Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The One With the Letter

I believe it is very important for students to spend time reading each day. My goal is to give them at least twenty minutes in class to spend reading.

This doesn't always happen.  Some days we don't get twenty minutes.  Some days we get so lost in reading we end up reading for the entire class.  I figure it all even outs in the end.

When it is reading time, I'm pretty strict about how they use their time.  They can read, take AR test, or even discuss their book with a friend - as long as they are really discussing.

It is not time to play or work on other assignments.  

Today one of my students asked if he could write a letter to his dad instead of reading.  This particular student HATES writing.  

His dad is in jail.  Writing letters is the only way he has of communicating with his dad right now.

Sometimes there are things more important than reading.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The One With Historical Fiction

I mentioned in this post doing book report projects with my students this semester.  The work has begun.  I have each section of English reading a different genre.  My reason for this was so that they would have more books to choose from.  Instead of all 85 students searching for a historical fiction I only have 30 students searching.

I of course shared my recommendations with them before we headed to the library.  Some of my recommendations were snatched up immediately and others are still on my shelf.

One of the books that I recommended was Copper Sun by Sharon Draper

It was actually recommended to me by a student last school year.  

Oh my goodness!  It is such a good book.  But it is a hard book to read.  What Amari, the main character, goes through is tough to take in.  I was sure to share that with my students.

I actually have two students reading this book right now.  These two students are night and day.  One is a male football player.  The other is a sweet young lady who struggles with reading.

They are both IN LOVE with this book.  They now understand why I said it was hard to read.  They have both said they don't want to keep reading but at the same they can't put it down.  

That is exactly how I felt.  It is very tough to walk through the situations with Amari.

These two students were in the corner of my room today discussing the book.  I couldn't help but smile.  It was as if they couldn't talk fast enough to share everything they wanted to share.

Before long other students were asking them questions and wanting to be the next in line to read the book.  

This is why I LOVE teaching English.  

Saturday, January 5, 2013

The One With The Binder

I'm sitting here working on lesson plans and I realized I never showed you my binder.  

I can't believe I have forgotten.

Over the summer while I was spending countless hours on Pinterest, I kept seeing all these teacher binders.  

I immediately thought to myself "What a good idea".  I like to be organized or at least I like to appear to be organized.  A one stop teacher binder was just the thing for me.

Problem was nothing I found on Pinterest was a perfect match for my needs.

Somewhere in that time I also discovered Erin Condren and her teacher planner.  I really liked them, but again they weren't a perfect match.  Not to mention their price tag.  What teacher can afford that?

Not this teacher!

I decided to make my own.  That way I knew it would be a perfect match for me.  It's nothing special, but after using it all first semester, I can say it works for me.

I used an extra 2 inch binder that I had around the house.  I created the cover using Microsoft Word and used scrapbook paper to fill in the extra space. 

 I also did scrapbook paper in the spine.

I have nine sections inside my binder.  Wow - that sounds like a lot!  Guess I've never really counted.

I use the dividers with pockets to separate each section.  This allows me to put papers and things that aren't ready to be filed away.

Section # 1 -Calendar
I printed a monthly calendar from here.  This is an easy way for me to keep track of days we are out of school, dates of chunk test, school events, as well as personal appointments that require me to miss work.

I keep the current month on top - moving the previous months to the back.  

Section #2 - Important Information
This section includes things like the master schedule for middle school, duty schedule, and sports schedules.  
It is also where I keep a list of students whose pictures and work are allowed to be posted on my class webpage.

Section #3 - Professional Development
This has a few handouts from workshops I have attended, but it is primarily certificates or forms I need to prove I attended the workshops.

Section #4 - Science
This is the beginning of my lesson plans.  I have a different section for each subject I teach.  The first section is for Science.  It comes first because I teach Science the first two periods of the day so it just made sense to me.

A perfect example of why I like the dividers with pockets...I can store things in the pocket in front of my Science lesson plans that I'm currently working on.  This helps ensure that I always know where they are.  For example, I keep a list of students and the textbook number that has been issued to them. 

 I also put lab worksheets in the pocket that are ready to be copied and stored in my file trays for the week. 

There is another set of these labeled Thursday, Friday, and Next Week.

I also made my own lesson plan template to suit my needs. 

Section # 5 -  Pre AP English
This section contains lesson plans for Pre AP English.  Again I made my own lesson plan template.

Section #6 - English
More lesson plans.  I use the same template here for lesson plans as for Pre AP English.

Section # 7 - Remedial English
More lesson plans.  Same template.

Section #8 - Attendance

I used Excel to create a chart to track attendance.  I can usually fit a month on each page.  I have a page for every class.

Section #9 - Gradebook

Though we key our grades in Pinnacle - an online gradebook - I like to keep a hard copy for myself.  I created a chart in Excel to record grades.  It is very similar to my attendance chart.

So there you have it - my one stop teacher notebook.

I love it!  It helps me stay organized.  Nine out of ten times I can refer to my binder to find what I am looking for.

So if you can't find the perfect printables on Pinterest or somewhere, I say make your own.  Your binder needs to suit your needs and not someone else's needs.

If you see something here that you think will work for you, let me know.  I'd be happy to share any thing I created with you.  I can you email it to you so that all you have to do is change my name.

Friday, January 4, 2013

The One Looking Forward

I am sitting here enjoying my last bit of Christmas break.  Monday I will be back in the classroom.  Honestly, I'm ready.  I LOVE my job and when I'm not there I miss my students.

I have lots of big things planned for this semester that I am looking forward to.

A trip to California with a few awesome students.  San Francisco and Los Angeles aren't going to know what hit them.  This will be such a wonderful new cultural experience for my rural students.

A night on the town as I take my Pre AP class to see "Death of a Salesman".  They are so excited.  We are going to get all dressed up and go to dinner and a show.  Some of my boys want to wear a suit.  They crack me up!

One of the things I'm excited about is a monthly book report project.  We are going to do Historical Fiction, Realistic Fiction, Science Fiction/Fantasy, and Biography/Autobiography.  

One a month for the rest of the school year except April.  April is testing month so I thought I'd give them a break.

They may not be as excited about these as I am, but that's okay.  I have found several great ideas online for these projects.  I put bits and pieces together from several places to create something that I hope will work for me and my students.

I will share more about these as time goes on.  

I'm also pretty pumped about having my first intern this semester.  I'm also sad about it though because it is less time I get to spend teaching my students.  With this being my last year at my current school I want to soak up every minute.

We are starting physical science next week.  That means Newton's Three Laws of Motion.  I think this might be my favorite thing to teach in Science.  It is so much fun.    What can be better than learning while playing in the floor with hot wheels and ramps?

What are you looking forward to this semester?