How I Started Out The Year As A Middle School Teacher

Teaching middle school students can be tricky and I found out that getting off on the right foot the first day of school was paramount!  I discovered early on that if the students knew I was in charge from the first moment they walked into my class I was going to have a great year.  Here is how I started out the year in each of my middle school classes.

I found in teaching language arts that students worked better if they had their own desks rather than tables.  That is just a preference of mine, I know many successful teachers that love using table and groups. 

First, I made a seating chart for each class using the following criteria:

  1. I took the alphabetized class list and re-alphabetized it so it was boy, girl, boy, girl
  2. I made sure no ethnic names were together

Then when the students entered my class for the first time I had the students stand around the back of the room and I asked them to sit down one by one according to my new seating chart.

Next, I explained that this was where they would be sitting throughout the year. I also made it clear I was not inclined to move students around unless I decided it was necessary, so to please not ask if they could change seats.

Finally, I know this sounds harsh, but I would wait for one student to mess up and I would quickly call that student out.  I would explain that that kind of behavior was not tolerated in my class, that I did not my degree in babysitting, and I did not expect to spend any of my time disciplining students that did not know how to behave.  Then I would end by lightening it up and saying, “You now know that you do not want to open a can of Darling!” The students would laugh, but they  knew where I stood on discipline and what my classroom behavioral expectations were.

I’m not saying it would work for everyone, all I’m saying is that it worked very successfully for me and I’m sharing in case anyone needs a new way to start out their year.

 

DAZZLE’S FAVORITE NIGHTIME WRITING LESSON

Teachers, here is another writing lesson from Dazzle.  It is an observational lesson through the senses that can be used anywhere and often.  This lesson is for a nighttime observation that  you could do for one night, a week, or a month of nights.  You can incorporate as many or as few extras into it as you like such as write a poem, a song, or draw a picture or a map.  Students love having options and will surprise you with the extra things they came up with themselves and they love to share out loud what they write. You will be surprised and happy with the outcome.  If you don’t want to assign the lesson now, save it for a warmer time or when something special is occurring like fazes of the moon, an eclipse, or a holiday.   Here is Dazzle’s lesson for you to share with your students. 

Dazzle has a funtastic  nighttime writing lesson that can be done anytime of the year, but since it’s winter lets give it a try now.  Imagine stepping outside your house on a winter night and opening up your senses to everything that is going on around you.  This assignment is ALL about your senses here’s what you do.

  1. Put on your coat, grab paper and pencil, and head outside.  If you live in the city are close to a park then ask your parents if they mind if you go there or if they will go with you to the park, otherwise just go outside wherever you live.
  2. Find a place to stand or sit that is kind of off by yourself, take out paper and pencil, and start describing everything that is going on around you.  Note the:
    1. Sounds your hear – Example: an owl hooting, a big truck going by, someone laughing, the sound of the wind, a dog barking, the crunch of someone walking in the snow etc
    2. Things you see – The clouds partially covering the moon, how dark it is outside, the shadow of the trees, the blur of a car passing by, etc.
    3. What you feel – The sting of snow as the wind blows it into your face, the sweat rolling down your back because you have on a very warm coat, cold hands, nervous because you hear a wolf howl, etc.
    4.  What you smell – Dinner cooking, exhaust, clean air, the neighbors barbecue cooking on the grill, etc.
    5. What you taste – the cold snow as it hits your tongue, the taste of the chocolate cake you had for dinner, the lollipop you are sucking on while you make your observations, etc.

Once you have finished your observations go inside, look at your notes, and start writing your story in your composition book.  Now here is where it should be fun! instead of just writing the facts, elaborate and make it interesting and try NOT to say the words I saw, I felt, I smelled, I tasted, I heard, but find more descriptive words to describe the scene and the senses.   Example:  As I looked up into the dark cold sky, a veil of wispy clouds shrouded the silvery moon.  That sounds much better than saying I saw the moon and clouds.  

As you write you can add illustrations to go with what your are describing.  You could also add a poem or song if you felt inspired to do so.  Have fun with your writing!

Dazzle was brought to me by RZ Alexander. Check out all RZ’s wonderful clip art here.

Check out this totally student-directed interactive writing notebook that includes lessons on narrative, compare/contrast, cause/effect, and argumentative essays as well as a poetry unit with guidelines and rubrics for each step each lesson. Students use provided rubrics to grade each assignment and essay before turning them all in for instructor evaluation.

Interactive Writing Notebook If you are interested in more student directed and assessed language arts and writing curriculum click here. 

Dazzle’s Note Writing Time Filler Activity

 

MEET DAZZLE

MEET DAZZLE

Meet Dazzle, the amazing language arts wonder dog!  Dazzle was brought to me by RZ Alexander.  Drop by RZ’s TpT store and see the amazing clip art offered there.

Dazzle is chalk full 😉 of helpful teaching ideas, hints, thoughts, and lessons that will make teaching and learning language arts and writing so much more fun and less stressful. In fact, here’s one now.    

Writing notes is something all students want to do so why not let them. With a few quick rules, you will be on your way to a fun time filler activity that keeps students writing and quiet for those times when you run out of things to do and still have some time left before class ends. Use this activity sparingly, usually a few times a month, and your students will be begged to do it.Slide2

Students should NOT make any noise as they write their notes and tiptoe around the room delivering them.  SO PLAY SOFT MUSIC IN THE BACKGROUND, SIT BACK, AND ENJOY THE QUIET TIME.  THE STUDENTS WILL LOVE IT AND SO WILL YOU.

PS:  If a student writes a note that is not nice, reiterate what the word NICE means to the class, then refrain from letting the class write notes for a few weeks. They will get the message and be good when you let them resume note writing.  

And speaking of writing…here is another fun writing lesson from my TpT store that can be used on Monday morning to get your writing students’ juices flowing and loosen up their writing fingers.  It increases fluency and is fun.  What could be better?

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50 Ways To Integrate Art Into Any Lesson

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Hey Everyone!  I hope you are having a great weekend and finding some downtime to relax and take a deep breath. I’ve already had my French toast, so I thought I would sit down with my cup of coffee and spend a few minutes on the internet looking for some more interesting ways to teach.

I found this great article on 50 Ways to Integrate Art Into Any Lesson by Tess Pajaron.  I personally always like to include art as a major component of my writing lessons because art adds another dimension to the assignment, and just might hook the reluctant writer into actually enjoying the writing experience.  Click on the link and see if any of the ideas will work for your classroom, students, or children.

BACK HOME AND BACK TO WORK!!

I had a wonderful two weeks in Brooklyn taking care of our granddaughter Lucy.  She had a tonsillectomy, tubes in ears, and adenoids removed on the 5th, and is now flitting around and feeling much better than she was.  We got to do homework, watch TV, read, get a manicure and pedicure, and just hang out and enjoy each other’s company.  I also got to spend time with her big sister Ella and their Mom.  It was so nice to have two weeks to spoil them all.

 

Lucy

 

Here is a picture of Miss Lucy on her first outing after surgery.  I asked her what she wanted to do, and she said she wanted us to both get a manicure and pedicure.  I am hoping she wasn’t telling me something about the condition of my nails.  She went with pink fingernails and turquoise toenails, which matched her jacket and hat.  I went for clear because I don’t have time to keep up with a color. We had a great time!

 

Now I am back and feeling like I can hit the ground running.  I have so much to catch up on, and am amazed at how work piled up while I was gone.

FREE Daily Dazzle D – 7th Grade Bell Product

Free Daily Dazzle D, Bell Product for 7th Grade.

This Fabulous Free Bell Product is student directed and makes the first of your class very productive.  It is coordinated to the Tool Box by page number so students can look up the rules and learn them on their own.  The Tool Box is a one time purchase not included in this lesson and it goes with all Daily Dazzle lessons A – E,

The lesson is used for one week and teaches and or reviews over 17 critical language arts skills including: singular and plural rules, types of sentences and punctuation, proofreading, research, commonly misused words, fact and opinion, analogies, definition and use of vocabulary words in a sentence, descriptive works, use of parts of speech, spelling, explanation of famous quotes, creative writing, spelling, and expanded vocabulary prefixes, suffixes, and roots.

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A Tip On Teaching Writing

The goal when teaching writing is to motivate students to write, write often, and write a lot. That is the only way they are going to become writers.

This is a difficult task when, as educators, we have been encouraged to use students’ writing as the primary vehicle to teaching writing.  We have traditionally accomplished this by returning students’ papers with low grades, red marks, and negative comments, which did nothing to encourage reticent students to continue writing.

Over the 30 years that I taught writing to students ranging in ages 5 – 16, I found that if you took the stress out of writing by just allowing students to write freely, they became much more comfortable and eager writers. They began applying the rules that I had reviewed or taught away from their writing assignments.  Soon I found students were looking forward to writing and were getting better and better at it as time went by.

I will be sharing more tips on teaching writing in my next post.

Have a great weekend!

Judith

 

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I just returned for the Woodlands Conference, and had so many requests to put the writing books on TpT, that I just sat down and got it done.  So now you can purchase either the Creative Writing book or the Expository Writing book here on my this website as a hard copy for $99.95 each, on Currclick as downloads for the Creative Writing book or the Expository Writing book for  $69.95 each, or on Teachers pay Teachers as  downloads for the Creative Writing book Expository Writing book for $52.20 each.

I had a wonderful time at the Woodlands Conference where I visited with many parents who were pleased with our curriculum and looking to add to their Razzle Dazzle collection.  We also met many new parents who were surprised to learn how easy it is to teach writing with our products.

We have had a very busy summer with my husband having a complete knee replacement in April, visiting friends and family in Brooklyn and Vermont in June, hosting the Darling family reunion in July and having grandchildren spending a lot of time at Papa and Grandma’s house.  It has been wonderful to be able to travel and spend so much time with our family now that Gene can walk so well with his new knee.  Life is good!

Be sure to let me know if you have any questions or need more information.  I am always available by email.

Have a good start to your school year, whether you are a teacher or a home school parent.

Sincerely,  Judith