A Peek at My Week 1/27/14

We have two weeks left before our big Embedded Assessment where the students will be writing their own short story.

This week will be a review of plot elements, character traits, and dialogue.  To review these things, we will be reading "Thank you, Ma'am" by Langston Hughes in our SpringBoard books.

First we will work on a mentor sentence.  

"The large woman simply turned around and kicked him right square in his blue-jeaned sitter."

Then I am going to show this short video before we begin reading:  

Then we will read the full story once all the way through and then a second time using "cognitive markers" (the symbols students write next to the text to show their thinking as they read).  SpringBoard only wants us to use 3:  ?, !, * but I found this neat anchor chart on Pinterest:

So then I thought I could/should use more than 3 markers AND I could make bookmarks with the "key" for them!

If you'd like to have a copy, you can get one free Here.

After we read the second time, we will analyze what the characters' appearances, actions, and dialogue tell us about the characters. 

I think I might try to have the students write the two-voice poems I read about at Ideas by Jivey.  This would really help put it all together!

 Finally, we will finish with a plot diagram.

That will definitely review all of our critical information and we'll be ready to do a trial run plan as a class next week! 

Hope your week is wonderful!

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday
Freebie Fridays

Five For Friday - Lucky the Therapy Dog!

Lucky came to visit this past Tuesday.  She was such a gentle and calm girl!  Her life lessons are ones we will work on all year long. See more about that Here.  We heard her book and now are poised to begin our Therapy Dog program!

As part of my quest to get my students' behavior back on track, I am using the theme of "You are the captain of your own ship".  We are talking about:
-What kind of ship you want 
-How you get that ship
-Who comes on the boat and who stays on shore
-Where you are going on the ship


I have begun the Great Pencil Challenge!

New classroom mantra:  You Get What You Give.  Yes, it's a song by the New Radicals, but you need to know they use the "d" word (which is barely noticeable and the "a" word that is very noticeable so I play the "Glee" version - remember I teach Middle School. ) I think my students might respond even more to this if I made a video and a poster about it so that's my weekend homework.  :)

We are working on narrative writing and soon we will be writing our own stories independently.  I found this great "infographic" that describes the writing process.

I think this will come in very handy - we'll see!

That's all for now!  Thanks for stopping by!

Editing and Proofreading FREEBIE

Freebie Fridays

I am working on proofreading skills using the Daily Language Review from Evan-Moor with my Learning Strategies class.  One of my students seems to begin the independent work just fine but gets lost in the details. 

So, first I began by ensuring the skills we go over are on anchor charts.  Things like homophones, parts of speech, and using quotation marks (which I wish I had pictures of - this is something I am working on for this new year~!).

Then, this weekend, I made him this checklist:

I'll be putting it to use this week with all my students in this class, so we'll see how it goes!  And you can only get it for free HERE.

Thanks & Enjoy!

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

A Peek at my Week

This week should be a very interesting one.  As you probably know, my main group of students are those with behavior disabilities.  So I have been working on implementing a therapy dog curriculum into my class.
This week we will get some "training" from Lucky and her owner, Nancy Starewicz.

Would you believe I found this wonderful lady on the internet?  I was searching for a "therapy dog curriculum" in order to meet my district's requirements to be able to use a therapy dog in my class.  I found her contact information on her blog, which included a phone number.  I picked up the phone, called her, and even though I was someone she didn't know calling her out of the blue, she was so very kind, helpful (answering my many questions), a great guide to the realm of therapy dogs, and now is coming to visit my class!

This is the book she will be reading to my class.  Lucky's Lessons are:
  " Lucky Lessons- Ages 9-95!

1.   Talk less, listen more.
2.   Sit less, exercise more.
3.   Complain less, be thankful more.
4.   Eat junk less, eat healthy more.
5.   Be selfish less, think of others more.
6.   Hurry less, be patient more.
7.   Guess less, study more.
8.   Growl less ,smile more.
9.   Worry less, trust more.
10.  Judge less, accept more.

(These are all the things Lucky is very good at doing, but I'm still working on them!)" 
I am excited and a little nervous because the students will have been off for 4 days...but then again they will like that this isn't "work".  (Well until the next day when I pull a mentor sentence and a foldable out of my hat from the book!)  Please pray that we will have a positive experience!
I'll let you know how it goes...

Five for Friday

Boy, the past 2 weeks has been one big roller coaster!


I wanted to begin the new year with a positive message about goals, so we read Superdog and made this neat foldable.

That was good - I got some quality, honest discussion out of my students about what they want to become and their plans to get there.  

I'm not sure if you can see it, but the last step on this one was "get my diploma" which is coming from my student who just got out of jail.  That encouraged me even though since his return, all of my students have been posturing for pecking order.  THAT has been wearing me out!  

So....  SECOND

I came up with a plan.

I asked the students what they would like to work for AS A CLASS.  I wrote down all their ideas and then explained for every positive thing they did, I would add a fuzzy and when there were unkind things said, then I would remove a fuzzy.  When we fill the bucket, we have earned the reward.

Now, that that's settled.... THIRD

We pulled out some mentor sentences from Superdog!  We did this one together and then I had 2 groups work on 2 others for a twist.


We have been working on dialogue and I found this neat activity:

You list a - z down the side of the paper and try to think of another word for said that begins with each letter of the alphabet.  Nice resource to keep in the interactive notebook!


We will be having a visit from Lucky the Therapy Dog on Tuesday and we read this book.  It is perfect for my class is going through:

"And then at night, look in the mirror and say, 'What good have I done with my hands today?  Have I helped or hurt people along the way?  Have I used right actions to make their day?"

And with that, I hope your week has been a great one!

New week, New game idea with a freebie!

My week is only 4 days!  Workday on Friday and no school Monday!  

So this a good week to do what we must - benchmark exams.  I am scheduled to do the reading benchmark test Monday and Tuesday.  Then my class doesn't meet again until Thursday because we have block scheduling. 

But after 2 days of testing, I will need something fun for Thursday so...

"Mix It Match it - Dialogue edition" was born!  

The teacher has key questions and answers on cards.  He/She mixes up all the cards and then gives each student one.  The students then have to find their match!  

After all matches have been found, the partners read off their questions and matching answers.  The class decides if they are a match.  If they are, I am adding points to a class reward that they will choose.  

You can only get this for free HERE on Google Docs.

This all started because my Deliberate Practice this year is centered on design question #6 - Critical Information -  and I was recently asked by my evaluating administrator how I can ensure all my students "own" the critical information.

We already have a poster with all the concepts the students need to know for the assessment and we review it frequently but that doesn't mean that the information is truly "owned" by the students.  I think this game might just help but I'll have to let you know how it goes!

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday Freebie Fridays

Returning to School after the Break with a FREEBIE

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

Since I teach students with special needs, I need a calm and gentle plan for when we return to school on Jan. 6.

I enjoy using Responsive Classroom and found two great articles that outlined some great ideas:

1.  Let students share something about their break like a person they spent time with or the one best thing they did over the break.

2.  Have a read-aloud with discussion to create shared focus.

Now for the read-aloud, I wanted a book that could help me create positive focus on goals and I found this:

"Superdog:  Heart of a Hero by Caralyn Buehner, illustrated by Mark Buehner.  Dexter, a dachshund, dreams of being a superhero and doing heroic things.  To do so, he undertakes a fierce exercise regimen, orders a costume, and more.  As Dexter does in the book, your students could think not only about their resolutions, but about the steps they will take to accomplish them, and about what it will be like once they have done so."

This is perfect for my kiddos as they don't have any trouble listing goals but do need help with the steps it takes to accomplish them.

To put this all together, I made this neat, little graphic organizer/foldable to go along with the book that I am sharing with you HERE.  

It has a space to write the main character's goal and then there are four flaps for the 4 steps that he took to reach his goal - with blanks for the students to fill in.  Then, under each flap is a step that mirrors the book's steps for the students to fill in with their own steps to reach their own goal (or resolution).

Please know it's my first attempt to make my own (hopefully) visually appealing "foldable" so I'm sure it still could use some finesse.  :)  

I'm also planning to pull out a mentor sentence or two to teach dialogue in a conversation.  I'll post pictures of what the mentor sentence lesson and foldable looks like all completed as soon as I can. Until then, thanks for stopping by; I hope your return to school is a good one!

And this might just help:  

Thursday Throwdown!


I'm excited to link-up with Lovin' Lit as I always seem to get some super great ideas from this site and author!

My interactive idea is one that gets students up and moving - 
I play a "get up and walk around" matching Q & A game for things like reviewing rules.

 It works like this:

Each student gets a card.  It has either a question OR an answer on it.  The objective is if a student has a question, then he/she must go and find the matching answer and visa versa.

Students are given a minute to read their card, process whether they have a question or an answer, and then are asked to get up and walk around to talk to other students in order to find their match.  

After everyone has found their partner, we line up and each pair reads their question and answer.  The rest of the class listens and decides whether the question and answer are a match.

Here are my class agreements (rules):

When we get back from our Christmas break, we will review the agreements playing this game.  Here is a sample of some of the questions and answers I use:

I have been thinking recently that I could use this game for pretty much any topic and that it might be a great weekly review for a concept we have been learning.  I might even go so far as to allow the students to accumulate points for correct matches to encourage students to "own" the critical information.  

Perhaps I'll give that a try and let you know how it goes later on this month.  But for now, this will at least get us started when we get back from the break.  :)

Until then, you might want to check out this great giveaway from Head Over Heels for Teaching and Fourth Grade Flipper:


Happy 2014!


This is a perfect new year party for me!  I am a fairly new blogger and I am always looking for new blog friends, new ideas and new blogging tips every time I join in the fun of a linky.  

And this one is no exception!  I have found several new blogs that I am now happily following!  

It certainly has been a fun journey from when I began about a year ago until I finally settled into this blog home.  I have learned a lot but I think there's still so much more to know!  

So here I am!  I'm a Middle School Special Needs teacher and my specialty is Language Arts.  I like to write about what works/doesn't work for me, lesson plan ideas, and other assorted teacher musings plus I specialize in making games for novels and creating writing materials that are step-by-step.  

I am always looking for new ideas and am particularly fascinated with foldables (my favorites come from Lovin' Lit ) and mentor sentences (my favorites are from Jivey).  

I'm excited to begin 2014 with even more great blog friends, finds and resources!  Here's to good health, good times and new adventures!

See you in "blog-land"!