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

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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.




Promising Poets

Cross posted on my class blog.

The 6th graders have been working on a poetry unit.  We started off our unit discussing what the word “poetry” means.  We spent some time learning different types of figurative language.  Each student created a short tutorial to teach the class a different type of figurative language.

This was one example:

Fwd_ Alliteration - stephanie.teitelbaum@mjgds.org - Martin J. Gottlieb Day School Mail

We discussed alliteration, assonanceconsonancehyperbolesmetaphors, similesonomatopoeiasymbolism, and personification. Once the students each taught their classmates these terms, they split off into groups and analyzed various poems by some well-known poets.  They had to find examples of each type of figurative language.  Some poems were quite difficult to analyze, but nonetheless, we were able to find an example of each term.

Following our figurative language activity, each student randomly chose a famous poet to research. The students had to find out information about his/her assigned poet, what types of poetry he/she wrote about, and choose one of their poet’s poems that they found interesting. Finally, each student had to choose one poem to memorize and recite to the class. Last week, during our “Poetry Read Aloud” we all enjoyed hot chocolate, tea, and donuts while listening to classical music in our dimly lit classroom. We listened to the students recite their poetry and discuss why they chose the poem and how it made an impact on each of them. It was a great experience for all of us.

benjamin poem

These were the poets they researched:

Emily Dickinson-Itamar 

E.E. Cummings-Rebecca

Walt Whitman~Gil 

Langston Hughes-Jolie 

Lewis Carroll-Benjamin 

Edgar Allen Poe-Zachary 

William Wordsworth-Zoe 

W. B. Yeats-Jamie 

T. S. Eliot-Elior 

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Power in Persuasion

Cross posted on my classroom blog.

The 7th graders have been working on persuasive essays for the last few weeks.  It has taken some time, but the results have been quite impressive.  We started off talking about what “persuasive essays” consisted of and what types of topics they could write about.  The students found comfort and excitement when discussing topics that related to themselves and/or their unique interests. The students learned that it would take more than their own “opinion” to persuade an audience to agree with them.  They must have evidence, facts, research, and statistics to support their opinions.

First, we used the topic “Should schools be year-round or stick to the traditional school calendar?” The students then listened to examples of how to “hook” the reader.  They heard examples of anecdotes, facts, statistics, and a variety of strong thesis statements.  Next, each student practiced writing thesis statements from the topic list created by the class.  Following that, students wrote rebuttals to these paragraphs to gain perspective and to hear the other side’s point of view.

Second, the students had to choose which topic they wanted to research and write about.  Following that step, they had to make a list of three main reasons to support their topic.  Once their three reasons were established, it was time to research facts, statistics, and various stories to support their ideas.  This led to the drafting process of their essays.  We introduced transitional words and phrases to use in their writing.  A few are listed below.

Equally important

In the first place


Besides          Further

Next               Again

Moreover       Similarly

Once the drafting process was concluded, it was time to work on their conclusions.  We read examples of strong conclusions, which restated the writer’s side. The students completed their conclusions, and then were ready to learn how to cite their websites properly and use in-text citations.  This seemed to be the most daunting task for them.  We still have many errors that need to be corrected, but they will be revising their final essays next week.

Finally, the students used the Rubric that was provided to assess their own essays and a peer’s essay.  They will be meeting with 5th graders tomorrow to assess their persuasive essays and provide constructive feedback.  Hopefully the 5th graders will also provide some powerful feedback for the 7th graders. Next week, all of the essays should be posted on their blogs with necessary corrections and supporting images.

Here are a couple of the completed essays. Both students did an excellent job persuading their audience, and they chose opposite topics.  Which one persuaded you?  Leave them a comment and let them know how they did.

Unique Form

December 8th, 2013 by lilyh

Uniform | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

Do you want to be the same, the same as everyone else? Do you want to work in discomfort? There are numerous cons to wearing school uniforms. Uniforms are itchy, scratchy, and quite uncomfortable. They are very dull and aggravating. As long as there is a reasonable dress code students should be allowed to show off their individuality in their clothes.

 Picture this, you’ve been sending your children to the same school for years. They have enough uniforms already, yet, you end up spending hundreds of dollars every year for more uniforms. Of course this happens every year. The cost of uniforms is overwhelming and, in my opinion, unnecessary. The overwhelming cost of uniforms is only one of the many disadvantages of schools having uniforms. According to a chart written on October 24, 2013 found on “Statistic Brain” the “Average annual cost to parents for school uniforms” is two-hundred and forty-nine dollars. (“School Uniform Statistics.”) You’re spending money on something that could be harming your children and you don’t know it!

 Money cash | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

How could uniforms possibly harm children? Don’t just think physically. Uniforms can set a mood, but not a happy mood. Uniforms can cause frustration! They are also itchy and scratchy, and they can bother a student during school. Uniforms can redirect the pupil’s attention from his/her school-work. This can drop their grades. Dropping of grades can lead to disencouragement to work hard. It can also keep students from getting into certain high-schools and colleges. Employers will often request workers from certain schools, so this can damage their life, even as an adult.

 Uniform means same! Kids need to be able to express their style and uniqueness. If they can’t wear the clothes they want to wear it could influence them to show their style in inappropriate ways. As stated in an article written by Amy M. Armstrong on January 23, 2013, “Children will turn to other forms of self-expressions such as inappropriate hairstyles, jewelry or make-up when denied the ability to choose their own clothing.” (Armstrong) You are probably always telling your child to “be yourself,” to “express their style.” Uniforms aren’t a solution, they’re a problem!

jon fishman_s sonic fabric rhythm dress | Flickr - Photo Sharing! 

Your child walks into school, confident. He/she is dressed in comfortable clothing that suits his/her personality and style. Your child would feel happier, and a lot more confident if he/she could choose his/her own clothes. Uniforms are holding back children! In short, having no uniforms, is only an improvement!

Happy Face | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

Works Cited

Armstrong, Amy M. “Do School Uniforms Negatively Affect Kids’ Behavior?”LIVESTRONG.COM. LIVESTRONG.COM, 23 Jan. 2013. Web. 22 Nov. 2013. <http://www.livestrong.com/article/560471-do-school-uniforms-negatively-affect-kids-behavior/>.

“Facts against School Uniforms.” Facts against School Uniforms. Education

Newarchaeology, n.d. Web. 06 Dec. 2013.

“School Uniform Statistics.” Statistic Brain RSS. Statistic Brain, 24 Oct. 2013. Web. 03 Dec. 2013.

Picture Credit:

Taken by Jamil Soni Neto; December 22, 2005; found on Flickr

Taken by @Doug88888;  May 15, 2010; found on Flickr

Taken by alyce santoro; March 3, 2008; found on Flickr

Taken by Enokson;  April 22, 2013; found on Flickr

Persuasive Essay-Why all Schools Should Require Uniforms

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Do you want your life to be stressful and confusing? I know I don’t. Imagine that you are a middle school student. You spent your entire evening visiting an ill relative, and you just got home at eight o’clock. You sprint to your closet to find a glamorous outfit for school the next day. All your clothes have to match perfectly. Exhausted, you fall asleep immediately, dreaming about looking great at school. The next morning, you proudly step into the classroom. But then you see a science test! You were so busy selecting your outfit that you never studied! At the end of class, you get your test back. D+! Wearing a uniform would make my life so much easier! In my opinion, all schools should require uniforms!

 school girls in uniformsWith all schools requiring uniforms, it will reduce bullying. Bullies can’t make fun of your clothes if they are wearing the same ones! In 2010, one in every five public schools required uniforms (Toppo 1). The uniform was created for “reducing social pressures of children” (Toppo 1). Students at schools with no uniforms will be stressing about what they will wear. Students in families with lower incomes will look out of place next to peers with more money. School should be a place for learning and making friends, not for ranking others by their wealth and what they own. “It means everyone is equal, there’s no distinction between the kids whose parents can afford designer gear and those who can’t,” says Emma Parkin, Parenting Magazine (Reynolds, Costello 1). With uniforms, kids can judge others on who they are, not how they look or what they wear.

Wearing a uniform makes life easier for students, teachers, and parents. “Educators like uniforms because they simplify their jobs. It saves them time from having to punish kids for too-short skirts or shorts, for instance,” says Ken Trump, school safety consultant (Toppo 1). Students can’t break many dress code rules if they are wearing uniforms. Uniforms also simplifies parents’ lives. Parents don’t have to go out and spend money for whenever a new style come out. For example, parents don’t have to hear “Mom! I need new shirts! Everybody at school has them!” With a uniform, the parent doesn’t need to go clothes shopping with their children as often. In addition, students are busy with homework and extracurricular activities, not having extra time to spend with clothing. This new rule will reduce wasted time for everyone.

sticker gradeSchool uniforms will improve students’ grades. They will focus on school work, and not be distracted by others’ clothing. The time spent picking out clothes could be focused on studying. This will improve students’ academics, giving them a higher chance of success in their futures. Uniforms will also get students ready for life as they get older. Many jobs require uniforms, or have some sort of dress code. If students wear uniforms, it will teach them more about what clothes are appropriate.

The reasons above is why I think uniforms should be required at all schools. Without uniforms, I predict that students will be disoriented. Everyone will be confused, getting in trouble, and not succeeding in academics. Teachers and parents don’t want this to happen to students. Students want their lives to be easier. In conclusion, I predict that uniforms will make schools function more smoothly with fewer issues.

Works Cited
Reynolds, Deirdre, and John Costello. “Keeping It Old School: Why Uniforms Are Still a Class Act.” Independent.ie. Independent.ie, 20 Nov. 2013. Web. 08 Dec. 2013.
Toppo, Greg. “What to Wear? Schools Increasingly Making That Decision.” USA Today. Gannett, 18 Aug. 2013. Web. 06 Dec. 2013.
Wilde, Marian. “Do Uniforms Make Schools Better?” GreatSchools. GreatSchools, n.d. Web. 06 Dec. 2013
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