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

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Fun in Literature Class April 30, 2011

Recently my class read Sixth Grade Can Really Kill You by Barthe DeClements and they loved it! The book is about a girl named Helen, “Bad Helen”. She gets her name because she’s always playing pranks on her teacher. Helen has dyslexia and is struggling in school. She may even fail until she meets Mr. Marshall.

At the end of a novel I like to have some type of culminating activity. I found a cool website for literature circles. This site had extension projects that looked fun and interesting. I had one of my classes complete the commemorative stamp activity. They turned out great. I’ll post pictures later. This site even has rubrics to grade the projects.


I then found another idea on a mini book report so I tweaked it for my class. Below is the mini book report project:

Mini Book Report

The Sixth Grade Can Really Kill You


This will be a TEST grade!


White copy paper, colored paper or construction paper


Crayons or markers


Fold the paper in half, then in half again. When you unfold the paper, you will have four boxes of equal size. Then cut the paper in half along one of the folds, slip one piece of the paper inside the other. Repeat the steps and staple the fold to create a twelve page book. Your book pages need to represent the following:

1.       Create a new cover design for the book including the author and title

2.      Your name needs to be on this page

3.      10 sentence summary

4.      10 sentence response of the book

5.      Choose a theme that is represented and explain its importance. 5-10 sentences.

6.      Picture of favorite event or scene from book

7.      Explanation of why this is your favorite event or scene. 5-10 sentences.

8.      Conduct an interview with your parents about what school was like when they were in sixth grade. Ask questions to find out about what discipline was like, dress code, learning styles, classroom set-up, homework, and what their teachers were like. Include at least 6 questions and their answers.

9.      Compare and contrast your sixth grade year to your parents’ based on the interview questions. Include parent signature. 10-15 sentences.

10.   Vocabulary page – include five vocabulary words from the book, their definitions, and original sentences using the words that are important in the book; the words might offer other students an indication of the reading level/difficulty of the book. Knock my socks off with the sentences!

11.    Rating page – draw five stars and indicate how many stars you would give this book – 5 being the best!

12.   Back cover – write a teaser to entice others to read the book OR create an interesting write up about the author.


Your pages may be typed or written in cursive.

Mini Book Report Rubric

The Sixth Grade Can Really Kill You


_____ Front Cover is interesting, includes title and author (20 points)

_____ Page Two – Name is on the project (5 points)

_____ Page Three – 10 sentence summary (10 points)

_____ Page Four – 10 sentence response (10 points)

_____ Page Five – Theme and explanation of importance – 5-10 sentences

(10 points)

_____ Page Six – Picture of favorite scene or event (10 points)

_____ Page Seven – Explanation of picture – 5-10 sentences (10 points)

_____ Page Eight – At least SIX interview questions and answers (15 points)

_____ Page Nine – Compare and Contrast – 10-15 sentences- parent

signature (20 points)

_____ Page Ten – FIVE vocabulary words, definitions, and original sentences

(15 points)

_____ Page Eleven – Five Star Rating (5 points)

_____ Back Cover – teaser or interesting write up on author (5 points)

_____ CHIPS (capitalization, handwriting, indenting, punctuation, spelling) and neatness (20 points)

_____ Original and Creative (5 points)

_____ 160 points total

Please include rubric with final project or

 5 points will be deducted.

I can’t wait to see the final outcome! Pictures to follow soon…


Poets at Heart April 15, 2011

Filed under: poetry,teachers who write,writing activities — hey2blondie @ 10:49 am

Today my class and I wrote cinquains. Basically it is a poem with the following structure:


description of noun


feeling or effect

synonym of the initial noun

Here’s mine:


Endless adventures

Read to get away

Full of hope



Please click on the other poems by my seventh graders.




This is not a cinquain, but it is a great poem.


Wild Goose Chase Theater April 13, 2011

Filed under: teachers who write,thoughts,wn entry,writing,writing activities — hey2blondie @ 1:51 pm

Today my sixth graders had a special treat. The Wild Goose Chase Theater came to our school! Matt Sandbank made his shadow puppets come to life with his voice and poetry. He taught the students how to create imagery in their poems. He engaged them the entire 45 minute period. Even the science teacher wrote a poem! During his show he had the students pick an image and then list nouns, verbs, and adjectives that would go with the image. He modeled every step that he did. After they compiled their lists, he had them create music with their words. He taught them about alliteration, metaphors, and similies. Yes, I teach these at my school, but it was good for my students to hear it from someone who writes their own poetry. Below is my list and poem.


fun  lime  green  red  green  stripped  juicy  black seeds  picnic  slices  chunks  summer  messy  munching  devour  child  running soft  basket  adults  children  humongus  ripe   fruit  plump   crisp  quench  bite  flesh  rind  ants  dribble eat   large  rotund  table  spit  hard  mounds  water  melon abundant  pile


Mounds of messy melons

Stacked on the picnic table

Ripe juicy fruit

Dribbles down my cheek

Children devour

Chunks of plump red flesh

Seed spit in the air

This is more fun than the fair!


Student Thoughts on SOL April 10, 2011

Filed under: slice of life writing,thoughts — hey2blondie @ 4:43 pm

Last week I graded all of my students’ SOLS. Yes, it was a tedious task, but I enjoyed reading each and every slice. I learned a lot about my students and what they liked to write about and what they didn’t like. Most of my students enjoyed the SOLs, but what they didn’t like was writing every day. Some thought that they didn’t have much to say when they did. Next year I will have to focus on modeling how the simplest things matter too. Along the way I scanned several students’ slices so that I can share with next year’s students.


This Wednesday I am going to celebrate with those students who sliced 31 entries with a pizza party. I’m also going to have a writing give away that day. I told them if they sliced 18 slices their name will be entered into the drawing once, 25 slices their name will be entered twice, and 31 slices their name will be entered three times. I can’t wait until Wednesday!


Bill Cosby April 5, 2011

Filed under: slice of life writing — hey2blondie @ 9:21 pm

I didn’t know what to expect. My husband turns left into the Civic Center parking lot. There are lines of people. The people weave throughout the parking lot and under the awning of the rather large building. I say to my husband, “We have to wait in line?” He goes to investigate. Luckily, we had table tickets which meant that we didn’t have to wait in that treacherous line. We proceed through the glass doors to the will-call booth. The lady hands us our tickets and we are shown where our table was located. As we enter the dimly lit gathering hall, we spot more lines! Lines for the cheese! Lines for the cupcakes! Lines for dinner! We have no choice, but to get in line. The line slowly dissipates and we finally load our plates of what is left to eat. If you are a vegetarian, it’s not your night because there is only beef to choose from. Strange selection I think. We scramble to find our table in the sea of tables and people.

My husband and I greet our table members and enjoy our beef dinner. The program begins promptly at 7:05 p.m. We are greeted by the president of Lambuth University. After he speaks, Bill Cosby is introduced! He tells of stories when he was fifteen. He makes crazy faces like he did on the Cosby Show and Jello commercials. He has the audience laughing the whole time. My mouth is still hurting from laughing so much. Tonight is definitely a night to remember!


Stacks of Slices April 3, 2011

Filed under: slice of life writing,thoughts — hey2blondie @ 12:22 pm

Last night I graded my first stack of four writer’s notebooks. I too had them reflect on their journey. I was pleased to read that some of those students liked the challenge. Several students commented how they liked hearing their peers’ slices and several didn’t like it because the slice had to be on that day. In that class I had two students write all 31 slices – I was excited to see that they stuck it out. I have enjoyed reading all of their slices. Today I will grade another stack. I hope to get them all done by Tuesday.

I used the below rubric to get their grade on this challenge: (students were to write at least 18 slices – that’s how many days we were in school in March)

80 points for 18  half of page slices (approximately 4.4 pts each)

10 points for neat and legible

10 points for slices representing a sliver of their life not a diary or bed to bed entry (had a lot of those, but at least they wrote)


My Reflection from SOL April 1, 2011

Filed under: slice of life writing,thoughts — hey2blondie @ 7:34 pm

I am sad that the month long SOL challenge has come to an end. Each day I enjoyed writing and couldn’t wait to get home and write. I only missed two days and on those two days I didn’t have internet access or I would have sliced. SOL challenged me – especially the words I chose to express my thoughts. It was like the slice chose me not the other way around. My classes also sliced. I found that the challenge pushed them with their writing. It challenged how they wrote their slice, which fascinates me the most. I am proud of my students for keeping up with this challenge. Those students who sliced all 31 days will receive a pizza party. I am also drawing a name for a writing package prize. Of course there were some students who hated this challenge, but we all dislike something. In the end I am proud of all my slicers! It was a great month! Thanks Two Writing Teachers!