Sunday, August 14, 2016

And We are Off and Running....

Well the first week of school is in the books!

I am so excited about this school year! This year, I begin my 20th year in education, and I begin my 1st year as a student again. Holy moly! I have a lot of ideas floating around in my curly head that I can't wait to try with this group of students. I've met my 7th and 8th graders, and I am looking forward to meeting the 5th and 6th graders that I will work with next week. I am really excited about our interactive notebooks (I absolutely adore an interactive notebook- the more colorful, the better), and I'm stoked about FINALLY using Kelly Gallagher's Reading Reasons in my classroom. I heard Mr. Gallagher speak at a writing conference two years ago. I bought his book, but I haven't been able to work his motivational mini-lessons into my classroom. Well... this past Friday, WE SET UP OUR READING REASONS NOTEBOOKS! I'm so thrilled to do the Reading Minute tomorrow!
We will begin using our Reading Reasons notebooks tomorrow. This week, we will focus on teenage health related articles. I will provide the Reading Minute until October, and then..... students will take over the Reading Minute in class. How cool is that???? Each student will be responsible for one Reading Minute each month. They will provide the article, poem, excerpt from a novel, etc. for us to summarize in ONE sentence. We will do the Reading Minute daily in class, and we will work on one of the nine reading reasons weekly in class. Research taken from Nanci Atwell's In the Middle indicates that seventh and eighth graders that read ONE 200 page book a month will read an average of ONE MILLION words in a year! Can you imagine? What is even more mind blowing to me is that this number only means a student will be reading 60 hours A YEAR!! I think every middle school student can read 200 pages a month. If we have 20 school days in a month, that equals each student reading only 10 pages a day. Can you imagine the growth these students will see in their reading levels if they only read 10 pages a day?

We are also using Moby Max in class to progress reading and language skills as rapidly as possible. Moby Max is an on-line program that provides direct instruction on skills that students need to close academic gaps and to prepare students for grade level material. All of the seventh and eighth graders in my class have completed their reading and language placement assessments. They know where the assessments scored them. They also know how to chart their progress to see how quickly they can fill any gaps. We will be using Moby Max twice a week to work on Reading and Language. Your child can access the program from home as well. A parent letter was sent home Thursday with your child's username and password, along with directions on how to access Moby Max from home. I can't wait to see the amount of progress made when students take the placement tests again in January.

Every day I read a little devotion from God's Little Devotion Book for Teachers. The first day of school, this was my devotion:
I think this sums up how I feel about my class this year! I'm looking forward to watching what these students will do this year!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Wow! Another post! This blogging thing has really been A LOT harder than I originally thought! When I set up this blog, I hoped to post at least once a week. I obviously haven't been able to meet that goal first semester. We are already looking at Thanksgiving Break and Christmas Holidays! It's really hard to believe that we are fast approaching the end of first semester. With that said, I'm going to address several key issues that many seventh graders are still struggling with on a daily basis.
1. There is a huge transition from sixth grade to seventh grade. After almost a semester of seventh grade under their belts, students should start to realize exactly what is expected of them.
2. Homework counts as a cumulative grade now. While we all know that true emergencies arise that prevent students from completing homework, baseball work-outs, soccer practice, band, and church do not excuse students from completing homework. Homework is not assigned as busy work. While homework is ONE cumulative average at the end of the nine weeks, that one grade can be the difference in an A or B. Homework assignments are posted on my board daily. HMS provided a free assignment book to every student this year. The assignment book is used as a pass, advisory documentation log, and planner. I also send home assignments daily via Remind to help keep everyone up to date about what is assigned in class. Please stress the importance of completing homework to your child.
3. THE JOURNAL I cannot stress the importance of our Interactive Notebooks. We use our notebooks EVERY DAY in class. It is a running record of everything that we cover in class. If students keep up with their notebooks and put what they are given IN their notebooks, they have a ready made study guide for any assignment that may be assigned in my classroom. I am not asking any student to keep up with or make something that I am not also keeping up with and making right along with them. It is important. It is necessary. It is required in my class. By now, all students should have a 5 subject composition book, scissors, glue, colored pencils/markers/pens to complete journal activities. Due to students not keeping up with journal assignments, I am checking journals daily to make students more accountable. Up to Date journals will count as a daily grade during second semester. The journal is important!
4. Last, but defintely not least: I am here to help my students. I stay after school on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays until at least 4:30. If a student needs to stay after school for extra help, please let me know. I only ask that you provide the following information before your child stays after school: 1. let me know what day your child needs to stay after school and 2. provide contact information in case an emergency arises and I need to get in contact with you regarding your child. I truly want every child to succeed. Well, that's it for this post! It's a long one. Hopefully, another one will be possible before Christmas Break!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

First Week of School!

Well, the first week of school is in the books for 2014! I think the first week went very well this year. Most schedules have been sorted out and names have almost been memorized! I think most students know where to be when and are getting closer to having everything they need when they get there. Seventh grade is a huge transition for our students since they no longer change classes as a homeroom and they have further to travel then right next door to get to their next class.

This week we worked on policies and procedures and started using our Interactive Journals. Students will need their journals daily. The Interactive Journal is vital in our classroom. It is an on-going study guide of everything covered in class. Students will need a five subject composition book to be able to separate all of our journals by subject: Daily, Grammar, Literature, Informational Text, and Writing. This week we did a daily journal on All About Ms. Ward's Room and a grammar journal on Parts of Speech. Their journals should look something like this:

Journal entries took a little longer than I expected, so I'm working on a way to cut down on time taken to construct each entry.  As you can see, students will need scissors, glue, colored pencils/crayons/markers/pens to create their journals. I think the journals are going to prove very effective throughout the year.

Our new Literature books are here! While the students have a red Literature book assigned to them, we will be using the new Holt McDougal Literature book in class. The stories are the same in both books; however the new edition is aligned to Alabama's College and Career Readiness Standards (AL CCRS). We have a classroom set of these books and they will not be able to leave my class. Each student will also have access to an online edition of the book. Students do not need to bring the old red book to class daily. They can leave it at home so that if they need to read a selection and do not have internet access they can still do so at home- the page numbers might be different.
Things are off to a great start! If you haven't signed up for updates using Remind and Class DoJo, please do so.


Class DoJo is the behavior program we use in class. Students can earn DoJo points for being on time, working on task,  completing homework, etc. Class DoJo information is student specific; so if you didn't receive the parent letter with your child's information please let me know and I will help you get set up with Class DoJo.
 

I am looking forward to a great year with your child!


 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Getting ready for the new year!

Can you believe that the 2014 school year is already underway? At the end of last school year, Mr. Jackson told all of us that we could paint our rooms if we would like to do so. Hmm... At first, I thought, "No way!" After I thought about it for awhile, I decided that maybe redecorating my room was just what I needed. My room decor has been zebra for several years now. I still love the zebra theme, but I thought my room could use an update. I also decided to branch out and asked Danielle at Crayonbox Learning to create my classroom blog. I think the blog turned out fabulous, so I decided to carry my blog's theme over into my classroom. I started searching for patterns and discovered a Michael Miller chevron pattern fabric with blue and aqua that matched my blog and that was that!


So, I ordered the fabulous fabric from TJ's Fabrics in Opp, Alabama. They were so incredibly nice! I have a sewing machine, but I don't know how to use it. The lady at TJ's told me how much fabric to buy and even drew me a little pattern so I would know how to make my valances. Then, my crafty friend, Sonya, helped me pick out paint to complement the fabric. I got a great deal from Benjamin Moore for my paint. We originally thought we would just paint one part of my wall, but I decided the entire wall needed to be painted. It made such a difference!


I was scared to death that I would mess up the valances, so my Mama took pity on me and drove all the way from Georgia to make my beautiful valances for me. We put them up on Thursday morning before Open House that afternoon! I think the room turned out fabulous. I love it and I'm looking forward to a great school year!







Thursday, June 26, 2014