Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Spirit Week 2018

October 22-26 is Northridge Middle School's Spirit Week. Students are encouraged to show their school spirit by dressing up each day with the following themes. House points will be awarded to students each day they participate. Let's show our Jaguar Spirit. Go Jags!

Monday: Galaxy Day

Tuesday: Rock Out Day

Wednesday: America Day

Thursday: Holiday Day

Friday: Country Day

Monday, October 1, 2018

October Important Dates 2018

October Important Dates:

(The narrative writing project is completed in Google Drive. Students will be receiving ongoing feedback in Google Drive.)

10/8-10/9- No school
10/11- Characterization of protagonist and antagonist due (part of narrative writing project; rubric)
10/12- Creation of setting due (part of narrative writing project; rubric)
10/12- Realistic Fiction Book Groups completed
10/16- Outline of narrative plot and identification of theme due (part of narrative writing project; rubric)
10/19- First draft of narrative project due (part of narrative writing project; rubric)
10/26- Sixth Grade: Creepy Science
10/30- Published narrative due (part of narrative writing project; rubric)
10/31- All Hallows Read
11/1- CSI: Hogwarts (investigating evidence and composing a strong argument)
11/2- Reading Carousel to share published narratives

*Updated 10/18/18

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

FAQ- Grading, Retakes, and Procedures 2018-2019

The time is approaching for our first progress report. There may be several questions on your mind regarding the scores that you will see on your learner's progress reports. Here are some questions that you may have when your student brings home his/her progress report.

What exactly does mastery of standards mean? All scores identify the level of mastery that an individual student reaches for each of the 6th grade standards. That means that as we practice with standards throughout the year, students work towards one-hundred percent mastery for each standard. Grades are not compensation for effort put forth but a communication of where he/she currently is on the learning continuum for each standard.

Where are the assignments listed for each grade? Because students are graded on standards, you will see the standard identified for each "assignment." There will also be an indicator as to the specific task, activity, or project for which a score was taken.

My student scored low on a practice assignment or assessment. Can they earn some extra credit? Learners are being graded according to their level of mastery of the 6th grade ELA standards. Extra credit gives inaccurate data on where a child stands in their learning. However, students can continue to work towards mastery of the standards. If a student would like to take the time to reflect on their progress, complete a retake contract and make arrangements to retake an assignment during Lunch and Learn, they are welcome to do this up until the deadline for a specific project or 10 days before the end of a grading period, depending on the assignment. 

I have at least one Lunch and Learn session a week where I conduct mini lessons for students who feel they
need additional assistance in a standard. These are in addition to the small group lessons that I conduct during class. Students are also given access to additional study materials that they can use at home. In case you are wondering, yes, all of these instructional supports have been available and provided for your students since the beginning of the school year. All of these avenues have been thoroughly and explicitly explained to all of my students on multiple occasions.

For our students, part of being in middle school is learning how to take responsibility for their actions. Although, I will work with all students diligently in class and encourage each one to take advantage of all the additional learning opportunities, it is ultimately each individual student's responsibility to fill out a retake contract, meet with me one-on-one, take time to relearn through the plethora of opportunities, and make arrangements to complete a retake.

(You can find the Sixth Grade Reflect, Relearn, Retry contract here: http://bit.ly/RetakeContract1819. While other sixth grade teachers may us this contract, please be aware that each individual teacher may make slight alterations to this contract and its procedure. For our class, students wishing to retake an assessment must complete the contract, meet with me, and retake their assessment within five school days of a grade being posted.)

How are scores determined on retakes? Students will keep the score that demonstrates the highest level of mastery. In iNow at Home, when you sign-in, you will see the scores noted for each of the attempts. However, only the highest score will be the one that counts towards a final average.

How does my learner know how to improve? For every assignment, I provided detailed feedback on how he/she can improve. In their blog posts, I will leave private comments that are only viewable to that student with specific information regarding their level of mastery and areas they may need to grow. In their Google Drive, I will leave feedback through comments. In all cases, students are also given resources and tips on how they can continue to grow in that area.

Hopefully, these have addressed any questions you may have had in regards to your learner's grades including what they can do to continue to grow. Using these procedures, my students always have an extremely successful school year filled with exponential growth...and a lot of fun along the way.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Lunch and Learn 2018-2019

We know that every student will not be in the same place on the learning continuum at the same time. Students need different supports and challenges based on their individual, specific learning needs. Therefore, once a week I will hold a Lunch and Learn where students can bring their lunch to my classroom to receive extra assistance from me. This time can also be used as additional time to work on class projects or retake assessments (more information on this in a blog post coming soon). Experience has shown that this time is a beneficial tool in a student's learning tool box.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Rocking Reading Around the Clock 2018-2019

Throughout the school year, in our English Language Arts class, we will be reading a wide variety of texts across many different genres. Typically, we will have an ongoing literature study. In today's digital society much of our reading is moving to a digital format. That being said, I realize that many of my learners have devices where they can download an eBook version of the books that we will read in class. This is not mandatory, but it would give your student the opportunity to notate in his/her eBook as we read through the books in class. Similarly, if your student would like to have his/her own print copy of the book, that would be great as well. Although this is not a requirement, having a personal copy in print or digital format would give students an opportunity to have the same text at home and school with their specific notes.

The first book we will read is Ghost by Jason Reynolds. Simultaneously, students will be reading a partner text of their choosing. This is a powerful way for students to demonstrate mastery of reading standards on a text that is of interest to them.

In addition to our whole group literature, genre, or text studies, students will continue to read something of their choice. Every night, students are expected to read. Students may bring print or digital versions of whatever they are reading to class as each student strives to grow as independent readers. Each Friday, we will celebrate with some time designated as Free Reading Fri-Yay. Each week, students will have book chats where they do a 60-second share of a great book they have completed reading. Also, they will be creating fun, mini-projects in class to share their favorite reads. 

Be sure to watch for further details on our reading activities on this blog, our social media tools (@RamsaysClass), and our class Remind. Until then, happy reading!

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Our Bring Your Own Device Practices 2018-2019

I wanted to make all of you aware of the digital device policy for my 6th grade ELA class. My students  are allowed to bring their digital devices to class to use for educational purposes. That includes devices such as smart phones, iPod Touches, Kindles, iPads, tablets, Nooks, or laptops. These devices need to be internet capable.

Because students will not be receiving 1:1 Chromebooks until later in the school year, in our classroom, we will use digital tools on a regular basis to support individual student learning. Outside of my classroom are three signs. The green sign is "ROCK IT." When students see this sign, that means that there is something waiting for them to do with their devices upon entry into the classroom. The yellow sign is "DOCK IT." For "DOCK IT," students need to bring their devices to class, but place it facedown (or closed) on their desk until instructed to use it. The red sign is "LOCK IT." That means that students need to keep their devices in their locker for that class period. 

If your student brings his/her device to school, please remember that he/she must take responsibility for it. 

In our class, we will use devices for different types of assessment (formal and informal), writing, publishing, communicating, creating, and collaborating. It is exciting when students learn how much the tools that they use in their everyday lives can positively impact and support their learning.

RamsaysClass on Social Media

Research has proven that one of the most powerful learning tools for middle level students is the ability to socialize. We are fortunate to live in a time that provides us with the opportunity to learn from anyone, anytime, and in any place. In our digital world, social media is extremely prevalent. It is imperative that students learn how to make safe and wise choices when they interact online.

My goal is to prepare them for their lives outside of the classroom walls in today's digital world. We will spend the beginning of the school year learning about netiquette, online safety, and cyber bullying. The students will be developing lifelong habits while in the safety of the classroom. Just like we wouldn't ban pencils from the school if one student writes on the restroom wall, we do not want to prevent students from expanding their horizons by supporting their learning using tools which can broaden their horizons and cause them to take ownership of their learning journey.

With that in mind, our class will be connecting with students, authors, and experts from all over the world through our class Twitter and Instagram accounts, @RamsaysClass.
Through our use of these tools, under my close supervision, you also will gain a peek into our daily activities. Please be aware that I am the only one with access to this account. I will approve and monitor everything that my students tweet out and post as well as anything that other students, authors, and experts tweet or post to us. These are powerful tools where students can reflect on their learning, compose stories, participate in book chats, write poetry for an authentic audience, set academic goals, connect with authors, share their insights, and interact with other students for deeper understanding of content.

This is my tenth year to use Twitter with my classes and my sixth year to use Instagram. It is always astounding how much learning is generated in using these simple tools.. We hope you will join us in our learning journey this year as we tweet and post away.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

ELA Class Syllabus, Expectations, and Practices 2018-2019

Below you will find the link to our 2018-2019 Class Syllabus. This includes information on our learning and grading practices, procedures and expectations.

An online version can be viewed here: http://bit.ly/RamsaySyllabus2018