Dressing for field trips can be a bit chancy. Unpredictable rain, uncomfortable bus rides, air conditioning, sun, you never know. I would rather be warm than cold, so I paired a simple oxford, typical, with a pair of straight jeans. The winner in this outfit is the canvas backpack and espadrille loafers. These are so comfortable and practical.
I found these $10 v-necks stored in a fixture removed from the sale section. When I find a nice basic, I buy it in every color. I bought three of them and will wear them all year round. I’m glad I held off on the J.Crew merino tunic, because the sweaters are essentially the same piece.
Finding appropriate biographies for a middle school audience is a harder task than one would think The selection is either far below an appropriate reading level or too far advanced in content and accessibility. After an extensive search, I landed on the Sterling Biographies collection. To anyone who challenges the books as “too easy” — I say, that’s okay.
Content usually outweighs text complexity when it comes to biographies, so I am okay giving students a slightly “easier” book. The collection ranges from athletes to social activists, scientists and pioneers, and also spotlights several Native American leaders. Men and women are well represented from a variety of backgrounds.
The publisher kept middle schoolers in mind with well-spaced text, frequent images and captions, informative charts and graphics. The books are perfect for any biography unit. From Muhammad Ali to Joan of Arc, the selection is thirty-plus deep. Click here for a comprehensive list of titles. As always, check Amazon for used copies pricing out at $4.00 with shipping.
In need of some teaching inspiration, I’ve been doing some targeted searching and have landed on two sites that I find to be packed with knowledge, application, and straight up quality. The first of the sites – Middle School Teacher to Literacy Coach – is chock-full of practical strategies for reading workshop. Some of my favorite posts include:
Using mentor sentences to improve grammar: This post outlines the perfect model for using mentor sentences as a means of grammar instruction. A nice alternative to students CORRECTING erroneous sentences.
Making Guided Reading Groups Work in Middle Schools: Though Kasey teaches at a school with a double period of language arts, this is still worth a read to gain better insight into materializing a guided reading group approach in your own classroom. This is a great model for homogenous reading groups.
Fluency Strategies: A basic, but decent list of five quick strategies to improve reader fluency.
Literature Study: A very practical schedule for literature study – students organized in heterogeneous groups to build age-appropriate discussion about books.
Spelling: A weeklong plan for individualized spelling assessment.
Writing Conferences: A great video and post detailing a well-run writing conference
Classroom Library Activity: A post outlining how Kasey organizes and introduces students to her classroom library.
Academic Vocabulary – Using Marzano’s Approach: I love this post because I use this approach in the classroom and it has proven incredibly helpful, especially with English Language Learners.
Word Chunking – Teaching Vocabulary: Teaching Latin word chunks as outlined by Kelly Gallagher. Worth the read.
Holding Kids Accountable through Reading Ladders: A great way for students to reflect on their reading progress. Erica includes a very detailed approach to this strategy.
Classroom Library Organization: Erica relies on Classroom Booksource a computer-based check-in, check-out system and she provides a very thorough description of her collection and organization system. She also has a book room organization post if you are looking to clean house.
Writing Workshop: Erica has several posts to help you plan writing workshop in your classroom. She has fairly extensive information on the “They Say, I Say” model.
I hesitated when I spotted a pair of army green Theory cropped trousers at Marshalls because I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to wear them until the fall approached. I decided that it would be a nice way to add some spring pastels while still looking professional. So far, I’ve worn the pants with the a pale grey sweater, a lilac blouse, and peach/pink blouse. I LOVE the look of yellow against the army green. I added the tie neck blouse to add a girly touch and the blue bag for an unexpected color.
If you teach English/Language Arts, BUY THIS BOOK. A self-identified instructional fiend, I have found my latest and greatest. Only this time it’s not about a pedagogical quick fix to keep your students engaged. It’s about real instructional moments that help build stronger readers through close reading. The authors have identified six signposts that when found in text, readers should pause and ask a question of themselves. The questions lead students to COMPREHEND the read. If students find a character acting in a way that contradicts their previous behavior or expected behavior, students should ask themselves, why might the character be doing this. I would put this book into my “top five favorites” box.
Reasons I love this book:
1. The practices have been tried and tested in a diverse range of classrooms across the country. From there, the authors revised their approach based on student and teacher feedback.
2. The mentor text selections are engaging, accessible, and relevant. The signposts revolve around the most common features found in the TOP BOOKS read by middle school and high school students. Meaning, if you read common titles, you’ll come across the sign posts identified by Beers and Probst.
4. The model lessons are teacher-ready. You can teach directly from the script and use the mentor text included. The lesson includes a gradual release model allowing the teacher to model good reading skills and the students to practice independently. A graphic organizer is included for students to find their own examples in a class novel or their independent reading book.
5. The anchor charts, matrices, bookmarks, and other teaching materials are easy to duplicate.