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

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Pre-reading Activity ~ Carrie’s War February 1, 2011

Filed under: bulletin boards,reading,reading activities,reading and writing — hey2blondie @ 4:48 pm

My student teacher has begun preparing for her unit of study. She decided to teach the novel Carrie’s War by Nina Bawden. To get the students ready for the novel, she had them do a little research about World War II, Wales, Bombings in England, and Coal Towns. Before they researched, she had them create a KWL chart. The students filled out what they knew about WWII in the K column. They discussed what they knew as a class. Students were then grouped and they decided what topic they wanted to research. As a group they were to come up with 5 questions to research in their W column. The students were then given time to research their answers and fill in the L column.

The next day the students used the knowledge from their KWL chart to create a collage of their topic. I have 2 classes of reading, so the students had to build onto one another’s collages. They worked on the collages for about 2 class periods. On the last day the groups presented their topic collages to the class. Below is the final product:

I did this same activity with the novel Lily’s Crossing. I like it because it gives the students ownership of their learning.


Books, Books, and More Books July 29, 2010

Filed under: reading,thoughts — hey2blondie @ 10:53 am

Recently my daughter has started to enjoy books. She loves to carry them around and show them to you. She’ll let you read her about 2 pages of the story and then she’s off to find another book. I am excited that she loves books.  I know soon she will love the words  and meanings within the books. Since her birth, we have received a new book each month. How you might ask? My husband and I signed her up with the Dolly Parton Imagination Library. She receives a free book until she is 5. I love to see my daughter’s face light up when she receives a new book.  As an educator I feel that this is a great opportunity for children to be immersed in books. Take a minute to see if you have an Imagination Library near you, or sign up a friend’s child, nephew, niece, or someone you know who loves books!


The Phantom Tollbooth July 22, 2010

Filed under: AR books,book reviews,reading,recommended books — hey2blondie @ 10:00 am

I read The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster just recently. I truly enjoyed this book. It is about a boy named Milo who never knew what to do with himself. Milo had everything a child could want. He was bored with everything until one day a tollbooth  appeared in his bedroom. Along Milo’s journey he met his friend Tock, a dog with a watch as his body, and the humbug, a beetle that wants everyone to think of him as smart and wonderful. In the land of Digitopolis the trio encountered King Azaz, who gives them permission to rescue the beautiful Princesses Rhyme and Reason. They adventure into many lands ( Digitopolis, The Valley of Sound to name a few) to accomplish their task.   While on this journey, Milo learns to value education, use common sense, and especially escape boredom, which is his main problem. You will have to read to find out if they rescue Rhyme and Reason.

One reason I loved this book was that Norton Juster did a fabulous job with puns. Each page was crafted with his creative use of words. For example (From Sparknotes):

Juster frequently plays upon the dual meanings of words and expressions to create humorous situations. When Milo orders a “light meal” at Azaz’s banquet, he is literally served light. When Milo catches a word on the tip of his tongue in the Soundkeeper’s fortress, a word physically appears in his mouth. When the Humbug jumps to the conclusion that nothing more can go wrong with the group’s journey, he leaps out of the car and lands on the island of Conclusions. Juster uses puns both to amuse and educate, as these unusual situations often result in Milo learning an important lesson.

Another reason I loved this book was the theme to value education. Milo educated himself on each little adventure he went on. This book has a lot to say about the importance of education. As an educator I truly believe learning is everything. Education is the key to success in life.

I look forward to teaching this book with my 6th grade students. I hope that they enjoy it as much as I have.


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.


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

Retiring Lily’s Crossing April 23, 2008

Filed under: reading — hey2blondie @ 8:19 pm

For the last 6 years I have been teaching the novel Lily’s Crossing by Patricia R. Giff as a whole class read. I decided that my paperbacks have had enough and that I would make the book a summer reading requirement. I feel it is time for a change. This doesn’t mean I won’t have my students read it again in years to come. I just want something fresh. I am going to switch to Walk Two Moonsby Sharon Creech for next year. I hate to let Lily go as a class read, but I am burnt out. When the teacher is burnt out, then you know it’s time for a change.


Summer Reading Decided

Filed under: reading,reading activities — hey2blondie @ 8:11 pm

Today I decided that my rising 6th graders will choose from 4 books. Since my last post, I was having trouble deciding so I decided why not have them choose from a list. I decided on the following books:

I love all of these books and I think it’s a good mixture of girl vs boy reads. Next week I will talk to the rising 6th graders and tell them about their summer reading requirements.