Friday, October 29, 2010

How About Some Poe for Halloween?

Nothing like a little Edgar Allan Poe to set the mood for Halloween. GOAL students watched this movie of "The Tell Tale Heart" today. It's the same movie that I remember watching in 8th grade, and I think it still holds up pretty well. We also read "The Raven" and parts of "Cask of Amontillado." CREEPY STUFF!!!

The Tell Tale Heart - UPA (1954) from J.F. Culhane on Vimeo.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Weekly Preview: 10/25-10/29

Here is what is happening in room 101 next week:

Red Ribbon Week! We'll be celebrating all next week with different dress-up days. If you'd like to know more about the history of this week that reminds us to pledge to be drug-free, click here. Monday: “Twin Day” dress up for Red Ribbon Week! Double up to fight drugs! Tuesday: “Crazy Socks” day-Knock the socks off drugs!" Wednesday: “Team Day”-Join our team against drugs! Thursday: “Wear Red!” Honor red ribbon week! Friday: “Boot Day” Stomp out drug usage by wearing boots!

6th-8th GOAL: Monday will be your last class day to work on literature circle projects. These projects are your summative assessment (final test, in other words) over the literature circle unit. Since Tuesday is library day, we'll start presentations on Friday. Remember, I've shared the google doc with you about the requirements for the projects, if you need to refer to them.

7th Language Arts: Next week, you'll be working on the final drafts of your "If I Were Mayor, I Would..." essays. From there, we'll wrap up the trait of organization and move into the trait of voice. Week 10 in spelling focuses on adding suffixes to words ending in silent e. Pretest corrections and book p. 64 (1-20) are due Wednesday.

Spelling Week 10 Words:

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Uniting Against Bullying

10/20/10: The Day We Unite Against Bullying

Today, in support of the message "The End of Bullying Begins with Me" being shouted from coast to coast, I gave my classes the following assignment.
They could write any comment that came to mind. I had to share them here for your all... I copied them just like they wrote them.

I was blown away by the responses. They are touching and sincere and honest, and they remind me why I love teaching middle school. The responses give me hope for the future. Stick to your convictions, kids. You can change things!

Orange post-it notes (I have been bullied or I know someone who has been bullied):
* I do not want my family to get bullied.
* It is not funny to be bullied and people should not do it.
* This year I saw a bit of one of my closest friends being bullied. I wish I had done something.
* If you feelings are getting hurt, it is NOT tattle-tailing.
* I've been bullied before, and it hurt. I don't think anyone should have to go through that pain.
* Racist stuff
* I do not like seeing buling
* Bulling is a horrible thing to do. No child should have to endure being bullyed. Mentaly or physicaly it's a horrible thing.
* I don't think people should threaten people. Bullied 4 times.
* I think that people should put themselves in other people's shoes
* I have been called fat and short before right in front of a teacher and they didn't do anything about it.
* I've been bullied and I've seen my friends being bullied. It's not right at all. Bullied 3 times.
* No one should be phisically bullied or mentally. They both hurt. Inside and out.
* One time 4 boys surrounded me and started pushing, kicking, and punching me. It wasn't fun. I hope it doesn't happen to anyone else.
* If you don't like to be called it yourself don't say it to someone else!
* Take a stand for a bullied person
* Blend in with the crowd.
* I see it but don't stop it. Even though I should.
* Making others feel bad will only make you feel worse. It won't make you popular, or cool. Just don't - it hurts
* Getting an adult is the best thing to do
* It's also an action sometimes. Not words!
* Bullying should not go to the extreme like forming a gang and kicking, hiting, shoving.
* There is alot of bullying in FMS and I sometimes bully and I know its wrong
* It happened to them. I won't let it happen again.

Pink post-it notes (I promise to be kinder, more aware, and more respectful of how my behavior affects others):
* Sometimes, people hurt my feelings without meaning to, and realized I do the same thing sometimes.
* this alone can fully stop bullying
* I promise to not bully anymore. I will try to stop other people around me too.
* I will try to keep watch of my actions around people
* Your actions can affect, so I will be nicer!
* Bullying is mean, rude and makes people unhappy. :(
* I will not be not nice to my friends
* I will help people who are being bullied. I will also do what I can to be nicer to people
* Sometimes we bully without realizing it.
* I am a little harsh at times, but I promise to think before I speak.
* I sometimes bully myself and others, but not often.
* I have bullied people before. When I get mad I yell at them. I'm going to try to do better on that.
* I promise to help someone who is being bullied
* I will watch what I saw and do more now.
* I promise to be kinder or more respectful to people except the one who are asking for it.
* I will be kinder in everything I do. I will also help other that can't get an answer on a question
* I'll watch for bullying mor
* Sometimes my friends and I make fun of the girls who make fun of us. Whenever we would do this, I would think, "How am I any better than them by doing this?"
* If everybody does this there wouldn't be any more bullying
* I promise to be nicer and to not make rude jokes/comments.
* I wish bullying would stop in all schools. Life would be a lot easier for some kids
* I think bullying is very bad. I don't think people should do it.
* I promise to be nicer to people
* I call people names sometimes and I guess I never realized what I was doing was bullying too.
* To be respectful and to be more aware is to be a better person all the time. OH YEAH!
* Bullying is wrong
* Sometimes I do bully people but NOT on purpose I'm going to be more careful
* It's true, weve all been bullied. Some have it worse. They don't tell us that.
* Bullying helps no one.
* I've been bullied before by high-schoolers on my bus. I've also bullied people, which was a huge mistake.
* Bullying is a bad things. I've bullied before and been bullied
* Bullying need to stop no body likes it
* I will be nice.
* I shall become as kind as possible. I will treat others well and use my respect.
* I think some bullys aren't aware of the pain they cause

Blue post-it notes (I promise to take a stand to help someone who is being bullied):
* I'm not going to let anyone be bullied. Even if it is a small matter. I will stand up for what I believe in.
* I will stop anyone bullying a friend, or someone I don't know
* Bullying isnt nice. It is pointless and stupid and makes you look mean.
* I will help people by telling someone or helping if they are being bullied
* If you don't help someone thats getting bullied, that means your a bully too!
* it not nice to bully
* I promise to help stop bullying
* I've seen people on the bus fighting and cussing.
* If someone is being bullied I'll stand up for them.
* I will stand up for anyone being bullied
* Bullying is bad!!
* I can't stand to watch someone be bullied
* I see people getting bullied al the time. It never stops!
* I will never beat my dog ever. Even though I've never had before
* I'll defend someone even if it's not the popular thing to do.
* I think bulling is a very stupid thing. If you don't like someone, just don't talk to them
* I promise to do this or my name isent Bob
* Bullying needs to stop. It doesn't benifit anybody
* I think bullying is hurtful.
* When I walk down the hall I see people closing peoples lockers!
* I'm not usually bullied, but I hear people talking behind one specific friend of mine's back. I will take a stand.
* Taking a stand is very effective
* I try to stick up for everyone
* I think that everybody should take a stand if someone is being bullied
* Bulling is unexceptible
* I have seen bulling and I want to help stop it.
* I will take a stand because everybody has been there and it should be stopped People are killing themselves because of this.

After they wrote, I shared my feelings and thoughts. I told them about the Pacer Center's Day to Unite Against Bullying, we talked about why people bully or stay silent, and we talked about what they could do if they saw bullying happening around them.

The responses above are not perfect, in any sense, but the majority were so positive. I know it's easy to write what the teacher wants to hear one day in class, but I hope all these kids will take a little of today with them. It only takes a spark...

Friday, October 15, 2010

Weekly Preview, 10/18-10/21

Here's what's happening in room 101 next week... :)

I will be absent on Monday and Tuesday. I'll be attending the Iowa Talented and Gifted Association State Convention. It's always so informative and inspiring. I know I'll come back with a ton of good ideas for my classes!

6th, 7th, & 8th GOAL: Monday will be your last literature circle discussion. On Tuesday, before going to the library, you will complete your end-of-the-quarter self-evaluation for your reading contract. This will be your last grade of the quarter, and you will have until Tuesday to complete your 10 books for the quarter. On Wednesday, we'll be having mixed group discussions on the overall themes of your literature circles. Thursday and Friday, you'll work on your projects which will show your overall learning during the literature circle unit.

7th Language Arts: Next week, you'll be working on your "If I Were Mayor, I Would..." essays. These will be due on Thursday for teacher edit. Before that point, you should have a handwritten and revised rough draft, a typed and peer-conferenced (twice) second draft, a fixed and self-edited third draft, and a final draft ready for me to edit. The Week 9 spelling list focuses on the suffixes -tion and -ation. Pretest corrections and book p. 58 (1-20) are due on Wednesday. Spelling words include:

Week 9 Spelling Words

Also, there will be NO DRAMA CLUB this week due to me being absent. I'll see you in two weeks!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Mayor Malloy Comes to FMS

Mayor Ed Malloy visited Fairfield Middle School on Tuesday, October 12, 2010, as the kickoff to an upcoming 7th grade language arts assignment. 7th graders will all be entering an essay contest sponsored by the Iowa League of Cities. Their essays will start with the phrase "If I were mayor, I would...," and the papers will reflect on how the students would improve the towns where they live.

Mr. Dailey gave the introductions, and the mayor spoke about his job and answered a few questions from students. Now the 7th grade has a much better idea about what a mayor's responsibilities are. Their essays should be sensational!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Weekly Preview, 10/11-10/15

Here's what's coming up this week in room 101:

6th, 7th, & 8th grade GOAL: This will be the last full week of literature circles. You'll have discussions on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and next Monday (Tuesday: library day). Plan accordingly when deciding the number of pages to read each day.

7th language arts: We will be discussing the Organization trait of good writing this week. Tuesday, you'll have a special guest speaker, Mayor Ed Malloy, who will kick off our topic for the next big writing assignment. Every 7th grade student will be entering the "If I Were Mayor, I Would..." contest. We'll be writing rough drafts of these essays this week. For spelling, Week 8 words all fall under the topic Adding Suffixes to Words Ending in Silent e. Pretest corrections and p. 52 (1-20) are due on Wednesday.

Week 8 Words


Friday, October 8, 2010

Why I Love Lit Circles

GOAL students are right in the middle of their literature circle unit. It's one of my favorite times of the year. Why do I love lit circles?

1. They run themselves. With some good directions & some good modeling, the kids get the routine. They get with their groups and get to work. I get to walk around, observe the discussions, and enjoy the results.

2. Deep thinking and connections. So many strategies all packed into one activity... QAR; text to text, text to self, text to world connections; predicting; visualizing; character analysis... I could go on forever. Lit circles really pack a punch!

3. Great books. I love finding books for lit circles. I love reading books for lit circles. I love sharing books for lit circles. OK. I just love books. This is not new information.

4. Discussion! The discussion is the very best part. I love hearing what the students discuss with each section of the book. Sometimes I interject, but mostly, I let the discussions go where they may. Readers are thinkers, and the sharing of that thinking in small groups is frankly electrifying to me.

I've modified how I've done literature circles over the years, but I'm really happy with my current format. Thanks, Virginia Broz, for getting me to see things differently in how I set up my discussions. Your "Questions, Comments, & Quotes" sheets (QCQ sheets, as the kids and I refer to them) have made my lit circles even better.

Here's the routine: Students fill out the front of the 1/2 sheet as they're reading. They prioritize the items and bring them up in discussion the next day. On the back of the QCQ sheet, they summarize what the group discussed regarding the item they brought up. When they're done, they staple them together & turn them in, get a new color for the next day, and decide how many pages they're going to read. Then the process starts all over again. It's magic! At the end of the unit, they'll choose a summative project to show what they've learned over the course of the unit. As Martha Stewart would say, "It's a good thing." :)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Language Arts Preview

In our quest to coordinate curriculum with upcoming guest speakers, we're going to be covering the 6 Traits of Writing out of order from how I previously introduced them. But, we're flexible, right? We can handle it. :) This week we're covering Word Choice. We'll complete a word choice grid, do some sentence stretchers, and assess some student writing for good word choice.

Stay tuned for the next Weekly Preview to know what's coming up next! :)

Monday, October 4, 2010

Weekly Preview, 10/4-10/8

6th-8th Grade GOAL: All GOAL classes will be having literature circle discussions this week on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Make sure to come to class with your QCQ sheet completed. Don't forget your book, and be ready to discuss. We'll have our Library Day on Tuesday, so bring your books to renew and check in. You should have a book checked out for independent reading in addition to your lit. circle book.

7th Grade Language Arts: This week, we'll be working more with the 6+1 Traits of Writing. Stay tuned for more specifics. The spelling list for Week 7 focuses on affixes. The list is below, and this week's spelling assignment is p. 46 (1-20). The assignment and the corrections from the pretest are due Wednesday.

Spelling, Week 7: Affixes