When I was in the fifth grade, I went to a new school and became invisible. I truly have no memory of any peers speaking to me that year. I was pretty shy and don’t remember it bothering me. I’m sure it did, but I don’t remember. Fast forward to sixth grade. In sixth grade, people started to notice me, but not for the reasons I had hoped. I was tall and awkward, developing, and my face was starting to break out. I was dubbed the ugliest girl in the school, specifically “Medusa”. Boys would look at me and pretend to “turn to stone” ostensibly because I was so hideous. The sixth grade was the year that I officially started to hate school. I didn’t have any friends or champions and I had no desire to be there. I just wanted to disappear. I was “sick” a lot.
However, in the 7th grade, something miraculous happened. I was placed in homeroom with THE most popular girl in the grade and ALL of her friends were in the other homeroom. I will never forget the look on her face when she walked into class on the first day of school that fateful day (for me) in 1976. She made a sweep of the classroom with her eyes, then rolled her eyes, then sat next to me. That was it. The rest, as they say, is history. Sinking or swimming in that moment would make the difference between having friends and being lonely and friendless. I swam. One thing that I discovered about myself was that I was resilient. One thing my popular friend discovered was that I was hilarious (a coping strategy we “ugly girls” are forced to develop). The popular girl and I are still dear friends to this day.
Dorothy, one of Jerry Spinelli’s secondary characters in Wringer, is a lot like I was back in middle school. Yes, she’s younger, but she is bullied relentlessly by Beans, Mutto, Henry, and even Palmer. I relate. I connect. I respect Dorothy for having the guts to stand up to her bullies. She’s resilient. Palmer is a weasel for not standing up for her, but soon enough, he discovers that she is a good friend and a worthy confidante and he becomes an upstander for Dorothy and for his beloved pet, Nipper. I suspect if Palmer and Dorothy are based on real people that they are still friends to this day – like my popular friend and I.
If you’re a teacher, you are currently teaching a Dorothy (someone who is being tormented mercilessly, yet is forging on), a Beans (a bully), a Mutto and a Henry (bystanders), and a Palmer (someone who just wants to be accepted and is confused and hurting in his own way). I have found that reading Wringer aloud to my whole class (sometimes 2 or 3 classes depending on the year) is a great way to broach and discuss these painful coming-of-age topics. The bonus is that in all of my years as a fifth grade teacher, I have never taught a student who has read it! It makes for a great read aloud experience filled with surprises.
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It’s holiday season and we all know how hard it is to keep students engaged and learning. One of my goals this year is to help students develop their vocabularies. I created two “ugly sweater” activities – one for homophones and one for synonyms and antonyms. Yesterday, my students worked on synonyms and antonyms. Everyone (and I mean that sincerely) was excited to complete the activity. They enjoyed finding the synonyms and antonyms as well as connecting the dots and decorating the sweaters. I had bought some stick on “jewels” at Dollar Tree that came in blue, green, silver, gold, and red. Students were able to adorn their sweaters with jewels after they colored them.
This is an easy, engaging activity for the holidays.
If you’re anything like me, you have difficulty keeping up with the mountain of papers that needs to be graded on a daily basis. As someone who loves and wants to preserve our environment, I also hate making copies of exit tickets to grade. In Google Classroom, I have had students create documents and slide shows for years. This year, I have started using Google Forms more and more and I am loving them!
I just finished teaching a unit on Narrative Nonfiction. Our touchstone texts included, The House That Jane Built (Tanya Lee Stone), Catching the Moon (Crystal Hubbard), Wilma Unlimited (Kathleen Krull), and Rosa (Nikki Giovanni) among others.
Here are the exit tickets and affiliate links:
My resources include:
In addition, I have PowerPoint presentations for sale in my Teachers Pay Teachers store that go along with these lessons:
I hope you enjoy using the exit tickets!
Here is my latest creation that can be found on Teacher’s Pay Teachers! I taught this lesson on Friday, November 17th and it was a great success! My students LOVED the story.
Finding the main idea and the theme of a text can be challenging. I find that repeated teacher modeling and student practice helps considerably! I like to emphasize that there is an element of opinion in a theme whereas a main idea is a statement or very short summary of a work.
Ada’s Violin, by Susan Hood is a great text to use for determining both main idea and theme. In this presentation, teachers and students are guided to find both. You can also add a very brief geography connection by having students find Paraguay on a world map or globe. In addition, I have included a list of vocabulary words for discussion before reading.
Students love learning about real people and their stories of perseverance and triumph. Children can never have too many role models!
This lesson is aligned with Common Core State Standards (CCSS) as well as Virginia SOLs.
Blogging is something I’ve considered doing for quite some time now. It took me a couple of years to muster up the courage. I spent the past two years thinking, “What will I say?” Then, over the summer of 2017, I became a Teachers Pay Teachers seller and, voila! Now, I have something to say.
Although I’ve only been marketing my products since July 2017, I have created them for (and more importantly tested them on) my fifth grade students since 2011. Kids are tough critics. I’m proud to say that they’ve responded well to my lessons. I hope that your students will, too.
I’m excited to begin sharing teaching anecdotes with you on this blog.