for your injuries, you will still be responsible for checking your materials back in. Search dogs will not be allowed to sift through the rubble for lost tests…unless of course they have been through TAKS Administration test training.
In addition to the professional library that I’m building, I am also a member of two educational websites and follow several educational blogs. Choice Literacy is an incredible website that is full of information on the latest methods in literacy instruction. Some of the articles are free, but the best ones require a membership fee. I’ve never regretted the $99 I spent last January for my membership and will happily give Choice Literacy another $99 this coming January. I love being able to learn from awesome educators! The best part about being a member of this website is that I can learn from them at my convenience. As long as I have a computer and internet, I’m good to go.
Some of my favorite blogs are listed below. I follow these using my Google Reader account. These bloggers keep me up to date on the latest in teaching reading and writing and reviews newly published literature.
Two Writing Teachers – fabulous blog about teaching writing. A must for all teachers
Raising Readers and Writers – great website that will stretch your thinking about the way you teach
Creative Literacy – this blog has a little bit of everything – technology tools in the classroom, reviews of newly published childrens books and professional books
Best Book I have not Read – contains reviews for newly published children’s books, lesson plans and reviews of professional books
I also follow several literacy leaders on Twitter. I don’t know these people personally, but I have learned so much from them!
There you have it – my PLN (Personal Lerning Network). I’ve learned as much from the websites, blogs and Tweets as I have in formal sit-down professional development.
I love to read! I always have. The only time in my life that I really didn’t like to read was when I was in college and I was reading for school – not pleasure. I think that’s where my dislike for any kind of reading other than reading for pleasure started. I hated my college textbooks. The language was dry, academic and could put me to sleep within 5 minutes.
That college experience with textbooks has kept me from reading books that would help me in my profession. I distinctly remember a conversation I had a few years ago with an Instrucrtional Specialist I greatly admire. She was telling me about several of the professional books she was reading and how the information in those books were really helping her help other teachers. At the time I thought “Yuck! Why would you want to spend your free time reading books about teaching ?!?” And as usually happens, those became famous last words.
That next summer, I stumbled upon the most wonderful book, The Daily Five, which opened a whole new world of professional literature for me. Everytime I “one-click” a book from Amazon.com, I think, “That’s it! There can’t possibly be another book I need.” But there is always another one – always.
I wanted to share wtih you the latest books I’m reading – you’ll no doubt see them listed as resources on my lesson plans.
Crunchtime: Lessons to help students blow the roof off writing tests and become better writers in the process by Getchen s. Bernabei, Jayne Hover and Cynthia Candler
Writing Circles by Jim Vopat
The Digital Writing Workshop by Troy Hicks
Revisiting the Writing Workshop by Marybeth Alley and Barbara Orehovec
Looks like I’ll be doing a lot of reading over the holidays. 🙂
One of the things I’m learning this year is that publishing is more than just writing a perfect copy of your revised and edited draft. It’s just November and my students already have several written published pieces as well as digitally published pieces, recordings and now we have videos.
We chose 4 pieces of writing to tape in the style of the In Plain English video series. I showed one of these videos to my students so they would have a visual of what I wanted them to do. With the help of my husband, the Technology Director, we decided what pictures students needed to draw that would best illustrate the story. We outlined the pictures in black and cut them out.
Once we had our pictures, it was time for rehearsal. We positioned ourselves around the table and rehearsed moving the pictures in and out of the shot of the video camera. It took a total of about 45 minutes of rehearsal over two days for the students to get the timing down. Once we were ready, Mr. Wilson came in to record and then worked his magic in Movie Maker on the project.
Click here to see our finished product.
The students loved this project so much that I think we’ll keep creating them.
One of my favorite pastimes is to search the internet for new ideas about teaching. In my searches, I’ve run across all kinds of ideas to use in the classroom. I’ve always been grateful for the educators who have been willing to put their ideas out there for whoever wants to use them.
So, this weekend, I was once again searching the internet for ideas on preparing my 2-5 graders for the UIL Creative Writing and Ready Writing Contests. And guess what. I found a jewel. Teaching That Makes Sense has so much information on it about teaching reading and writing that it’s going to take me a couple of weeks to get through it all. It’s such a good website that I couldn’t keep it to myself, so I’m passing it on.
You do the same – pass it on to the teachers you know who could benefit from this great website!
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started this journey in the small, rural school district called Guthrie. After all, this would be my first time teaching all grade levels, my first time teaching just writing and my first time teaching in an elementary school whose total student enrollment falls just shy of 60.
Let’s just say that I haven’t been disappointed. Every day these kids surprise me, impress me and make me laugh. Their writing is authentic and their stories are rooted in their everyday lives – just as they should be. They have thoroughly enjoyed introducing me to life on a ranch and I have thoroughly enjoyed helping them craft their stories. They’ve come so far as writers this first six weeks. It’s exciting knowing that we have 8 more months of working together.
Our published writing is on our blog, so be sure to check out the “podcast” page to hear the stories the students at Guthrie Elementary school wrote. We also published our writing digitally and you can view those on each grade level’s published work page.
If you are so inclined, we would love to hear your comments about our writing. You can write a comment on either the podcast page or the publication page. All comments go to a “holding” area for me to approve, so it may take 24 hours to appear on the blog.
You may have noticed that my last post was more than a year ago. Last fall, I stepped away from the classroom and took a position as an Instructional Coach for grades k-2. I really enjoyed working with teachers and helping them be more effective in the classroom. This year, however, I’m back in the classroom.
But not in Irving. We decided to move closer to family in west Texas and are now living in Guthrie. It is a much smaller community than where we were, but we have settled in very well and are enjoying the peace and serenity of country life.
My husband is the technology director for the school here and I will be teaching writing for K-5 and conducting a science lab once a week for K-3. I have a full plate, but I am looking forward to the challenge.
I have been playing around with ideas of how I can use this blog in my classroom and I think I have finally decided on what to do. You’ll notice on the sidebar that I have pages for the science labs that I will be conducting. These science labs are focusing on key vocabulary words for each grade level. So when you go to those pages, you will see definitions and examples of the vocabulary words we have been exploring.
I’m very excited about how I am going to be incorportating technology into my writing class. Each six weeks, my students will be using different forms of publishing to create a final draft of their writing. Of course we will use the traditional pencil/paper. 🙂 We will also be publishing right here on the blog. You can find those pieces of writing on the page called “Publications”. Some of the publications may simply be a blog post, while others will be documents that we have uploaded to the blog. The final way we will be publishing our writing is through podcasting. Student podcasts can be found on the “podcasts” page.
The home page of my blog will be more for teachers. I will be using it to share new ideas on literacy in the classroom – digital and otherwise.
I’m excited about all the new learning that will be taking place and that my students will have a worldwide audience to share their stories with.
This is going to be a great year!