Friday, November 1, 2013

Relax, Reflect, Refresh....repeat!

A great week off as our school follows the Europe International School Schedule. That means a week off in November, two weeks at Christmas, a week off in February (known as Ski Week), and then two weeks at Spring break. Gotta Love It !

Our family headed to a lovely farmhouse in the heart of the wine country in Provence, France. It was a fast 8 hour drive down and a fast unpack, popped open a bottle of wine, grabbed our books, and we were all set for a great week. Our teen daughters love these kind of trips...we are home somewhere else. We explore, go to the morning markets to sample delicious treats from the region, gather foods and treats to have at our home for a late lunch, hike around, stop for coffee in the village square, pop in and out of local shops in search of linens and pottery (well, that might just be me searching), and visit loads of wineries.

This trip was no different and was so relaxing with 25 Celsius warm weather (high 70's F) and not a drop of rain the entire week.

Relaxed, Refreshed and Ready!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Sixth Grade YA - Girl Stolen. Loved It!

Just as many of you do, I try as best I can to read as many of the YA books that my Sixthers are reading or might read or I think they should read.  It is not as easy as it might seem..but it is always worth the effort and time.

Girl, Stolen by April Henry was a great read. Here is the very short lead in........

Sixteen-year-old Cheyenne Wilder is sleeping in the back of the car while her stepmom fills a prescription for antibiotics. Before Cheyenne realizes what's happening, the car is being stolen.

Griffin hadn't meant to kidnap Cheyenne and once he finds out that not only does she have pneumonia, but that she's ..........................

 The big shocker is on page 3. Totally changed the book and I was off and running.

I know that not only will my frantically looking for a new book gals love it, the boys will find it a good read too with lots of adventure, attack dogs, kidnapping, and cars.

Right now a few young ladies are reading Marie Antoinette, Serial Killer. I loved hearing Martina report "there has already been 4 murders and I am only on page 102". I watched as she and her pals all were stealing glances at it during some kind of random ramblings by their teacher. Honestly, I can't wait to read it too!

What books do your students all clamor for?

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Tell-Tale Heart ....A Tad Bit Creepy!

Edgar Allan Poe...what's not to love about his scary stories? I read about the Tell- Tale Heart on someone's blog (remind me where I borrowed the idea from!!) and knew my classes would love it. The story is only 3 short pages and is a great way to get the class all together on one story for just one class session. I read the first page aloud in my super scary, eerie, raspy teacher voice and then they were to read the rest on their own. As I was slowly walking around the room reading aloud, I could see that most of their eyes were glued to me and taking in every word. When I told them to read the rest, I was a tad bit proud to hear them all begging me to finish it off I did. They loved it and we talked about all the elements used and when did we know what was going to happen, and all of the loads of literary elements there is to discuss with any Poe writing.

Since my creepy crew loved it so much, I found no less than 20 YouTube versions of the movie so we watched a great B/W 26 minute version. They loooooved it...."especially the part where we can only see the shadow but we know he is pulling off the head" and then one sweet gal added in "and you could see in the shadow that the blood was gushing out of the head". 

 Yup, creepy as can be...and we would not want it any other way!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Book Pusher in Room 208

Okay.... I have calmed down a bit. Well, not too much but enough to think straight and to make a plan. I rounded up funding elsewhere and have decided to be the Book Pusher of Room 208. My readers all suggested lots of current books that they want to read and share with each other. We also made a list of loads of great Lit Circle or Class Reads or even Lunch Bunch Readers. Armed with that info, I ordered up all kinds of books and look forward to sharing them with my sweet sixthers. I would use all of the Scholastic points I have earned and saved for just this moment..but our school took all the points away and put them into one big account. Don't get me started!

So we will start with Island of the Blue Dolphin as a class read - I have a whopping huge Study Guide in the works and should have it ready...soon-ish for your downloading pleasure.

In the wings are Wonder for a Lunch Bunch Read and for small groups. The Watsons Go to Birmingham is just dying to be started and I have 30 of those so I can do a class at a time on this terrific exploration.

What are you reading with your class?

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Paper Plates or Sixth Grade Novels ?

I never thought the day would come that the PTSA board members would look a teacher in the eye and tell them that they will pay for someone's request for $250 worth of paper plates and 100 euro of fake flowers...........but were denying the request for $200 of Current, Interesting, Relevant, and sometimes Life Changing Young Adult novels and books.

 I. Did. Not. See. That. Coming.         But it did.

I was in a state of disbelieve, humiliation, shock, denial, and then back to disbelief.

Even more disconcerting was to get two totally different version of why it was denied from two different people who were there for the vote.

Oh did I fail to mention, that I am the VP of the PTSA board and have worked my sweet butt off for the school and our fundraising.

Paper Plates but not Reading books like Wonder, Girl Stolen, anything by Rick Riordan, Marie Antoinette Serial Killer, Hatchet, Brian's Winter.

Words fail me. And that rarely happens. I am sure I will calm down..but not too soon!

Friday, October 11, 2013

True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle - Loved It !

I have dreamed of a classroom read that would grab the girls for the excitement, the boys for the adventure and knives, and the teacher for the buzz of book talk and anticipation of what will come next! Yowza, never did I expect this book to be this much fun for all 72 of my 6th grade readers.

A big "Danka" goes out to Allie in Germany for suggesting the book to me and for being a week ahead of my class so share loads of ideas and activities. Love to have a teacher pal that thinks like I do!

We started out the book by all agreeing that NO ONE would have ever selected this book based on the cover. Too old fashion looking, too girly, too boyish, too "we will never like it". I asked my lovely readers to please just trust me and if it proved to be a dud, well then on to another book we would go.  I read aloud the Preface and we were all hooked. Talk of a murder in the first line...what's not to like about that?! 

The hardest part was keeping the would-be swashbucklers from reading ahead.
                                                  How Great Is That?

After loads of pleading, we bumped it up from 1 to 2 to 3 chapters a night with a lively discussion the next day. The other teachers commented on how the kids were talking about it in their classes and were monitoring each other to be sure no one slipped ahead. Finally, around chapter 14 I let them go at their own pace but agreeing that we had to be up to XX chapter by tomorrow...and swearing everyone to secrecy if they read further. The only stipulation was that no one was to finish the book until we could all finish it together.

Today the end of the book assessment was a great success with every reader clearly showing their understanding of the book, the theme, plot, friendships, and subtle events that made this book a fabulous hit! Even during the "trade with a partner and grade" session, we had several friendly debates about who said what and why. To the very last minute they were discussing the ins and outs of the characters.

Don't you just looooove when that happens?!!  What books has your class read that will stay on your Must Read list?

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Writers Workshop Wednesday

We had a great kick off to Writers Workshop Wednesday last week so we were all looking forward to a relaxed period of writing. All week I made reference to "our boy that is lost in the woods" (our agreed loose topic). Why is he in the woods? What does he have with him? Is anyone looking for him? Was he kidnapped but escaped and is running for his life? Is he running away from home? We never answered or discussed it, just reminded everyone oh so casually to be thinking about "our boy".

After a few quick reminders of no aliens, guns, or flesh eating bacteria they were off and writing. I was careful to not type or tidy up (my two never ending teaching tasks when they are all working) but I did not want to walk around either. So I wrote a story of my own...only for me.

Magical Moment does not start to describe how it went. Class after class..writing, writing, and more writing. Even the most hesitant writers were heads down and writing. Near tears and holding my breath at the same time.

In between sessions, I managed to whip off a quick note to my newest teaching buddy- Allie in Germany- to share the moment with. As always, she was full of encouragement and congrats!

I am so happy that I took the time to really let the idea of Writers Workshop Wednesdays settle in and find a place in our class. The kids came back on Thursday asking if they could stay in during recess to write some more.    It.Does.Not.Get.Better.Than.That.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Color Run!

post picture here.

Monday, September 23, 2013

PPT, Crossword, Princess Penelope & Partner Sort - Oh My!

Figurative Language or Bust!  I bought a Powerpoint on TPT but blinged it out so it was more to my liking, used I'm Loving Lit's Closed Reading product (super blog and TPT love for Erin Cobb!), and made a Partner Sort game. That kept us busy all week. Too busy to go in to all the details. Let me know if you want loads of info on Figurative Language because I think I have a PdD in it after teaching and teaching           

Can you identify the 5 Figurative Lanaguage elements in this test question?

Sally Mae could not have ever imagined, in a million years, that Billy would finally ask her to the dance. She tried on several silky and satin short dresses but sadly so many of them were not satisfactory to her silly sister. The mirror told her what she already knew, that she needed to get a haircut! Snip, snip, snip and her long hair was all in a pile on the floor. Now, she was happy and they all lived happily ever after!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

What Did You Say?

The Sixthers in Room 208 sure can walk the walk and talk the talk but when it came to actually correctly punctuating their interesting dialogue...well, not so much. There was that moment where all time stopped, the room started spinning, and lights were flashing in my mind. I realized - yikes, they are not doing this correctly!   Not to worry, I did a re-teach, we worked with a partner to punctuate made up on the spot sentences, and the next day we took a "quiz" together. The students decided it would be much more fun to stand up and make all the "teacher hand motions" (as one sweetie called the frantic waving of my arms and hands when indicating comma, question, exclamation, and quote marks).  In the end, it stuck and they are well on their way to Proper Punctuation of Dialogue.  You can have a free copy of the  QUIZ here   and a free copy of the Powerpoint here .    I hope they help your budding writers as much as it helped mine!

Dialogue Punctuation- talk,talk,talk,talk

The Writers of Sixth are continuing to add to their Personal Narrative of a Childhood Memory. They are adding in dialogue with the tricky task of using Proper with a capital P dialogue punctuation. I created this Powerpoint xxxxxx using all kinds of highlights and bold to go over and over and over where the comma is placed, when to capitalize, and everything in between. Loads of modeling, examples, try it on their own, peer review, and then it seemed that they were ready to go and spice up their stories with some dialogue. Of course, reminding them that they can only use the word Said once. I am expecting lots of whispering, bellowing, moaning, stuttering, yodeling (their favorite funny word for said), and shreiking in their stories. We will see.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Dialogue Punctuation One More Time!

Our Personal Narrative stories are turning out great (code for: much better than I expected!). My budding authors are touching up the dialogue punctuation so it is just right. It took a bit more time to master the quote, comma, quote, quote, comma, exclamation, period but they have it down now. A few fellows even took to acting out their sentences for the class using all of the teachers hand motions for each punctuation mark. At least it shows that they were paying attention...and that I am slightly entertaining. I made up a tidy 10 point Review Quiz that we worked on together in class just to be sure everyone had it mastered and ready to use at a moments notice. Feel free to borrow it to use with your batch of writers. ..xxxxx add link here xxxxx

Pencils Will Fear Us !

I did it. I finally did it! With 4 quick and painless clicks, an order was placed for not one, but three!, Pink as Pink can be Pencil Sharpeners. We have all ooooh'd and ahhhh'd over them on other blogs, they pop up all over Pinterest, and it is the gift of choice on many give aways. Well, now they are all mine! No idea what I will do with three but heck for the price of two I got an extra. Problem is that I have three teaching team pals and I can't give them all away (I need one!). I am going to stash one for the best Secret Snowman gift ever in the history of all teaching time. So that leaves ONE. Guess who is everyone's BFF now! Needless to say, I will post of picture of my prized pink possession the moment it arrives! You can yours here xxxxxxxx

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Xtreme Dream

We have been following the exciting adventure of Diana Nyad as she swims from Cuba to Florida! Diana is swimming without fins, shark cage, or any stops at all. How exciting! The students were mesmerized watching Diana on as she described her 2011 attempt and how the unexpected box jellyfish cut her dream short. The students discussed how we can all have an Xtreme Dream to reach our goals.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

On Our Way!

8 days into 6th grade and we are all in full speed! The writers in ELA 6 have already learned about Story Elements (setting, plot, complication, protagonist and antagonist), the Elements of Plot, and are now diving into the types of Conflicts that make a story interesting.

We love to work with partners and I am impressed at how well the teams worked together and completed their tasks in a timely manner. Different teams presented their stories to the class with applause after each reading. The stories ranged from girls on the wrong train, the never ending drama of Banana Man, a mermaid girl with a secret and a crush, Noodle Man on Tokyo Towers, and a few Unicorns and Rainbows! 

It is never  a dull moment in our English Language Arts class --
and I would not want it any other way!

Reminder that Thursday is Parent Back to School Evening starting at 17:00 in the Cafeteria. I look forward to seeing everyone and having a chance to say hello.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

First Day of Sixth Grade!

We had a great day today in Room 208 - English Language Arts 6! It was terrific to meet all the new sixth grade scholars...... although it might take a few days to get all the names straight. If you walk down the hall this week you will see 4 energetic teachers spouting off names of students as they walk down the hall ..... Tony, Mateo, Taylor ---no Tyler, Parker, Jessie, Rhianna, Martina, Fernando, Alejandro.... all in an attempt to put a name to a face.

Sixth grade at SHAPE American Elementary School is nothing short of awesome! They are the oldest kids in the school so they rule ....but next year they will not be the youngest students at the Middle School so they get to skip that "interesting" year of adolescence! In case you did not know, Sixth grade will be moving to the brand new Middle School next year. We will be our own school with sixth, seventh and eighth grade. Our own Principal, mascot, curriculum, etc.

Please feel free to drop a note here (nothing personal or that needs immediate attention) or email me at school at

 I am looking forward to a fabulous year with our Sixth Graders!