As sixth graders we will be involved in the Accelerated Reader, or AR, program. If you have never been introduced to the AR program, allow me to explain a bit about how it works.

First, at the beginning of the year we will take a quick reading assessment  called the STAR test. It will help to determine what AR level students should read on. This test has a proven algorithm for determining fluency level, vocabulary level, and text complexity to help students further develop their reading skills. Like many people, if left alone, students will stick to a level of text that they find comfortable. AR challenges that comfort level by awarding points for books read and tested on.

Next, after the STAR test has been administered, students will be assigned a reading range. Books have been assessed by the developers of the AR program and placed within the ranges based on the same things students were tested on. As the ranges increase in value, so does the difficulty and complexity of the text. 

Once assigned a reading level, together with the students we will establish a point goal for the grading period. The students will then read AR books within their range, test on the book after completion, and gain points toward their goals. 

At the end of each quarter we will look at how well the student did, in both gaining points and achieving goals, and then decide how much we can raise the goal for the next quarter. Students may also gain extra recognition or small rewards for making gains. 

That's not too bad, right? It's not, and students love to read the wide range of books available to test on as well as compete against each other.  The hurdle we have at the moment is the lack of books for sixth graders to read and test on.

I have taken the time to create a wish list through Classrooms by Walmart of the top books for sixth grade readers over the past few years. If you can donate any of these books to our classroom library, it would be very appreciated. The books will be available for all students to check out, read, and test on. And the books don't need to be bought from Walmart, they can be donated to the classroom from any source you have. If you decide to give a book, just click the Pledge button under the title and that lets me know you will bring it in.

In the meantime, you can use this list to help direct your students summer reading! See you soon!!!!
I'm sure by now you have heard the term Common Core, but do you really know what it is? Don't feel bad if you don't, we are all learning about it. So let me see if I can shed some light on the mystery for you.

Here's what I know: 
1. Common Core was an initiative developed by a group of experts to help place an emphasis what all students should know by the time they graduate high school. 
2. Common Core has been adopted by 45 states. Florida is one of the states who has adopted Common Core. 
3. The Common Core standards have a focus on English (across all subjects) and Mathematics. I know more about the English standards, but the Math standards are very com
4. Common Core standards help bring critical thinking into all subject areas and have a heavy emphasis on writing, justifying, and analyzing many types of text including fiction stories and non-fiction (or informational) texts. 
5. Compared with the Florida Next Generation Sunshine State Standards for the subject of Social Studies, which is comprised of 85 individual standards, there are 10 Common Core standards. The difference is the NGSSS standards focus on content students should know, while CC standards focus on how students should be able to read and write with regards to that content. 

I think you will find that for all the issues that the media and other organizations can have with Common Core, you really won't see them in action. As sixth graders it is important to start to look at material given to you and start to analyze it. You should be looking for unfamiliar vocabulary and questioning main ideas. You should also be able to write a summary about any reading and provide justification (or citations) from the reading to support your own interpretations. 

Every day in our classes we will address the NGSSS standards as well as CC standards and we will have a great time doing it. Make sure you stock up on paper! Let's get to writing! 

To learn more about Common Core standards visit their website.
I don't normally like to link to outside websites, but I just had to this time. The Huffington Post, an online news outlet, posted the funniest set of pictures today. Each one shows a particular math "problem" that if you didn't pay attention might end up costing you more in the long run. They do point out most of the problems in the captions, but see if you can figure them out on your own. Take a look here, but as always, ask your parents permission. Ask your parents if they can help you find the mistakes! Let me know what you come up with! 
What do you like to do when it's either too hot or won't stop raining during these Florida summers? 
I like to explore the online universe! One of my favorite hobbies is technology. I am always looking for great new ways to make learning fun and exciting. 
When the school year starts we will talk about a few ways to utilize technology in our classroom, and out of it, that will help us communicate for success. I am spending my days researching more ways and  look forward to sharing all that I have found during our first few meetings. 
In the meantime, why not use the internet to play some games? If you look around on our website you will see that I have added some game sites that many teachers are recommending because their students loved them so much. 
However, you should always follow a few rules when going online.
  1. Always ask your parent's permission. You should let them know what you are wanting to view.
  2. Never click on any ads or commercials. Be cautious as you navigate the web. When in doubt, log out!
  3. Never give any private information about yourself to anyone. If you want to use a site that asks you to create an account, ask your parent's to help you out. Don't chat with people you don't know.
As thoroughly as I evaluate websites, I have no control over the ones that display advertisements. If it were up to me, there would be no ads at all! 
And why can playing games help you over he summer? Well, most of them require you to read, which is always a good thing. Many of them make you think critically about what you need to do next. And some of them can help keep your other skills sharp as well, like your math skills and science vocabulary skills. 
Have fun playing games and keep cool!  


   You know they say it's always calmest before the storm? The summer may be calm, but I'm not! I am so excited to be a part of this brand new charter school. To be proactive I decided to get this class website up and running, even if I may be the only one looking at it. :^) 
   Gulf Coast Charter Academy South is a STEM focused charter school opening brand new this upcoming school year. There's so much to getting a new school started, I had no idea! There are accounts to get set up so that teachers can get great deals on classroom supplies. There is furniture to get, technology to purchase, and... there was something else... oh yeah, books to buy! 
   Luckily we have a great group of professional educators, administration, and management company all pitching in together to get things done. I'm sure we will discover things that are missing as we move forward, but I'm sure we will get those things as well. 
   We are all busy little bees. Many of the teachers, myself included, are attending workshops to keep familiar skills sharp and discover new ones, especially the focus on STEM.
   Do you know what STEM is? That's Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. Many people think that those subjects are exclusive or aren't part of other subjects, but that's not right. As part of these workshops, we will discover how all of the areas of STEM work into the subjects of art, social studies, and even music! 
   Well, as things keep moving and shaking around here during the warmest part of the summer, I hope you are keeping cool and keeping your skills sharp by reading! Wonder why reading is important, even when school is out? Check out this page on our website.    
   That's about it for now. Check back throughout the summer and I'll post more about the going-ons as the school takes shape. I look forward to seeing you all in August!