Making the Classroom Theirs

Spring is in the air, but we are counting down the days until state testing.  Kind of sounds like an oxymoron, right?  To keep these 6th graders from mobbing me and starting a protest, I have decided to make the classroom theirs. The question is, how do I do this and still …

  • make class meaningfuldownload
  • prepare them for the ‘TEST’
  • keep it engaging

I’ll tell you right now, the answer to those questions is not easy.  Thankfully, during my tutoring session and a conversation with a colleague, came a brilliant idea.

To help my students organize their strategies we use PQRST.

P = preview the text

Q = read through the questions

R = read the text

S = summarize the text

T = take the test

All year, I have been preparing them to use strategies for each section of this organization pattern.  They know what strategies to use for what and they have preferences for each section and each genre.  They are truly rock stars and this keeps the class motivated and engaged- If you would like to know what I use to help them, check out some of my previous posts on Close Reading.

Engagement?  I am using the novels Freak the Mighty, Maniac Magee, and Holes to keep them engaged. If these books won’t do it, I am not sure what will.  By giving the class to the students, I have added the engagement piece that …

  • creates learning advocates
  • independence
  • higher-level thinkers
  • motivation
  • buy-in

Meaningful?  I used an ABC Brainstorm.  I filled my white board with the ABC’s and I asked them. ‘ What kind of questions could I ask, or will the state ask, about this type of genre?”  Hands went up.  As they told me, I wrote. This was a great opportunity for them to review their objectives and for me to see what they knew.

ABC Brainstorm

These objectives then became strips of paper.  For my on level group, I wrote the questions out and not just the objective down.


Engagement? = working with their partner to come up with a question difficult enough to stump the class

Meaningful? = connected to objectives and state test

Prepare them for the ‘TEST’? = they are writing their own state test and review for the novel chapters (Win- Win!!)

The results and student feedback speak for themselves!

I am excited they liked it because I am bringing in a poem to connect to our novels.

We WILL be brainstorming and writing review questions next week for our poem!






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