Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Table Tournaments Organization

So I think I’ve got the tables organized!!!!  After nine weeks!!!!

Ha Ha

The black tub contains the two interactive notebooks - turned opposite ways for the four classes - quick, easy access!!!!!!


The text and questions for the table tournaments are kept in the hanging folder

Held firmly in place with University of Tennessee Duct Tape!!!

And One Cubby for each seat to keep your eyes on your own paper!!!

Think this is GREAT………..till I get a better idea!!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Table Tournaments

I just have to say - I LOVE THIS ARTICLE!!!!!!

  I discussed the article with my 15 year old son (10th grade) and he said he TOTALLY agrees with what this teacher did!!!  “Just walk around most classrooms and see how boring it is, mom,” he said.  I hate to think my classes are boring!!!!  I will stand on MY HEAD to keep them from being boring!!!  However, I decided to come up with a plan to go along with this quote from the article: 

If I could go back and change my classes now, I would immediately:
•Offer brief, blitzkrieg-like mini-lessons with engaging, assessment-for-learning-type activities following directly on their heels (e.g. a ten-minute lecture on Whitman’s life and poetry, followed by small-group work in which teams scour new poems of his for the very themes and notions expressed in the lecture, and then share out or perform some of them to the whole group while everyone takes notes on the findings.)

This is what I decided to do.  FYI -  I already use (AND LOVE) an interactive notebook.  My students know after just a few weeks just how valuable it is!!!!!  So I decided to begin the “blitzkrieg-like mini-lessons” in their INB and then have what I’m calling……

Table Tournaments

My students sit at tables with between two and four students per table.  They have assigned seats which were chosen based on test scores from last year’s formative assessment.  I have four classes per day in which I teach the same lessons.  Here’s the Table Tournament procedure:

1.  Teach the “blitzkrieg-like mini-lessons” and allow students to place the foldable in their INB. 
2.  Read aloud the text for the day.  It can be anything - nonfiction, informational science or social studies text, short story, poem, table/graph - anything - but it needs to contain a reference in some way to the mini-lesson for that day.
3.  Have your first class staple 3 pieces of notebook paper together and label each page Question 1, Question 2, Question 3..........Question 6.
4.  Have your first class divide each paper into four segments (or however many classes you have.)
5.  Display a question on the promethean board and give each table a certain amount of minutes to discuss and agree on the correct answer to the question.  They may use each other’s brains and their INB to determine the correct answer - but not me.  I’ve done my part (of course, I answer questions within reason.) Write the answer in their class period’s segment of the paper.
6.  When your next class comes in, require them to answer the same question on the same sheet of paper - only you force them to read the previous class’s answer before they can write their own.  They may totally think they are wrong,  or they may now have guidance on how they will answer their own. 
7.  Continue to the end of the day until all four segments are filled.

SUPPLIES NEEDED:  A copy of the text for each student.  Notebook paper.  INB. 


1.  Reread the text to students and then have them read it aloud to each other.  Have them review ALL answers to the questions from the day before.  They are responsible to make sure the entire table understands the different answers and cite proof for the correct one (in their opinion)

2.  I rotate the room during the discussion  and stop at each table requiring them to share one answer they KNOW is correct and how they know it.

3.  Following this discussion, give a short multiple choice quiz with only 5-10 questions - make it easy on you!!!

Average ALL SCORES TOGETHER for that table for the entire day and post a weekly spreadsheet declaring the table winner for that text.  At the end of the nine weeks - you have a TABLE TOURNAMENT WINNER!!!!!

Here’s what I consider the benefits -
1.  ALL students have buy-in because they want to score high so their table will win.

You can do this once a week or daily - your choice.  All my questions have reference material in their INB for THEM to research and find the answer.  IT IS A SOURCE OF CONSTANT REVIEW.   If you taught commas during week one - then ask a question - "Why is the comma in line three?" and have them CITE THEIR PROOF FROM THEIR INB!!!!!

Essential question for the day - taught and learned.  Done!!!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Liebster Award!!!!

Well, I just had a big surprise written on my blog!!  I knew my husband read my blogs.  I knew of a few friends who read my blogs.  I knew of a few followers that claimed to follow me.  However, even if I tied all this together, I never actually thought people were really READING my words.  Then I get a message on my blog that I had been nominated for a Liebster Award.  The cynic in me demanded that I google the award to see if I was falling into some kind of trap, and SURPRISE!!!!!!  It was real!!  Thank you, Karen, at for nominating me!!!!!!

The Liebster Award is an award for up and coming bloggers who have less than 200 followers.  It feels wonderful to be recognized and it is a great way to meet other bloggers. Thank you for the recognition and I have a few questions below that I answered about myself. 

Why and how long ago did you start blogging?

I started blogging on April 19, 2014.  In fact, I’m going to cut and paste my first blog which actually answers the question - WHY DID I START BLOGGING?

Why a blog?  Hmmmmmm.  Could it be because Im a language arts teacher and ALL (repeat.ALL) language arts teachers fancy themselves as writers?  We are teachers of writing; we all love to read, so naturally……..we all feel we have a book just waiting to burst out of us.  Could it be because it is cool, hip, and trendy to say, I wrote about it on my blog!” or hear someone say, “Did you see that picture of that meatloaf on Angie’s blog????” and secretly get a thrill knowing somebody other than my husband is reading it?  Could it be because I want to be a host of a Linky Party because all the cool people on TpT are doing it? Could it be because I love-love-love-love the movie Julie and Julia (and who doesn’t love Julie Powell as she successfully cooks her way through Julia’s cookbook and BLOGS about it the whole way with the incredible support of her husband!!!) 

Here’s the answer.  I have no idea.  After writing all the above, I feel like they are all the exact reason Im now blogging.  I want to write.  I want the world to love Rees meatloaf recipe as much as I do.  I want to host a Linky Party to help any and all TpT sellers.  And I want to be Julie Powell………..complete with the ups and downs of successful blogging-cooking with truckloads of butter-sewing up the belly of a duck-making bruschetta that makes you drool-feeling a sense of accomplishment, etc!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So here I am……with my blog and Facebook page entitled with the appropriate amount of alliteration - Fun, Food, and Figurative Language.

What one word sums up the heart of your blog and why?

Love.  I hope that’s not too cheesy for you, but it is the truth.  I absolutely love teaching (when the door is shut and it’s just me and the kids.)  I love to have fun.  And Lord knows, I sure love food!!!!!

 Is there something you learned late in your blog journey you wished you knew before?

I wish I knew how to design a blog.  I would love to learn how and offer that service to other teachers.  I know one day I will take on that challenge and begin designing.  Until then, I will stick to designing products for my TpT store. 

What is your favorite past time other than blogging?

Reading.  Reading.  Reading.  Reading. 
Spending time with my sweet husband, my family, and my new grandbaby. 
And did I mention READING??????

How many hours per week do you dedicate to your blog?

I’m having a particularly stressful year at school, so I’m only getting to spend maybe an hour or two a week or biweekly.  I wish I had more time for EVERYTHING!!!!!

 What category of blog posts do you enjoy the most?

I particularly enjoy reading blogs from middle school language arts teachers.  It feels good to hear that others are going through the same battles I go through.  I love reading new ideas, new strategies, and new concepts that have been tried.  I also love reading FOOD blogs - Yummy!!!!  Constantly on the prowl for the best recipes!!!!!

Where does your blog inspiration come from?

My inspiration comes from my students.  If I have a moment that is one of those profound “teaching moments,” I want to share, share, share!!!!!  I love being able to brag about my students!!!!!

Which post that you've written are you most proud of?

I love my blogs about my Common Core Challenge, the Bazinga game we play, and all of the recipes I’ve posted (even though the pictures are terrible.)  But my favorite blog has to be from April, 2014 - “My Big ‘As’”

Is there any post you have been planning to do, 
but have postponing it for a while now?

It’s not that I’m postponing it.  It’s just a lack of time.  I’ve got so many posts going through my head, talking to all the voices in there, waiting to be released.  One day soon!!!!!!

What is your favorite aspect of blogging?

I like being able to link up with other bloggers - particularly teachers with great ideas!!!!

Which recipe, project, or idea on my blog would 
you be most likely to try yourself?

I want to try EVERY SINGLE RECIPE on The Pioneer Woman’s blog!!!!!!!

Here are my 5 nominations. Hope all of you enjoyed what I had to say and I look forward to reading your blogs.

My nominations are:

1.  Courtney from Blogs Fit for a Queen

2.  Gina at Perfetto Writing Room

3.  Jen at Teaching Teens in the 21st

4.  Sherri at Literary Sherri

5.  Susan at Middle School OCD

(Hopefully, I have only nominated those who qualify!) 

To those who have been nominated, here are the "official" rules for accepting:

1. In your post, link back to the blogger who nominated you as a thank you and "shout out." (Follow their blog if you haven't already!)  

2. Answer the 11 questions given to you (the ones I answered above).

3. Nominate 5-11 blogs of your choice that each have less than 200 followers. Provide them with 11 questions to answer or have them answer the questions above.

4. Let your nominees know that they've been nominated and provide them with a link to your post so that they can accept.

5. Send your nominator a link to your post so that s/he can learn more about you as well! (You can just put your post link in the comments below!)

Have Fun!

The Official Rules!!!
1. thank the person who nominated you, and post a link to their blog on your blog.
2. display the award on your blog — by including it in your post and/or displaying it using a “widget” or a “gadget”. (Note that the best way to do this is to save the image to your own computer and then upload it to your blog post.)
3. answer 11 questions about yourself, which will be provided to you by the person who nominated you.
4. provide 11 random facts about yourself.
5. nominate 5 – 11 blogs that you feel deserve the award, who have a less than 1000 followers. (Note that you can always ask the blog owner this since not all blogs display a widget that lets the readers know this information!)
6. create a new list of questions for the blogger to answer.
7. list these rules in your post (You can copy and paste from here.) Once you have written and published it, you then have to:
8. Inform the people/blogs that you nominated that they have been nominated for the Liebster award and provide a link for them to your post so that they can learn about it (they might not have ever heard of it!)

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Are you a Book-Lovin Babe?

How much do you enjoy a good, hot cup of tea, a little something sweet, and a really, really, I MEAN REALLY good book?  That’s exactly what I enjoyed this afternoon.  A cup of green tea precisely steeped.  One package of sweet-n-low.  One teaspoon of honey.  One exceptionally delicious cupcake (maybe two - who’s counting?)  And a copy of To Kill a Mockingbird. 

Sound good? 

What if I told you that I enjoyed all that with 13 beautiful teenage girls who had their first book club meeting this afternoon? 

 Ladies and gentlemen……..presenting…………….

The Bibliophilic Bèbès of Surgoinsville Middle School

Meeting # 1.  First and foremost…….establish the ground rules.  My number ONE rule……don’t read ahead and spoil it for everyone!!!!  We proceeded to come up with other rules regarding attendance, relevant conversations, and the all-important - IF-YOU-SIGN-UP-TO-BRING-SNACKS-YOU-BETTER-SHOW-UP-THAT-DAY rule. 

Moving on.  I handed out little notebooks and instructed them to document anything and everything as they read.  Record their thoughts and come to the next meeting prepared to share.

Next up.  Assign readings for the next few weeks - working our way throughout the book so that during the last meeting before Christmas break we can watch Gregory Peck dazzle us as Atticus Finch, one of the greater men in literary history!!!!

Finally.  I gave a little background.  I read to them about Harper Lee and her infamous friendship with Truman Capote.  I shared some of the more shocking Jim Crow laws. We discussed banned books - what makes them banned - do you agree/disagree - what topics will be found in TKAM, etc. 

Then………let the reading begin.  Mrs. McConnell, our fearsome librarian, began Chapter One.  Before you know it, she had them hooked!!!!  We were so surprised to look up and realize 90 minutes had passed, and it was time to wash the teacups and push in our chairs.

More discussion ensued on the way out about a certain special guest possibly joining us next time - They yelled with excitement!!!!  We also discussed the literary blog I’m working on for them to discuss and share ideas with other book clubs.  They even asked about getting a t-shirt order SOON.  What a great time.  I’m so looking forward to hearing their comments at our next meeting, and I’m praying they will love this classic as much as I do. 

Until then………This Book-Lovin Babe is off to read.  See ya!!!!!