Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Einstein's Grammar

Most Saranac Lakers know about Albert Einstein's connection to Saranac Lake (most notably the famous scientist's rescue from drowning by a young Don Duso).

Today in class, Professor Einstein helped out with grammar instruction as grade 7 students discussed what makes up a complete sentence (I've asked that the students make sure that they use complete sentences when they complete their "status of the class forms" and Achieve e-mails.

You can watch Einstein's video here.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Putting the Cat Out and Book Trailers

We're finishing our close reading of Max Steele's "The Cat and the Coffee Drinkers" tomorrow. Among the things our close reading revealed was the idea that readers sometimes revise their initial ideas about characters based on what they notice as the story unfolds. We also studied some words from the story that hopefully will end up in the students' ever expanding vocabulary: poise, defect, and endear.
Also, I shared book trailers. I read Hero by Mike Lupica last year after a student recommended it. I've not read Shelter by Harlan Coben, but it's on my TBR (to be read) list.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Close Reading and "The Cat and The Coffee Drinkers"

To start the week, we'll spend several days engaged in "close reading." This type of reading is called for by the Common Core State Standards, which we are working to implement.

The short story we'll work with is called "The Cat and the Coffee Drinkers" by Max Steele. We introduced this story by writing and talking about our recollections of kindergarten teachers. I promised the students that the teacher in this story, Miss Effie Barr, is unlike the kindergarten teachers that they remember!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

NY Times on Reading Workshop

I've observed how powerful it can be when students choose their own books. Today the New York Times has an article on "reading workshop" which is an instructional model that I've been incorporating into our ELA 7 classes over the last year.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

HOME WORK: 9/14 and 9/15

Long story short, I have in the past updated the "homework" section of this blog via Twitter. Our new web filter is blocking most social media sites like Twitter, so until this situation is fixed (or not) here is the home work for 9/14 and 9/15: READ YOUR INDEPENDENT BOOK FOR 30 MINUTES EACH NIGHT. I WILL MONITOR YOUR PROGRESS BY CHECKING THE "STATUS OF THE CLASS FORM" WHICH WILL BE DISCUSSED IN CLASS ON 9/14.

Ask a Librarian

I like making book recommendations for students, but another great source for book ideas is our middle school librarian, Mrs. Kennedy. We visited the library during class today and she had plenty of titles to suggest. Here are a few:

Dark Water by Laura Mcneal

Addie on the Inside by James Howe

Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier

The Keys to the Kingdom: Mister Monday by Garth Nix

The New Policeman by Kate Thompson

Reality Check by Peter Abrahams

Monday, September 12, 2011

Just Right Books

Just like Goldilocks and the Three Bears, students will soon be reading books that are "just right." Reading researchers like Richard Allington believe that the key to improving literacy is getting students to read lots of just right books.

We'll talk this week about what makes a book "just right." I shared a tool called BOOKMATCH in class today.

Friday, September 9, 2011

The Reading Life

Today we brainstormed ways to make reading a bigger part of our lives. First, we talked about "stealing" moments for reading. We decided that there is a lot of down time during the day (time spent waiting in line, etc.) and that we could all take an extra five minutes here and there to read. Next, we discussed how to compile a list of books TBR (to be read). Having a list like this means always having a book "on deck" and ready to go for when we finish what we are currently reading. I mentioned that I use the Goodreads site to keep track of my books.
Two books currently on my TBR list are Trapped by Michael Northrop and Darth Paper Strikes Back by Tom Angleberger.
Here's a book trailer for Trapped. Here's a trailer for Darth Paper.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Book Trailers

Today we talked about "book trailers." While most students know about movie trailers, very few had heard of the book variety.
We discussed how book trailers can be one source of ideas for students who are looking for what to read next. This site has many book trailers to see. Scholastic also has a page dedicated to book trailers.
I did the first of what will be many book talks today. The subject was Kingdom Keepers: Disney After Dark by Ridley Pearson.
You may want to check out a book trailer for the Kingdom Keepers series here.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Thumbs Up for a New School Year

It's been a great first two days of school. We've had shortened classes, but we had enough time today to read an article about the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on America.
On a lighter note, I shared this clip of a motivational speaker to get everyone pumped up for the school year ahead. I bet you won't be able to watch it without smiling.