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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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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I have been working on creating new types of assessment for the third nine weeks for reading.  I  decided to give the students more choices.  They will each choose three from the chart below to complete during the third nine weeks.  There is a RUBRIC for them to follow for each assignment.  I am hoping that they will produce some QUALITY work.

Reading Requirements for the Third Nine Weeks

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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.