I believe writing and reading go hand-in-hand. To make better readers, we need to make them better writers and vice versa.
In my classroom, we have 4 stations and 3 small groups (5 or less students). Groups are in stations for 20 minutes each. 2 stations per day. We have A and B days. Fridays and Early Release Wednesdays are usually C Days. C Days consist of whole group activities focusing on building community and relationships.
Independent Reading Station
20 minutes of independent reading of their self-selected book and writing annotations while the student reads. (You can see a copy of the annotation sheet under “handouts” on my blog)
Small Group Station
The students are with me. I have a reading or writing strategy mini-lesson. I pick up their annotations. We’ll talk about the books they are reading and they share their annotations sometimes. We can also read a short passage of informational text or short story or poem.
The students work independently. They are allowed to talk (on-topic and on-task) in this station. They can be reading something and applying the reading strategy or writing and revising a draft. If they are finished early, they can work on homework from another class or do a Reading Counts
Quiz on an unoccupied computer over a book they finished.
This station is all done by Scholastic’s Read 180 program. Students have their headphones and microphones on while they work in the Read 180 Zones. The Zones score their reading comprehension, vocabulary, spelling, and reading fluency. (The student will get a weekly grade from each score that I receive from the Read 180 program.)
I’ve joined Bulldog Nation at Hernandez Middle School in Round Rock this school year after seven years at Chisholm Trail Middle School. Also, I will be teaching a new class after seven years of 7th grade Language Arts. I decided to leave Chisholm, a school I love dearly because I learned so much there and met my true love and wife there, so I can challenge myself in a new class. I will be teaching Read 180 for 6th, 7th, and 8th graders, mostly 6th graders. I’m very excited about this new journey. Looking forward to meeting my new students at my new school and helping them improve as readers (and writers of course).
I’ve learned a lot this summer by attending the Capturing Kids’ Hearts training and Eric Jensen’s Teaching with Poverty in Mind professional development. It really opened my mind to my approach to my students, and I plan to implement many strategies that I learned. Attending these training classes also gave me the opportunity to spend time with many of the teachers from Hernandez and all of them have been so welcoming and kind. There are many great teachers willing to learn at this campus and that makes me happy and proud to be a part of this community.
Also, previously I didn’t post on my teacher blog as much as I would like because I had to use another service for our teacher site/online communication with our students, but now we can choose our own. I will use this blog for updating my students and their parents on our reading courses and unit plans as well as any explanation of the course and classwork.
Looking forward to a great year! Go Bulldogs!
It’s been almost a full year since I last posted on this blog for my class. I started doing blogs last school year with my students and learned a lot in the process. The kids loved them. It was time-consuming to teach them how to log on, review expectations, write a post, etc. I will continue to do them again this year because they loved to write on the blogs. It’s a great way to engage them in the writing process. Hopefully we can use the blogs pass December for this school year. Can’t wait to start this year!
tears trickled below his dark sunglasses
my father’s eyes hidden
the reflection of our shivering malamute
on the stainless steel table
I could see our hands:
caressing Wolfe’s furry body
in this cold, antiseptic room.
We didn’t have shades like my father’s
to hide our sadness when we saw
his head drop
hanging across my mother’s arm
My hand rubbing gently across his white fur
on his chest
then to his stomach
back to chest
He loved that.
(His chest would expand
I didn’t want to stop
I didn’t want his last feelings
me pulling away
His fur never felt so soft in those twelve years.
His belly began to feel as cold as the table.
I lied to myself.
He still smelled like the scented shampoo
we used to give his last good bath.
He stopped shivering.
I lied to myself.
His breathe still had aroma of the t-bone steak
we gave him for his last meal.
He stopped whimpering.
I lied to myself.
I wanted to keep lying to myself
rubbing his belly
keeping it warm
He’s still here
“I could fall in love with Dallas Winston” were the words Cherry spoke to Pony when she left him and unwantingly hops in Bob’s car. Why did Cherry say she could fall in love with Dallas even though he was rude to her in the drive-in? Cherry sees that sensitive side of Dally that nobody else can see because he does his best to hide that side of him, the true Dally.
Dally wants to be known as the tough, mean guy. That’s why, in Pony’s words: he’s always “trying to break the law” with an emphasis on “trying.” Dally wants people afraid of him, so they don’t get close. My friend Jason, a friend from my middle and high school days, was similar to the character of Dally. Jason was always skipping school, selling drugs, stealing; he did it all like Dally. But just like Dally, Jason still cared for his friends.
Jason went to jail to cover-up for our friend Tony even though he did nothing illegal at that time. Maybe Jason felt guilty for contributing to Tony’s habits earlier in their teen years or since Jason already had a record and spent time in jail, he didn’t want Tony to experience jail, so he protected him from going there. Either way, Jason cared for Tony and looked out for him.
Dally may act all tough, but deep inside he does care about people like his friends, especially Johnny. When Johnny talks back to Dally to protect Cherry and Marcia, Dally could have easily knocked him out to protect his reputation as a “mean, tuff guy”, but he doesn’t because he cares for Johnny like Jason cared for Tony.
Cherry and I both saw Dally’s sensitive side when he ran off from the drive-in rather than slug Johnny in the face. His gang may seem him as the toughest guy on the streets, but he really has the biggest heart.
Today, I attended the first meeting of our Heart of Texas Writing Cohort. One of the presenters showed us a website http://www.smithmag.net/sixwords/. We created a six word memoir in our writer’s notebooks. Of course, me being different, I wrote a five word memoir: Searching for the sixth word.
I think I will be using the six word memoir as an early notebook entry, and maybe for their first blog post.
This blog is an extension of my writer’s notebook for my classes to read. I plan for each of my students to obtain a free student edublog, so they can have a blog like mine. We can discuss about what we’re reading and what we’re writing!
I will post some of my poetry, weekly reader responses, and many other writing pieces. I think of all my pieces to be unfinished, but if I post it on my blog, then I have thought about it deeply and done some revision and editing on that piece of writing.
While attending the MFA Creative Writing program at Texas State University, I was a substitute teacher at Hays ISD. I taught classes from fourth grade to high school and thought it would be fun and challenging to be at full-time teacher at public schools. I felt like I could do more for my community as a teacher rather than writing poetry in a university, so I became a grad-school drop-out.
After working a semester as a teacher’s assistant to Mrs. Poole’s resource class at Chisholm Trail Middle School, I began my education for teaching with iteachtexas.com and was offered the 7th grade LA position at Chisholm. I gladly accepted because I enjoyed working at CTMS.