Global Read Aloud
This week I kicked off our classroom participation in the Global Read Aloud. I chose the book Fish by L.S. Matthews for my middle school classes. I am so happy to finally be doing some literature-based activities. Our focus up to this point has been strictly informational text.
We’ve been reading and writing a lot about refugees in the first few weeks of school, so my students have a pretty solid background on refugee camps and current refugee situations.
The GRA is designed to connect classrooms around the world. While we haven’t made any contacts with other classrooms yet, I created a Twitter account so we could participate in some of the “slow chats”. However, our school doesn’t allow students to access Twitter, so I am going to need to come up with some creative ways for us to use Twitter as a class.
My 8th graders are already asking if they can tweet questions and comments. I quickly made this simple exit ticket where students can record their thoughts each day and submit them to me for review before I tweet them. I know there are several versions of Twitter Exit Tickets on Pinterest and TPT, but I figured something simple was fine.
Click here for a free PDF of my Twitter Exit Ticket
Literary Element Graphic Organizers – Simplified
Speaking of simple, I decided to revamp some of my graphic organizers and teaching tools. Considering I have some of the same students for a few years in a row, I needed some variety.
I will admit, I used to spend a lot of time making graphic organizers and making them “pretty” and “perfect.”
I realized recently, simple works too. I spend far too much time worrying about the alignment and formatting of my handouts.
It’s time to simplify my life and my classroom a bit and put the creativity into my students’ hands.
As we started our novel, I had students glue each of the organizers below into their reading journals. They glue one on the left hand side and skip the right hand side, because that is where they create their own rendition.
This past week, I gave them three separate pages to glue in. We will be adding to each of them as we work our way through the exposition of the novel.
Clicker here to download the free PDF of my POV, Plot Diagram and Conflict Graphic Organizers
I’ll be sure to share some student samples in the next post. If these aren’t quite what you are looking for, try my Easy Access page with an entire bank of free graphic organizers and teaching tools.
**If you are reading Fish now too, leave a comment! Maybe our classes can meet up online and talk about the book!
Week 6/Midterm Week was a long one!
Chilly fall weather abruptly arrived, and I’ve also been sick, but it was another week where it felt like things just came together.
Two big ideas this week:
As we continued to read informational text to prepare for our novel, I taught some summarizing skills.
My learning target and goal:
- I know that by annotating the text and asking questions, I will understand the text on a deeper level.
- I can write a one paragraph objective summary using my annotations and a graphic organizer.
We still have a lot of work to do, but with sites like Newsela, it will be a skill we can work on often with current, relevant articles.
I’ve been using leveled articles related to refugee situations in Syria and Sudan to build background knowledge for Fish by L.S. Mathews. This is the graphic organizer I created for my 7th and 8th graders. After they answer each
Here is the PDF to download: Summary Graphic Organizer
Four different days this week we started class with a writing prompt. I searched Google for some images that would work with my class. I lead the students through brainstorming activities for each of the prompts with the following learning targets and goals in mind:
- I know that following the writing process can lead to quality writing.
- I can use my brainstorming to write a complete paragraph with grade-appropriate vocabulary and language.
- On Day 1, students had to create a web or list.
- On Day 2, they completed a graphic organizer that resembled a comic strip. They had a choice to write or draw the events.
- On Day 3, we had a discussion about Author’s Purpose and they listed the 5 purposes in their journal.
- On Day 4, we made a T-chart for cause and effect.
My goal is to get them in the habit of doing a pre-writing or brainstorming activity every time they write. I see too many disorganized, off-topic responses. I also tried to use a variety of activities to meet the needs of all types of learners. Eventually they will get to choose their own strategy.
I created a rubric/checklist for grading their Writing Notebooks. I am trying to use this sheet for documentation as well. Every student received a copy and they had some time to self-evaluate before turning everything in.
Click the links below to access PDF files:
I’ll be excited to share in the coming weeks because we are participating in the Global Read Aloud!! I’m hoping for some great collaboration with other schools. Have a great week!
To go along with my Prezi, I decided to create mini-lessons for the five text structures.
The plan was to spend one day on each, using the Prezi as an intro, taking notes in the Text Structure Flip Book I created, and then doing corresponding activities.
The activities took me a little longer than five days but ended up making a great unit.
I used many of the graphic organizers from a PDF I found online (Comprehension and Text Structure Graphic Organizers)
I also used many of the nonfiction reading selections from www.readworks.org.
Here are some highlights from each mini-lesson.
Students used a graphic organizer that really helped them think spatially as they described our classroom. I gave students the option of describing their bedroom if they wanted to.
Compare and Contrast
For this lesson students rotated in groups to three different stations. Each station had a nonfiction selection from ReadWorks.org. I picked a variety of Lexiles and highlighted some text features like footnotes, headings, bold words, and captions.
At each station they had to record three details showing similarities and differences.
I used the questions that come with the selections the following day as a review of test taking strategies on the SMART Board.
Cause and Effect
I used the cards and activity that begins on page 29. I cut the cards and students picked one from the bag. They then wrote their “cause” statement on their paper. I played some music and students walked around until the music stopped. They plopped down and wrote one “effect” on the paper. We repeated this process about 5 or 6 times and each time the students had to read all of the effects listed and come up with something different. I loved the creativity of some of their responses and they loved walking around and writing on their classmates papers.
Sequence or Process Writing
For sequence writing, I used three nonfiction selections spread out over a few days. We completed these individually just like we would the OAA – I read the directions and questions, they read the selection, and I repeated the directions (per their IEP accommodations). This provided some practice and forced them to pay attention to detail and read headings.
- The Scientific Method 600L
- Scientific method questions
- Colorful Crayons 630
- Crayons questions
- Magellan Was First 790
- Magellan questions
Problem and Solution
I turned this mini-lesson into a speaking/listening/social skills lesson where students had to rotate with small groups to 6 different “problems.” For each problem they had to come up with a good solution and they had to use a signal word from the list on the Prezi in their response. After reading some of their solutions, I realized we needed to work on some of our social skills so I will be coming back to this activity later this week.
The final activity was a matching activity and part of the PDF file.
Wow! That is a lot of information. I hope I provided enough information to show the variety of the lessons. The last thing I wanted to do was bore them with a bunch of worksheets but with the OAA coming up tomorrow I wanted to be sure to cover a lot.
And on THAT note….I should probably wrap this up and relax a little before the fun starts tomorrow! If you happen to be in Ohio, or are taking any sort of achievement tests this week….Good luck! It’s all downhill from here!
Awhile back I posted a list of instructional strategies I found online. This lesson-planning menu covers many different types of activities, assessments, and projects.
I decided I was going to keep this list in my lesson planning binder and research one every week and try to incorporate it in my class.
The first one on the list is the Affinity Diagram.
A quick search for a definition gives me this: “…a business tool used to organize ideas and data. It is one of the Seven Management and Planning Tools…” (wikipedia.org)
I looked at a few websites and quickly decided how to incorporate this into my lessons. I have posted pictures below with an explanation of how each affinity diagram came to be. I tweaked the process each time and each time, the students surprised me (and themselves) with their understanding.
Preparation is simple. You need post-it notes, butcher paper, and a Sharpie.
- Students were rotating through stations one day. One of these stations required students to look at a pile of nonfiction books on the topic of pirates (which we had been reading about).
- They were asked to write two new facts down – one per post-it note. They put these post-its on the butcher paper.
- The next day, as we visited the library, students were invited to go to the paper and move the post-its around on the paper into some sort of grouping. Those were the only directions I gave them.
- Day 3 – We gathered around our large round table and discussed the groupings and students decided on keywords for the headings.
- Students received three post-it notes and were asked to write down three things they wanted for Christmas.
- We gathered around the large round table and shared our wish lists, placing each item on the green butcher paper.
- We then categorized the items into groups which they chose: Electronics, Clothing, Video Games, Shoes, Sporting Goods, Music, and “Girl Stuff.”
- They were able to take it a step further and divided those categories into smaller groups yet, as you can see in the photograph.
- Students received 2-3 post-it notes at random. I had already written the words – which included a variety of holiday/winter related words.
- They shared their post-its and categorized them as a class. (Lots of shouting out and over-riding ideas….I had to put a stop to that.)
- I chose the words myself for a few reasons: variety, spelling, and time.
- After we completed the diagram, students made suggestions for additional words to add to each category.
- Again, I passed out post-it notes with what they determined to be “Snacks (Junk Food)”.
- As you can see our discussion and our categorizing went much further this time. They wanted to get very technical, breaking down the items as far as they could. I didn’t shoot down any suggestions unless they were blatantly wrong (ex. Milk Duds are not fruit-flavored.)
- Students supplied some additional ideas for each category as well.
The students were really into this activity and it was often hard to contain an excited student with a great idea, as I mentioned above. As I hung the 4th chart on the bulletin board, one student noted how detailed they were this time. “Wow! We keep getting better and better!”
I can see this activity being used in many ways with an endless list of topics. I think it demonstrates a student’s ability to understand a topic and make connections.
Other ways I may try to use affinity diagrams:
- Exit tickets – “What did you learn?”
- Pre-reading – “What do you know about…..?”
- Group discussion and Debate – Groups of students would have the same lists and would have to categorize and then defend their reasons.
How would you use an affinity diagram in your classroom?
Share your ideas with the comment link at the top of this post.
Definitely not my favorite thing to teach, but a requirement of the Common Core. It is very challenging for me because I have to find informational text in a lower Lexile range (400-600) when my students should be reading at almost double that.
Here are a few things I made to go with the next chunk of non-fiction reading we are going to be doing in my Resource Room.
Each week my Resource Room students have to complete a reading passage and comprehension questions at their specific ability level. This ranges anywhere from Beginning-Low to Intermediate-High. I like to use stories from ReadTheory.
Students are expected to complete these one page readings independently. The last few times we did this activity, I made them circle the text that supported their answer. This forced them to go back, locate the “evidence” and confirm their answer. I’m happy, and not suprised, to say their scores have drastically improved since I starting enforcing this rule.
To get the most out of this leveled reading I created an additional activity which students have been completing in groups. On the first page, students have to identify:
On the second page I decided to throw in some grammar/language and vocabulary. Note the small boxes in the right hand corner of each. This is where I can modify the assignment for each student. I put a number in each box to tell them how many nouns, verbs, and adjectives they need to find. I do the same for the vocabulary words.
This activity takes them quite awhile and is very challenging for this group of students. I direct them to their journal notes or the Part of Speech bulletin board to figure out what they are looking for. It takes about 20-25 minutes for most groups to complete it. This provides me with some time to circulate and talk to all the students and note what they are having trouble with. It also gives me time to point out things like capitalization of names and cities.
The way I designed this, it can work with any short story. If you think of any ways to improve or to add additional skills let me know.
- Summarizing Short Stories: Story Elements and Conflict (allaccesspassblog.wordpress.com)
You may or may not have noticed I created a page called “Easy Access.” I decided to put all of my graphic organizers and handouts in one place, organized by subject/topic.
I will be updating it regularly, as I post new handouts and notes.
As always, please feel free to use these and let me know how they are working (or not working) for you.