If a child can't learn the way we teach, maybe we should teach the way they learn.

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Sailing into September

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We continued to work on subjects, predicates, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, and prepositional phrases.  The majority of students are now easily able to identify these parts of speech.  

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We have been working on personal narratives and have finished the rough drafts. I have been breaking it down into small portions so they can really identify with the different elements of the plot. I have been writing my own personal narrative with them and allowing them to give me some useful feedback. After reading several students’ drafts, I am quite impressed with their use of adjectives, adverbs, dialogue, and figurative language.  When they hear examples it really challenges them to step it up. We start revising and editing tomorrow.  Each student will have a peer conference and a final conference with me before they publish their stories.

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Each Friday, I have students present book commercials. We discussed how public speaking takes much effort and practice. The students not only are preparing for the commercial with the proper content, but their speaking skills are the most important part of the presentation. 

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Our highlight for the week was our lesson on literary genres.  Each class worked in groups to create genre posters to hang in the classroom.  Now, they have a visual aid to help determine the genre of their novels.






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Two Weeks Down….

Cross posted on Class blog.

I continued to work on important grammar skills by using the mentor sentences at the start of each class. These skills included subjects/predicates, prepositions, adjectives, and compound sentences.

Book Commercial.cl2doc

Several students also practiced sharing their first “Book Commercials” in class. I have assigned students dates to present Book Commercials through December. 

Most students have started their second novel since school started. They are adding books to their A to Z charts as soon as they complete each book. Here is my current A to Z chart:



 The students are really enjoying both class “read aloud” novels. It does take a lot of time out of class, so I have tried to minimize the read aloud time to 10 minutes or less.


I started with personal narratives for our first writing assignments. The students created a graphic organizer and they have written introductions. We are going to draft the “Rising Action” and “Climax” portions of the stories this week. The following week will conclude the drafting process when they write the “Falling Action” and “Resolution” portions to their stories. The final step will include publishing the stories on the blogs.


I am really enjoying all of my classes.  I have had a great turn out for my “Book Club” both this week and last week.  We have about 12 students signed up weekly.

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It’s a NEW Year!

Cross posted on My Classroom Blog

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I cannot believe summer is gone, and a new year has begun.  I haven’t been blogging all summer, so I’m ready to get back into the swing of things.  I am spending another year teaching Middle School Language Arts and I am thrilled to be teaching the same thing for two years in a row.  I have four classes this year.  My sixth and eighth graders are both split into two classes.  I also have a combo class of seventh graders and some of my eighth graders.  I am really looking forward to this group.

We had a great first week of school.  The students are eager to learn.  I jumped right into the curriculum and have already reviewed several skills.  We started each class with a “Mentor” sentence, which leads to my grammar or reading lesson for the day.

I introduced and/or reviewed the following skills:

  • linking and helping verbs
  • subjects and predicates
  • adjectives
  • possessive nouns
  • declarative sentences
  • compound sentences and compound predicates
  • proper nouns
  • prepositions
  • Author’s point of view
  • Setting

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I started two “read aloud” novels.  A couple of classes are reading Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt, while the other classes are doing So B. It  by Sarah Weeks.  Both novels are excellent.

I started my reading workshop (read to self from Daily 5).  Hopefully, we will be able to start our writing workshop next week.  I have had the opportunity to have an individual conference with about 98% of the students.

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In order to provide my students with more “reading” time,I am offering “Book Club” starting next week.  We are meeting on Tuesday and Thursday mornings before school in my classroom. Book Club will be a time for quiet reading without distractions.  We will celebrate completed novels and share ideas for other books to read.

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Creative Book Projects by 6th Graders

My sixth grade class just finished reading The Night of the Burning by Linda Press Wulf.  The students were given the following options to choose from for a culminating activity:

  • write a new ending
  • make a book trailer
  • compare Devorah and Nechama to two other characters in other novels
  • create a song, parody, or poem about the novel

I must say that the students truly went above and beyond on this assignment.  Take a look at what they created.

By: Gil S

By: Zoe M

This is a poem that I composed on The Night of the Burning:

Devorah is an orphan.

She is twelve years old.

She has survived many things.

If you ask, this is what you will be told:


I lived in Domachevo.

A small village in Poland.

There were many Jews there,

But also Christians even so.


Papa would trade with them.

Every early morn’.

So when he got back at night,

He would be tired and worn.


However, our happiness wasn’t meant to last.

Because papa died.

We almost had to fast,

And often cried.


Mama was so upset,

And she died too.

So Aunt Friedka moved in,

And was with us through and through.


One horrible day,

There was a pogrom.

All the Jews were murdered,

Even those who stayed calm.


We got to the orphanage,

In a different city,

And Nechama was often told,,

That she was very pretty.


One day, there was a special visitor,

Who offered to take,

Us to a place that was not similar.

It was called South Africa,

And Nechama wanted to go,

So I agreed too,

But I hoped it would be a better place,

Because I was a Jew.


I had once sworn,

I would never leave Nechama’s side,

So we stayed together,

And went along for the ride


We both got adopted,

By a separate family.

And although I was scared at first,

In the end, I settled in happily.

By: Jamie B.

Here is my song (To the tune of “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?” in Disney’s new movie, Frozen)


(Knock, knock, knock, knock, knock, knock)


Do you wanna see this book?

I’ve been reading all day!

I never see you anymore

Just call me up,

I’m not too far away-

We used to be best buddies

but we were separated

Adopted, but tell me why!-

The night of the burning,

The night of the burning,

Everything’s gone



Mama and papa died from typhoid

Aunt and Uncle died from war.

I think I need you more than you need me,

you’ve stopped saying the shemah!

It gets a little lonely

Being in my room,

Longing for just that time-

(Tic-Tock, Tic-Tock, Tic-Tock, Tic-Tock, Tic-Tock)



Mrs. Kagan?

You have definitely helped me,

I’m sorry for the stress

Daddy Ochberg told me to love you,

and to try to forget

I know I never will,

My sister forgot us,

from before the war

But I have a question for youuuuu?

Can I… call you mummy?”


Here is a poem I wrote about The Night of the Burning. Itamar L

In the dawns last light,

Devorah cried through the night.

When a strange man came,

To try to stop her pain.


Ochberg offered a new life,

away from the strife.

Her sister accepted so what could she do,

She promised her parents to protect Nechama through and through.


Nechama was the last of the last,

The only good thing that came from her past.

So she decided to go,

With a lot of doubts though.

When the flashbacks began,

She tried to take her stand.


But the flashbacks became harder to control and to fight,

Let me tell you a few from her past,

Let’s see if what the things people did her were right.

T’was a warm spring night,

Devorah was hiding trying to stay out of sight.


It was Easter and her parents were scared,

That the Christians would kill them.

Would they be spared?


Indeed they had their wish,

but the rest of their lives were not served on a dish.

First Uncle Pinchas was taken away,

To fight the army.

Though he did not wish to stay.


One night he came home,

he walked alone.

For he was so sick,

even the army was afraid of it.


Soon after he died,

In his small little bed.

A doctor did not come,

in his place was Aunt Friedka.

And so Pinchas died before his time had come.

The next person to die was poor dear Papa,

The Influenza killed him like prey for a cobra.

With very little money left Auntie moved in,

To help out the family and stay with her kin.


Mama grew sick fast,

Raving and ranting all the time about her past.

Typhoid had taken her,

And it would soon break her.


Alone Devorah sat by her dying mama

When she promised her mother to protect Nechama.

And then there was only three in their small little house,

Between Devorah, Nechama, and great Auntie too.

The house seemed as quiet as a mouse,


With bad luck in the air,

They were caught in despair.

One night someone came through their place,

“Pogroms, Cossaks,” came the frightful yell.

“Runaway, just in case,”


But the family stayed afraid of the hell,

that had been unleashed outside.

Nay, they would not stay,

So they took up a stride.

But what could they do, so they started to pray,


The answer then came in the shape of a barn,

They ran to it, and hid inside,

A soldier was coming, oh darn.

Aunt Friedka was stabbed and very soon died,

The children huddled up close in a corner.

Devorah was officially a mourner,

Morning soon came.

They walked slowly out of the barn as though the were lame.

A good christian woman came to help,

And sent them off to the orphanage.

Without a cry or whelp,

Devorah felt like a bag, a luggage in storage.

So that’s where we are in the story,

Nechama and Devorah are going to Africa.

With many a worry.

Soon after they left,

They arrived in Warsaw.

There they stayed to gather the rest,

While Devorah she had nothing interesting she saw.

After that they arrived in London,

By now Devorah and Nechama are no longer shrunken.

There they took a ship across the sea,

And they were finally free.

Soon they were both adopted,

Devorah opted.

That Nechama stay with her,

But there journey was finally done,

There purpose together was at this point, none.

Jolie’s post

Zachary’s post

Benjamin’s post

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Amazing Acts

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The 8th graders have been writing plays for the past couple of weeks. We started off discussing the differences between writing a play versus writing a basic narrative. One of the main differences they recognized was that a play is meant to be three-dimensional, rather than two dimensional. A play is meant to be performed by live actors, and not meant to be read in silence. The descriptions told by the narrator, as well as, the descriptions for how the setting should appear are of utmost importance.

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We spent a few days just working on creating a detailed setting. Following that activity, the students worked on character development. We did a few “warm-up” activities, using m&m’s, and then they were ready to develop the characters for their own play. They had to create a plot in advance, and then they could put the pieces of the setting, characters, and plot together to make their own scripts. Some students chose to work independently while others chose to collaborate and work in teams.

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Once they finished drafting their scripts, they had to share with peers, edit their work, and make necessary revisions. For the final step, they had to decide whether to perform their plays or use technology to create an alternative presentation. A few of the students acted out their scenes for the class this week. Each script was unique and different.