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…


Writer’s Notebook Strategies October 19, 2010

Each day I try to give my students a new writing strategy with their writers notebook. Aimee Buckner’s book Notebook Know How has several strategies and ways to incorporate writer’s notebooks into your classroom.   I also use Roberta Allen’s book The Playful Way to Serious Writing. I have decided though that any mini-writing lesson can be a strategy. I have branched out on my own and have come up with a few strategies on my own.

I do grade my students’ notebooks. 9 weeks have come and gone. Last week I graded my 6th and 7th graders’ writer’s notebooks. I was impressed with how many students used the writing strategies taught in class with their own entries. My classes are to write 3 home entries a week in their notebooks. At the end of the quarter, I have my students count all of their class entries and then all of their home entries. I like to separate the two so I can tell who is writing at home.

This week my 7th graders are working on writing of choice so I wanted them to have another poetry type idea, so today I read them several examples of odes. I got the idea from Georgia Heard’s book Writing Toward Home. I would like to share with you the ode I wrote today with my students.

Picture came from Babycenter.com


Ode to My Hair

Oh, how

I love thee

Your wispy strands

Glistening in the sun

You are a fashion


Without you

I would be



Andi N.


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.


Summer Reading April 22, 2008

Filed under: reading activities,recommended books — hey2blondie @ 8:39 pm

Each year my school requires summer reading. Last year my sixth grade students read Crispin: The Cross of Lead by Avi. I am thinking about having my students read that and possibly True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, which is also by Avi. I can’t decide. In the past my students also read Hatchet by Gary Paulsen. Do you have any suggestions for summer reading for sixth graders?


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.


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.


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.