Showing posts from July, 2014

New Title, New Ideas

During this upcoming school year, I'll be teaching a sixth-grade intervention class. I'll need to develop lesson plans that supplement not only English, but also science and social studies. This is going to be tricky for someone who has only taught English. I have, however, taken a graduate class in Reading Intervention. (That sounds so pompous.)

I'm both excited and a bit anxious. I'm having to step out of my comfort zone in order to do what is best for each student.

My biggest hang up is going to be data keeping. I'm going to either have to develop or purchase an organization system that will allow me to track the students in the different subjects.

I'm also anxious about helping students with science. It's not a subject that I particularly enjoy, nor am I good at it. I don't want my ideas or opinions to come through to the students.

I will probably start researching topics and resources for these subjects as well as begin creating resources for them…

Back to School Bumper Sticker Activity and Printable

Here in Middle Tennessee, we go back to school in two weeks, so it's the perfect time to begin thinking about icebreaker activities. 
My Back to school Bumper Sticker Printable and Activity includes 20 different bumper stickers, 10 color and 10 black and white. There are 2 bumper stickers per page.
Use this as an icebreaker in the following way:
Students brainstorm some bumper stickers that they've seen and what those bumper stickers say about the person driving the car.
Then, the students will write down several bumper sticker sayings that represent them and their ideas or beliefs.
Show students some examples of completed bumper stickers.

Afterwards, give each student a copy of the bumper sticker template. Each student designs and creates a bumper sticker that represents him or her.
After students have created their bumper stickers, they walk around the room reading each other's bumper stickers.

This activity is a fun and creative way to get to know your students and hel…

Teaching Spelling in Middle School Part 1

This morning, I took a little time to research some ideas on teaching spelling; here are some basics that I came across several times in my research:

Spelling has evolved dramatically over the last few decades, from considering spelling simply as a tool for writing to recognizing that spelling offers perhaps the best window on what an individual knows about words.

It is now seen primarily as a process of conceptual learning, rather than one of rote memorization.
As time has progressed, we are seeing a definite evolution in the way spelling is conceptualized.
Instructional implications have emerged that build upon the twin foundations of developmental appropriateness and the logic of the English spelling system.
Learning to spell is a developmental process, and for most students it requires direct facilitation and guidance.

Significant amounts of reading and writing are critical in the spelling process.
For children in the early years of schooling, invented spelling should be encouraged.…

How to Arrange Your Desks in the Middle School Classroom

A successful classroom is one that is warm, focused, and well-organized. Thinking about the room arrangement and planning for an easy-to-navigate space for students and teacher is an important part of classroom organization.
How do you decide what classroom arrangement you need and want? First, you must work with what you administrator is going to allow you to go into your new classroom and buy new tables because you want your students to work at tables.
I recommend that you begin the year with your students sitting in the traditional rows. This arrangement says that you mean business and we’re here to learn.

I always begin the school year in a traditional seating arrangement, then change the seating arrangement as needed to meet the lesson dynamics.
For example, if I’m going to be reading aloud, then the students will push the desks to the back of the room and sit on the floor. If we’re going to have class discussion, then I move the desks into a circle. I also use a circle i…

It's All About Your Attitude and Not Theirs

After all these years of teaching middle school English, I wish that I could say that I have the answer to rid your classroom of all bad attitudes. Unfortunately, I can't because it comes with the territory. A bad attitude in a middle schooler is usually the sign of a lack of self-confidence. I know, it doesn't seem that way, but I've dealt with enough to know that a bad attitude is not about me. It's just the way that the kid is projecting him or herself. 
I've tried several different ways to deal with it, and very few are effective all of the time. Like most things in teaching, you just have to go with it and see what works for that kid at that moment.
At the beginning of last school year, I had a student who refused to write anything (not even his name) on a piece of paper. I tried threats and punishments. I moved him away from the group that he was trying to impress. I turned his name into the administration--he spent three days in in-school suspension for dis…

How much should we pre-assess our students?

I will be back to school in a month, and whether I like it or not, we will still be assessing our students on a regular basis. Our system has recently adopted a system-wide pre-assessment to determine which students will need intervention. Those students who do poorly on the initial screening will go on to take another battery of tests.

I've always done some sort of pre-assessment: grammar pre-assessment, writing pre-assessment, skills pre-assessment. I also look at standardized test scores from previous years. This past year, I kept a copious data notebook (5 and a half inch binder that was full by the end of the year!) and tested before every unit.

The question for me is: Are we pre-assessing so much that we're putting the cart before the horse? When do you have enough information. Anecdotally, I can tell you which students just don't get it. I know by looking at handwriting, attitude, behaviors. Veteran teachers are like moms: we know when something is wrong. Do I real…

The Sixty Most Frequently Misspelled Words

The Research for Action conducted a study among middle schoolers to determine which words were misspelled the most often in their unedited drafts. The group analyzed 18,599 compositions to create their list of frequently misspelled words.

I've created a set of flashcards for these words in a set that is ready to print and go. I plan on using these words in the first few weeks of school in my intervention classes.

Melissa Reese Etheridge
Literacy Speaks Volumes