Showing posts from September, 2014

How often should students write?

Everyone has the ability to write, and teachers can help students become better writers by supporting students through carefully designed writing instruction that helps students acquire new strategies and skills. Teachers need to give students the time to write and actively teach writing.

Classroom writing should be done with focus and daily diligence. Why should writing be a daily activity?

First of all, writing improves communication skills. It provides a forum for expression and communication. Diligent daily writing practice will improve your students' skill and comfort level with writing.

Secondly, writing helps student review and remember recently learned material. Just like it's easier for me to remember my own daily tasks, it's easier for students to remember to key concepts, strategies, key lesson points and develop writing skills if they are writing every day.

The most common reason for having students write every day is so that the teacher can assess the student'…

Essential Comprehension Skills

Comprehension is the primary goal of any reading task. Students who comprehend expository text not only do better on tests, but they also have more opportunities in life.
The following are the basic skills that students need in order to comprehend text:
Locating facts~questions based on exactly what the text says (who, what, when, where, why, and how many)Understanding vocabulary in context~questions based on the ability to infer word meaning from the syntax and semantics of the surrounding text, as well as the ability to recognize known synonyms and antonyms for a newly encountered wordDetermining sequence~questions based on chronological order (what happened first, last, and in between)Identifying conditions~questions that ask students to identify similarities and differences or notice cause-and-effect relationshipsMaking inferences~questions that require students to evaluate, make decisions, and draw logical conclusionsAnalyzing and visualizing~questions that make students draw upon…

The Central Task of Education

Many in our government seem to have forgotten that our role in education is to produce a citizenship that has the ability to learn. They (the Powers that Be) feel that the role of education is to cram a set of standards into students' heads and then make sure that they learned them. 
I consider myself to be a fairly intelligent woman, but that wouldn't be the case if I'd stopped learning after I graduated from college many years ago. I have the desire and the ability to learn everyday of my life. 
My parents, Sunday School teachers, classroom teachers, community leaders, and friends all helped to instill in me a great desire to learn.
I learned to love books from my mother who continues to be an avid reader.
I learned to travel from my father who spent over 30 years in the United States Army.
I learned to love the sound and nuances of words from my Mrs. Speck, my favorite English teacher and the woman who was my inspiration for wanting to be an English teacher myself.
I l…

Dark They Were and Golden-Eyed

The title of this blog is the title of a short story by Ray Bradbury. The story is set on Mars in the future after an atomic war causes many people to flee Earth in hopes of colonizing a new planet. While on the planet, a nuclear bomb destroys New York City and any space ships that could possibly carry the humans back to Earth.

The main character is Harry Bittering who, along with his wife Cora and three sons, are among those most recent inhabitants of Mars. Harry begins to notice some unsettling (to him) changes taking place in his surroundings and to other characters. The cow grows a third horn and the grass becomes purple~but it seems to only bother Harry. The other Earthlings are beginning to refer to a visible mountain range by its Martian name and even his children want to be called by their Martian names. All of this terrifies Harry so much that he begins building a rocket ship to carry him and his family back to Earth. But Harry eventually abandons the idea as his family slowly…

Is handwriting important?

As a sixth-grade English teacher, I give a resounding "yes" to that question. Handwriting is important for a number of reasons:

1. Word recognition that is too laborious for students may impair reading comprehension or it may reduce the mental resources available for learning more advanced material. Handwriting can have the same drain on mental resources.

2. Handwriting is a basic tool needed for many subjects--taking notes, taking tests, and doing assignments for any class--and the lack of good handwriting skills can have a pervasive effect on school performance.

3. When handwriting is arduous and time-consuming, motivation to write may be greatly reduced, which leads to a lack of practice that may further compound difficulties with writing.

4. Handwriting in the earliest grades is linked to basic reading and spelling achievement.

Melissa Reese Etheridge
Literacy Speakes Volumes

Sentences: Subjects and Predicates, Types of Sentences

Check out my newest resource!

Writing about what's important to you

Students need to be engaged in personal writing on a daily basis. As teachers we need to help students focus on writing about themselves and what is important to them.
Personal writing is writing that you do for yourself~like a conversation with your best friend. 
Personal writing can include entries made in a private journal, notes kept in a school journal, and letters or postcards written to relatives or friends. Some personal writing is meant for the writer alone. Often, private writing later becomes a story, poem, or other form of writing.
I always begin my day with personal writing, and I end my day with personal writing. Think of it as a "writing sandwich." 
As a writer, you need to ask yourself, "What is important to me?" Everyone's answer will be different because each of us is different. Whatever you choose to write, it needs to be important to you.
Personal writing is a great way to explore your thoughts and feelings. When something incredibly good or bad …

September Writing Task Cards are now available!

The September Writing Task Cards are now available. These are the same prompts that I use with my own sixth-graders. I've gotten great evaluations and complements using them.
Check out a free sample on my website.
They can be purchased here.
I'm wishing you a relaxed and blessed Labor Day 2014.
Melissa Reese Etheridge
Literacy Speaks Volumes