Thursday, March 19, 2015

A Productive Week (March 9)

I promise I didn't forget about reflecting.  Several drafts have been floating around in my head.  Besides it being the week before Spring Break, I was also planning a trip to Iowa.  One of my best friends laid her father to rest, which led to lots of reflection that wasn't school related.  Time was spent discussing where we wanted to be buried.  The whole conversation was surreal because these were the same girls with whom the biggest question used to be, "What are we doing tonight?"

But back to education...

I'm dedicating this week to TPT.  While I could have created all of this on my own, I decided to support my fellow educators and not reinvent the wheel.  I may have improvised and improved the wheel some, but isn't that what we do with any materials we use?

Monday, March 9

We continued working with the Dog Day information my students started the previous Friday.  I impressed the kids with my math skills.  Who knew their English teacher knew how to add and multiply?!?  Researchers need many skills to make informed decisions!  With their new/reinforced knowledge, students decided which type of dog they would try to persuade their parents to allow them to have.  
Math - in English!
This activity went okay.  It took MUCH longer than I anticipated.  We only got about half of what I wanted to accomplish completed.

Tuesday, March 10
Students came to class with their graphic organizers completed.  The hard part is done!  I modeled how to turn the question from the graphic organizer into a topic sentence.  We then worked together to create topic sentences for the other three paragraphs.  Students then had time to complete their persuasive letters.  One student asked me to please put a picture of our topic sentences on Instagram.  YES!  I took a picture of every hour and posted it on our Instagram account as well as on our class website.

Today was a good day.  Students had decent ideas for topic sentences.  This allowed students who struggle with a place to start each paragraph and allowed those with better writing skills to refine/expand what we discussed in class to in order to create their own topic sentences.

Wednesday, March 11
Generalization is the word of the day.  From my very unscientific poll, about 10 students knew what a generalization was before this lesson.  I found a through explanation in this PowerPoint on TPT.

Making Generalizations Powerpoint (including valid vs. faulty)

I'm not one to do PowerPoint karaoke, so I had to find a way to make it interactive and keep the students engaged.  My simple solution was to give each student a note card.  As we went through the slides, students analyzed the examples and held up the side of the card they felt it represented.  Understanding the difference between fact, opinion, and generalization will aid in their persuasive/argument writing.

While I enjoyed sharing this information for the first three classes, I had to really focus with my last three classes.  It is hard to keep up the WOW! factor after doing the same lesson multiple times.  

Thursday, March 12
Yesterday my students demonstrated they could pick out the valid and invalid generalizations, so I now needed them to write their own.  First we reviewed the signal words.  Thank you, Crafting Connections!

To practice this new skill, students worked with partners.  There were six different examples with sports facts on them.  Students were required to write a valid generalization and an invalid generalization on sticky notes.  Then they rotated to the next station.  While at the new station, they had to read the facts and read the generalizations the previous group wrote.  To make life interesting, students could not use the same signal words as the previous group.  The kids just LoVe when I do things like that to them!  

Writing valid and invalid generalizations.

This picture makes me smile.
It has 6th grade written all over it.

It was one of those days that I left satisfied.  I was able to walk around, spot check, and clarify for students who needed some extra help.  Reading the sentences allowed me to correct misconceptions before we advanced too far into the activity.  

I did miss my 3rd hour today.  A pep rally was held for our high school girls' basketball team.  They won Thursday night, but they lost on Friday.  :-(  

With three days left of Spring Break, I had better get planning what to do next week!

Saturday, March 7, 2015

My Week in a Nutshell

So....I haven't blogged for 6 months.  I always mean to, but I've struggled with the content.  That changed today.

I attended the Blog to Blogger session at EdCampOKC.  During the session, Kevin Hime made a what-if comment.

What if teachers did not have to turn in lesson plans but had to write a reflective blog every week about what they had taught?

My mind has been whirling ever since.

Here it goes:  What did I do the week of March 2?

Monday - My 6th graders have been learning how to use different research tools, specifically Encyclopedia Britticana and EBSCO.  We researched the Mayans (what they are studying in geography) using Encyclopedia Britticana last Friday, so I decided to have them hone their EBSCO skills on Monday.

Since it was Dr. Seuss' birthday, I created a guide in which students would research Dr. Seuss.  While it seemed worksheet-ish to me, I also knew that they needed to learn the features of EBSCO.  Sixth grade needs step-by-step!  The students were engaged, learned more about how to use EBSCO, and seemed to enjoy the activity.

Tuesday - This was one of those days when multiple students were missing from every hour.  Students were gone for Math Counts, a band contest, and a pig show.  My students always want to read the play from our Scholastic Scope, and this month's play happens to be The Newsies.  It fit perfectly with the reference materials we have been discussing.  The primary source photographs helped students gain a better understanding of the text and time period.  After reading through the play individually,  I used the random generator feature of Class Dojo to let students either choose a part to read or pass.   After reading, we analyzed the tone of the photographs.  Students had a blast reading their parts.  I know my students were engaged when I hear, "Class went so fast today!".

Wednesday - SNOW DAY

Thursday - SNOW DAY

Friday - I had a substitute so I could help moderate at our Academic Team's Area Contest.

There you have it - my week in a nutshell.  I feel as though I cheated since it was really only two days.  But hey, we have to start somewhere!