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Book reports … We’ve got Trouble with a capital T …

Posted by Richard Scott on 16th February 2014

I used to update this blog consistently, but since parents and students showed little to no interest in it over the past two years, perhaps someone can send me suggestions on what you would like to see here. I’ve looked at other teacher blogs, even the ones updated consistently, but other teachers report the same news. Perhaps more feedback would help me understand what you need or want from this blog. I also opened a Twitter account, but only one student and no parents follow it.

In the meantime, I am posting a copy of the letter I am sending home with almost half of my students this week. I am also re-attaching both forms and the coming deadlines for the remaining BDRs.

 

BOOK DATA RECORDS

To: parents, grandparents, guardians

 

As of Feb. 17, 2014, _____________________________________________________ has not turned in a book data record due Feb. 14. This is our fifth BDR of the year, and the deadline was extended an extra two weeks due to weather. The deadline has been posted on the front board in two places since Jan. 6, and it has been mentioned multiple times in that time period. I also sent home a list of deadlines in the first week of school and posted them on my blog, along with copies of the fiction and nonfiction forms. Each BDR is worth 150 points, so they play a significant role in determining a student’s grade. Simply not completing the assignment puts your child in danger of a failing grade for the semester.

Therefore, starting tomorrow your child will lose 20 points for each day the BDR is late. Your child may regain 20 lost points (but no more) by returning this letter signed by a parent, grandparent, or guardian. I apologize for any inconvenience, but the students were allowed six weeks to complete one assignment.

            The next BDR will be due on March 14. It will be worth 150 points.

Mr. Scott

R2scott@shelbyed.k12.al.us.

FICTION BOOK DATA RECORD 13-14 REVISED

NON-FICTION BOOK DATA RECORD 13-14 REVISED

Book Data Records

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Pound the informational text rock!

Posted by Richard Scott on 17th November 2013

With so much attention on what could be a historic Iron Bowl on the horizon, I’ll be drawing on some football analogies to explain what I’m trying to do for the kids in class these days.

Reading informational texts (essays, magazine and newspaper articles, historical texts) is has not been one of our strengths across the ball, and with the new College and Career Ready standards in place this year, we are not anywhere where we need to be. That’s on me, since I’m the head ball coach here in Room 110. It’s my responsibility to give the kids what they need – even if it isn’t all that entertaining.

We read informational texts every day, whether they are articles we see online, directions, professional manuals, business letters, or recipes. Our ability to read and understand those texts, and then put them to use, is a life skill, not a middle school assignment.

Yes, it’s that important!

As for the analogies … here goes:

We are going to “pound the rock” (run the ball) until we’ve beaten this problem into submission. We’re going to be like Auburn with a no-huddle, quick-snap, wide-open, downhill running game attacking every possible gap. We’re going to be like Alabama lining up behind a massive offensive line, a fullback, and a tight end and running the ball right down the throat of this problem.

And we’re going to pound the rock until we win this thing.

We must win. We cannot allow failure to be an option. There is too much at stake – not middle school grades and standards, but lessons these students will carry with them for life.

Hopefully, by the time this semester ends we’ll be a lot closer to looking like these guys:

 

 

How can you help? Grab the Birmingham News or the Shelby County Reporter and choose a story you and your child can read and discuss together. How about a magazine about a topic you both enjoy? Go online and read what’s going on in the area, the state, the nation, and the world.

Help us pound the rock!

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This is a BIG week!

Posted by Richard Scott on 29th October 2013

It’s a BIG week in Mr. Scott’s English class as we move toward the ends of two popular novels and prepare for important assignments to show what we’ve learned.

In seventh grade, we’re finishing The Wednesday Wars with a comprehensive test that will require writing rather than just choosing A, B, C, or D, or true or false. While the students will be allowed to use their books and their notes, I have encouraged them to work hard on their notes in their composition books so they will be better prepared. The students who take the notes seriously will be more confident and capable as they approach the test.

http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/book/wednesday-wars

 

In eighth grade, we will be finishing Flipped and preparing to write our second essay of the year. This time, however, there will be no rough draft – just one final version! That means students will need to focus on writing AND re-writing and spend considerable time reading their writing out loud!

It would be a LOT easier for me to just write a multiple-choice, true/false test and put it on Edmodo so that it will be graded for me. However, I’m a big believer that essays at the end of assignments is a more effective and fair way of evaluating what students have learned. Basically, it’s a high school assignment.

Bloom’s Taxonomy, a classification of learning standards, rises from remembering and understanding (multiple choice, matching, true/false), to analyzing, evaluating, and producing. As eighth-graders, we are moving beyond the first two stages and digging into the top three. It is my belief that an essay allows them to analyze, evaluate, and produce at a higher level as they prepare for college and career.

So … that means a busy weekend of grading, but y’all are worth every minute. Besides, I actually ENJOY reading these essays!

http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/book/flipped

 

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What are we doing?

Posted by Richard Scott on 18th September 2013

This week we’ve been digging into two classic short stories and looking for connections to our own lives.

In seventh grade, we’re reading “Rikki-Tikki-Tavi,” a short story about a young mongoose who is on for his own for the first time. He’s been bred and trained to kill cobras, but now he has to prove himself against two dangerous mongoose killers.

Our seventh graders will take two quizzes on Friday. In addition to a quiz over 16 vocabulary words from the story, we will also take a quiz on the story itself. We’ll be going over the story again on Thursday and creating our own study guides.

In eighth grade, we’re reading “Flowers for Algernon,” a story about Charlie Gordon, a 37-year-old man with a big heart and low intelligence. Charlie undergoes experimental; surgery to triple his intelligence. The results are startling and complex.

In addition to a quiz over Friday’s 16 vocab words for the story, we’ll be writing our first essay when we finish the story. This story presents several moral and ethical questions. The big question we’re asking is, “just because you can do something, does that mean you should?” Our essay will allow the students to ask and answer those questions with their own ideas and beliefs.

I’ve always like these two stories because they meet the students where they are at. Life is asking seventh graders, “who are you?” and its asking eighth graders “what do you believe in?” These two stories ask those questions as well, and they often produce many positive results!

 

 

 

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The first two weeks …

Posted by Richard Scott on 30th August 2013

The first two weeks of school have been:

mostly positive

Mostly fun!

(That’s a pic of the band Fun. Just a little pun on my part. OK, I’ll stop punishing you now).

Extremely educational

Exhausting

So many reasons to be thankful.

 

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One week down …

Posted by Richard Scott on 25th August 2013

The first week of school is always exhausting for students and teachers. No matter what we did over the summer, we’re just not accumstomed to the pace of school. Like an athlete switching sports, we’re using different muscles – mental and physical.

 

 

 

Every year, kids confess to me that they stayed up late most nights and slept in most days. One girl even told me she slept until 3 many days – about the time school is ending now!

 

 Yikes! What a huge adjustment!

It’s a fact that we need plenty of fuel to succeed at school. These days, I’m trying extra hard to go to bed on time, work out, and eat breakfast.

Most of you know I’m a high energy teacher, and that energy needs plenty of good fuel!

It’s also a choice I try to make each day. When I’m tired or not feeling well, especially on a Friday morning, I make the conscious choice to be energetic. If not, I’m not giving you my best – and you deserve my best!

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A new beginning …

Posted by Richard Scott on 20th August 2013

Last Sunrise from Florida Off to Thailand

Here we are … at the beginning of a new school year. Like a gorgeous sunset, it’s a new start, a new opportunity, a  chance to start over, learn, grow, and become the best person we were made to be!

It’s my sixth year as a teacher, all of them at CMS.

This year, I’m teaching two classes of eighth graders and two classes of seventh graders. That’s a challenge, but it offers me some variety during the day.

English teachers face some interesting changes this year. All teachers will be following the new College and Career Ready Standards (also known as the common core), a new curriculum designed to put all the students on a more common path so we can measure their progress more effectively.

We’ll  also be working with new textbooks and workbooks. Unlike the old textbooks, teachers are excited about these new books and the resources they provides. To be honest, all the resources are a bit overwhelming right now (like trying to hit 20 moving baseballs at a time), and paired with the new standards, it will be an exciting but challenging school year for English teachers and their students.

mountain-climber-looking-up

But life is all about challenges, isn’t it? And it should be!

I’m excited about the new school year, and I hope you are, too!

If I can help you, please feel free to contact me:

through this blog (you already know the address because … well, you’re here, right?

Email: r2scott@shelbyed.k12.al.us

Twitter: mrscottcms

 

 

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Not a good year for blogging …

Posted by Richard Scott on 23rd May 2013

Well … I tried to keep my blog up to date early in the year … until I finally realized no one was reading it.

I put my blog address in the parent packet I sent home at the beginning of the school year, but no one ever responded. The address can also be found through the school website (http://www.shelbyed.k12.al.us/schools/cms/index.htm) by clicking on faculty/staff and scrolling down to my name.

I’m not sure why this year was so different. Both parents AND students followed both my blog AND my Twitter (@MrScottCMS) in the past, but this year my attempts at communication were … well … to be honest … frustrating.

Let’s hope the next school year will be better. I desperately want to communicate. I promise. I want to be available. I want to help.

I ABSOLUTELY LOVE teaching at Columbiana Middle School, but I need more parents and students to help me help YOU. You’re ALL important to me. You matter to me.

Won’t you join me?

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Essay time!

Posted by Richard Scott on 6th November 2012

For seventh graders, the time has arrived for our first essay of the school year.

Our first essay will be a compare-and-contrast analysis of Brian Piccolo and Gale Sayers from the story, “Brian’s Song.” This true-life story is based on the lives of two professional football players from different races, places, and backgrounds who become best friends and support each other through difficult circumstances.

Our essay will allow us to contrast their differences while comparing their similarities and the way their friendship grew based on their common ground.

So why teach the essay? The state of Alabama requires it, but that reason isn’t enough. This essay needs to be serve a higher purpose than to just fulfill the state curriculum.

Writing an essay is a lesson in organizing, planning, and producing a unique product. It’s a lesson in effective communication. It requires effective listening, attention to directions, focus, and effort.

It also challenges students’ higher-order thinking. An essay isn’t like taking a test, where most questions challenge a students ability to remember and understand. An essay pushes a student to analyze, evaluate, and produce at a much higher level.

The essay also helps prepare students for high school. Did you know one freshman English teacher at Shelby County assigns a five-paragraph essay on the first day of the school year? So many of our SCHS freshmen tell me they were prepared to write that essay. They didn’t have to be taught the essay because they knew what to do.  That’s what I want for them.

I want this to be a challenge, to push students beyond their perceived limits and allow them to grow in confidence with the knowledge they produced something totally unique, something that will help them feel proud.

 

 

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More reading!

Posted by Richard Scott on 29th October 2012

In seventh grade, we’re still working on reading “Brian’s Song,” a true-life story about two friends, Brian Piccolo and Gale Sayers, who played football for the NFL’s Chicago Bears. While they do play football, it’s not really a football story. It’s really a story about friendship and responding to adversity. It challenges our students to think a little deeper and ask what they would do in the same circumstances.

In eighth grade, we’re still reading Flipped, a novel with two eighth-grade narrators telling the same story. The problem? One is a boy, and one is a girl, so they see the same story from totally different perspectives. This story really challenges us to consider how the other gender thinks, feels, and responds to situations.

While we’ve read “Brian’s Song” before, with positive results, this is our first year for Flipped. We’re borrowing the books from another school, but if this group continues to like it, it might be time to buy a class set.

Our normal Friday quiz has been moved to Tuesday this week, simply because last week was far too crazy to stay on a set schedule. For both groups, the quiz will be focused on vocabulary from the stories they are reading.

Remember: AR points are incredibly important to a student’s grades, so we need to be reading, taking AR quizzes, and earning points.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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