Lucky 13!

As someone who loves theatre, I direct the high school musical. This year we will present Les Miserables in November.

Greetings, readers!  If you’re interested in middle level education and reading, you’re in the right place!  This year marks my lucky 13th year at my school; however, this will be my 15th year of teaching 7th grade language arts.  Seventh graders can be a challenge, but they’re my favorite age group due to their great sense of humor and willingness to try.  My students will tell you that I’m dramatic, sometimes funny, and always ready to challenge my students to be their best and find their voice.  I’ve found through time that often times 7th graders are nervous to share their thoughts and opinions.  So often their voices are small and quiet, but my greatest hope is that they will find their voice and be confident in their developing opinions.

In my life outside of school (yes, I do leave the school), I enjoy directing the high school musical, performing on stage, and being with my family.  I have two young sons who keep me on my toes, and I am married to my best friend, Ryan, whom I met through theatre.  I also enjoy reading young adult literature, especially novels about dystopian societies.  My favorite novel of all time is Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.

Ultimately, I hope this blog is a way for you, my students, to see me as a writer and reader, and that you will grow to see yourselves as readers and writers, too!

It’s going to be a great LUCKY 13th year!

Let’s get creative–welcoming in the 2016-17 school year!

Welcome  back students and families!  It’s hard to believe that we’re already in week two of classes!  I’m Mrs. Koharchik, and this is my 14th year of teaching middle school!  Every year I set a theme for myself, and this year the theme is “be creative!”  I’m a creator at heart.  I love theatre, singing, performing, cooking, and bringing new ideas to life, and I hope you, my new students, feel the same.  When I’m not thinking up crazy ideas for my classroom, I love to cook for my family and have dance parties with my toddlers in our living room.  Before having my two little boys, I did a great deal of performing around Indianapolis as a leading actress in musicals.  I also direct the Zionsville High School musical in the fall, and this year we are producing, Oklahoma!  I can’t help it; I’m a drama queen!

full cast

Last year’s high school show, Pippin!

I also love reading, but these days I don’t get to read as much as I did before having kids.  These days we read a lot of DinoTrux, Clifford the Big Red Dog, and Curious George.  When I do get a chance to choose my own books, I love to read science fiction or dystopian novels.  My recent favorites are Maze Runner, Hunger Games, and Divergent series.

I’m looking forward to a wonderful year filled with you, my brilliant students, leading the way.  Your creativity, your passions, and your talents drive where this class will go, and I am looking forward to that adventure!

 

Blogging (aka WRITING) for the “Real World”

On Monday I asked my students in 2nd period, “What do you think about blogging?”  Now, the beautiful attribute of 12 and 13 year-olds is that they don’t hold back.  Subtlety is not their forte!

“It’s easier than other stuff!”

“It takes the place of work that could be harder!”

REALLY!?!  Is this really what middle school students think of my blogging assignments?

Now maybe I’m crazy (okay, I am) and perhaps I’m disillusioned (potentially), but the writing my students are doing isn’t “easy.”  They’re writing as they’ve always written for me.  Best writing practices are still used.  Graphic organizers. Editing checklists. Peer revision.  If anything, it’s harder now.  I require relevant pictures.  I scaffold and require more text documentation.  I engage students in conversations about being a responsible digital citizen, too!  It’s all there; the only difference is the publication method.  Or, if I truly reflect, the difference is–kids are actually publishing!

When I started teaching many moons ago, I created this fantastic graphic organizer about the writing process.  Publication–I would tout–is the final step.  In all honesty, though, my students weren’t publishing–they were “turning in.”

During our free-write session in the next period, I drafted the first part of this blog post (because teachers should model for students that we, too, write).  I asked again, “What do you think of your blogs?”  But this time, I kept questioning. “Is it easier?” “What’s really different?”  And this is what one scholar shared:

“It changes the audience.  Instead of appealing to the teacher; you’re appealing to your blog readers.”

From the mouths of babes.

writing process

 

Maybe, if we give our students a real audience, maybe they will become invested.  Maybe they will care instead of checking off our homework as a task on their to do lists.  Maybe…just may

be… they will become writers!

**Addendum**

My other favorite kid quote of the day:

“It’s kinda cool because it’s out in the real world.”

Yeah.  That IS “kinda” cool!

Blogging in the classroom (PowerPoint for 9/15 E-day Presentation)

 

Lucky Year 13!

Hello, students!  Here we are starting another year, and I am still a bit taken aback by the fact that this will be my 13th year of teaching!

Besides being a teacher and a lover of reading, I am a mom, wife, sister, daughter, director, singer, actress, and lover of reality T.V. (please don’t judge).  Prior to starting my family, I was very active in the community theatre scene in town.  I’ve played roles such as the Narrator in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Evita, and Audrey in Little Shop of Horrors.  I love to perform, and I’m sure that’s no surprise to my students.  I also love to cook for and with my family.  I consider myself a real-foodie, meaning I try to avoid processed foods and be healthy.  At my house we often make our own ice cream, though I must admit that Ben & Jerry’s Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Dough is a personal favorite!

I was an English Literature major in college, and after graduation, I moved to New York City to teach 7th and 8th grade in the South Bronx.  While living in New York, I received my masters degree in teaching.  I soon returned home, though, to teach in my hometown.

I’m looking forward to a wonderful and exciting year with my new students.  I hope that all of us, me included, can be brave learners! drama

 

A-“Mazed” by The Maze Runner

I am reading the adventure and futuristic book, The Maze Runner, by James Dashner.  This thrilling book is full of mystery.  When the reader meets Thomas in the beginning, you, as a reader, are riddled with questions.  Who is this boy?  Why is his memory wiped?  Where is he? Why won’t anyone answer his questions?  Thomas arrives in The Glade, a strange place with more questions and answers.  His memory has been wiped, but he feels some connection to this strange place despite not knowing any of the other boys.  The reader soon finds out that Thomas is in a world that is surrounded by an ever-changing maze.  One day, though, a strange girl arrives in “the box,” and everything starts to change for the boys in the Glade.  So far, I really enjoy this book.  If you like mystery, adventure, and a futuristic society, you will really enjoy this novel.

Since I am still reading the book, I predict that this girl is going to bring answers to the boys in the Glade.  I think she will help them figure out who they are because when she arrives she holds a note in her hand that carries a message about change.  For some reason I think she is sent to help the boys out.  Also, I predict that Thomas knows more than he thinks.  He keeps recognizing people and the girl, and strangely, one of the other boys, Gally, recognizes him, too.  Part of me wonders if he was actually sent to the Glade to save the boys, but he has forgotten everything since he was transported there.

UPDATE 9/9/14

maze runner

The Maze Runner by James Dashner

I finally finished The Maze Runner and for the most part my predictions were right!  The girl and Thomas do know each other, and they do have the purpose of helping out the boys.

When I was reading the story, I found myself really enjoying the character of Chuck.  Chuck is a minor character, and he doesn’t get involved in much of the action.  He’s a young boy who is slower and talks too much.  He so badly wants to be friends with the other boys, but he has trouble connecting.  Thomas, even though he quickly moves up in the Glade society, takes Chuck under his wing and includes him.  Thomas even admits that he is sometimes annoyed by Chuck’s antics, but he remains true to him because he sees what a kind and loyal friend Chuck is.  I think I am so drawn to Chuck because we all have people in our life that test our patience, but despite their faults, they are wonderful people who always do their best.  In my mind, those are some of the best people to know.  Chuck seems like a nobody throughout the book, but in the final moments he becomes incredibly important.  (Don’t worry!  I won’t spoil it for you!)  He may seem minor, but really Chuck has a major influence on Thomas, the boys, and me–the reader!

Like a Runaway Balloon

I recently read the short story, “Eleven,” by Sandra Cisneros.  This realistic fiction short story is about a young girl named Rachel who just turned eleven.  It is her birthday, and though she expects to have a great day, her day turns out miserable due to a strict and uncompassionate teacher.  Her teacher, Mrs. Price, accuses Rachel of owning an ugly, smelly, and disgusting sweater.  Rachel is incredibly embarrassed, and as a result, her birthday is ruined.  I really enjoyed this story because I love the description that Cisneros uses in her writing.  I can picture everything that happens in the classroom, and I really feel like I understand Rachel.

 

When I read this story, I realized I have felt just like Rachel.  Once, in 2nd grade, I went down the curly slide on a rainy day.  When I came back inside for art class, the teacher asked me if I had peed pants in front of the entire class.  I was mortified!  Though I told her “no,” she didn’t believe me, and she made me sit on the heater facing the entire class so that my pants would dry.  Like Rachel, I wanted to be invisible like a runaway balloon. I wanted to feel like a tiny “o” in the sky.  So tiny, tiny you have to close your eyes to see it.

balloon

Divergent – 487

I just finished Divergent by Veronica Roth.  This science fiction novel about a dystopian society reminds me of The Hunger Games and Matched.  In this futuristic society, 16-year-olds must choose which faction, or part of society, that they would like to join.  Basically kids can choose to stay with their families or leave them for another faction.  Beatrice, the main character, has an incredibly tough choice to make because she is quite different from everyone else.  Her journey is full of adventure, danger, and tough choices.  All of the excitement in this book made it so I couldn’t put the book down!  I read it in less than a week!

One reason I love this book is because I can relate to the main character, Tris.  She has to face a difficult decision regarding staying with her family.  This reminds me of when I went to New York after college.  I had the opportunity to teach in New York City, and though I really wanted to do, my parents were not excited about me leaving town.  I really didn’t know what to do which is just how Tris felt.  Tris didn’t make her decision until the last second.  I did the same thing.  I was at my graduation party and someone asked me if I was going to go.  I suddenly blurted out, “Yes!”  I hadn’t even told my parents the decision yet.  Like Tris’ parents, my parents were surprised and unhappy.  Yet, I wouldn’t be where I am today if I had not followed my heart.  The same thing goes for Tris.  She followed her heart and because of it, she is going to make a difference in her society.

These Are a Few of My Favorite Reads!

 

(Some of) My favorite young adult books:
The Hunger Games Series
The Mysterious Benedict Society Series
Percy Jackson Series
The Lost Hero Series
Out of My Mind
Artemis Fowl Series
Inkspell
Chasing Orion
Gathering Blue (a sequel to The Giver)
Harry Potter Series
-The Wednesday Wars (Very funny!  About a boy who does not like his English teacher! HA!)
The House on Mango Street
A Wind in the Door (Madeline L’Engle books)
Mockingbird
 
Check out these websites for other suggestions:

I can’t find a good book…RIIIIIIIIIIIIIGHT!

I just found this blogger who reads young adult books.  She has a great list of suggested books, so if you find yourself saying, “I can’t find any good books,” check out her site! 

http://challengingthebookworm.wordpress.com/

Also, Zionsville West Middle School has its own well-followed blogger.  Laura is a 6th grader at Z-West, and she has an amazing blog about all of the books she reads.  Her blog is a great example to all of us!

http://lauramitolife.blogspot.com/

Anything But Typical – 659 Pages

Anything But Typical, by Nora Raleigh, was a fantastic, insightful book that gave me a window into the mind of a person with autism.  This book is about Jason, a 12 year-old boy with autism.  He is incredibly intelligent, and he is an amazing writer.  However, Jason’s verbal communication is extremely limited, and he tends to act out impulsively when he is upset.  I was fascinated with the way he perceives the world around him, and this book has given me some great insight into my students.  It allowed me to understand individuals on the autism spectrum in a new way, and ultimately I think it will make me a better teacher and friend.

In this novel, the character who changed the most over time was Jason’s mother.  She is struggling with understanding her son, and she is heart broken that her child is unable to communicate with her in a way that she understands.  She wants Jason to verbalize his love for her and share his feelings with her, but that is not how his brain is wired.  As the novel progresses Jason’s mother learns that just because Jason doesn’t share his feelings in a “typical” way, Jason still loves her.  She learns to accept Jason for who he is.  By the end of the novel she embraces who Jason is and comes to realize his is not typical…he is exceptional.

If you liked Out of My Mind, I think you’ll really enjoy this novel!  It comes highly recommended!