English Teacher Party: A Look into the Real Life of an English Teacher

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Peer Revision June 30, 2010

Last week my coworker had our writing campers peer revise. She had each student paste their writing on a large sheet of construction paper. Students were then advised to go around the room and revise each others’ papers by writing comments on the construction paper next to their work. The students enjoyed reading what everyone had written on their papers.

This week I have been facilitating a writing camp at my school. I have 6 lucky students to be involved with writing. Each day they have left with smiles on their faces. We have written several pieces. Today I taught my students the STAR strategy I blogged about last week. I also used Nancie Atwell’s spider leg technique; however, I changed it up a little. I first had each individual find 2 places (2 legs) where they could use STAR in their writing. After each student added 2 legs, I passed out 2 lime green “legs” to each student. They were to go around the room and add “legs” to their peers’ papers. I heard the comment that I should use this technique in school this year, and I will!


Graffiti Walls June 24, 2010

I learned about graffiti walls from my student teacher. It is a simple way to help students understand concepts. To create a graffiti wall you will need a piece of paper. In the center of the paper, draw a circle or any shape. I like to do a squiggly cloud shape. Write the concept in the center of the shape and everything that has to do with that concept. On the outside of the shape, have the students write everything that the concept is NOT.

My students and I created a graffiti wall bulletin board on vivid verbs. We added as many vivid verbs to the center. Some verbs we came up with are scampered, casting, stroll, animate, devoured. On the outside of our wall we placed helping verbs, conjunctions, linking verbs, nouns, adverbs, adjectives. Students were then allowed and encouraged to add to the graffiti wall whenever they heard of an excellent vivid verb.

I also tweaked this idea by creating a huge idea wall for my students at writing camp this week. I used a huge piece of butcher paper and across the top I placed the headings onomatopoeia, instead of said, adjectives, adverbs, and vivid verbs. I wrote words  under each category to start the brainstorming process. When I introduced the wall to my group on Monday, I had them brainstorm aloud and I added words under the category. Throughout this week my students have added words to the wall and have used the words in their writing, which was the goal!


ABC’s of brainstorming

My co-worker had my writing camp students choose a topic that they knew a lot about. After choosing their topic, she had them brainstorm any and all words pertaining to that topic with the ABC’s. They had to try to write at least 2 words per letter within 5 minutes. I thought this was a great idea to get their minds thinking. They didn’t have to use all of their words, but would have a spring board of ideas. I plan to use this technique during the next school year. You could use this idea to brainstorm a list of topics or use it on a interactive bulletin board for student ideas.


STAR: a way to revise June 22, 2010

This week I am teaching at a summer writing camp in Martin, TN, which is affiliated with the West Tennessee Writing Project. The students have been writing stories using the Harris Burdick poster series. One of my co-workers had the students answer questions to create a round and dynamic character. After creating their character,  the students were to choose a plot, which was a poster from the Harris Burdick series. We had the students write their story using the character questions and poster.

Today, for my mini-lesson on revision, I used Kelley Gallagher’s idea on revision. He uses the acronym STAR. Below is the meaning of star:


Take things out



As a group we brainstormed ways to use STAR in our writing. After brainstorming and discussing how to implement star, I brought in Nancie Atwell’s revision idea of spider legs. The main concept is to add “legs” (revisions) to your writing. We made a spider head and pasted it to the top of the writing. I modeled to my students where I would place each “leg” in my writing. Soon the students were revising. This was a good opportunity to share our revisions too.


Eventful Summer So Far June 17, 2010

Filed under: thoughts,wn entry — hey2blondie @ 3:51 pm

My plans this summer have been somewhat shot. I had planned this week to unpack the few boxes I had left from the move. My daughter was going to go to day care and everything was going to be perfect. Well, not any more. My daughter was not herself Tuesday so I took her to the doctor and she was diagnosed with another ear infection and she had a fever all day. I couldn’t get her comfortable. She finally fell asleep. That’s when my husband and I decided to unpack those boxes. We got two unpacked when I decided that I didn’t like the set up of the living room. I began to move the couches around. I had asked my husband what he had thought. Of course he would say I liked it the other way. I then proceeded to move the larger couch toward me. “Ouch!” My toenail had pulled from the nail bed. It was bleeding and I almost passed out. You see I don’t do well with my own blood. If you were bleeding, I could handle it, but not my own blood. My husband rushed over to assist me. He carefully wrapped my large left toe and got me onto the couch.

He then proceeded to find out what we needed to do about the situation. He found a website that told him how to clean the wound and what not. I told him that I wanted to go to the doctor. It was 5:45 pm and all of the doctor’s offices were closed so I had to wait until morning to see what a doctor would say. With my toe throbbing in pain, I attempted to rest; however, I couldn’t get my mind off of my toe. I fiddled around the house until around 11 pm when I decided to go to sleep. The problem was I couldn’t sleep so I read Eclipse until 2 am.

The sun streamed through the windows around 8 am. I heard my husband on the phone making my appointment. The thought of having my toenail cut off nauseated me, but I knew it was the only way. My appointment was set for 1pm that day. I was glad I didn’t have to wait until the next day.

I arrived at the podiatrist’s office, filled out the paper work, and waited patiently to be seen. I was feeling ok until I had to take my sandals off for the nurse to look at my toe. I was queezy not know what to expect. She said that they were definately taking the nail off today. She took me to the procedure room and then placed a screen up so I wouldn’t have to see what the doctor was doing. The doctor came in and he put me at ease by making jokes. The doctor numbed the toe in three spots, waited about 20 minutes, and bam…done! It wasn’t as bad as I anticipated.I had expected to feel a tug, but I didn’t feel a thing. Of course, later on the numbing went away and I could feel the throbbing pain.

I didn’t know the worst part was yet to come– undressing the bandage and replacing it. It took me literally 3 hours to release the bandage from the skin of the nail bed. I guess I am a wuss, but hey it’s my toe. The doctor said it will take a total of 10 months for my nail to grow back!

So here I am with a hurt toe and a sick baby. What a combination! Needless to say the boxes are still there, the house is a disaster, and I will just have to live with it for now. I am just happy that the situation wasn’t worse than it was.


Changes in the Air June 3, 2010

Filed under: thoughts,wn entry — hey2blondie @ 8:12 pm

I have taught in the teaching profession for 9 1/2 years. Within those years I have worked with 4 different principals. This year we got the announcement that our principal is leaving. I’ve  met the new prinicipal and she seems nice, but change is hard. We also have 2 middle school teachers leaving. My mom used to say, ” The only thing constant in life is change.” I know change is good, but I can only take so much. I do look forward to a good year and I will just have to have a positive attitude to carry me through.


Collaging Thoughts – A Modern Twist to a Book Report June 2, 2010

Last week before school let out, each literature circle group created a collage based on their books they read. Each collage had to have the title of the book, author, characters’ names, a well-written summary, and a scene from the book. Boy, my students went above and beyond. I was quite impressed how they turned out. The students seemed to have enjoyed the project as well. I felt that it was a modern twist to a book report. Once the collages were finished, each group had a few minutes to come up with a short persuasive speech to present to their classmates. My students did a great job at the impromptu speeches. Some even left us wanting to read the books.