Sunday, November 29, 2015

Trimester One Reading Recap

I can't believe we are already at the end of the first trimester! The fourth and fifth grade students have been working very hard on achieving their goal of becoming skilled, critical, habitual, life-long readers! They have worked to meet individual page goals and as a matter of fact, many of them had to reset these page goals multiple times! They have also done a great job maintaining all of the important paperwork needed to create purposeful, intentional reading plans!

This trimester students also began the process of studying a variety of genres. By having a clearer knowledge of the qualities of these genres students open the door to many reading possibilities that they might not have thought they would enjoy! Knowing the specific traits of each genre also helps students approach each type of text successfully. They can now try new types of readings with confidence and excitement! As a final assessment students created a fiction and nonfiction genre comic strip for a specific sub genre. Students were challenged with making sure their comic strips contained the qualities specific to the chosen sub genre. Each student then viewed the comic strips  made by their classmates and determined their sub genres. This was a fun and engaging way for students to demonstrate their genre knowledge!

End of Trimester One Writing Recap

This trimester the fourth and fifth grade students have done a great job settling into the structures of writing workshop. Students have created expectations and rules for a successful writer's workshop and have worked very hard to maintain this necessary structure! This type of writing structure consists of a minilesson, ample writing time, and time for peer and teacher conferencing and editing.

For the first trimester students focused on the poetry genre. Students determined subject matters that had meaning for them, learned how to focus on the most important ideas, and how to use the most specific, powerful language to get their ideas across. We also discussed the use of figurative language, focusing specifically on similes and metaphors. We closely read and analyzed many pieces of poetry written by various authors and determined how their words and use of figurative language created mood, sensory reactions, and showed insight into the lives, thoughts, feelings and personality of the poet. Students also discussed how the poets words impacted them as readers. By the end of the trimester students produced many of their own poetic writing pieces!

Monday, September 7, 2015

Hopes and Dreams

During our first few days of school students were asked to reflect on the things that they accomplished last year and the things that might have been challenging. Following a discussion about these reflections students were asked to think about what they hope to accomplish this school year. They generated a long list and were then asked to narrow it down to their most important one or two. These were written down and are on display on the bulletin board outside of our ELA classroom. Following this activity students were asked to think about what they need in order to achieve these hopes and dreams. This lead to a discussion and the creation of our classroom rules.


Welcome to our first week of school! A focus for our middle level is on creating a healthy, effective middle level learning community. As a whole group we have discussed our expectations for our behavior and participated in some fun team-building activities! This carried over into our individual classrooms. In our literacy class we participated in a hands-on team-building activity where students had to construct a structure from playing cards. They were limited in resources, time, and were asked not to communicate for the first 15 minutes. Following this activity students brainstormed a list of the qualities of an effective team-member! Students worked extremely well together and produced some very interesting structures. Make sure you look for these at Open-House!


Sunday, February 22, 2015

Crime and Investigation

Sixth through eighth graders wrapped up their mystery unit with a visit from Maine State Police Detective, Greg Mitchell. The first part of Mitchell’s presentation engaged students in a discussion about the different types of evidence. “While records and interviews are important,” says Mitchell, “the evidence at the crime scene is especially crucial. You can’t ignore what you know to fit a theory.” What can we prove? was the theme of his presentation, and Mitchell designed a practicum which provided our middle schoolers with an opportunity to play detective. Students worked in teams to solve a crime as Mitchell provided them with clues and pretended to be different suspects. During a final question and answer session about Mitchell’s career as a detective, he stressed the importance of literacy and teamwork skills in his work. Throughout the mystery unit, students have explored nonfiction texts about forensic science as well as practiced their own investigative skills by solving fictional mysteries.