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A Special Shout Out to the Teachers! - This is me, one of my professors from Waldorf College, and the group of student teachers for this past semester.
The Goodbye Is The Hardest Part - Yesterday marked the first full week without my middle schoolers. It's crazy how you get so attached to the little guys in such a short time. 🙂 🙁
Creating Eiffel Towers Out of Canned Goods! - For the last day of my student teaching placement, students in Dugout (the group of sixth, seventh, & eighth graders that hang together on Fridays at 10:30) participated in a canned food drive where they made sculptures out of their items!
House on Mango Street Final Vignette-Writing Project - This is my last week in the middle school, which is extremely bittersweet. To finish things out with my eighth graders, I created a final project--vignette-writing!
Nothing’s Better Than PJ’s on a Friday - Today was Pajama Day at Forest City Middle School. Pay a dollar and wear some comfy pj's. All proceeds donated to the American Cancer Society. Of course I had to join!
Esperanza Character Chart - Esperanza, the main character of House on Mango Street is a dynamic character that undergoes much change from the first vignette to the last. She is the main figure in the coming of age story, and it's essential that students understand who she is and how she changes through the course of the story.
You Are the Teacher for the Day - I love switching up the way I teach lessons. Last night, I had this great idea of changing how I teach the vignettes in House on Mango Street. What if I made my students and I switch roles? What if they were the teachers for the day? What would they teach me about the given vignettes?
Wolves Research Projects (Pt. 2) - The Wolves Research Project is something that I did with my sixth graders from start to finish. I did a pre-activity (Adopt a Pet), taught them how to research, instructed them on the CRAP test for credible sources, then helped them take notes and create their unique projects.
Themes in House on Mango Street - Themes are so important in House on Mango Street. From identity, home, and family to growing up, friendship, and culture, the book is filled with themes and it's essential that students understand them. Thus I created a notes sheet and lesson designed to help students grasp the main ideas of each vignette.
Sarah Plain & Tall – KWL Chart - Today's focus for Book Club is on the book, Sarah Plain and Tall, which is an easy read I selected to read with my students during the M-Th 30 minute class sessions.
A Complete 6-Week Unit for House on Mango Street - Am I joking? No. This is not a joke! Here is a 6-week plan for House on Mango Street that you can easily view and download here: Complete 6 Week House on Mango Street Unit.
What the Heck is Smore? - One of my students showed this website to me: Smore. This is a place where students, teachers, anyone can easily create an awesome-looking newsletter. FOR FREE!
Class Dojo - Have you heard of Class Dojo? This is an awesome way for teachers and parents to stay connected and stay updated on student behavior.
Post-Turkey Day Reflection (Week 13) - Ahh...the snow is blowing, the leftover mashed potatoes are settling at the pit of my stomach, and our first school day back after the holiday break is cancelled. Can you say crazy?
Theme of Growing Up – Notes - One of the major themes in House on Mango Street is growing up. As Esperanza grows up, she starts to realize things about herself and the adult world--hence why this is called a 'coming of age' novel!
Dear Sixth Grade Self - As my eighth graders discussed the theme of growing up in the novel House on Mango Street, I had them connect the idea to their own lives---How had they grown up? Especially in the transition from sixth to eighth grade?
Contemporary Music & Reading - “Hey, can I talk to you for a minute?” I pulled one of my Book Club students aside after class. He had been dozing on and off the entire thirty minutes (yes, Book Club is only thirty minutes) and I wanted to see what was up. “Look,” I said, “I know you’re tired, but it hurts my feelings when you fall asleep during my class."
Learning On My Feet - My student teaching experience has taught me to learn on my feet, which means always being prepared and positive, no matter what the day might throw at me. With crazy schedules, snow days, and lessons taking off in completely different directions, I've realized the most important thing is to take things one step at a time.
“Us & Them” Comic - Students need a break from the same-ole-same-ole. That's why I wanted to create a comic activity to spice things up! My students were reading "Those Who Don't," one of the shortest vignettes in House on Mango Street.
“Darius & the Clouds” Activity - My students finish assessments at different points--this is a given--but it makes it essential to create extension activities and keep them busy and focused on the classroom curriculum.
I Am ___. - I'm excited for today's activity! For the past two weeks I've worked with my eighth grade students on understanding figurative language. They did Notes, the My Figurative Language Family assignment for practice, and now this will be their actual assessment--but a fun one!
Role of Women - The role of women is a huge theme in House on Mango Street, even in the early vignettes. Today's lesson focused on "Marin" and "Alicia Who Is Afraid of Mice" and my eighth graders compared/contrasted the two girls and related their stories to the already existing theme of the degradation of Mexican women.
Wolves Project – Writing Help - Today my sixth graders were continuing with their notes for the Wolves Research Project. Many of them were finished and looking to move towards their project-making, but before that, my co-teacher and I wanted them to write. To make things easier for them to understand, I created a new Google Document to help them stay organized and get a better grasp on the writing part of the project.
Emails Home - Communication with parents is huge, and when one of my eighth graders was gone for a week, I made sure to get involved with not only him, but his parents to catch him up on things he missed.
Text-to-World Connections - As my Book Club students grasped text-to-self connections, it was time to move to text-to-world. To help them understand this, I created a PowerPoint/Google Presentation and walked through it with them.
Connecting to Novel Characters - Making connections while reading is hard! That's why I created this resource to help not only my struggling readers in Book Club, but for for any struggling reader or young reader (fifth grade through eighth grade).
Learning Targets & Lesson Planning - At the start of every week, I post our plan and learning targets. Sometimes these targets even change daily! This is a simple way I plan for my classes, keep students aware of the weekly objectives, and make the learning relevant.
“Louie, His Cousin and His Other Cousin” – Report Writing - Today my eighth graders read "Louie, His Cousin, and His Other Cousin." In this vignette, we're introduced to a family of cousins that live on Esperanza's block (one of which is Marin, the oldest, who we will talk about tomorrow!) and one of them is the unnamed cousin who one day shows up with a brand new, shiny, yellow car.
My Grading Process - Standards-Based Grading can be crazy, but it's something been completely thrown into and have to accept 🙂 It's not so bad on the teacher end once you get started with it. It's just very individualized. And can be quite a lot of work.
What Does Friendship Mean to Me? - Today I had my eighth graders focus on the idea of friendship--What is friendship? What does friendship mean to us? What defines a solid friendship?--I had my students write their ideas all over the white board in a silent-discussion format and then we talked through them.
Wolves Research Project - Piggy-backing off of the previous research activity I did with my sixth graders for practice, the Adopt a Pet, I started this week with a Wolves Research Project.
Monster in the Barn - For Book Club, I'm always looking for good resources to help my students make connections to their reading. I came across this great source from ReadWorks, and I created two sets of questions to correspond and help with text-to-self and text-to-world connections!
Dear Mom and Dad - To help my sixth graders understand how to research and get some practice before their assessment on informative/explanatory writing, I had them work on the Adopt a Pet project, where they had to research an animal of their choice, take notes, and then draft a letter to their parents/guardians about why they should buy that pet!
Poetry Connections - Making text-to-self connections can be pretty simple when you're working with a story, explanatory text, or short passage. Poetry, on the other hand, can be a challenge. That's why I wanted to specifically work on this with my Book Club students.
The Super Short Week (Week 11 Reflection) - This week was the shortest week in history! We didn't have school on Wednesday because our high school volleyball team made it to state (hooray!) and then we had off on Friday because of conferences on Monday and Tuesday
“My Name/My Family Crest” - How can I connect students and their home lives to House on Mango Street? The answer is a family crest, giving students the opportunity to learn more about their unique cultures and connecting their lives to the life of the main character, Esperanza.
What is Dugout? - Dugout is a program put into place on Fridays at Forest City Middle School. The focus is to promote relationships between students and teachers outside of the curriculum.
Adopt a Pet Activity - Once my students moved from their How Do I Research? introduction presentation to The C.R.A.P. Test worksheet to help them find credible sources to gather notes from, they were finally ready to take notes! Yay!
The CRAP Test (And Notes) - I introduced my students to their research project, 'Adopt a Pet,' where they would choose an animal to research, collect two legitimate websites, take notes (in their own words) and write a short letter to their parents/guardians, convincing them to buy that animal as a pet!
How Do I Research? - My sixth graders are going to begin a short research activity to prepare them for a larger research project on wolves the following two weeks. For this short research activity, I wanted them to research about an animal that they would want to have as a pet...but before doing that, I knew I needed them to understand how to research and how to find credible sources.
Week 10 – Mock Sub Notes and Overplanning - I wasn't able to be in class on Friday due to a doctor's appointment, so to prepare myself for my future teaching career, I created mock sub notes for my cooperating teacher, so that she would know exactly what I wanted my students to do for each class period!
Teaching Figurative Language! - Figurative language is so complicated, yet so much fun! I created this AMAZING (okay, I might be bragging just a little, but I'm super excited!) resource to teach students. It is a scaffolded set of notes that include examples, pictures, and even song clips for learning figurative language in more ways than one!
A House, A Home - After reading "House on Mango Street," the first section in the book, this is a great way to help students visualize the Mango Street house and compare/contrast it to their own.
Connecting to Holes, by Louis Sachar - Who doesn't like the book Holes, by Louis Sachar? This is one of my favorite books from my elementary/middle school years. And because it's such a good book, I wanted my Book Club kids to connect to a descriptive passage in it.
Perseverance Unit Reflection - A powerful skill for students to be able to master, especially by eighth grade, is the ability to reflect and synthesize information. As students finished out their units on perseverance (Hunger Games for my section) my co-teachers and I wanted to create a final reflection to see how they connected their novels, people they researched, and collaborative discussions.
Boys vs. Girls - I wanted to do something fun with my eighth graders today--a discussion/debate between girls and guys--that related to House on Mango Street.
My Favorite Book - My Book Club is made of eighth grade Reading Intervention students who really struggle with reading. One of my girls told me, point blank on the first day, "I don't read." My goal is to change that by making reading fun and by caring about the students and working with them individually over the course of the three/four weeks.
What the Heck is a Vignette? - To introduce my students to House on Mango Street, I knew I had to teach them about the book's format: vignettes.
Introductory Letter to Parents/Guardians - Just like I did in my first student teaching placement at Mason City High School, I wanted to introduce myself to students and parents and send them something that would help us get to know one another before I began full-time teaching.
FCHS Conferences – Round 2! - Since I had started my placement in the middle of the year, I had less of a head role in these conferences than I had at the high school. I will still very excited to be a part of all of them, chiming in with information, ideas, notes, and positives about each of my cooperating teacher's ten students.
Intro to House on Mango Street – WebQuest - As my eighth graders were finishing up their collaborative discussions on people who have persevered, I wanted to transition into the next unit--House on Mango Street--so I created a WebQuest that they could work on when they weren't discussing with their groups! A great time-saver and way to have them learn independently and still be productive towards finishing their previous unit.
Making Connections - Today's (and this week's) Book Club topic is making connections, specifically making a Text-to-Self connection. To help my students understand this, I created a presentation and notes sheet.
Intro to Making Connections - Today was my first day with my Book Club students, so to get to know them (there's only five!) and to introduce the topic we'd be covering in the first few weeks, I created an intro activity!
Week 9 – I’m Ready! I’m Ready! - After a second full week at the middle school, I feel like I have a good grasp on students, their behaviors, names, interactions, and most importantly how to teach them. I've integrated into the classrooms pretty well, teaching mini-lessons, helping with instruction, and working as a co-teacher. Now I'm ready to take over!
My Kids Write the Darndest Things! (Halloween Style) - Okay, this one made me crack up. (And cry a little on the inside)
Help Me With Halloween! - To keep with the Halloween spirit, I created an extension activity that incorporated the holiday and student writing--Help Me With Halloween!
Someone Else’s Shoes - Another extension activity! This time I made the students think creatively and outside the box.
Sentences Competition - Today my sixth graders were finishing up the editing process for their personal narratives. They were all at different places--just starting, halfway through, almost done--so I decided to create some fun, Halloween-related extension activities for those who were finished.
Extension Activities - With Standards-Based Grading, students may be at completely different levels of learning. There might be a student completely finished writing her narrative, while another boy is just finishing up his paragraph--polar opposites--so how do you accommodate? The answer: Extension Activities.
CRAP Test - My eighth graders are working on a perseverance project to tie into Hunger Games. To connect main character Katniss' life with other lives, the students are researching a person in their field of interest and finding evidence as to how that individual persevered through difficult times and challenges. To do this, they need to use the internet---thus the CRAP Test--finding reliable sources.
Pre-Planning House on Mango Street - Next week I will completely take over the eighth grade classes and teach House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros. Since I will become, in my cooperating teacher's place, one of the two eighth grade English/Reading teachers, I needed to plan and collaborate ahead of time to prepare for teaching the book.
The Boring Words Funeral - Today my 6th grade co-teachers and I held a Boring Words Funeral for the overused, boring, '2nd/3rd grade' words in our vocabulary. This was a very somber event. Students and teachers wore black. We wrote words down on notecards, placed them in burial shoe box, processed around the room, and said our final words.
Assessing Character Symbols - Okay, Marisa. You can do this. I coach myself as I begin my first Standards-Based Grading. Just be honest. Be consistent. And be smart.
Concerns from the Community – Standards-Based Grading - "When I think about my school experience, I think of multiple choice and true-false and fill-in-the-blank. I think of a score at the top of the page. What kind of feedback is that?"
My Hamburger Narrative - The focus of my sixth grade classes is narrative writing: short stories about the student's own lives. To help with the structure of writing a short story, we explained a hamburger model of writing. The buns are the topic and concluding sentences, the 'meat' is the essential components of the story, and the condiments are the supporting details, evidence, and sensory details!
Week 8 Reflection – Middle School Isn’t Too Bad - Heading into my first week at Forest City Middle School, everyone at the high school said I'd be wishing to be back after day one. (They made me nervous, I'm not going to lie!) But I was ready for a change and for some younger faces. So I braved the halls of FCMS with a confident face.
Integrating Hunger Games Movie Clips - My eighth graders finished the Hunger Games today. Boy, did I forget how heart-wrenching the ending of the first book was! In addition to the Character Symbol activity I had them working on, I also wanted to integrate the movie in some way, so I used YouTube clips and a discussion post on Google Classroom to enhance and deepen student understanding of the end of the book.
Book Talk: A Face First - Encouraging students to read is important. As a teacher, modeling reading is even more important! So today I gave a book talk on one of my favorite books from elementary/middle school: A Face First.
What Is Skills Iowa? - One of the assessments my cooperating teacher uses for her sixth grade Reading/Literacy is Skills Iowa. These are assessments that match with the Common Core and show learner progress in specific areas.
Hungry Hungry Hippos! - This was a super fun activity that FCMS participated in during their Dugout time--a human-sized, human-version of Hungry Hungry Hippos!
Baladino! - One of my first extracurricular activities at Forest City Middle School happened in my first week! On Tuesday there was an assembly for the musical group Baladino! Okay, I thought heading into the gym, I hope this is good. Boy, was I in for a surprise!
Connecting to Book Club - When I started my second placement, my cooperating teacher was in her last week of meeting with the second round of Book Club students. These kids would switch the first week in November. However, I still wanted to get to know them, so I started engaging through Google Classroom.
Character Symbols - Today I am completely taking over the 8th grade classes! They are almost finished reading the Hunger Games and since the standard that we are assessing is the ability to cite textual evidence and make an inference, I created a Character Symbols worksheet to help them work on inferences in a different (and hopefully fun) way!
The Whats and Whys of Standards-Based Grading - The goal is to remove traditional grades from the education system and have the focus be on learning. Are students learning new skills? Are they proficient in those skills?
First Day of FCMS Professional Development - PD Days are on Wednesdays at Forest City Middle School. There's a shortened schedule, and students are let out at 2, which means from 2:15-4 is an all-staff meeting/professional development/teacher prep time.
Hunger Games – Scaffolded Notes - I stepped into this placement at Forest City Middle School while my eighth grade students were in the middle/end of reading Hunger Games. This was a difficult spot to enter, but I squeezed myself into the lessons by reading aloud to the students and helping with scaffolded notes.
Note Card Names! - It's round two of the note card name tags (well, sort of). Just like I did at the beginning of my first placement at Mason City High School, I had students create note card name tags with their names on the front and three things they wanted me to know about them on the back!
Welcome to Middle School - "It'll be crazy." "You'll be calling right away, begging to come back to high school!" "Those kids are nuts!" This is what I heard the days leading up to my second placement at Forest City High School. Uh oh. I thought. I'm going to be in over my head.
Saying Goodbye to My Honors Classes - Friday was my last day at Mason City High School, bittersweet to say the least. Saying goodbye to my Honors 10 group was tough. I had become particularly fond of them.
Pre-Placement Meeting: Round 2 - Earlier this morning, I met with my second placement cooperating teacher, Mrs. Sopko! Even though it's been sad leaving my students at MCHS, I'm excited to work with new students and get a taste of the middle school daily life at Forest City!
Notes on My Students - As my first placement comes to a close, there's one thing I wanted to make sure to do before leaving: create a student note sheet for my cooperating teacher so that she knows a little about each student going back into full-time teaching.
Saying Goodbye to English 10 - Wow, where to start with this group? These students were mine from day one. They were my most challenging, but my most rewarding group. And they taught me a lot about being a tenth grader.
Saying Goodbye to My American Seminar Kids - Saying goodbye to my American Seminar students came first--this was the first class I gave back to Stanton, and while they were moving beyond The Scarlet Letter, I slaved over their grades in the back of the room. 😛
Unit Planning – Honors 10 - I was extremely nervous about teaching tenth grade Honors English at first, but once I started planning out what I was going to do, I felt a lot better.
Compare & Contrast – Tuesdays with Morrie Movie - My kids finished reading Tuesdays with Morrie! Yay! To complete the unit, I wanted the students to watch the movie and to compare the book and the movie--understanding literature through multiple lenses.
Who Is Morrie Now? - As a closing and wrap-up activity for Tuesdays with Morrie, I asked my students to take out their drawings from the beginning of the semester, there initial pictures of who Morrie was.
Journal – Community and Justice System - My sophomore Honors English students had just finished reading Part I of To Kill a Mockingbird, and as a transition activity, I had them journal for the first 10-15 minutes of class about these two topics: community influence and the country's justice system.
Unit Planning – American Seminar - Planning for classes became a daily, weekly, and monthly ritual as I started student teaching. As my first placement comes to a close, it's been exciting to see how far I've come from the first day and reflect on my curriculum planning.
My Kids Say the Darndest Things, Part 4 - Oh boy, being a high school student teacher at age twenty-two, while looking like a high schooler myself, has its challenges for sure! One of those is when a typical teenage boy writes something flirty on the white board for you to see after class.
My Kids Say the Darndest Things, Part 3 - Being a teacher means there's no shortage of laughs. This is the latest, written in a formal essay about Hemingway's Old Man and the Sea. Sometimes you just have to laugh.
Unit Planning – English 10 - Planning for my English 10 classes was different--these periods, one and four, I was taking over from the start. I needed to have a plan from day one all the way to my final day, October 16th.
Quiz – Ch. 9 & 10 - Time for another pop quiz! This time it's over chapters 9 & 10 in TKAM.
Relationships in TKAM - "Who the heck is related to who?" This is what one of my students said to me as we reached one of the final chapters of Part II and were introduced to the Christmas scene. I took a pause out of my lecture/discussion and drew a goofy map on the board.
Discussion – Let’s Get Moving! - "How can I make teaching this book interesting?" I said to myself aloud, in the middle of the library, like a crazy person. It was a Sunday night and I was putting together my teaching plans for Monday. My Honors 10 students were just starting Part I of To Kill a Mockingbird and I wanted them to have fun. I needed some inspiration.
Parents Say the Darndest Things, Too! [ An Unexpected Conference] - Conferences are supposed to be this warm and fuzzy time where you talk to parents about their students, celebrate their successes, discuss areas for growth, and go over the activities and progress made since the first day of school...right? Well, in an ideal world.
Life Lessons From Morrie – Final Paper - For this assignment, students were to choose two aphorisms/quotes/life lessons and define them, define them as they were presented in the book, and relate them to their personal lives.
Peer Reading - Okay, I thought. We'll see how this goes. I stood at the front of the class. "Today we're going to finish the book. I'd like you to find a partner of your choice and read this final section, 'Afterward' aloud."
Point of View Paper - To change up activities for To Kill a Mockingbird, I had the students write the scene at the Radley House (where Jem, Scout, and Dill try to peer through the window and Jem loses his pants) through the eyes of one of the characters.
It’s a Bad Day. I’m Not a Bad Teacher - Okay, Marisa. I tell myself as I watch my students walk out of my first period class. Hold it together. Don't cry. You are fine. Everything will be fine. You can do this.
Seeing Through My Students’ Eyes - In my sophomore Honors English class, I assigned a pop quiz over chapters 3 and 4 in To Kill a Mockingbird. As I went to grade the quizzes, I saw that one of my students didn't hand in a quiz--and she was in class! I chalked it up to the fact that she probably hadn't read, and when I saw her next, I told her I didn't get a quiz from her. "I couldn't see the board," she said simply.
Pop Quiz – Ch. 3-4 - Four chapters in to the book? Pop quiz time! Call me a mean teacher, but I wanted to check that my students were reading, so I gave them a quiz over chapters 3 and 4 in To Kill a Mockingbird.
Weekly Reflection #6 – Finding a Plan for Late Work - A lot happened this week: first round of conferences, introducing To Kill a Mockingbird, finishing up The Scarlet Letter, final activities for Tuesdays with Morrie, gathering and grading assignments--I was busy! One thing I've taken away from this week's craziness, however, is that I need to establish a better system for late work.
“Graduation” and “Conclusion” Scaffolded Notes - After reading aloud and realizing that my students were struggling with comprehension, I decided to create a set of scaffolded notes for them to take home over the weekend and complete while reading.
Today’s Goals - In my classroom, I have my "I Can" board which states the classroom standards and 'I Can' statements pertaining to those standards. However, I wanted to branch out from the classroom standards and make something specific, for each day. So I created "Today's Goals".
Planning My Last Few Days - As my first placement at Mason City High School comes to a close, there are a few things I've done to keep myself organized. One is to make a plan of my classes.
Modern-Day Scarlet Letters - I truly believe that students learn best when they are asked to relate content to their personal lives. That was my goal with this ending, fun activity–Modern-Day Scarlet Letters–applying the theme of hidden vs. exposed sin to students’ own lives.
Journal 4 – The “Nightline” Show - As I begin to wrap up Tuesdays with Morrie in my English 10 classes, I wanted to give students the opportunity to form an opinion. Some of my students love the book. Some don't. I wanted to get them working on opinion-based narrative writing, dip into persuasive writing, and most importantly, make arguments and back them up with support!
TKAM – Ch. 1 & 2 - There's a lot going on in the first few chapters of To Kill a Mockingbird. To help my students with their comprehension and understanding, I had them use a study guide to help with note-taking.
12th Tuesday Comprehension Questions - Something I started doing with my sophomore English students was read aloud from Tuesdays with Morrie. This began as an idea to help my ESL student and other struggling readers, but then it became a necessary tool to keep all students on track with their reading.
The Scarlet Letter Final Essay - Every good unit ends with a paper (says every English teacher in the world!). And for The Scarlet Letter, I couldn't agree more!
Finishing The Scarlet Letter - As my American Seminar students read The Scarlet Letter, we had some great whole-class discussions. Wrapping up the book was no different.
MCHS Conferences – Round 1! - At Mason City High School, conferences are split into two days, two Tuesdays. The first night was October 6th, and I was thrilled to be a part of it!
Vocab Terms: Part I - Vocabulary in To Kill a Mockingbird is difficult! Even as a college grad, I found myself struggling not only to understand some words, but even how to pronounce them!
TKAM – Character Maps - To Kill a Mockingbird can be a challenging text, just due to the fact that there are so many characters! I wanted to help my students organize and keep the characters straight, so I created a character map.
Reincarnation Activity - Today my students are taking their 5th-9th Tuesday Quiz, but after that, I wanted them to have a little fun.
My 504 Writing Student - From the beginning of my student teaching placement, I've had experience with and learned about 504 plans. It wasn't until my final week, however, that I received the official documentation of one of my student's 504 Plans. This document really helped me to see and understand how 504 accommodations worked in a classroom.
Weekly Goal #5 – Being a Honest Grader - This week I've reflected on the vastly different backgrounds my students have and bring to the classroom every day. This has been eye-opening, but I have to admit, it's changed my thinking a little. Which is both good and bad.
An Eye-Opening Experience - My student teaching experience at Mason City High School has so far been an incredibly eye-opening experience. If I could name the one, most important thing that I'm pulling away from my time here, is that students come from such varied, different, and often difficult backgrounds.
5th-8th Tuesday, Study Guides and Quiz - After reading the 5th-8th Tuesdays both independently and as a class, I wanted to give my students a quiz. This time, however, I wanted a more challenging quiz, as my students had done very well on the last, multiple choice and true-false quiz.
Peer Editing - Peer editing is a wonderful tool...if done effectively. When students read one another's work, they are able to see and fix errors in their peer's papers, as well as translate those changes to their own papers. They also are able to take a critical eye and put themselves in a teacher's seat for a moment, hopefully looking at their work from a flipped perspective.
My Kids Say the Darndest Things, Pt. 2 - Being a teacher means you're constantly surrounded by kiddos---and some of them are going to make you laugh out loud. In my American Seminar class, I had an essay question as part of our Mid-Book Quest (Quiz-Test) and here's something one of my kids wrote that made me chuckle.
Poetry Workshop - To connect on a deeper, more personal level to Tuesdays with Morrie, I had my students write poems about their 'Morries', the influential people in their lives.
Forest Scene Story - Okay, I'll admit it...sometimes reading The Scarlet Letter and its Old English can be difficult, and a little dry. I wanted my students to take a break for a minute and do something creative!
Intro to To Kill a Mockingbird - I haven't read To Kill a Mockingbird in ages. But I knew I loved the book and I wanted my students to feel the same. To begin working with the novel, I set up a classroom activity. I split the class into groups with several topics to help preview some of the essential background information.
7th Tuesday Reading Quiz - Want to check that your students are reading? Here's a simple quiz you can give them over the "Seventh Tuesday".
Scarlet Letter Discussion Groups - My American Seminar students have read up through chapter 18 in The Scarlet Letter. This point in the novel is filled with important themes, changes, symbols, and relationships, and to make sure my students were noticing and understanding these, I made a group discussion activity for them.
Who’s My Morrie? - I wanted to switch up activities in my English 10 classes and instead of having them write another journal or essay-type of response, I decided to have them write two poems. These would be about people who influenced them positively--their 'Morries'.
Journal 3 – Family - To help my students connect their lives to the story, Tuesdays with Morrie, I wanted them to write about themselves--right now, in this moment.
Emailing with Parents - In one of my English 10 classes, I have a student with a 504 Plan. He struggles, and sometimes I'm worried that he isn't grasping concepts, despite me working one-on-one with him during class time as much as I can.
My Kids Say the Darndest Things! (A Little Humor for Your Monday) - I'm having my English 10 students write in first person--narrative, autobiographical papers and journals. These can be tough because they're a mix of conversational and academic writing...but sometimes I just have to laugh at the hilarious, ridiculous things they write.
5th Tuesday – Tuesdays with Morrie - The "Fifth Tuesday" in Tuesdays with Morrie is important because it talks about relationships, family, and family that goes beyond blood. These were important points I wanted my students to grasp, so I made worksheets and study guides to help with their learner development.
Weekly Reflection/Goal #4 - What I've learned this week? If you want to see what your kids have learned, you might have to make them do several projects and papers...and they might hate you.
Even the Best Plans May Fail - Well, I thought my ideas/lesson on Anne Bradstreet poetry were awesome. And I thought the students would hit the small-group presentations on Bradstreet poetry right out of the park! I was wrong.
Anne Bradstreet Poetry - In my American Seminar classes, the advanced 11th grade course on American literature, I did a mini-unit on Anne Bradstreet poetry.
Tuesdays with Morrie, Mid-Book Quest - I needed to asses my students' comprehension. It wasn't enough to read their worksheets or to peek over their shoulders during individual work time. I needed to know exactly what my students had learned, so I decided to make a Tuesdays with Morrie Mid-Book Quest.
My Grading/Planning System - Being a teacher can be difficult at times. There's typically 2084305 thoughts going on in your head at once--sometimes it's near impossible to keep it all straight!
Scarlet Letter Quiz - Tests and quizzes are great for making sure students have read and for assessing their comprehension. Across my classes, I've done plenty of formative assessments, but for my American Seminar class specifically, I needed to mix in a summative assessment to see how much the students had actually retained from reading and discussion and to see what parts of the book I needed to discuss.
Old Man and the Sea Thesis Statements - The next objective for my Honors 10 students was to write a thesis statement. In the class before, they had (on their own) brainstormed topics to write their research papers on. Now they were told to pick a topic/question and bring a thesis statement to class.
Old Man and the Sea – Paper Topics - Now that my students have presented on the Old Man and the Sea, their next objective was to write a paper on the book...but just like with the projects, I wanted the students to have ownership--they were going to pick their own topics.
Diversity, Differentiation, & Accommodation - My student teaching experience thus far has been incredible! The amount of diversity I've worked with, the differentiation that I've applied to my lessons, and the accommodations I've made have taught me so much about learners and learner differences. It's been such an awesome learning/growing experience!
Is Love Rational or Irrational? [Part 1] - Today I started my English 10 class in a very strange way. I sat at a chair in the front of the room, and for the first five minutes, stayed absolutely silent.
Journal #2 – Being Your Age - September 21: By this time, my English 10 students are up to page 60 in Tuesdays with Morrie. Perfect time to assign another journal.
My ELL Student - Having a student that struggles with English is difficult, even frustrating at times. But so incredibly rewarding to see him/her succeed!
504 Plans in My Classroom - What is a 504 Plan? A 504 Plan is for individuals that do not qualify for special education or specialized instruction, but still need accommodations for a disability that hinders their learning.
Weekly Journal #3 - My reflection on this week: it's okay to be tough.
Old Man and the Sea Projects - For today's lesson, I wanted to spice things up a bit. Over the past few days, the students in my Honors 10 classes had read The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway. The book is small, easy to read, but packed with symbolism and author influences. I wanted to see how much the students had comprehended, but I also wanted to challenge them to think deeply about the book--going beyond the simple plot line.
Connecting to Tuesdays with Morrie – Making Bucket Lists! - Today was a shortened day because of Homecoming. Classes were only twenty minutes, but I still wanted my students to do something pertaining to Tuesdays with Morrie, while being fun! So I had them make their own Bucket Lists!
Homecoming and Pep Rally! - Mason City Homecoming Week: This was my first time experiencing high school Homecoming out of high school. It was a strange and nostalgic week.
Tension of Opposites - One of the major themes early in Tuesdays with Morrie is tension, or 'Tension of Opposites,' as Morrie himself names it. I wanted my students to understand this, but I wanted to see how much they understood independently. So I made a worksheet.
Task List/Work Day - What's the solution to disruptive, easily-distracted students while not taking anything away from productive, doing-what-they're-supposed-to students? For me, and for my English 10 classes, the solution was a Task List/Work Day.
Who Am I/My Culture Paper - For one of the first major writing assignments in my English 10 classroom, I decided to have the students write a paper about three items that define them, 'Who Am I/My Culture Paper'. This began as an assignment/mini-speech [to read more about that, click here].
Who Am I/My Culture Assignment - To dig a little deeper and connect my Tuesdays with Morrie unit to Narrative writing, which my students have and will be doing for the remainder of the year, I decided to create a 'Who Am I/My Culture' Assignment.
What’s Wrong with My Summer Essay? - Okay, this sounds a lot harsher than it actually was...sort of.
Tuesdays with Morrie – Quiz 1 - After going through the book for several days as a class and having short Journal assignments and discussion, I decided to have a reading pop-quiz.
ALS Web Quest - Sometimes to understand a concept fully, students need to research and learn about the concept outside of the classroom discussion. This I've learned with Tuesdays with Morrie and his condition ALS [Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis].
Back to School Night - Tonight was Back to School Night, a night for parents to visit with teachers, walk student schedules, learn a little about classes, and share information about their children.
Employability Skills - What are 'Employability Skills'? According to MCHS and the rest of the district, Employability Skills are a set of standards that meet criteria such as responsibility, thinking creatively and critically, or being a self-directed learner, just to name a few.
Weekly Journal #2 - The goal of my first week of student teaching was to get my English 10 students involved and engaged with classroom material. As I reflect on this past week, my goal has completely shifted. Now, I'm trying to refocus my students and reel them back in.
Journal 1 – Connecting Student Lives to Tuesdays with Morrie - Students connect with a text when they are able to relate the content to their personal lives and make deeper, more personal connections.
Tuesdays With Morrie – Online Text - Let's face it. Students aren't always going to follow directions and bring their books to class, despite our best efforts to remind them. It's the sad reality about being a teacher.
Who Is Morrie Schwartz? - To introduce my students to the book, Tuesday with Morrie, and the main characters, I had my students close their eyes and listen as I read aloud.
Data Teams - Mason City High School has Data Teams, which are essentially groups of teachers within the same discipline that work together throughout the year to better their teaching, create challenging assessments and classroom activities, meet standards, collaborate, and motivate one another.
Connecting Lessons to Real-Life: ALS & The Ice-Bucket Challenge - As an intro activity to my English 10 class' first major reading, Tuesdays with Morrie, I wanted to talk about ALS and the complications of that disease since the main character, Morrie, struggles with ALS.
Intro to the Scarlet Letter - So how do you start teaching The Scarlet Letter? Where do you begin?
Varying Assessment – Google Classroom Assignments - Assessing students is not something that should be the same every time. Assessment is varied and in my classroom I understand and use formative, assumptive, ethical, and multiple assessment methods.
What Is My America? - One of my first assignments for my 11th grade American Literature class was called 'What Is My America?'.
Pre-Planning the Tuesdays with Morrie Unit - This is what I call the Novel-in-a-Notebook, a way to pre-plan for your lessons by having all of the pages of your text copied into your notebook for easy access, reference, and smart note-taking.
Weekly Goal #1 - My goal with my English 10 students, specifically, is to find ways to get them engaged in the material. Perhaps small group work, or with having them write something than share it will be more effective in getting them to speak up and share independently.
Classroom Organization – Computer Cards - In the week before classes began, I made these handy-dandy mini-binders what would be a great way to organize my class periods and computer information.
Name Tags! - One of the first activities I had my new students do is make name tags. Okay, sounds a little elementary, right? Wrong. Even though making name tags on the first day might be something done back in Kindergarten, there’s a way to make it relevant for even secondary students. [Or at least somewhat!] And that’s by making it a name activity rather than just a tag.
Creating a Syllabus - The first step in getting ready for my classes was to create a syllabus.
New Mohawk Day - Today was my first official day of teaching! Yay! I survived! 🙂 No, but in actuality today was New Mohawk Day, a day dedicated to freshmen (and only freshmen) to get them acquainted with faculty, staff, offices, classrooms, buildings, schedules, passing periods, lockers, etc. This is my planning for that first day experience.
Easy-Peasy Jeopardy Game - Today was New Mohawk Day at MCHS, a day where freshmen students get acquainted with school policies, such as reading the handbook...but I thought this was suuuuper boring! I wanted to spice things up! So I decided to create a jeopardy game of all the main points from the handbook!
Introductory Letter to Parents - Being a new teacher this year, there were a few things I wanted to do from the start.
Classroom Website - My goal today was to create a classroom website that my students could use to easily access classes, homework assignments, and announcements.
Professional Development, Continued - There's a lot for new teachers to soak up in the weeks before school starts--this I've learned in my PD/Inservice (Professional Development) Days.
Dealing with Diverse Learners – A Student with Hearing Loss - I attended a meeting yesterday for a student in one of my Honors classes. This student (named Student A for confidentiality purposes) is in the moderate range for hearing loss.
‘I Can’ Bulletin Board - To prepare for my classroom, I decided I wanted to make a bulletin board. And since this bad boy was picked up for only $1, I thought it would be perfect to recycle, revamp, and decorate for my 10th and 11th graders!
Starting Professional Development at MCHS - People don't buy what you do, they buy why you do it. This was the opening premise and strongest point I took away from today's Professional Development at Mason City High School (MCHS).
Welcome to My Classroom - I don't like the phrase 'classroom rules'. I prefer 'classroom expectations,' so that's what I implemented and talked about my first day of my first placement at Mason City High School.
Pre-Placement Meeting: Round 1 - Today I met with my first placement cooperating teacher, Mrs. Stanton. She's a wonderful lady, and last fall I was able to have clinical hours with her on Fridays, so I was already comfortable with her and her teaching style--I was eager to start!
Placements! - An announcement of my placements for Fall 2015.