Thursday, February 28, 2013

Grammar, Grammar, Grammar!

     I have belabored parts of speech since the beginning of the year but my students STILL don't understand the basics.  I've spent days of each part of speech and provided plenty of examples. We watched all the Schoolhouse Rock videos and did activities with each. I guess grammar is like multiplication facts, they just need to study more. Sixth grade grammar is mainly all about pronouns which I have only barely touched on.  I'm debating on continuing with the basics or just moving on to what they have to know for this year.   I think I'm going to try at least a few more things before moving on.
    One idea I had was to let students print the lyrics to their favorite song and have them color code the parts of speech.  Another thought I had was to have students make a chart on construction paper of the different parts of speech and then glue words from newspapers to go under each.
    I'm really hoping that next year my students will have a little more of an understanding of the basics.  It's been hard this year because it will be the first time students are actually tested on grammar.  I don't know that some of my students were ever even taught parts of speech before at all.  I have a lot of work to do with them, but luckily this is one of my favorite things to teach!
    What has worked for you when teaching grammar?

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Test Prep Fridays

      It may seem to be early to start preparing students for their End of Grade tests but I'm already starting to teach test prep skills.  I noticed my students really struggle with reading for a large about of time and then really trying to answer questions.  My goal for Test Prep Fridays is to help build endurance for reading long passages that usually aren't too interesting.
     Each week I usually am working on one or two specific standards that I then assess on Fridays.  For example, the past two weeks we have been working on standard R.L.1 which relates to showing textual evidence and making inferences.  I try to pull Social Studies passages that relate to what we have been studying and include several questions that really make my kids think.
     I made an anchor chart in my room that reminds them of strategies to use when taking a test.  We talk about things like reading the questions first, rephrasing the question into our own words and underlining important words.   To start the lesson we go over the anchor chart and I model a passage with them.  Next, they are on their own to use the strategy and show what they know.  We grade their answers in class and they keep a chart of how they are progressing each week.
    Although this may not be the most fun activity, it seems to be really helping my students be able to read for a longer amount of time.  The rest of the week we are reading engaging novels that most of the class enjoys.  To make these test style passages more exciting, I have my students pretend we are detectives and search for "clues" for the correct answers.  We get out colored pens to write on the tests with and sometimes use dry erase boards to write down our thinking about the test questions.  Everyone loves to write with something other than a pencil so if this helps my students stay more involved in my lessons then I'm all for it.

How do you prepare your students for EOG's?  What are some strategies you use to help your students be able to read for a longer period of time?

Friday, February 15, 2013

Five for Friday Linky Party

   I just saw a new linky party called Five for Friday that I thought I'd join in on.

 My class has been very busy this week.  We began reading "Where the Red Fern Grows,"  started studying Ancient Rome and are trying to finish up the parts of speech.

   1.   I taped baskets that I got from dollar tree to the wall so that my students could play "grammar ball."  This is where I called a student up and gave them a word.  They had to decide if the word was an adjective or adverb and throw the ball in the correct basket.  My students are always asking to play now!

2. One of my students made this diorama of Ancient Greece for extra credit.    We will all miss studying Greece.  It has been a class favorite so far.

3. Yes, that is a snake around my neck.  We had "snake man" come this week to teach us all about snakes.  He helped students learn which snakes are venomous.  The students absolutely loved this and I had a great time myself.
4. This is a picture of the notes my students took on the first chapter of "Where the Red Fern Grows." Instead of buying a pre-made unit I decided to just review concepts that go along with each chapter.    Each chapter I give notes on a big idea and then have the students look for something while they are reading.  It has been working great and my students love reading this novel so far.

5.    It seems like all the sixth graders at our school have been pretty rambunctious lately and seem to be caring less and less about their grades.  Next week my teammate and I are breaking out the rules again and starting stricter consequences.  I'm hoping that something will change because I'm tired of repeating

  How are things going with your class this time of year?

Sunday, February 3, 2013

February Currently....

It is now the month of love and also time for another currently from Farley.  

I am listening to Ben Rector who is one of my favorite artists right now.  One of my favorite songs by him is "The Beat."

I am loving that both groups of my students have finished their literature circle novels.  I read "Because of Winn Dixie" with my standard group and "Stepping on the Cracks" with my advanced group.  This was the first time we completed a full novel in literature circles so it is a great feeling seeing them read all the way to the end.

Now I have to think about what novel to start next.  "Where the Red Fern" grows is a possibility, as is "On my Honor."  I'd love to hear what novel studies others have enjoyed reading with their sixth graders.

I'm really ready for this cold weather to go away.  We haven't had a very harsh Winter but I still am ready for the days of short sleeves and capris. The worst weather we had so far was on one of our teacher workdays which is really sad because I needed that day!  Our next teacher workday isn't till the end of this month and it will be filled with meetings.

My current pet peeve at school is students not turning in homework.  I rarely give homework that I don't give time in class to finish.  It amazes me that students STILL don't have it done.  I am going to have to come up with some sort of system for students who continue not to turn it in on time.  I had been doing silent/working lunch but that doesn't seem to phase them.

While is it the month of love, I thought I would also list 5 more things I am loving.
1)  Being single.  In the past I kept thinking that I had to have someone in order to be happy. Right now I am so content with myself that it is nice not having someone.
2)  Chocolate Chip Kettlecorn.  Yes, I LOVE it.  It is by Popcorn Indiana and it tastes wonderful.  I highly recommend it.
3) That I got my passport this week!  I will be going on a mission trip to Belize this Summer and I absolutely can't wait.
4) Teacher friends.  I am so thankful for all my teacher friends.  I have so many at work and some that I still stay in touch with from college. Love you girls!
5) Youversion.  Youversion is an awesome app on my iPhone I use that has daily bible reading plans.  It even gives me reminders to read it everyday.

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