Showing posts from August, 2014

Invite Your Students to Write

I teach writing to sixth graders. Just the sound of it sounds like I want to torture both myself and eleven-year-olds. While most of my students enter the task of writing with reluctance (and some major rolling of eyes), I try not to take it personally. Instead, I extend an invitation to my students to write everyday.
Here is the way that I extend my invitation:
Have a positive attitude or we're all going to be miserable.
Be receptive to new ideas, techniques, and strategies to gain confidence in your writing.
Seek out help from your classmates, teachers, older siblings, friends...get help anywhere that you can.
Respect everyone's ideas and they will respect yours.
Practice...write everyday.

I don't plan on turning every child into a professional writer, but I do I want them to accept my invitation and grow as authors.

September Writing Prompts

Check out my FREEBIES on Literacy Speaks Volumes
School has been in session for two weeks...the honeymoon is about over.
This year, I'm adding an extra layer to my students' notebooks. Rather than have the students copy the prompt into their notebooks, the students now glue the prompt into their notebooks and write their response below it. 
This procedure has been working great. The students are responding more thoroughly and thoughtfully.
If you click on the freebie link above, you'll see a button for the prompt for September 1. You'll also see links for many other freebies that I have available.
Melissa Reese Etheridge

What If?

What if? What is ice cream grew on trees? What if ice cream grew on trees as soon as school began? What if ice cream grew on trees as soon as school began while all of the teachers weren't looking?
A fun and creative writing activity for middle school students is the "What if?" game. 
First students brainstorm questions from the mundane to the truly silly. Record these on an anchor chart. Students then choose one (or two) to write about in their journals.
Give students the opportunity to share their writing with a partner, small group, or large group.
This is such a fun way to incorporate creative writing into your curriculum.

Use with the mentor text What If? by Regina Williams.


Back to School


Sentence Structures on Teacher's Notebook


Questions vs. Answers (Revised)

Last year, I decided to do a class read of Boy: Tales of Childhood by Roald Dahl; but, I decided to go easy on myself and make it as painless as possible. All assessments would be formative and there would be no summative assessment over this sweet memoir by one of the most famous YA authors.
After reading the first two chapters, the students wrote five questions that might be on a book test for these two sections. But instead of me creating the questions for the students, I had them get together and create their own questions. 
The students had to use my basic format:
1. Define the meaning of _____. 2. Where was/were _____. 3. Name as many _____. 4. Describe in your own words _____. 5. What happened when _____.
I was very pleased with the results. These are just two of the formative assessments turned in to me.

I'm going to be working on this activity for my English Labs this year. I'm going to try to steer away from so many multiple-choice questions and do more extended res…

Standards-Based Assessment

My ELAB team met today for our first in-service. One of the topics for our discussion was how to grade students in this class.

Now, let me give you some background information: this is a new class that our district is implementing. ELAB is a Response to Instruction and Intervention class. I will be teaching writing, informational text, language, and academic vocabulary to leveled classes. Our report cards will still show two ELA grades.

We agreed that the ELABS would do standards-based grading. Each product will be scored with one standard in mind.

For example, writing standard 2a says, "Introduce a topic; organize ideas, concepts, and information, using strategies such as definition, classification, comparison/contrast, and cause/effect; including formatting, graphics, and multimedia when useful in aiding comprehension."

In standards-based grading, students would write the introduction to a piece of writing and I would score it based on that standard. Now, I could add lang…