Tuesday, September 28, 2010

In The News

The students have begun to work on the Achieve 3000 reading program and over the last several weeks they have been reading non-fiction articles about topics ranging from pizza to ugly rubber sandals (no offense Crocs lovers).

Here are links to some of the AP articles we've read:

Did you know that Pizza Hut turned 50 recently? Funny, it doesn't look a day over 29. (The students didn't laugh when I told that joke in class, either).

I admit it. I own a pair of bright yellow Crocs boat shoes. It seems like Crocs were everywhere at one time, but some have suggested that this fad is over.

Obviously these articles do not contain information that is of Earth shattering importance. It has been good to include some non-fiction in the students' "reading diets," however.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Story Time

We didn't sit on the carpet and it wasn't just before nap time, but we did read a picture book story in class today.

The book was "Night In The Country" by Cynthia Rylant, and it's filled good examples of sensory details.

We talked about how one of the qualities of good personal narratives is that they include true, exact details from the "movies" that we all have in our minds.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Flying Cars

When I was in junior high school, I'm pretty sure that someone told me that there would be flying cars by the time I was an adult.

To some degree, technology has let me down. However, in the area of technological support of education and learning, I continue to be really amazed.

SLCS has recently partnered with a company called Achieve 3000. Achieve's literacy intervention products have been widely adopted and proven effective at helping students improve their reading ability.

Our grade 7 ELA classes on Team Whiteface have begun to implement the Achieve 3000 program, and are using it to support a reading and writing workshop model of instruction.

We'll be providing more information for parents and guardians soon, including individual user names and passwords to aid in the monitoring of students' progress.

I'd still rather have a flying car, but in the meantime Achieve 3000 is pretty cool.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Two Book Talks and a Read-Aloud

The latest book talks in class have been The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton, and Skeleton Man by Joseph Bruchac.

Students who like realistic fiction will probably find The Outsiders a good match, while those who like books a bit on the scary side will go for Skeleton Man.

In two classes, we've started The Strange Case of Origami Yoda as a read -aloud. "Quirky" is the word that comes to mind when I think of this book. It's funny and you don't even have to be a Star Wars fan to appreciate it.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Sebastian Junger: "True Story Writer"

We'll continue to write true stories (personal narratives) this week. Today I read aloud Sebastian Junger's "Colter's Way" to the 4th period class.

I explained that Junger makes a living writing true stories. Several students told me that they were familiar with The Perfect Storm, the film based on Junger's book of the same name.

As for the man who is mentioned in the title of Junger's piece that I read aloud, there is information about him here: http://xroads.virginia.edu/~hyper/hns/mtmen/johncol.html

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Writer's Workshop

In ELA 7 today, we began the written component of this year's curriculum. The model we plan to follow is Lucy Calkins' "Units of Study for Teaching Writing". This model is currently in use in various classrooms at Bloomingdale and Petrova Elementary.

You may be interested in the map we'll follow as our writing program develops over the course of the school year.

I am pleased that "Units of Study for Teaching Writing" is alligned with the Commom Core Standards which New York and many other states have recently adopted.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Reading Recommendations

We've asked ELA students to find independent reading books and have them in class on Tuesday. Finding the right book can be difficult as not only students' individual interests, but also their reading levels become factors in book selection.

We hope to get better at matching students with "just right books" this school year, but for now here are some sites that might assist students in finding an independent reading book:

This site from the American Library association lists the best books for young adults since 1996.

Scholastic has a page where students share reviews on books they've read. You can search by genre or grade level.