Sunday, September 30, 2012

Quote of the Week -- September 30, 2012

"Data is not information,
information is not knowledge, 
knowledge is not understanding, 
understanding is not wisdom."
Clifford Stoll
(My little rebellion when it comes to being merely data-driven.)

Friday, September 28, 2012

List Poems -- Free on TPT and TN

Followers of this blog know how much I love poetry: reading, writing, and teaching it.  One of my favorite forms to teach is the list poem.  My lesson plans are available in my Teachers Pay Teachers store for free.  I have a dozen examples of list poems on my poetry blog Poems of Silliness. (Now available List Poems is available in my Teachers Notebook Store also.)

I find teaching poetry helps students expand their vocabulary and use tools like the dictionary and the thesaurus.  I have success with students writing list poems who don't like to write other things.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Gallagher Girls by Ally Carter

I seem to be on a spy theme this week.

Frequent readers of this blog know I often choose my summer reading based on student recommendations.  Several girls at school and church have been reading this series.  I quickly read the first three books and am currently devouring the fourth.  Yes, I have to willfully suspend my disbelief to read a book about high school spies in training, but it is worth it.  This series is fantastic for upper elementary and middle school girls.  


Here is a link to an independent reading log I use with my students for their reading at home.

To find out more about my rating scale, click here.
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Monday, September 24, 2012

CIA Resources for the Classroom

Did you know that the Central Intelligence Agency has a site that is great for classroom use?  In addition to maps and pictures of flags, The World Factbook gives updated information about the history, government, economy, and other issues for "267 countries or entities."  For me it is a good replacement for the set of encyclopedias I started my teaching career with.  (Yes, I have been teaching a while.)

As someone who enjoys spy novels, I probably like the idea of using spy resources more than I should.

Update:  Here is a graphic organizer for a country report.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Upper Elementary Pinterest Directory

Thanks to Debbie Clement from Rainbows in Reach who is creating a Pinterest Directory for Upper Elementary teachers.  What a great way to connect more of our collective great ideas!


Friday, September 21, 2012

Monkeys at School

Yesterday at school a troop of monkeys came in the window.  What did your teacher do?  What did your principal do?  Where do they come from?  What happens next?

Who will save the day?

Update: I wrote this prompt into a poem on Poems of Silliness.

Here is a printable copy.

For more of my favorite writing lessons, check out my Teaching Genre series.



Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Big Nate: in a Class by Himself by Lincoln Peirce


Several of my students recommended that I read a Big Nate book, so I added this one to my summer reading list.  I have to say that I wasn't impressed.  I can't be the only educator that is tired of books aimed at students that poke fun at school.  I find it difficult enough to get students motivated to take their learning seriously.  I will not be buying this book for my classroom library.  There is enough sarcasm and disrespect in the world without my having to promote it.

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Monday, September 17, 2012

How is it going so far? The Daily 3

Today is the ninth day of the school year and I wanted to report my progress toward implementing the Daily 5 in my fourth grade classroom.  After reading The Daily 5 , I discovered toward the end of the book the authors recommend only using three of the five in an intermediate classroom: Read to Self, Read to Someone, and Work on Writing.  As my students build endurance, I have been able to give my students a quick screening tool and begin running records.  I am currently reading The CAFE book and I have begun building my assessment notebook.

I would love to hear about other teacher's successes and challenges using this program.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Quote of the Week -- September 16, 2012

“If school’s function is to create the workers we need to fuel our economy, we need to change school, because the workers we need have changed as well.” 

Seth Godin in Stop Stealing Dreams Section 6 “Changing what we get, because we’ve changed what we need”

Friday, September 14, 2012

Have you visited Math Spies Lately?

When I went to London this summer, I knew I would write a Math Spies Episode set in London.  Last weekend I posted the third mission in this series.   The focus is adding and subtracting money.

In case you are not familiar with Math Spies, this is a website I write for my students.  Each mission has a series of math problems the spies must solve.  I am currently working on Episode 4.  Each episode has seven missions.  The math concepts are most appropriate for grades 4-6.

I hope you have a chance to use this resource with your students.  My students enjoy solving the scenarios and have even made suggestions about the situations the Math Spies should encounter.  Please leave me questions in the comments.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Seer of Shadows by Avi

My students often complain that I don't have enough ghost stories in my classroom library.  This summer I discovered a ghost story that I would be willing to have in my room.

Avi writes quality historical fiction with interesting characters.  The main character has been brought up in a very scientific home.  He is apprenticed to a photographer who is more interested in getting money from his wealthy customers than working at his craft.  When the photographer wants to fool one of his customers into believing he has taken a picture of her dead daughter, Horace notices something about the image that can't easily be explained.

I have created a free character sketch form to go with this and any other novel.

To find out more about my rating scale, click here.
Find me at Goodreads.

Monday, September 10, 2012

What's in a name?

The first day of school I have a ritual I have stuck with for as many years as I can remember.  I have the students look at the name tags and tell me if that is the name they want to be called.  I make a big deal about how a sign of respect is calling someone by name.  We discuss nicknames and how some show that you belong and others are insulting.  This year I added a time in our morning meetings where students challenge themselves to go around the circle remembering each person's name.

Over the summer at a family reunion, I was called by a name that makes me cringe.  It's one of those childhood names that one sheds when they get older.  No one else calls me this name.  I hesitated to correct the family member.

It did cause me to think about my ritual and the way I want to show my students that I respect each of them and that I want them to respect each other in this way.

As I have said before, a nickname not agreed to by giver and receiver is name-calling.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Quote of the Week -- September 9, 2012

“Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” 

William Butler Yeats

Friday, September 7, 2012

Free Poetry Resource

Have you checked out my poetry blog Poems of Silliness?  I started this site because I did an April Poetry Challenge a couple of years ago where poets write a poem a day.  Last October, I challenged myself to post a poem today for a year.  Along the way, I investigated different forms of poetry and it has become a tool I use for teaching poetry in my class.

I am hoping that other teachers will find this resource useful.  You can search for a poem on a particular topic in the tool bar.  You can click on a tag to see a set of poems in a particular form. 

I can't wait to begin teaching poetry to my fourth graders this year.

Update June 2014: I have replaced the April 2012 & April 2013 challenges with 10 Poetry Forms.  This packet is all the same poetry lessons in one place.  To download the freebie 10 Poetry Forms from TPT, click here.  To download the freebie 10 Poetry Forms from TN, click here.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Have you ever missed the first day of school?

Our first day of school is this Wednesday.  A few weeks ago a family member began showing signs of serious illness -- serious enough that I wondered if I would miss the first day of school.

In twenty-two years, I have missed only two: my father's death and a case of intense food poisoning.  Each of those days, I had an intern that I had prepared who could help cover.  Each of those days I had my own first day of school where I set the tone for the year.

Life happens.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Quote of the Week -- September 2, 2012

Give people a reason to come to work, not just a place to go to work.

Simon Sinek

How do I incorporate this idea in my classroom?
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