Poetry Fridays

My district started a big reading/writing workshop push this year. I myself have used reading/writing workshop for over 15 years, so the approach is anything but new to me.

Anyway, one of the requirements in this "new" reading workshop is Poetry Friday. You see, our new state test  is more heavily into genres than our last one. And our kiddos did pretty poorly on the questions over poetry selections.

I am comfortable teaching poetry to my kids, but I'm always looking for something to help with my lessons. I found this:

This book has a poem a week for grades K-5. Many of the poets are famous - Jane Yolen, Kenn Nesbitt among them. Others are not familiar to me, but I like to meet new authors.

What I like about it is that it is aligned with the TEKS, our Texas standards. The authors give ideas for introducing each poem and provide suggestions for other poems that connect. I have used several of the poems so far, and the kids are really enjoying them.

This week we read some haiku about sports equipment. Then we wrote some haiku in writing workshop. Fun times.

And for the rest of you who follow Common Core Standards, there's a book for you, too.


Inferring with Tanny

Do you know this book? 

While I love me some Mosaic of Thought, I find the lessons Tanny McGregor provides for teaching Mosaic's comprehension strategies are so useful.

This week I used the schema connections lesson from Tanny's book. (I have never met Tanny, but I love her book and I know that if we ever met, we'd be first-naming each other, so I am just gonna do it. If you know her, tell her I love her.)

Tanny recommends using a song that most kids can make connections to. (I won't give out Tanny's whole lesson here. You gotta go buy her book!) 

After we listened, we used a 3 column chart labeled inference, schema, and text evidence.

Y'all, my kids were so insightful! We started with text connections, talked about feelings, and worked our way to the lyrics. My kiddos were able to generate some powerful inferences and had no problem supporting them with schema connections and text evidence.

At one point, they had a debate on whether the main character was happy as an adult. They disagreed with, piggy-backed on, and supported each other's ideas as if they had been doing it forever. (I happen to know that they haven't. This crew was raised on a diet of basal readers and TAKS passages. TAKS used to be our state assessment, for those of you who don't live in Texas.)

I wanted to cry. Out of happiness. And frankly, that hasn't happened all too much. (Remember Blurt Boy, Other Kid, and Attitude Girl? Yeah.)

Anyway, let your fingers fly to order Tanny's book. It's just that good!


My Own Personal You-Know-What

This time I am not talking about my personal summer. I know, TMI.

But I have had my blog held hostage for almost a week. It was lost in a redirect loop. Every time I tried to log in, it said it was redirecting.

I let it redirect for 3 and a half hours at one point before I finally put it out of its misery.

I Googled the problem (isn't it amazing that we can verbify a noun - see, I did it again there!) and found a Google products forum. I tried everything they suggested, and it was a long list. I finally left my blog address - along with a couple hundred other unhappy folks - and finally, we are back in business!

I don't have a ton to report.

Blurt Boy is making major progress with his sticker chart. He has earned his comedy time pretty consistently. He did finally realize, though, the kids weren't laughing much, and I had to break it to him that he wasn't really all that funny. He reported to me the next day that he went home and he and mom watched some You Tube comedy videos. The show was better. (It almost had to be.)

Other Kid is making no progress. He said that the sticker chart "just isn't working for me." I told him it was still working for me and this was his second reminder to get busy writing. He didn't like that much.

My morning class is a dream, even with Other Kid. My homeroom, however, can't seem to shut up. I want to ask them if they have sore throats when they get home from talking so much. The clip chart is working for the good kids and I am sure the talkers will get tired of having to record a "bad" color in their planner every day. We'll see what happens when parent conferences take place next week.

I do have a new kid to introduce, Attitude Girl. Give her directions, and she sasses back right away, conveniently ignoring said instructions. I emailed her mom today to set up a conference next week. Mom emailed back within 10 minutes, saying she'd be there tomorrow right after school, don't bother to put Attitude Girl on the bus as she is sure she needs to be in the conference, too. Methinks Attitude Girl might have a name change after that meeting. I wish all parents were so supportive, don't you?


Reporting In

So the first 2 weeks of school are under my belt and I thought I'd give an update on . . . well, everything.

 1. I ended up with 23 students in my homeroom while my partner teacher has 22. We may do some leveling this week since we range from 22 to 26 across the grade level.

2. Overall, kids are great. There are quite a few talkers in both classes, but we are working on that (code for squashing it like a bug.)

 3. There are only 2 major problems, 1 in each class. In my homeroom, we have Blurt Boy. I tallied 26 blurts in 40 minutes Friday. He also thinks he is hilarious and tries to get the other kids to laugh. The rest of the class is mostly on board with the ignore tactic and we have a conference with Blurt Boy's mom Thursday.

 4. In partner's homeroom, the problem is more serious. Kiddo has serious emotional problems and will be in ISS tomorrow - already. Meeting with that mother is being scheduled by the principal.

 5. Our schedule is no bueno. I feel like we don't get anything done during the day.

 6. We are implementing reading workshop, writing workshop, and developmental spelling - hooray! The whole team is on board and things are progressing, albeit more slowly than I'd like (see #5 above).

7. I have been struggling with a very sore right knee. Moving to a new school and setting up a classroom requires lots of lifting and bending. I finally went to an orthopedic specialist who ordered an MRI. Fortunately, there are no tears, simply a degenerating meniscus. He gave me a steroid shot Thursday and the knee is already feeling much better. I still plan to wear the knee brace at school and take it easy.

 8. I have had a great weekend so far - Silver Stars game Friday night and this afternoon, a birthday dinner for a friend from out of town yesterday, and some quality jammy time have me feeling pretty good. I still have some grading to do, but lesson plans were completed Friday morning.

 Hope you all have a wonderful week!

September Currently

I am linking up to Farley for her monthly Currently linky party!

Don't you love having time to watch a marathon? It's usually NCIS around here, but today we happened across Rizzoli and Isles. I started reading those books (by Tess Gerritsen) and the show is nothing like the books. Really the only resemblance between the TV Jane and the book Jane is that they are both homicide detectives.

I hurt my knee during all this move to a new school and set up a classroom business. I had an MRI on it last week. Now I'm waiting to see the doctor to hear the results. Ice, Aleve, and a splint are helping me deal with the pain.

I went up to school to work in my room today (re the needing to file message up above.) I couldn't get anything done because the lights in my room wouldn't come on and I don't have a window. It was pitch black in there. I used my iPhone as a flashlight and grabbed some files (re the thinking message above) and came on back home. Oh, well, the air conditioning wasn't on so there was no way I'd last too long anyway. (I texted my principal - seems it is some kind of energy saver thing. She had them take the control off so it wouldn't happen again. I think they should have had the control on the rooms with windows - one of my colleagues was there and her lights were working and she has a window!)

Good thing I love my dogs - they have been barking up a storm today. The neighbors are having people over. They always park in front of my house, so I let the dogs bark at them. Does that make me a bad person?

We are grilling steaks for Labor Day. Yum yum!

Make sure you go check out the other Currentlys - and don't forget Farley's Rule of Three!


Bribery Works

The bane of most teachers' existence is collecting all the forms that go home at the beginning of the year to be completed and returned. This year, rather than hound and nag, I resorted to bribery.

My school is using Spirit Monkey products as incentives this year. Go check it out. I'll wait.

Glad you are back. Now, I knew over the summer that my school was purchasing items from Spirit Monkey, so I emailed Lisa, the owner, to see if I could purchase a few items of my own. She said I absolutely could, so I looked through her pictures and picked out a few generic encouraging spirit sticks that I felt might come in handy.

Like this one.

My students received these customized spirit rings Friday

and I gave out the JAWSome spirit sticks to all the students who had returned all those stinkin' forms - 19/23 students got one. They were super excited! And I have only a few kids to nag and hound now. Win win situation!

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