Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Sign up for text reminders

Parents can easily sign up for text messages.  I can instantly send reminders about homework, permission slips, tests, assignments and more!

1. Send a text to (614) 335-7771

2. With the message: @onan

from remind101

Monday, July 23, 2012

Our Writing Block Schedule

Sample Writing Prompt:  How is writing like Pizza?

Daily Language and Writing Centers
Each box has all the necessary tools to accomplish the tasks
Excerpts from popular books with writing response
         Our daily block schedule allows for one hour of instruction in writing and language.

1. Each day we will begin our block with 10 minutes of writing in our composition books.  These assignments will be posted prior to students entering the room, so that students may come in and immediately begin writing.  This will be a consistent part of our daily routine.  Some of the assignments will include the following:

  • Writing in 1 of 30 different themed books.  These themes will be determined by students at the beginning of the year (see previous post).  Students will then write in a different themed journal each week. This process will also include peer editing.  Students may look forward to taking home one of these journals at the end of the year. 
  • Writing in response to current events, pertinent social issues, videos, guest speakers, art work, science assignments, and social studies topics. 
  • Free writing on topic of choice.

2.The next portion of our class will be language and writing centers.  Students will work in one of four centers each day, Monday-Thursday.  Language and writing centers will provide students with various language arts challenges that support our current on-demand writing pieces, spelling/vocabulary practice, and response to reading.  These centers will be differentiated for learners.  Students will receive weekly homework assignments related to center tasks and skills.

3. The last segment of our writing block will be dedicated to working on our on-demand writing pieces.  These pieces will include narrative, informational, and argument.  With each new writing piece, students will be introduced to a specific time-line for the piece, tools for writing the piece, collaboration time, writing, peer editing, teacher conferencing, revision, publishing, and presentation.  We will use the Writing Rubric board to narrow our focus and practice different writing skills with each piece.  Students will fill out sentence strips related to the requirements of the piece and place them on the rubric to use as a tool throughout the piece development.  Topics will vary over the year but will be interesting and relevant to sixth graders.  Students should expect to write letters, editorials, reports, personal narratives, argument pieces, poems, and much more!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Off-Line Messaging and Attendance

"Tweet" a message on a sticky note!

I left them a "Tweet"

Always THINK before you "tweet"
This is another way for students to practice writing and communication skills.  Students may "tweet" each other or me each morning as they come into the classroom.  Students only have to follow the THINK guideline before leaving messages.

This area also serves as a reminder that students need to retrieve their clip from their locker handles and place along the ribbon.  This helps me easily see who has arrived for the day just by glancing at the ribbon or lockers.  Students will return their clips to their lockers each afternoon.  My attendance leader will collect tweets for me and let me know who is absent.

Since sixth graders are involved in so many early morning activities outside the classroom, this clip system should come in very handy.  Of course, we will practice this procedure many times!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Theme Journals - Best Idea Yet!

Okay - I am absolutely doing this for one of my writing warm up times at the beginning of block.
Each block has a set of notebooks with a different writing prompt on the front = 30 distinct journals.  Students then take turns writing a prompt in a different journal each week.  After 30 weeks, you have 30 entries in each journal.  I think it would be AWESOME to have a writing auction at the end of the school year, so that each student could take home a classroom book.

I think a nice extension would be to have students peer edit (in color pencil) the previous entry before they  begin their own writing. This would give students a chance to read other writing, practice improving their editing skills, and fully immerse them in the writing process.

Now, I just need 100 more journals...WAIT!  I just returned from Walmart with 100 journals. To make this even more fun for my students, I am going to let each of them determine one of the themes for the journals.  I will guide them through some ideas, but ultimately they will create the prompt theme!

Here are our class journals

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


Amazingly enough, my classroom is almost finished.  I have been working in my room everyday, for hours. I certainly have an entirely new appreciation for teachers who go the extra mile to create phenomenal learning environments for their students.

I must admit there were a few moments where I just wanted to throw in the towel because the job can be truly overwhelming.  At the same time, it is extremely exciting and rewarding.  Good, good work.  I am tired and satisfied.  There are only a few final touches that remain. I will post some pictures soon.



Conference Table

Our Classroom

Social Studies Bulletin Board and Student Research

Teacher Area

Writing Table and Student Organization Area

Our Classroom Rules Painted By: Dianne Kinser

Our Writing Board

Friday, July 6, 2012

If You Want Them To Act Like Leaders, Then Treat Them Like Leaders

Video Sample of Student Led Conference
Link to more student led ideas

One of the things I will be working on next week is my students' data notebooks.  I am completely sold on this approach.  Kids take complete ownership and responsibility for themselves.

Team leader evaluating the use of the artifact.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Seven Habits Tree - Finished

Facebook Thief

  • So I just borrowed this post from Facebook because it has so many good books listed on it for my kids! Ha ha.

    The Chronicles of Vladamir Tod by Heather Brewer would make a great Halloween unit. I *LOVE* the Fablehaven series by B. Mull that I let Cullen borrow the first of a while back. The Red Pyramid is the first book in Rick Riordan's (Percy Jackson author) new series. It's all about Egyptian mythology, very cool and could be an awesome crossover with a geography unit or something.
    9 hours ago · 

  • That's a tough age group because their reading levels are probably all over the map. However, here are some possibilities:

    I really enjoyed Kristin Tubb's SELLING HOPE and I think it would be easy to integrate into both Science and Social Studies curriculum. I have a copy at the house if you want to read it. (I could probably get you a classroom set of these too. Let me know if you decide to do it.)

    Both Cate and Jon loved MANIAC MAGEE, and although I haven't read it yet, I think any book that they BOTH like indicates a broad appeal. Cate lost her copy so many times, I may have an actual classroom set in my house. ;)

    THE WATSONS GO TO BIRMINGHAM, 1963 would be another great one for the classroom if you want to look at the Civil Rights era.

    HATCHET by Gary Paulson is a fantastic book that all of my kids have read and loved.

    I know you did one of Patricia Reilly Giff's books. PICTURES OF HOLLIS WOODS would be another good one by her for that age group.

    THE BOY IN THE STRIPED PAJAMAS and THE BOOK THIEF are excellent books that look at the Holocaust.

    I'll keep thinking...

  •  I have so many... Probably my absolute favorite is The Giver by Lois Lowry. The idealistic life Jonas has, as compared to the weight he'll have to shoulder is heartbreaking. It gives a sharp contrast as to the price he has to pay for the secrets he has to keep.

    Other than that... Lord of the Flies. Fahrenheit 451. Catcher in the Rye. The Princess Bride. The Handmaid's Tale (although probably not really YA or appropriate for 5th and 6th graders. I read it in high school).

    My daughter would backup Wayne's mention of the Fablehaven series by Brandon Mull. She's addicted to them. Katy would also want me to mention the Mortal Instruments and Infernal Devices series by Cassandra Clare. And The Underland Chronicles by Suzanne Collins

  •  My favorite is Diary of an Absolute Part Time Indian but I'm not sure you could get by with the language at Oakland. Great life lessons though. My second would be the Witch and Wizard series by James Patterson (which also comes in graphic novel form). Oh, and the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil ??? I used this for 4-6 bookclub last year and they loved it.

    Number the Stars by Lois Lowry. It offers an interesting perspective of the holocaust. Many Thomas kids have read and enjoyed it.

  •  Slake's Limbo, by Felice Holman and Beauty, by Robin Mckinley

  • Wrinkle in Time was my absolute favorite growing up and it's pretty timeless

  •  I'll second Maniac Magee, The Hatchet, and Wrinkle in Time. All very good books with ideas that have stuck with me. I also like The Phantom Tollbooth, and the Dark is Rising series by Susan Cooper. Love that series. Hmm, why? I guess I like the epic-struggle-of-good-vs-evil, and that series made it easy to vividly imagine a life in a very different setting from mine, but still a real setting. Now I want to go re-read those!
  • I havent read The Boy In The Striped Pajamas but I have seen the movie. It disturbed me greatly as an adult!!!!

  •  Island of the Blue Dolphins,and Witch of blackbird Pond are my favorites. Recently read the White Giraffe and think its whole series would be awesome for this age group.
    6 hours ago via mobile ·  · 1

  • Trouble River, Number the Stars, The Hundred Dresses, Rules, Julie of the Wolves, Shh We're Writing the Constitution, James and the Giant Peach, Charlotte's Web, Indian in the Cupboard, Castle in the Attic, and The Nest Christmas Pageant ever!
    These were some of the titles we use to read when taught LA!!
    5 hours ago via mobile · 

  • Oh and one that is rarely-mentioned but is fantastic is "Diamond in the Window". Amazing book that combines adventure, fantasy, history, and deep thinking about the Boston Transcendentalist movement.

  • Anne of Green Gables series. The Runaway Robot. (I can't stop...)

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

So I Never Forget Why

Excellent: Classroom Economics

Link to classroom economics

Everything is included. This is just fantastic.  Can I pull this off? I really want to try.

Breathe In

“Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel.” 
― Socrates

“Study the past if you would define the future.” 
― Confucius

Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.
Theodore Roosevelt

“I am not a teacher, but an awakener.” 
― Robert Frost

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” 
― Benjamin Franklin

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.” 
― Dr. SeussI Can Read With My Eyes Shut!

And From Helen Keller:

Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.

Never bend your head. Hold it high. Look the world straight in the eye.

Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. Security does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than exposure.

Many persons have a wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.

One can never consent to creep when one feels an impulse to soar.

No pessimist ever discovered the secret of the stars or sailed an uncharted land, or opened a new doorway for the human spirit.

Helen Keller with Anne Sullivan
From Her Teacher

My heart is singing for joy this morning! A miracle has happened! The light of understanding has shone upon my little pupil's mind, and behold, all things are changed!
Anne Sullivan

"You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view - until you climb into his skin and walk around in it."
- spoken by Atticus Finch, by Harper LeeTo Kill a Mockingbird

"The one thing that doesn't abide by majority rule is a person's conscience."
- spoken by Atticus Finch, by Harper LeeTo Kill a Mockingbird

"Courage is not a man with a gun in his hand. It's knowing you're licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do."
- spoken by Atticus Finch, by Harper LeeTo Kill a Mockingbird