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

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Poetry Read-A-Thon April 11, 2008

Starting Monday, my classes will begin our first poetry read a thon. I got the idea from poets.org. I introduced it on Wednesday to my classes and how I would like them to go about doing the poetry read a thon. My students and I are excited.

Here’s how it works:

My students sign up for a day to read a poem to the class.I have a sign up sheet in the room so that everyone will have a chance to read a poem.  The student reads the poem they have selected to the class on their designated day. The students then paste the poems into their writers’ notebooks and then respond to the poems in paragraph form using the criteria given to them.

Click below for the handout I gave my students.



Lily’s Crossing March 6, 2008

lilyI can’t wait until after spring break because my students and I are going to read together the novel Lily’s Crossing. I just love this book. It has so many themes that correlate to everyday middle school life that I can connect with my students.

The novel is about a girl named Lily who spends her summers in Rockaway, New York. She has a problem with lying and she learns that lying can hurt others, especially someone she really cares about. The story is set in the time period of 1944 during WWII. It’s a great historical fiction novel.

The way I kick off this novel is by having  my students research background information so that they better understand what is going on in the novel. Some of the topics they research are women’s roles during WWII, daily life, D-Day, and the city of Rockaway, New York. I group my students into 4 groups and each group researches their topics on the computer.

On the first day, we start with a KWL chart before researching. After completing the KWL chart, the students write questions that they want to find out. Then we spend the next day researching in the computer lab (Tuesday). On the third day, which will be next Wednesday, the students will share their information so that the other students learn about each topic. The last day I have a speaker come in and speak about life during WWII. At our school we are priviledged to have a wonderful lady come and speak to us. She has done this for at least the last 5 years. I love hearing her stories and the kids do too. After spring break, we will begin reading the novel.

I have found that researching before reading the book has great insight for my students. Plus they get to work on oral communication skills and learn something new. It also gets the students excited about reading a novel together.


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.


Book Jacket Project February 11, 2008

At the end of literature circles my students created a book jacket for their book. Each group created one jacket. They had several days to create their jacket with the following guidelines:

  • must have a cover with picture, title, & author
  • summary of book
  • biography of author
  • and a book review from each group member

I then graded them on the following:

  • creativity
  • accurate detailsjacket 7jacket 7
  • organization
  • group participation (for this I had each member evaluate their group’s effort with an evaluation form & I also watched them as they worked)
  • CHIPS (capitalization, handwriting, indenting, punctuation, spelling)

I am impressed with the outcomes. Take a look at their final projects. Click on each for a bigger picture!

jacket 1jacket 2jacket 3jacket 4jacket 5jacket 6

jacket 7



jacket 8





A Must Read January 25, 2008

 mouseAs you know, my classes are reading novels in literature circles. Last year through Scholastic I got the novels The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo for my students to read. This book is a great read: fast, thought provoking, and great lessons to be learned. The story is broken into 4 parts which all tie together in the end. The story is about a mouse named Despereaux, which means despair, who was born into a family who didn’t like him much. He was not the average mouse–different because he was smaller than the average mouse and he loved to read, which mice don’t like to read they like to eat the pages. Anyways, Despereaux follows music one day because he love the sounds he heard. This brought him to meet Princess Pea. He falls in love with her and eventually talks to her. This leads him to the dungeon because he broke the rules. In the dungeon he meets a rat and this is where the story unfolds…Despereaux learns the values of faith, hope, love, perseverance, forgiveness, and determination, but you as a reader learn empathy along with what Despereaux learns.


Literature Circle Calendars January 18, 2008

Filed under: literature circles,reading,reading activities,reading and writing — hey2blondie @ 2:00 pm

Calendars make literature circles run more smoothly. I created a calendar using publisher and printed it off for my students. They then got into their groups and decided how many pages to read each day. I got this idea from Harvery Daniels book, Mini-lessons for Literature Circles. I also gave students 5 points to their test grade for those who got their parents to sign the calendar.

Take a look at our calendar.


It’s Getting Closer January 8, 2008

What is getting closer? Well, literature circles! Yesterday my students chose 4 books that they would like to read (from those lists I come up with 4 groups that read different books) and today I told them the books they will be reading. Seeing their eyes light up was breath taking. My 6th graders can’t wait to start literture circles. I have been talking about lit circles all year and now they get to be in one. Throughout the year we have been practicing with our reading books, but now they get novels. I have created a calendar that I give to my students so they know what days we have lit circles. I will give them their calendars on Friday. I also use Harvey Daniels book Mini-lessons for Literature Circles, which is a life saver! I highly recommend this book to anyone trying to do lit circles. Your reading class dynamics will turn a 180!

In order to do lit circles, you have to have an assortment of different books and have 4-6 copies of each title. Yes, that can be expensive, but I go to the used book store to get books and goodwill sometimes has them. Sometimes at the end of the year I will ask students to bring in books they don’t want anymore for extra credit. That’s how I got all my Harry Potter books!

Take a look at this site for information on lit circles:



I will post more updates when the books start to open!

lit circ