2014/2015 School Year! 

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Last Post For 2013/2014 School Year

April & May

My 6th grade reading students have been working hard on RL Standard 6.7. Students have been exploring the concept of recognizing the differences in their experiences when watching and listening vs. reading a text. When working on this standard, we compared and contrasted the Hunger Games text with corresponding video clips. Overall, I was very pleased with the work ethic and abilities of ALL of my students when learning about the skills that were involved in this unit. 

Throughout this unit, students improved their technology skills, visual literacy skills, speaking skills, and listening skills. 

In an effort to integrate more 21st century skills, I decided to go about this a little bit differently than what I had first planned. Students ended up creating visual displays that contained only images. These images represented their perception when they watched and listened to the video clips, and represented what they "heard" and "saw" when they read the text. 

This was a great way to discuss the similarities and differences in the overall experience from the two different modes in which the information was presented. 

Student Examples: 

March Update

March was filled with lots of learning! 

We continued working on RL Standard 6.9 and integrated a few other skills along the way. 

1. Theme work - Students explored different popular themes that are present in various books. Students determined a theme for their book, and created a visual that included their theme and evidence that led them to that particular theme. We continued theme work using A couple Dr. Seuss books. 

2. Reading Awards! All students who met their 8 book goal for third quarter, received a reading award from me! They were presented in class and congratulated for all of their hard work. The students who read 16 or more books during the third quarter, received a small prize along with their certificate. 

3. Spring It On Challenge! I came up with a Spring reading challenge for my 6th grade reading classes. This challenge is for all of my reading students. The top three readers from March - May 5th will receive prizes for all of their hard work and achievements. The thought of a challenge is always fun, and what better way to challenge your brain than a reading challenge! I will announce the winners in May! 

4. Realistic Fiction - all of my students picked out a realistic fiction book to read once they were finished with their historical fiction books. My 6th graders met in groups to discuss their realistic fiction books once they were finished with them. The following information is what was independently brainstormed and then discussed with the group:

First you will summarize your book for the group 

*The main characters are _

*The setting of the story is: _

*The problem in the story is 

*The first funny event that happened is _
*The second funny event that happened is _

*The third funny event that happened is ________
*The story ended when _______.

Next, you will make a connection to another book you have read and a connection to the world. 

To other book:

*What does this remind you of in another book you have read?

*How is this text similar to other things you have read?

*How is this text different from other things you have read?

To World:

*What does this remind you of in the real world?

*How are events in this story similar to things that happen in the real world?

*How are events in this story different from things that happen in the real world?

5. Read Across America Day! We celebrated Read Across America Day by reading a Dr. Seuss book, Oh, the Places You Will Go, and discussing the themes that are presented in this particular book. 

6. Letter # 3 Time! I spent the last part of March and the beginning few days of April conferencing with each student. My reading students wrote me a letter that contained the following information: 

Letter #3 - Realistic Fiction Book
The following information should be included in your letter:

1. What is the title of your book? 

2. Tell me about what is going on in your book ? (summary that includes the main idea and only the important 


3.. Did you enjoy your historical fiction book better than this book? Why or why not? 

4. What are some questions you have at this point about what is going on in your book? Do you wonder what is 

going to happen to a certain character? Do you wonder what is going to happen with the particular event that is

taking place in your book? Be specific. Include details. 

Remember: it is a letter. Please write in complete sentences!

This conferencing time was priceless! There were so many awesome conversations that took place about reading and books! 

February Update

What have my reading students been up to?

1. After the Genre presentations were finished, all students completed a genre check with different books from different genres. Students had to identify 10 different books and the correct genre by using their new knowledge they have acquired, their genre notes, and any outside resources that they could locate on the Internet. We will continue to check our understanding of the different genres throughout the rest of the school year. 

2. Students took a pretest that asked them to compare and contrast topic and theme approaches among two different books from two different genres that they had read this school year. I was able to gather good information from my pre-test results that has helped me design the beginning of our new unit on Standard RL.6.9 - Compare and contrast texts in different forms or genres (e.g., stories and poems; historical novels and fantasy stories) in terms of their approaches to similar themes and topics. 

3. Next we started discussing one of the reasons why we are going to spend so much time in class uncovering topic and theme approaches among different genres. A couple concepts we covered during this discussion were perspectives and culture. Students were assigned a blog post about how these two concepts are important to them or what they mean when referring to reading different genres of books. The information that we discussed in class included: 

 4. Just recently, we created a chart in our room that displays all of the different topics from the historical fiction books that have been read by the students in both of my reading classes. In order to come up with their topics, my students and I discussed what a topic was. We will be using the topics that are on the chart to practice how to compare and contrast. Students are now in the process of writing me a letter that contains the information posted below on the slide titled "Letter #2 Requirements". 

January Genre Study

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday of this week have and will be spent studying different genres. Students have been broken up into groups and assigned a task of researching a specific genre. They have been creating posters and PowerPoints in which they will present to the class on Wednesday and Thursday. They will also be presenting examples of books that belong to their assigned genre. All students will be taking notes as the presentations are taking place. Once we explore, discuss, and gain a better understanding of the genres that we will be focusing on this semester, students will take a closer look at historical fiction and informational texts. Everyone will choose a historical fiction book of their choice, analyze different characteristics of their chosen literature, and then compare and contrast it to an informational text that is written on the same topic.

January, 2014

The new year has begun and the 6th graders in my reading classes are off to a great start! When the kids arrived back at school from their winter break, they found that our classroom had changed just a bit. The desks were arranged differently, the beginning of class began differently, a new seating chart was given, and Mrs. Erickson had decided to put more emphasis on independent reading. You can imagine the heads that were bobbing in my room before classes began on that first day back in January. It was fun to watch the kids as they discovered all of the changes.  

My goal as their reading teacher is to foster the love of reading in each and every student that I have the opportunity to spend time with. I have started the new year off by putting more emphasis on independent reading. Thanks to the winter break, I was able to indulge in some of the literacy books that I had on my reading list since the beginning of the school year. As an educator, I am always looking for ideas from other experts out there. I was able to gather several thoughts/ideas from literacy experts on different ways to go about fostering the love of reading and encouraging reading as a life long habitual and enjoyable skill. Some of these ideas will be combined with my own this semester with the goal of creating the best aesthetic reading environment for my students that I possibly can. 

Here are a few of the classroom items that you can expect to see going on in my reading class:

1. Lots of reading! Students are given time to engage in a reading zone at the beginning of class. This is a time that is set aside to read their independent books that they have chosen to read. 
2. Quarter Goals - each student has been given a goal of 8 books per quarter/16 books for the second semester. Students receive a sticker for their Scrabble Reading card once they finish a book. When they reach their monthly goal, they receive a Book It pizza certificate. Once they reach their quarter goal of 8 books, they receive a certificate from me. 

3. Reading Notebooks - To start off with, students will be using paper form for their notebooks. As of now, there are five pages that make up their notebooks. We will add to their notebooks as they begin writing their letters to me about the books they are reading. The goal is to move their letters, or book entries, from paper form to online entries once they have developed some consistency with the letter writing. The following images show you what is included in their notebooks. Note that their reading lists consist of books that they finish and books they choose to abandon for one reason or another.

 The response entries (posted below) will change from week to week as far as the content requirements go. I will incorporate some of the reading strategies that we are working on in class in order to keep up with how my students are performing on the particular strategies and skills we cover in class. 


December, 2013

December was the month where we tackled Drawing Conclusions. Students were introduced to this concept with the following explanation:

"A conclusion is a decision that readers make after thinking about the

information in a text. Since a writer does not always state all of his or her 

ideas, readers often have to look for clues to understand the whole passage,

paragraph, or story. Readers must put together the clues that the writer 

provides and then draw the best conclusions they can to understand the text. 

A conclusion should MAKE SENSE. 

To sum it all up...A conclusion is a decision a reader makes after considering 

all the information given."

Further Learning Opportunities

I located this video on YouTube and found that this particular instructor does a great job defining some of the main concepts that my students were struggling to understand. We watched/listened to this video together in class and then held great discussions during and after watching the video. 

After students gained a better understanding of how to draw a logical conclusion, they practiced drawing conclusions several times with partners and then on their own using various resources. 

Students were able to refer to the following poster as we were focusing on drawing conclusions

November, 2013

Iowa Assessments!!

Make sure to check out the reading page on my 6th Grade Literacy Website. I have posted information about our Iowa Assessments that both parents and students can be using as a resource to help prepare for these assessments. 

I have also listed specific strategies that we have covered in class that will help students improve their overall reading comprehension. 

Click here to access my reading page and Iowa Assessment information     

October, 2013

Skills, Skills, and More Skills! 

Wow, have we been working hard in reading class! Students have been tackling the concepts of author's tone and mood, author's purpose, main idea, and check for understanding. We will continue practicing the usage of all of these skills as we further prepare for our upcoming Iowa Assessments. 

Reading Journal Information
Students are no longer expected to keep a reading journal in my reading class. The purpose of starting the year off with this requirement was to get all of my reading students in a habit of stopping to check their understanding as they are reading. Students have continued to use this strategy in class with the passages we have been reading together and independently. 

September. 2013

We have been very busy in reading class this year. The 6th graders have been doing a great job getting adjusted to to their new school and their new laptops. The 6th graders started the year off in reading class learning about the classroom expectations. After everyone developed a good understanding of what is expected of them, we moved on to Stanford Assessments. After our initial testing was completed, students have been learning about the following:

  • Reading Journal requirements and grading
  • Setting personal reading goals
  • The Daily Four 
  • Check for understanding comprehension skill
  • The 12 Powerful Words introduction
Free Reading Time

Students in my 6th grade reading class have had a few opportunities to work on their reading stamina. In August and September all students are required to keep a reading journal for their independent reading they are completing each week. Any free reading opportunity they have will help them reach their reading goals. 

Date: September 6, 2013

Check For Understanding Practice
Over the past week, students have worked with a partner to practice and improve  their check for understanding comprehension strategy. After watching me model this strategy, they have had the opportunity to practice with different articles and partners. Here are a few pictures of some of the kids working on this strategy in class:

12 Powerful Words
We will be focusing on the 12 Powerful Words for our vocabulary work during reading class. This week, students took part in an introductory activity in class. Students will continue to work with the 12 Powerful Words during their Daily Four options and small group sessions. 

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