To start off today's lesson, my class takes a trip to our school library. I love our school librarian so much; she is such a fabulous resource for students and for myself. The library itself has such a great selection of titles, and our school librarian is exceptional at getting to know students and recommending texts. I want students to feel as though our school library is an extension of our classroom library. They should feel comfortable and willing to explore.
Our librarian gives the students a tour and explains the procedures of the library. She also speaks about our online research databases. She goes through the different sections and models searching for books. As the year progresses, students beg to go to the library for check-out. At my school, I usually send them three at a time on Mondays and Fridays. It works out nicely with my "extended wide reading time" on those days. Depending on time limits, if a student finishes a book in the middle of the week, they may be able to check the LMC for a title. Although usually, I ask them to look around for a new book in my classroom library to save time.
I model how to find and use my classroom website. I make sure everyone knows how to access the site by modeling it first, step by step. I start at my school's website and show how to find my site from the links posted.
Then, I have the kids take me back there, step by step. I bring one kid up at a time to show me each step in clicking to my site. Students need to learn how to use the website because I post homework and other important class resources.
This is a short video about how to use a wiki page: Using the Wiki.
At the start of the year, especially, I make sure to remind all students to write down their homework when the period begins. It is their first direction when they walk in the room. Today, on the board, it says to make sure to complete the letter to yourself, as well as have a book to read in class with them on the following Tuesday (after a long weekend). I give the kids plenty of time to get this first assignment done, as well as bring a book.
I display the Letter to Yourself Guidelines under the document camera. I explain this is really the first graded assignment, and I'm looking to learn a little bit more about their writing style and voice. I explain that even though there are four boxes on the outline, which typically would represent four separate paragraphs, they are only expected to write three paragraphs. I usually recommend combining the first two boxes.
Here are the four major sections of the letter:
The students begin the outline in class. I explain that the actual letter is to be completed at home.
I highlight the most important part of the letter as a goal setting exercise. I want the sixth graders to set three goals for themselves. Two can be personal, but one should be academic.
I also explain that the letters will be returned to the students at the end of the year, which is always really fun to hear the kids shriek and scream about how ridiculous and worried they all sounded.