Friday, August 23, 2019

Book Tasting: Realistic Fiction

To kick off our realistic fiction and narrative writing unit, we had our first "book tasting." Students arrived at the Northridge Bistro to sample a wide variety of realistic fiction books. We learned how to preview and shop for a book that is a perfect fit for us as readers. Students wrote reviews of each "dish" on their tasting menu. They even enjoyed an amuse bouche of "bookworms" while we worked through our tasting. This provided readers not only the opportunity to find some great reads, but also to identify the common characteristics of this genre.

Here are some photos from the day (Be sure to check out @RamsaysClass on Instagram to see more.):

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Building a Culture of Reading 2019-2020

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 genre 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 read a digital version of the books. This is not mandatory, but it would give your student the opportunity to notate in his/her eBook as students work to demonstrate reading mastery through the books that they choose to read.  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 literature study in which we will be engaging is realistic fiction. Students will participate in a "book tasting" of highly recommended books in order for them to select a 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.

Research has proven that the best way to become a skilled reader is to read. This year, students have the reading goal of reading 40 "new to them" books across different genres. Each night, students need to spend 20-30 minutes reading. These books can be checked out from our class library, our school library, or the local, public library. All TCS students also have access to Sora, an app that gives students FREE access to digital and audio books from our district and the Tuscaloosa Public Library. Students will keep a record of these books in their ELA comp book, use them to show mastery of the standards and skills we are learning in class, and engage in book chats and book reviews with peers, locally and globally.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

COPS Test August 21, 2019

Our first test is scheduled for Wednesday, August 21st. COPS stands for Capitalization, Organization, Punctuation, and Spelling. We have done a myriad of activities to help each learner master this content. They will be tested on the following standards:

  • Demonstrate command of the conventions of Standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing. [L.6.2]
  • Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience. [W.6.4]

There are several different ways that your learner can prepare for this assessment.

  1. They can study the notes, sketch-notes, practice activities, and the COPS graphic organizer that they have in their ELA comp book. Students keep their ELA comp book and they can bring them home any day they would like.
  2. Students can visit the class links page on our class website. On that page, I have curated a collection of interactive activities that they use to practice these standards.
  3. Mr. Price created a Quizizz to help our ELA students review these standards. Students can go to this link: The code to join is: 331861
  4. Ms. Cerrina created a Kahoot that we played as a review in class. If you student would like to use it to review they can go here.
Remember that according to our syllabus, assessments are worth 90% of the grade and practice is worth 10%.

Be sure to follow us on Instagram and Twitter(@RamsaysClass) to see the amazing things we are doing in class.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

RamsaysClass on Social Media 2019-2020

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 eleventh year to use Twitter with my classes and my seventh 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 13, 2019

ELA Syllabus, Expectations, and Practices 2019-2020

Below you will find the link to our 2019-2020 Class Syllabus. This includes information on our learning and grading practices, procedures and expectations.

An online version can be viewed here: 


Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Welcome to Sixth Grade 2019

Dear Parents and Students,

Welcome to sixth grade! I am your English Language Arts teacher. I am a twenty-five year
teaching veteran, educational author, writer, and National Board Certified Teacher. I
have been eagerly anticipating the beginning of a new school year with you; one that
I am confident will be highly successful. My class is a student-directed learning
environment where students have a voice and choice in their learning with the support
and guidance from me that each student needs, wherever they are on the learning
continuum. Every practice in which we engage is supported by proven research for
best practices in promoting the highest level of success for each student.

Many of the traditional teaching methods that you may have experienced in the past
will look different than the practices in our class. Much of our learning will take place
with the support of digital tools using digital age literacy to increase a student’s growth.
My students will be connected with students from around the world to collaborate,
connect, and learn with throughout this entire school year. Although our learning
may appear different, students will be held to high expectations and challenged
on whatever level they may be on in each of the content area standards. In this type
of environment, students take ownership of their learning. I feel very fortunate to
get to witness how each student blossoms and grows in this type of learning environment.

In order for our students to have the highest degree of success, I know that we
need to build a strong relationship between home and school. I have arranged
several different mediums where we can communicate, and you can stay informed
of our classroom learning activities. First, we have a class website, This site contains important information about
procedures, routines, and units of study. As school begins, additions will be made.
For classroom activities and news, you can visit our class blog,, where we will post more specific activities,
giving you a window into our classroom. I will write the first several posts, but then
the students will take ownership in writing and publishing the blog posts, under
my guidance. Please take time to sign up for
alerts when a new blog is posted by filling in the “Follow RamsaysClass by Email.”
I know that you will not want to miss any of the exciting things going on in our
class. Also, for a further connection, please consider following our class on
Twitter and Instagram, @RamsaysClass, for current insight into not only
announcements, but also into the learning that is taking place in our classroom
and through our global connections. 

I realize that for many of us our prime source of communication is through
text messages. This year we will be moving to new communication platform
called Class Tag. Look for more information on that coming home soon.

I deeply value your expertise on your student. In an effort to increase my
knowledge of your student and to effectively plan instructional practices
to support his/her learning, please take a moment to complete the following
survey: Collaboratively, I am confident that
we can provide your student the most successful year possible. I am thrilled
as we embark on this epic learning adventure together!


Mrs. Ramsay, NBCT