My New Second Grade Class

July 10, 2007 at 8:04 pm | Posted in education, second grade, Special Education | Leave a comment

Real briefly:

I have two students who read 5 words a minute.

I have two students who read 10-15 words a minute.

I have four students who read 20-30 words a minute.

And the other 9 are evenly spread out, reading 30-90 words a minute, which is really nice!

They should be reading about 55 words per minute.

About half my students are English Language Learners.  I have only one African-American girl in my class.  She worries me because, from observation these last three days, she looks a little withdrawn and separated from the other students.  She’s also reading at about 10 words a minute.  I know her family and had two of her relatives in my classroom, they were all very low academically and had lots of family and neighborhood issues.  I will be paying particular attention to her and help her integrate into the classroom community.

The two students reading at 5 words per minute are both African American boys, sadly.  One student has a great, positive, hard-working attitude and is already finding successes in the classroom.  His mother contacted me on the very first day and we started working together to help him become a success.  We both agreed that he needs the Student Success Team and probably testing for Special Education.

The other boy is having a great deal of trouble adjusting the classroom rules and routines.  I spoke with his first grade teacher and his behavior last year was consistently disruptive.  His first grade teacher is a National Board Certified teacher with an excellent reputation at our school, so I’m pretty certain she did everything she could to help him learn.  However, I already see some anger management issues with him.  I also know his family, again, another family of low academic students and some pretty angry, beligerent parents.  I called his mother twice, made an appointment for a parent conference today, which she missed.  Didn’t surprise me, but it does mean that he’s likely not getting the support he needs at home.  I will be referring him to the Student Success Team as well, but I want to sit down with his first grade teacher first to gather evidence.

My highest academic student is another African American boy, just in case people are starting to make assumptions!  His mother also contacted me and we’re excited to be working with each other.  I’m already wondering if he’s gifted.  He comes out with the most brilliant observation!

I have only five other girls in my class, all English Language Learners and Spanish speakers.  So far, I have one girl who loves to touch her friends (cultural), one girl who’s consistently late and already absent one day (oh boy), and all lovely, sweet, hard-working girls.

I have one absent-minded artist, barely interested in academic but wakes up and focuses intently one the visual arts.  I will be making use of his talent throughout the year!

I have an itty, bitty little accident prone genius.  He acts, and feels, like a kindergartener, but he writes, reads, and comprehends like a third grader.  He’s also smashed his knees and had his right eye poked in the three short days I’ve known him.

I have one student, J____, who is such a joy, but really, really wants my attention all the time.  Is this a second grade thing?

I have a line leader who is always too busy to find his way to the front of the line.  Quite funny because then he goes, “Oops!” and runs to the front of the line.

I’ll be observing the kids more to learn more about their interests and quirks.  So far, a very different class from my last third grade class.

Updated Reading and Writing Homework for Second Grade

July 8, 2007 at 9:54 am | Posted in free resources, homework, reading, second grade, thinking maps, writing | Leave a comment

I updated my reading and writing homework, which uses a flow map, for second grade.  This is a tentative change for me.  I will observe how my students handle this homework before making more changes.  For now, the changes include some sentence starters to help the students write about their reading.

Please visit my for the pdf file.

Fun Publishing Idea

July 7, 2007 at 7:03 pm | Posted in publishing, second grade, writing | 1 Comment

peoplefigureHere’s a fun publishing idea that I got from another second grade teacher. Have students make a large figure with the body as a space to clip on students’ final drafts. This works very well as a way to publish personal narratives. You can also have students create specific characters to publish anything of course. The photo below has two almost finished figures from my new second grade students. We’re missing hair and the final drafts.

Final Application

Career change to inner city teaching – A to Z Teacher Stuff Forums

July 7, 2007 at 10:52 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment


Career change to inner city teaching – A to Z Teacher Stuff Forums

Visit this thread for a terrific discussion on teaching in the inner city.  As I read many of the posts, my head kept bobbing up and down.  Yes!  Yes!  Yes!  So true!

The final consensus for me and for others is, teaching in the inner city is worth it if you can put up with the crap from the administration.  For me, it’s not the kids, it’s not the parents, it’s not the neighborhoods, it’s the lazy, inefficient, corrupt administration that gives our schools a bad reputation and prevents us from truly educating our students.  I have specific details, but can’t write about it.

I will have to zip up now or get fired.

The Debate: Have Students Copy a Behavior Letter to Parents or Send Generic One Home?

July 7, 2007 at 10:38 am | Posted in behavior, best practices, second grade, teachers | 4 Comments

The Situation

Every conscientious teacher should notify parents about the behavior expectations in the classroom.  I am planning my letter right now.

The Debate

Should I have my second grade students copy a letter to their parents or should I just send home a typewritten letter?

If the Students Copy

If the students copy the letter, it’s in their own handwriting.  They take more ownership of the behavior expectations.  The parents will feel thrilled at reading a letter from their child, even it it’s merely a copy, thus I’m building a sense of connection to the classroom for the parents.  However, some students won’t be able to copy this letter (I have two in particular I’ll post about later).  It will take time and I’m learning that second graders have VERY short attention span.  It will have to be a two session project or a very short letter, which is fine.

If the Teacher Sends a Copy

If I send a copy, then the students don’t take ownership, the parents may or may not read the letter, and while there is a home to school connection, it isn’t nearly as strong (I feel).  It’s quicker and easier though.

The Decision

I will have the students copy the letter, just because the benefits outweigh the hassle to my mind.  I will however have two typewritten copy prepared for my two students who won’t be able to copy.

Why did I bother to blog about this?  It helps me work through my tangled thoughts in my mind 🙂  I also like to blather.

Trying Out "Windows Live Writer"

July 7, 2007 at 9:38 am | Posted in software | Leave a comment

You know how you must have the latest technology or software?  You don’t?  Every once in a while, I get that urge.

Just discovered “Windows Live Writer“, which allows me to write my blogs in a Microsoft Office type environment.  Looks fun so far!

WordPress actually has a pretty decent layout, but I just have to try something new, you know?  Call it a hobby.


Blog at
Entries and comments feeds.