Showing posts from April, 2013


Well standardized testing is halfway finished and then there is only three weeks left of school. So, the big question from my students is "Are we going to learn after testing is over?" My snarky response is "How you can be in the same room with such a great teacher as me and not learn?" Of course, that is a rhetorical question~I don't really want to hear what my seventh-graders have to say to that.

While I won't tell them so, that is a question that teachers struggle with. What meaningful, but short-lived, lessons can we have in the last few weeks of school before our summer vacation?

This year, I'm going to try to get a leg up on Common Core State Standards and teach a historical fiction book: Cathedral: The Story of Its Construction by David Macauley. This is a short book about the fictional construction of a cathedral in France. The illustrations enhance the text with vocabulary and sentence structures that will challenge even the most reluctant read…


Cover of Run, Dog, Run Story and photos by Melissa Reese Etheridge Edited by Bruce Larkin
When requiring a project or finished product from students, it is imperative that the teacher shows examples of successful student products--some collected from previous years. If the teacher doesn't show successful student products, then the students have no choice but to guess what the teacher had in mind.
When I give an assignment of any depth to the students, I know that I'm going to have to frontload the information for them. If I don't provide information and examples on what the finished product will look like, then I'm just asking the students to put together a jigsaw puzzle without a picture.
If I'm teaching a lesson on, let's say, writing a good thesis statement, then I will do a "live demonstration" on how I go about the process of creating my thesis statement so that my audience will know what the blog is about.
I need to show my students how I notice an…


Cover of picture book The Library Dragon book by Carmen Agra Deedy
When teaching your students the school rules at the beginning of the year (or reviewing them throughout the year), do you teach rules for going to and using the library?
Teaching basic procedures and rules to your students should include more than just going over your classroom rules. Especially if part of your routine is either going to the library as a whole group or allowing students to go individually during study time or class time.
When teaching my students my rules (or expectations as I call them), I always teach a lesson on going and using the library.
Here are my basic going-to-the-library-as-a-class expectations:
Walk silently and in a straight line to the library.Sit in assigned seats at the library tables.When in the stacks, make your book choice as an individual, not as a group.Make your selection within eight minutes, then head to the circulation desk and check out your book.Once you've checked out your i…


Photo of Thomas taken when he was around nine.
What's the difference between a god and a hero in Greek and Roman mythology? The heroes seem so much more likable and approachable. While both gods and heroes had human flaws, the heroes seemed to accept their flaws and learn to adjust their lives around them. The gods had flaws, but they didn't see them as real issues that needed to be dealt with.
As I begin the unit on Traditional Tales, I need to think how I really feel about these stories. I like stories, but my interests really lie in folktales and stories passed down from the lips of Southerners who usually have a natural "gift of gab." 

Greek and Roman myths can't hold a candle to the stories that I love. I love the cadence and rhythm of a good story told by a true Scots-Irish American. These stories are so much more romantic than the glorified stories of the ancient Greeks and Romans.
But alas, I must teach the curriculum, so I have grown to enjoy these tales of…