Back to School Time

back to school

I’m trying something new this year:  a powerpoint to have running in my classroom during our Back to School Barbecue.  Our building holds a barbecue to welcome the students back.  Students can pick up their schedules, check their lockers, see the classrooms and enjoy a hot dog.  Since teachers are working at various stations, we aren’t in our classrooms.

I created a powerpoint of information parents and students might like to know about the class.  It will run on an endless loop on my smartboard, so parents and students can come in at any time to see the slides.

back to school

Reader’s Notebook

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about how to structure my reading class this year.  Any of you spend lots of time planning your ideas over the summer, only to discover, in practice, they don’t work out the way you expect?  ‘Cause that happens to me all the time!


Reader's NotebookAnyway, my plan this year is to use notebooks for our vocabulary, skills ideas, etc.  I purchased the composition notebooks for my students.  They’re sturdier than the spiral notebooks I usually use, so hopefully they will last better.  Plus, it’s harder for them to pull out a piece of paper to use for their homework.

The organization of the notebook will include:

Students can draw pictures showing what they like, hobbies, etc.

Students can draw pictures showing what they like, hobbies, etc.

cover page with illustrations of student interests

two pages for each skill we will cover (20 total skills throughout the year)

a page for each week’s vocabulary words (30 weeks)

Roots, Suffixes and Prefixes8 pages for word roots, suffixes, and prefixes

That will leave some extra pages so that when other uses crop up, we will have some room

Do you use reader’s notebooks?  How do you organize them?  What do you use for the notebook?

Fundraisers for Field Trips

How we raise funds for field trips

How we raise funds for field trips

Ah, field trips.  I do love taking my students out of the classroom!  The adventure, the break from routine, the hands-on activities, the bus ride.  It’s all good!  The downside is the cost.  Our 6th grade team has found some ways to make it easier to take our students on field trips.

We take about 6 field trips each year.  Some are free.  For instance, there is an ecology festival for Earth Day in downtown Lansing that is free.  The only cost for us is the bus to get there.  We also go downtown for a scavenger hunt – the students invade the businesses with a question they need answered (we okay it with the business owners in advance!).  I have attached the worksheet that students use so you can see what I mean.

Scavenger hunt

We also take the students to a nature preserve that our district owns, since that is a free trip, too.  At the end of the year, we have a picnic at the beach which has a minimal cost.

Our other trips are a bit more costly: the science center, the Imax movie theater, scuba diving.  However, all of our students are able to participate because we hold several fundraisers for our trips.

At the beginning of the year, we decide which trips we are going to take and add up the cost of all of them, adding a few dollars so we can cover students who can’t afford to pay for the trip.  Then, we let parents know what the total cost will be and that we will be fundraising.  Parents who prefer, can simply write a check to cover all of the field trips up front, or they can pay as we get ready to take each trip.  Other parents can use the fundraiser to help cover the cost.

What fundraisers do we use?  Not the usual candy bars and candles.  I have attached the note we give to parents about our field trip plans.

6th Grade Field Trips 2012

Instead, we hold a read-a-thon the day before Thanksgiving.  In honor of Children’s Book Week, we give students the opportunity to collect pledges for their reading time. I always counsel my students to ask their grandparents first.  Grandparents tend to pledge high, which sets the tone for other donors.  🙂  When the day comes, students can bring in blankets, pillows and snacks.  We have a few guest readers, but the day is mostly for finding a comfy spot to read.  Whether students have collected pledges or not, they are still expected to read.

In the spring, we hold a second fundraiser – a walk-a-thon.  Again, students can collect pledges for walking laps at the high school track.  We go up there the afternoon before Spring Break and walk laps.  We have a playlist of music for the loudspeaker and add in some fun themes like a Spartan lap (Spartan fans, only) and a Wolverine lap (Wolverine fans, only), along with a train lap – make a train with your friends and a dance lap – dance while you walk the track.  We also do a girls’ lap, during which time the boys gather in the end zone for a granola bar and bottle of water, then a boys’ lap, so the girls get their snack.  While we do these theme laps, we use music paired specially for it – Boys of Summer for the boys’ lap, Girls Just Want to Have Fun for the girls’ lap, you get the idea.

The kids enjoy participating in both fundraisers, and parents enjoy the chance to have their child earn the money for their field trips.  This allows us to offer field trips to our students, while also keeping the cost in line with the current economy.  Plus, we enjoy participating in the fundraisers, too!