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…


Buzz in the Air March 10, 2011

Filed under: literature circles,slice of life writing — hey2blondie @ 3:21 pm

There’s a buzz in the air. It’s not a bee or a fly.  The buzz is coming from my students in Literature Circles. It’s a productive buzz – not too loud. Students are reading, discussing and some are even arguing their point. I love when my students are in Literature Circles. I feel this is when the true learning comes in.  Today is one of those days – students are learning from one another; pacing themselves with their reading.  From my desk I can hear a group of girls giddy with excitement acting like the characters themselves. I smile.


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.


Fun with Literature Circles May 21, 2010

This past month my 6th grade classes have worked in literature circles. I used Harvey Daniels book Mini-Lessons for Literature Circles and we’ve had some really thought-provoking lessons. This past week we did a drawing lesson where the students drew a picture of a scene, character, symbol, or event from their books. I was amazed at the conversations buzzing around the room. The week before I introduced the bookmark as a response tool. The students brainstormed ways to respond on their bookmarks. Some of the students responded with questions, author’s craft, passages and quotes, as well as connections. They turned in their bookmarks today. I was quite impressed by how they responded. Below are some student examples:

The author tended to foreshadow a lot. She also used flashbacks that didn’t make sense at first. – Nick from the book The Westing Game

“Rush, hurry, rush.” This quote catches my attention because I wonder why there are whispers. Are they telling her to rush because if they don’t they won’t get to see her mom? – Alec from the book Walk Two Moons

Does Sal and Phoebe feel the same way about their mothers leaving? – Don from the book Walk Two Moons

Next week my students are creating collages of the books. I can’t wait to see what they come up with!



Cereal Box Book Reports March 8, 2010


During the month of February, my students worked in literature circles. Every year after reading their books, I have them do some sort of project. In years past I had them create book jackets. I decided I wanted to do something different, so I began my internet research on different ways to present book reports. I came across the cereal box book report. I fell in love with the idea the moment I read what the students had to do.

So I typed up the guidelines and presented them to my students. I even included a rubric so they would know what I was grading them for. Their cereal boxes turned out great! I was so impressed with my students’ creativity on their boxes.

After completing their cereal boxes, the groups had to come up with a commercial to SELL their cereal, which meant sell the book. I created a rubric for this as well. I am a big advocate of my students knowing what is expected of them. Anyways, today my students presented their commercials. I was a little disappointed with the commercials because some groups didn’t sell the book; they just sold the cereal. I am glad that I video taped the commercials because I could really focus on what I wanted to grade for. I could stop it or replay it if I didn’t catch something. Tomorrow I will show them to the students and have them grade themselves to see if they pick up the same things I did.

I am still glad that we went through with this book report. I will do them again, but I would make a few changes. Some of the changes that I would make include the following:

  • make sure students understand the concept of the commercial even after going over the rubric
  • have a test run before students present to make sure they are on target
  • have a set deadline and not change it – I kept pushing the time back because the students said they weren’t ready, but in reality I felt they were goofing off
  • have students work on the commercial and present at the end of the week not on a Monday
  • realize that this will be a loud process

Stargirl March 24, 2008

star.jpgOver my break I read Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli and what a wonderful book it is! Stargirl is about a girl, who calls herself Stargirl, because that’s what she’s feeling at the time. Students at her school think she’s an alien and that she is totally weird except for Leo. Leo is intrigued by Stargirl and gets a chance to know her. Stargirl is an optimistic and always looks to cheer up someone around her. He learns valuable lessons about how people should treat each other and that Stargirl could care less what others think about her.

I can’t wait to use this book in my classroom. I have purchased 6 copies so that I can have Literature circles with it.


Literature Circle Evaluations February 14, 2008

Yesterday, I gave my students a 6 question evaluation on lit circles. I wanted to see what they liked and disliked. This is also an opportunity for me to reevaluate the way I facilitate lit circles. Every student but one is ready to start lit circles again. The reason why the one student didn’t like lit circles is because they don’t like reading in front of students, but I have seen improvement in their oral reading. I was going to hold off on lit circles for a while, but I think not. They love them and so do I! I see an active involvement with their learning more than with the reading text book.