A new year, a fresh start

As I sit here, getting ready to go back to school, I am getting ready for another beginning. My class wrapped up a few units before break and we even did our midway through the year reading and writing surveys. Tomorrow begins a clean slate, new units, and some new ideas I am planning on implementing.

New seating chart: My kids have been begging to change seats and I have gone even one step farther…completely rearranging the seats. Instead of tables of 4/5, we will have two rows of 5/6 on each side of the room, with a walkway down the middle. This allows for cooperative groups, room for the kids to move around when we have book clubs/literature circles, and keeps that open space in the middle of the room that I love.

New reading unit of study: I am not even close to having it all planned out yet, but we will be focusing on science-fiction/fantasy and using “The Giver” as our read-aloud. I plan to have literature circles up and running in a couple of weeks. If anyone out there has a unit of study for science-fiction/fantasy (any grade level!), I would love to see it!

New writing unit of study: This year, our state standardized testing was pushed back to May. This allowed me a lot more freedom in planning my writing calendar of study, thus we will be starting persuasive writing tomorrow. This will overlap with our research paper unit (a Women’s History Month project I designed) and will allow me to teach essay, persuasive writing, and citing sources in one unit.

More poetry in the classroom: I am officially instituting Poetry Friday in my classroom. Students will still be responsible for one poem each month, but I will be sharing poems each Friday. So far, I am using Opening a Door: Reading Poetry in the Middle School Classroom as a guide. I also desperately want to get my hands on a copy of Georgia Heard’s Awakening the Heart: Exploring Poetry in Elementary and Middle School but I am supposed to be on a no-buy for the month of January (only buying necessary items) and I can’t break that rule on the first day of January! Also, I want all this poetry to lead to more writing of poetry. I am involved in “Voices….From the Land” through my monarch organization and I really want it to be a success!

New read-aloud: Both classes are almost finished with Tony Abbott’s “The Postcard”. While the class will be reading “The Giver” soon, I need a new, fun read-aloud. I want the read-aloud to be on the shorter side (maybe 125-150) pages. I may wait to see what wins the Newbery before deciding! However, I am more than open to suggestions. Any ideas?

Wow! I didn’t even realize all the “new” things we will be doing in 2008. It’s going to be a busy few months! What are you planning to do in the classroom this year?

Cybils Short Lists

Happy 2008! What better way to ring in the first day of the new year than with the Cybils short lists? Half the short lists were posted this morning, with the rest of the categories being published on January 7th.

I am so, so, so very happy with the middle grade fiction short list! I have read 3 of the books listed (the first 3!), one more on my to be read pile, and 3 others on my wishlist. I need my bookstore/library to get their copies in! But again, I am thrilled with this list. I can’t wait to see who wins the award!

The fantasy category has been divided into a teen category and younger readers category. I am thrilled to see Sarah Beth Durst’s novel on the list. Nancy Farmer’s novel is sitting on my to be read pile, also. I have a lot of reading to get to!!

As I said the other day, the quality of books I am reading has really risen to new heights, and that is proven again when I compare my list of books in 2007 to the awards’ short lists. I have actually read many of the books and the ones I haven’t read were already on my wishlist!

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to everyone who reads The Reading Zone!  

To Do

I have a few things I want to do before I head back to school on Wednesday: 1)make new seating charts  2)write my plans  3)start my persuasive writing unit of study  4)write up a post with my reading resolutions  5)finish and review at least one more book