Tuesday, July 30, 2013

A New Start!

Has it really been a year since I intended to get this blog off the ground, a place for other middle school teachers to get ideas and inspiration? I guess it's hard to be inspiring when I don't post!

Not that it's a good excuse, but my colleagues and I, while overwhelmed with the curriculum cycle and the CCSS, did a lot of great planning and creating this past year.  I had a fabulous pair (Carly and Rachel) to work with on general 7th grade English curriculum and an awesome co-taught special education teacher (Robin) to work with on our two co-taught classes.

We worked like crazy.

Sometimes we felt crazy.

But our hard work resulted in a much more rigorous and interactive curriculum, and our kids did a lot more skill work with the readings and a WHOLE lot more writing!

We are pretty proud.

However, as any of you know, a teacher's job seems never to be done, and with Rachel fancy-free in Florida (miss you a ton, Mrs. Pyn!), Carly and I have met twice this summer to work on units of inquiry--our hours paid for through our district.

I'll try my best to be a better teacher blogger. My whole intent is to be HELPFUL, as I have gotten a ton of inspiration from other teacher bloggers and lesson-sharers :) 

Current work: Carly and I sat down last week and plotted out our first four weeks. While we are using some of the same stories we've use for years, we worked hard to find the purpose. Here's what we came up with!

During the first 3-4 weeks, the students will become familiar with routines and activities of 7th grade English by practicing and reviewing skills using a variety of short texts that include fiction (short story), non-fiction essay, non-fiction articles and poetry. .

Each day, the students will review which activities and/or routines they experienced. The instructor will create a running list of skills, activities, and routines (purpose poster) to help the students review and remember the purpose and goals of the day. 

Skills work will include:
  • Summarizing
  •  Making connections
  • Collaborating
  • Questioning
  • Close reading
  • Identifying sensory words and imagery
  • Making inferences 
  • Evaluating written work

Routines for the year will include:

We had success during the second half of last year with "recording and responding" (writing long off of a post-it) and Socratic Seminars.  We are excited to bring these techniques in earlier in the year and in different ways.  My goal is to comment here on how we are using RnR and SocSem; just gotta do it!

A few of the texts we are using with these skills and routines are:
"Seventh Grade" by Gary Soto
"Names/Nombres" by Julia Alvarez
Have You Been to the Beach Lately Lately by Ralph Fletcher
Surviving the Tsunami (Scope article) 
Salvador Late or Early by Sandra Cisneros (great words from Cris Tovani on using this story)

We are excited to get off to a strong start, better facilitating student thinking and understanding.  

That's all for now...I'll leave you with a few links before I get back to curriculum work!

Happy teaching!



My current favorite TpT teachers/creators:
Erin Cobb @ TpT  Blog   Pinterest
Michael Friermood  @ TpT   Pinterest

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