Tuesday, October 27, 2015

An Update on English Scores

I am entering the students' scores for their summative English assignment today and wanted to take a moment to address what they mean.  English scores are on a continuum of growth, meaning that a child getting a "2" on a standard this quarter is not reason for alarm or disappointment.  Two of the standards that students are scored on this quarter; standards 1 and 5, are hard concepts to conquer as they involve abstract thinking and expression.    These standards are practiced most quarters and we typically see great growth in not just skill, but also in confidence.

I will be addressing this with students today as well as they receive their summative scores.  My intention is certainly not to frustrate students (or parents) but instead challenge their thinking and their skills.  I will continue to do small group, as well as one-on-one instruction in class to help individual students as needed.

For the next two days students are working on their final speech of the quarter; a choral poetry performance.  This is a great way to boost speech scores and build their confidence as speakers.  These will be performed and videotaped next Monday.

Finally, students will determine their standards scores for the semester evaluating their own growth as well as setting goals for next quarter tomorrow.  I will send home copies of their self assessments on Monday.

Please continue to reach out to me with any questions or concerns.  I so appreciate your feedback and support.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Word Work Explained

As we near the end of our 1st quarter it is time for us to start word work.  There are 3 paths to success within our word work program in English.  Students can choose whichever path they would like every time word work is assigned.  This gives them a chance to be more successful as they can gauge what they need at the given time.

Path 1.
Students receive the list of words and study for the quiz.  The list of words can be found here and the quiz is typically the Friday following the week it is handed out.

Path 2.
Students are given the same 10 words as Path 1 but are asked to work with the words instead.  In a packet, found here, students figure out meaning and word relationships as they get to know the roots better.  There is no quiz for this path, the completed packet is due the same day as the quiz.

Path 3.
Do the same word work as the enriched English class; Caesar's Word Within Word.  This path also allows for the students to gain deeper knowledge as they work with the words and their meaning.  There is no quiz for this path, instead the completed packet is due the same day as the quiz.  That work can be found here.

This will be assessed under standard 6:  Command the conventions of standard English grammar, usage, and vocabulary.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Fall Conferences Information

Student/Parent/Teacher conferences for the fall will be held in the OMS lunchroom on November 17th and November 19th from 4 PM to 8 PM.  At OMS, there are no sign ups for conferences, instead the teachers are all seated at tables in the lunch room and each conference lasts 5 minutes.  You simply approach the teacher(s) you would like to speak with when they are open or wait in line for them.  

If you do not feel that 5 minutes will be enough to discuss your child, please contact the individual teacher to schedule a meeting at a different time.

Due to the NCTE conference in Minneapolis, I will not be at OMS on the 19th of November and will thus not be available for conferences that day.  I have therefore set up an alternative day for conferences on November 12th from 3:30 PM to 8 PM.  The conferences on the 12th will be scheduled so that you do not have to wait for an open slot.  To secure one of these spots on the 12th, please follow these directions:

1. Click this link to go to our invitation page on VolunteerSpot: http://vols.pt/9mGNit 
2. Enter your email address: (You will NOT need to register an account on VolunteerSpot) 
3. Sign up! Choose your spots - VolunteerSpot will send you an automated confirmation and reminders. Easy!

 Note: VolunteerSpot does not share your email address with anyone. If you prefer not to use your email address, please contact me and I can sign you up manually.

I realize that the spots on the 12th are limited due to the longer time for each, and will therefore also be available on the 17th in the lunchroom for the 5 minute conferences.  That being said, I can also meet at a different time if you would like or feel we need to have a longer discussion about your child.    Please just contact me.

Next week, the students will bring home a parent questionnaire as we prepare for conferences, please take a moment to fill it out so I can make sure our meeting fulfills your needs.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Time for October Book Orders

Good afternoon,
The students received the book order fliers today in English, and they received a lot of them!  The book orders are due to me by this coming Tuesday so that we can get the new books into the hands of students as quickly as possible.  I am very excited about this book order because of the great new books highlighted.  Note that there is a teen catalog of choices too and that some of the books in it are more mature.

I recommend shopping online, as there is a larger selection of books than in the fliers. 
To shop online: scholastic.com/readingclub
One-Time Class Activation Code: GXJ8R 

Or you can send in a check made out to Scholastic to order the books.

This month's book recommendations - it is so hard to pick!
  • Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard by Rick Riordan - the new series is here from the author of The Lightning Thief!
  • Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate - this one has been flying off my shelves.
  • Fantasy League by Mike Lupica - his latest is out in paperback.
  • Auggie & Me by R.J. Palacio
  • The Marvels by Brian Selznick - a masterful tale
  • The Babysitters Club Books 1 - 3 in graphic novel form
  • Courage & Defiance: Stories of Spies, Saboteurs, and Survivors in World War II Denmark  by Deborah Hopkinson

Happy reading and thank you for considering!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Is It A Duck or A Rabbit? Student Videos #GRA15

The 7-O sharks started the global Read Aloud today with the book Duck! Rabbit! by Amy Krouse Rosenthal.  We then had to debate and persuade others of our opinion.  1st hour students wrote on a padlet, which can be seen here  while other students made videos.  All of these were shared with the many students doing the Global Read Aloud around the world.  We would love to know in the comments; is it a duck or is it a rabbit?

Friday, October 2, 2015

Our Very First MysterySkype!

Students in independent reading had their very first Mystery Skype today.  Mystery Skype is a geographical location guessing game done between two classes using only yes or no questions, as well as teamwork and critical thinking skills.  The 4th grade class we skyped in Iowa guessed us before we guessed them but I was very proud of how the students represented OMS during the call.

An Update From English

Good morning,
I thought it would be nice to let you know what has been happening in English the past few weeks.
We have been busy developing our analysis skills in reading using the 6 signposts from the book "Notice and Note."  More information about them can be seen here https://www.heinemann.com/shared/onlineresources/E...  Having this shared reading language allows the students and I to dig deeper into our books, become better conversationalists, become better at expressing our thoughts, as well as becoming better at paying attention to the world around us.  All great skills in literacy, as well as life.

We have also started writing brief paragraph responses in our readers notebook, which stay in the classroom.  The format we use to analyze text and write about it is called MEL-Con.  M is main idea, E is evidence, L is link, which means the explanation of why our evidence supports our main idea, and then CON stands for conclusion.  Their first formative scores for this will be entered today and serve as a baseline for their growth the rest of the year.

Students are expected to read at least 20 minutes outside of class and have today set specific goals for what they are working on the month of October, please ask your child what their goals are.  Every child is also doing the 25 book challenge all year.

Finally, we will kick of the Global Read Aloud next week, which is a global project I created in 2010 that connects more than 500,000 students in the next 6 weeks around a shared read aloud.  We will take part in the picture book author study and be mentors for a few kindergarten and 1st grade classrooms in North America.  I am excited to see how the students will grow during this project.  For more information on the GRA, please see http://theglobalreadaloud.com/

Please reach out if you have any questions or comments.  I love the thinking and conversations that are happening in our classroom.  I truly have the best job in the world, so thank you for letting me teach your child.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

RADaR for Revision

This is the method we use for revision in the classroom, taken from Kelly Gallagher
RADaR for Revision
D and

- words that are not specific
- words that are overused
- sentences that are unclear

- new information
- descriptive adjectives and adverbs
- rhetorical and literary devices

- unrelated ideas
- sentences that sound good but do not fit
- unwanted repetition
- unnecessary details

- to make better sense or to flow better
- so details support main ideas