I love teaching writing to upper elementary students. I originally developed checklists to align with the writing assessment we give here in Washington State. Now that we are adopting Common Core, I modified this tool accordingly.
I use these lists in three ways:
I can assess a set of writing samples and decide what lessons I need to focus on with the whole class, small groups and individual.
I can have students edit each others papers with guidance.
I can have students assess their own work before they turn it in.
I typically have rubrics as a part of my assignment that I use for grading. These checklists are a part of my formative assessment.
I have just updated all of my Teaching Genre units with these checklists and other activities.
The premise for this series is interesting: what if paintings were portholes to other places and times? In the first book, Olive moves into a strange house and finds that a pair of spectacles lets her enter the paintings and visit the people there. Many of them are frightened of one of the inhabitants and Olive soon learns that some of these people cannot be trusted.
This series is recommended for fifth grade on up, but I have some fourth graders who are ready right now.
This is a photograph of an actual homework assignment recently turned in. "My cats scratched it up." I believe her for two reasons. One, I have a cat that has ripped things up. Two, she copied it over onto a new piece of paper without complaint.
Over the years, I have had coffee and food stained homework, pages that went through the washer and drier, and, my favorite, the backpack a child through on the roof. "At least you know where it is," he told me while trying to convince me I should accept it.
What homework excuses have your received? I would love to read some in the comments.
A year ago, I had my students write a poem called My Unusual Thanksgiving. We had a guest speaker who shared her poetry so I didn't create a printable for the lesson.
Here is the original prompt:
Write a list poem called "My Unusual Thanksgiving". Try to include images and events that are not typical of a Thanksgiving dinner on TV. What makes the way you and your family celebrate unique?
This year my students have five days off over Thanksgiving weekend. I created this sheet to help them record a moment during their weekend. I plan to have them bring the sheet back to school and do the rest of the writing process in class.
Melody is in a wheelchair and cannot talk, but she has an amazing brain. She is rejected by her classmates who don't realize how smart she is. She convinces her parents to get her a computer so she can communicate with the world. Melody's struggle felt personal to me as I know children whose abilities are masked by their so-called disabilities. I was excited to receive this as a gift from one of my families this year. I can't wait to share Melody's story with my fourth graders this year. For an explanation of my rating scale, click here
Like many places, our district is moving to a new evaluation system this year. This new system requires formal observations of every teacher every year. Some of us who have been teaching for awhile haven't been formally observed in a decade or so. I'm happy to report that I successfully made it through my first observation cycle this year.
The week before I was observed, our new assistant superintendent visited our school. He and my principal spent ten minutes in my room while my students worked on geometry stations. That lesson was also a success, but these visits made me wonder who I am teaching for.
Although ideally, I am planning lessons every day that move my students forward, lately I've been feeling the pressure to make it more of a show. I feel like I need to please the administrators with their idea of what a good teacher does. Sometimes I skip the step where I make sure I'm doing what I think a good teacher does. I want to use a variety of strategies to meet my students where they are.
I am fortunate to work with a principal who is happy with my work and the assistant superintendent said he enjoyed the time with my students. I am a people pleaser by nature, so this works for me.
So, now I turn the question to you: who are you designing lessons for? Do you feel pressure to teach like someone else? Are test scores so prominent, that you are teaching to the test? I really want to know.
Last week I posted Quiz Me Multiplication. I promised I would post the division version of the same activity. Students review a set of division problems and have another member of the class quiz them. The person doing the quizzing is looking at the problem and the answers and is memorizing the facts also.
Here is the link to Quiz Me Division. I also posted these activities on my classroom website so parents can quiz their students at home. I encourage parents to focus on just one set at a time; threes for example. We measure our progress with weekly quizzes at school. Quiz Me: Division is a part of my Multiplication and Division Fact Fluency Packet.
Author Tommy Greenwald must be familiar with reluctant readers. He has three sons, Charlie, Joe and Jack and he based the main character, Charlie Joe Jackson on them. Charlie Joe Jackson goes to amazing lengths to avoid reading. This series is about surviving middle school while trying to avoid academics and not really succeeding.
I love teenagers. I work with them in my spare time at a church youth group and during the summer at the theater workshop I helped with.
The ones I work with are at various stages of learning how to drive, so I carpool often.
If you hang around with this age group, you know what I'm talking about: the driver becomes invisible. They talk like I am not there. I get so many insights this way. I learn new vocabulary.
I would like to say thank you to the teenagers in my life who inspire me and entertain me with their hope and energy. I also want to thank them for telling me all about movies and TV shows and Youtube videos I would never have the time to watch. Then I know when one of my students is trying to pass off someone else's characters or plot line as original work.
I'm listening to the rain that started last night after a week of being dry. I'm loving that I finished my pre-observation conference, observation, and post-observation conference this week. I'm relieved that it all went well.
Now that I am finished with that project, I need to pay attention to housework this weekend...especially laundry.
My husband and I discovered an Indian food restaurant last evening that was wonderful. I didn't overeat and brought home leftovers.
If your students are like mine, they haven't memorized their multiplication and division facts yet. I had them make sets of flash cards, but managing that was a pain.
I created a station called "Quiz Me: Multiplication" where students set a goal, review a set of problems and have another member of the class quiz them. It's a quick daily practice where they set their own goals. We measure progress with weekly quizzes. I also handed these out at recent parent conferences. It was nice to have just two sheets of paper (this one and division) to hand parents instead of flash cards. I originally planned to cut out each set and glue them to color-coded construction paper and have them laminated. Reality hit and I printed them back to back and put them in sheet protectors. You can decide, although I highly recommend investing in companies that sell sheet protectors. I use a lot of them. Here is the link to the freebie Quiz Me: Multiplication. Next week I will post Quiz Me: Division. Quiz Me: Multiplication is a part of my Multiplication and Division Fact Fluency Packet.