Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Got Materials?

Of course, we all know that being organized and prepared for learning is essential for success.  Here's a list of the items that my students are responsible for bringing to ELA class every day:

1.  ELA Binder
2.  Reader's Notebook
3.  IRP Folder
4.  Independent Reading Book
5.  Writer's Notebook
6.  Pen or Pencil
7.  Computer
8.  Agenda book (optional)

It's a lot to remember... so I put this poster (list with images) in the hallway for a quick reference.  I also keep a list of these materials on my white board and make a mini version of it available for students to hang in their lockers if they choose.

What strategies do you use to help students with executive functioning skills?

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Inspired Picture Writing

Since I was at a literacy conference on Thursday, I wasn't able to officially celebrate National Writing Day with my students.  One good thing about missing that day is that I learned about a new website at my conference.  PicLits.com is a creative writing site that combines images with selected words for inspiration.  You can choose words and put them in the right order and place to capture the essence, story, and meaning of the picture.

Students' exploration of the website was a nice way to end a two-week long stretch of testing!

Here's a sample of my own work:  Mrs. Pothier's Pic-Lit!

Monday, October 17, 2011

"Mrs. Twit... I mean, Mrs. Pothier?"

Over my ten plus years of teaching, there have been many occasions when a student accidentally calls me "Mom" or "Gram."  It usually gets a chuckle from other classmates- especially the one (or two) time(s) that someone has referred to me as "Mr. B" (our one male teacher in the building).  But NEVER, EVER has anyone called me Mrs. Twit... well, at least not until last week!  After a reading workshop lesson that involved reading part of a favorite Roald Dahl book, The Twits, a student mistakenly called me Mrs. Twit.  I got quite a kick out of it... but let's hope it was ONLY because the story was still fresh in his mind.  ;)

 "Mrs. Twit was no better than her husband.  She did not, of course, have a hairy face.  It was a pity she didn't because that, at any rate, would have hidden some of her fearful ugliness.  Take a look at her.  Have you ever seen a woman with an uglier face than that?  I doubt it..."

Excerpt from The Twits, by Roald Dahl

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Parking Lot

Here's a borrowed strategy called the "parking lot."  In the past, we have used a simple version of the parking lot, in which off-topic comments or questions were recorded for us to re-visit later.  This version has four parts, making it way cooler!  This is how it works:  Write a comment or question on a post-it note and place it on any one of the four lots (see explanation below).  It serves as a communication piece between classmates and students and teacher.  Students use it to communicate things like how well our reading/writing workshops are going, what titles they want added to our classroom library, or even suggestions for organizing the classroom.  The "parking lot" can also be used as an "exit slip" to check for understanding before, during, or after a lesson.  It's just one way to communicate throughout the entire year!

+ ... Positive feedback (What's working?)
∆ ... Constructive criticism (What needs to change?)
? ... Question (What do you wonder about?)
☀ ... "A-ha" moment (What new understanding do you have?)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Celebrate Writing!

Writing instruction and practice are important at every grade level and every subject.  We all write for a  variety of different purposes, audiences and occasions.  To help writers recognize how important writing is to their lives, the Senate passed resolutions in 2009 and 2010 declaring October 20 the National Day on Writing.

Check out the following link for more information:  National Day on Writing

Last year, my 8th graders teamed with with Grade 4 to compose "Think-et" stories.  It was fun and engaging!  How does your school celebrate writing?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

ELA Classroom Tour

Door View

Community Beliefs

Writing Center

Classroom Library

Classroom Library

Door to Quiet Room

Publishing Ops

Our Classroom