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

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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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Visual Research Reports

Mrs. Zavon (teaches Math and Social Studies to 4th and 5th grade) and Mrs. Hallett (our Media Specialist) worked very hard creating eBooks with the 4th and 5th graders.  I really wanted to do another research project this year, so after collaborating with both of them, we decided to do research papers on historical figures from Florida’s history.  Mrs. Zavon provided us with the list she wanted the students to research, and Mrs. Hallett worked with us on the researching process.

Once the students were given the graphic organizer that we provided, they narrowed down their search to only 2-3 websites.  Mrs. Hallett showed the students how to use a new search tool, Sweetsearch, which only searches a defined, safe list of websites. Next, I spent a couple of classes reteaching the students how to take notes.  I really wanted to focus on writing the information in their own words, writing phrases rather than complete sentences, looking up unknown words, and organizing the information to match the graphic organizer.  This took a lot more time than I initially had planned, but it was worth it.  Most of the students were able to write a nice four paragraph essay explaining his/her Floridian.  Some students required more editing than others, but overall, it was a success.

Rather than finishing once the essays were complete, Mrs. Hallett introduced the class to  thinglinks, so the students could create a visual representation of their work.  The first step was for the students to find a Creative Commons image to use as a visual picture for their project. The students really enjoyed finding images, videos, quotes, and other biographical sites to add to their reports.  Mrs. Hallett did a spectacular job teaching the importance of citing the images properly. Each item was represented by an icon, or “nubbin” in ThingLink lingo. To ensure consistency across their interactive, visual report, Mrs. Hallett chose the type of nubbin for each type of media content. The students are really proud of the finished products, and will be adding them to their blogs. Please take a look at one of the finished essays below: (you can get a better idea of the thinglink by clicking on the link at the bottom).

Ariella’s thinglink

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Great things are happening….

This week, my 5th graders taught a lesson (as a group) to the 3rd graders on how to write a Quality Comment.

Then, the 5th graders paired with the 3rd graders to help them use the skills they were taught to write quality comments on the 4th graders’ blogs.  Each 5th grader worked with 1-2 3rd graders, and the results were quite impressive.  I was amazed with the patience, enthusiasm, and true knowledge of the content they each shared with the 3rd graders.  Here is an example of one of their comments:

Dear Zach,

That was a cool video. I like reading. Now I like baseball. Was that video made because you like
baseball? And why do you like baseball? What are your favorite baseball teams?

Thank you,

Here is an example of a typical 5th grader’s comment:

Dear Julia,

I totally agree that you do have an awesome blog! I love the theme of your blog because it has warm, bright, and cheerful colors. My blog is a bright shade of green, with sparkles, and a butterfly. For the text at the top I wrote, “Make Fantasies Become A Reality”. I love this blog, and what you write about.

Just like you, I as well have an after school activity. I do dance with you, and I do volleyball. I used to do running and swimming, but this summer I am planning on running with my dad at night. Are you going to run with your mom or dad over the summer?

I as well like blue, but I also like black, white, green, yellow, and purple. In Jewish Studies, we are studying the colors of flags. Each individual flag has a color for a reason, which is what my class and I are trying to figure out. Anyways, I like blue because it means freedom and justice. I adore the color white because it means peace, and I think that there should be peace everywhere. I admire the color green because it symbolizes Earth and nature, and I love to interact, study, and learn about nature. I love the color yellow because I feel like it stands for doing the right thing, such as being honest, and I am very good at doing the right thing. I admire the color purple because to me, it seems neutral. In other words, if there is an argument, I would be neutral, I would try to fix the problem instead of siding with one person. Just to summarize, no favorites. Last, but certainly not least, black. Black might seem like a sad and dull color, but to me, it represents determination and courage. Why are your favorite color pink and blue?

I also think that blogging is important because I get to express myself. I get to tell the world about what I am doing, learning, and so much more! I love writing because I can be creative, and that is part of the reason why I like blogging.

I love how you love working on the iPads because that is one little jump towards 21st century. I have my own iPad Mini and an iPod touch. What to you have?

Again, I love your blog, I now know a lot about you, and I hope that we can continue to communicate.

We also started to discuss our next phase of our poetry book that we have been working on.  The students came up with so many questions.

  • When will we publish it?
  • What will we charge?
  • Will we do an e-book, a paperback, or both?
  • Who will our audience be?
  • How will we market it?

So many questions, and so much to do…The students developed a list of jobs (with my guidance) that would be needed to begin to answer these questions.  Once the job list was complete, they had to determine what job would best suit each of them.  Each student developed a resume and applied for one of the positions.  I was thrilled to see that they each applied for positions, which really emphasized their strengths.  Based on the individual resumes, we ended up hiring a VP of Finance,  two students to be the VP’s of Marketing, a VP of Design, an editor, a publishing liaison, a VP of Public Relations, and a VP of Business.  They all have a list of their job descriptions and they will be reporting directly to Mike Fisher and myself on a weekly basis.  This project will continue into next year.  The 4th graders will also be choosing the areas that they feel suit each of them, so they can be on a collaborative team with the 5th graders.


My fourth graders began to work on our final research paper this week.  They each chose an important person to research from Florida’s history.  Mrs.Hallett, our 21st Century librarian,  helped them determine the proper search engine to use.  They had to find 2-3 websites to obtain the necessary information listed on the graphic organizer that was provided for them. Next, I taught them a lesson on proper note-taking techniques.  Finally, they took notes to use on their essays.  We will be writing the papers this week, and then Mrs.Hallett will be guiding us in creating a thinglink. I look forward to sharing the finished product in a couple of weeks (hopefully).


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Do you have a goal that you want to achieve?

The students recently wrote posts describing the ways they improved throughout the second nine weeks.  They also chose new goals for the current grading period.  They shared how they hope to accomplish these goals.  They used Inspiration to complete their graphic organizer for their posts. Here are a few exceptional posts.

  • What are your goals?  Please comment and tell us what your goals are for this nine weeks.

You mean, the second nine weeks are over?!

Posted on January 30, 2013 by ariellat

The second semester is over and it is time to make new goals.  I will be talking about the areas I improved in, my new goals for the third semester, and how I am going to reach them.

Last semester, I improved in a lot of different areas.  Mostly, I did better in reading and social studies.  In reading, I got higher grades, and last semester, I read a lot more books.  In social studies, I reached a higher grade, and also because, I listened more carefully, I am more interested in social studies.

My new goals for the third nine weeks are in writing and science.  I am going to reach my goals in writing by doing better with my punctuation, and I am going to read over my work more.  I am going to reach my goal in science by trying my hardest, and not giving up.

These are my goals and how I am going to reach them.  What are your goals for this semester?  Were you assigned to make goals for the third nine weeks?

Thank you, Mrs. Teitelbaum, Ms. Luettchau, Mrs Zavon, and Mrs. Kagan for helping me a lot and even if I was driving you crazy, you still helped me.

Ariella GO.isf

My Goals From The L.N.W.? My Goals From This L.N.W.? Oh!

JAN 2013

Have you ever had a goal?  I have, and I am going to share mine with you.  Well, I am really not the best at math (can you tell Mrs. Zavon?), so that’s why I have a goal that I am going to become much better at math.  (The next little paragraph is what L.N.W. stands for.)

L.N.W. stands for “Last Nine Weeks”  (I might say “L.N.W.” a lot)

My goals for the L.N.W. was to be better at math and I think I got a little bit better at math every year (barely).  So, I believe I achieved my goals.  I don’t remember my exact goals from the L.N.W, just that the main idea was to be better at math like I have been saying.  If you are a kid in school like I am, what was your goals for the L.N.W?

I would like to start quizzing myself and using flash cards.  I would also like to have a review sheet and I would give myself a certain amount of time to do the problems.  It will help me do the problems faster.

When I study my times tables I think I should go over them more than once, this way I will learn them better.  I want to do this a few times a week.  Hopefully this will help me fulfill my goal!

Keep writing, reading, studying, and other things that you can come up with.

I Improved, Have You? by: Elad O

January 28th, 2013

During this nine weeks in school, I learned a lot of stuff, but I mostly  improved my grammar. I improved my grammar by writing more and doing daily fix it’s. I found out that grammar is helpful because you use it when you are writing. Pretend you are writing a post, and you don’t even know what grammar is. People will not able to read  your work clearly and will make fun of you.

I want to improve even more in grammar so that I can write without mistakes. Reading is important to know because it is used everywhere. I want to improve in vocabulary because nobody wants to say to mess  up and say he like food instead of he likes food
I also want to improve in sleeping so I won’t be tired in class. I want to get on the principle list because the principle list means to always get A’s on tests.

I would reach these goals by studying hard, reading  more, get hundreds on tests, and going to sleep earlier. I would need to improve in everything so that I can help people who need help  to improve.  I would go to school and learn about those topics. Sleeping early helps the brain grow bigger, and then people can learn more without forgetting.

My Great Goals! (They are pretty easy though.)

Posted on January 28, 2013 by evanl

Today I am going to talk to you about what I improved in and my goals for the third quarter of school.  First I will say what I improved in.  I improved in reading.  I improved by doubling my AR point goal, when last quarter I barely made my goal.  An AR goal is a reading goal, you read books then take an online quiz on a website.  I got an eighth grade reading level instead of seventh grade.  I also can read books in two days now!

My goals for the third quarter are all about different subjects.  My first goal is to double my AR goal again, but this time it is higher than the last so it will be harder.  I want to double my AR goal because my parents want me to read like my sister and she reads like one-hundred pages an hour.  I also want to get a great grade in handwriting.  My last grade wasn’t so great even though I didn’t fail it was not the best grade. I want a good grade in that because my parents say,” You have to get a great grade not an ok one in handwriting.  I also hope to be able to get an A+ in  math for no reason at all.

I will hopefully reach all these goals.  I will try to get an A+ in math by doing my homework and taking my tests instead of using a test pass or homework pass.  In handwriting I will get a good grade by writing slower and taking my time.  In the AR point situation I will just finish my series and then the points will be finished.  That will be easy because I can finish a book in my series in two days.

Those are my goals and achievements from the second quarter and the third quarter.  I hope that you can help me achieve my goals.  That is all I have to say and I hope you liked my post.

That picture shows my graphic organizer.

I am going to tell you how I improved during the 2nd nine weeks and how I want to improve during these nine weeks.  I think that I improved a lot during these second nine weeks I also think there’s a lot of things I can improve on.  I improved a lot in math.  Now I can do stuff like 2345×9=21,105.  I also improved in science because now I know about Bernoulli’s Principle and many other things. I think I also improved in spelling.  I believe that I also improved in grammar.

I’d like to in a lot of stuff these third nine weeks.  Like I would like  improve in reading a lot by reading every night.  I could also improve in reading by reading books in my level.  I would also like to improve in Hebrew.  I think I could improve in Hebrew by studying more often.

That is what I would like to improve on and what I have improved on.  I really hope I can get better in everything I want to.  What would YOU like to improve on?

Josh G.isf

My Epic Goals

Posted on January 28, 2013 by noahg

I have a goal, do you?  If you do I would like to hear it. These are my epic goals for language arts.  All of my goals include reading. I love reading! I will tell you my epic reading goals right now.

Things that I accomplished in this 2nd nine weeks was reaching my AR goal and reading  two book series. The book series I read was called The Familiars and The Jack Blank series. The Familiars is about animals who have magical powers and they help wizards.The Jack Blank series is about a place called the Imagine Nation and Jack Blank has to save it by killing his future self.

My new goals for this nine weeks are getting more AR points by reading 20 minutes at home so I can read more and so I can finish books faster. My other goals are reading more books and reading bigger books because bigger books give you more points. I really like reading good, thick books.


One of the books I’m reading is the  Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan. I will accomplish these goals by reading before bedtime.  Its a really good series. I am looking forward to finishing the series. Thank you for reading this. I hope you enjoyed it! !

Orli’s Awesome Goals

PostDateIcon January 28th, 2013 | PostAuthorIcon Author: orlig

Untitled 1Do you want to hear some of my goals and improvements for school? I am doing the goals for both Mrs. Teitelbaum’s class and Mrs. Zavon’s class. My goals include math, social studies and reading. These are only three of my goals. My favorite goal is reading. Reading is really awesome.

I improved the last nine weeks by getting better grades in math. I also went way above my AR goals. I have over 100 AR points. I am have improved my writing because I have a blog. My blog is really awesome. It has a lot of interesting posts like this. I like it when someone comments on my blog and sometimes my friends, like, Emily, comment on my blog.

I would like to improve in math.  My first improvement is that I get better at fractions. Fractions are boring and hard.  Multiplication and division are also hard and boring. I am going to get better at it by practicing.
My improvements in reading are that I take a lot AR tests.  I go way higher than my AR goals and I read faster. My goals in social studies will be that  I learn about Florida history. Did you know that Ponce De Leon founded St. Augustine?

I am going to reach my math goals by practicing everyday on a very, extremely boring website that my mom found for me.  The website gives you an account and you learn adding and subtracting fractions on it. I am going to reach my goals in reading by reading more books. I usually start the day by reading in the car on the way to school. I can reach my goals in social studies by paying very close attention. One time in social studies I also read about the Seminoles. They were a group of Seminoles who fought for freedom.

Sometimes completing your goals could be really fun. I am going to improve starting with reading. I am going to improve my reading by reading more books  and getting more AR points.And I would recommend the Secret Series  if you want to complete your reading goal. Right now I am reading Wonder and the Beyonders.  All of my goals are really exciting. I that you will also try to do the same goals as me.!

Can you please leave a comment.

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5th Graders in Charge!

I have been working with my fifth graders on language arts’ tutorials for several weeks.  It has taken such a long time, and as it stands now, I only have 5 students that have finished.  The effort is evident, and the levels of understanding are also evident. Since I have had a few finished, I needed to find something worthwhile for them to be working on, while I am assisting those that are not done.  One of our learning specialists came in about a week ago to show the students how we will be posting the finished products on a wiki.  Now, the students that are done, are in charge of the wiki.  They are the ones putting the descriptions on the wiki.  They are embedding the work.  They are creating the QR codes.  It is their wiki, and they are organizing it how they see fit.  The students are teaching the others what to do, and how to do it.  I love that they have taken on this responsibility and have shown ownership of their own site.  Once again, the students have surpassed my technology skills!  Way to go 5th grade!

Here is a link to the wiki.  We still have more to come.  My fourth graders will be doing language arts’ tutorials during the third grading period.



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Beneficial Buddy Reading

As part of our Daily 5, I will read stories to the class, and the students also have the opportunity to read to others.  Typically, they have been going in small groups to the first grade class to read to the students.  We decided to have the entire class go once a week, and allow the students to work together on a reading activity. This past week, the fourth graders read to the first graders.  Then, they wrote up a book summary collaboratively.  It was a great experience for both classes. The fourth graders helped the first graders determine the author, the illustrator, and the main events of the story. It was so fabulous to see the students working on reading strategies together.  Here are a few pictures from this experience.