Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year's Linky!

Over at Secondary Solutions, Kristen invited me to her Linky Party!  I can genuinely say that I was so excited when I got the email (much like how our students are excited to be invited to that "cool" party).  I am relatively new to blogging--I started just this past school year--so it was all pretty exciting.  Anyway, all you middle level teachers should link up here at Secondary Solutions Linky!

Also, I was happy to see that some of my favorite blogs to read like Adventures of a 6th Grade Teacher have already joined in the fun.  I would recommend one of my other favorites, Finding JOY in 6th.  Both blogs are AWESOME as we tackle 6th grade ELA!

One blog that I just found through this Linky is Miss Orman's Class.  She teaches HS but I LOVE her TpT store FREE resources for the new year.  Modified for my little monsters, they will be perfect for this week, as I am sure I will spend a good chunk of it teaching, and reteaching, how to conduct ourselves in ELA after this LONG (but much needed) break!!!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Word Wall Revised

This past week has been a week of revision.  We had a snow day and a half day, so it was probably not the best week to stir stuff up, but yet I did.  We re-did our Word Wall, fixing the letters so that they had a background of orange, and expanded the space.  We also added the Word Party costume pictures so that we can easily lookup the write words.  Take a look:

Love it!

Organizing Centers

I decided that my old system of setting students up for centers wasn't flexible enough.  I needed students to be able to work in more flexible groups, and have this change each and every week.  Enter my latest invention.  I'm not going to lie and say that this is an easy system to create, set up, organize, or maintain each and every week.  I'd be lying if I said I had it mastered so far.  And I would be equally as much of a liar if I said my students understood this.  Although, they are adapting well, given that this is only their third week using it.

It looks like this:
Yeah.  It looks insane, I know.  Basically, there is a section for each student, and 6 center task cards for each student's name.  The 6 centers are still: Flex, Read to Someone, Read to Self, Word Work, Listening, and Writing.  Here's a better look at it close up:

Each student decorated their own business-sized card label.  Each student has a section of the pouch chart (so nicely given to me by another teacher who wasn't using it!) and 6 color coded cards.  After they complete a station, they flip the task card over.

HERE is where I made it complicated.  One of the foundational components of the "Daily 5" which I modified for my classroom is student choice.  I needed to give choice.  AND I needed to pick some of the cards.  So at the start of each center week, I have to set up which cards are "stationary", meaning I pick them and kids don't move them, and which ones I allow for a choice.  The nice part is that I usually split it 50/50.  That way, I can separate kids who shouldn't be working together at certain stations, while at the same time I allow them choice for others.  I am working on a printable that will help me organize it on paper before trying to arrange my cards.  I will post on this soon!! :-)

Quia & Quotations

So I know I have already ranted on about Quia and it's awesome-ness.  Once again, I am amazed.  Teaching Author's Purpose this week, I found a battleship style game that kept the kids entertained and learning during the FLEX center.  YES. 

Here was a new way I set up for students to practice quotations.  Students rolled out a mat which had paragraphs/sayings on them.  They then used elbow macaroni to put " " quotations around the parts that needed to have this punctuation.  Cute!  And they seemed to enjoy it!
Pasta Rocks!

Newest Addition to Writer's Workshop

Soooo I have been working on writing with my kiddos all year.  It has become however, a terrible nightmare to keep all of their writing organized. ie: who is behind, who is ahead, who do I need to conference with, who is ready for a peer editing conference?

Yes.  Victory.  This sweet little sorter made entirely from recycled boxes, leftover contact paper and printout labels I made on the computer.  It's lovely.  Students leave their writing folders in whichever step of the writing process they are in.  Finished work goes into the last box so I can grade it and then conference with students as time allows.  It is wonderful.  I would highly recommend any teacher take the time to make one, use purchased magazine holders, or come up with a similar system.  Life has gotten 10 times easier since this.  Before, I had a stack of folders in a bin which was a total pain!  This makes it easy to find and see. Plus, now that it's November, I remember which folder belongs to which student so I can easily say "I need _________ to work on _________!"

Yayyy organization