Category Archives: Life as an Intervention Specialist

Generating Gerunds with Viral Videos

My 8th grade inclusion students recently started learning about verbals.  As if participles weren’t fun enough, we had to add gerunds to the mix.

Last week, one of my quietest students came to me and asked, “Can we please practice gerunds in study hall? I don’t understand them at all!”

My first instinct was to pull up a practice worksheet on the Smartboard and use those sentences to teach them the difference between a gerund functioning as a subject, a direct object, and a predicate nominative. (At this point we haven’t discussed object of the preposition.)

Other than easily identifying a word that ends in “-ing,” my students felt helpless.

Sometimes I get these crazy ideas for teaching a concept; they just pop in my head.

Take this video, for example. I have no idea what made me think of a video with a tiny Yorkie puppy doing lots of amazing tricks. My dad had sent this video to me long ago, impressed with the dog’s talents. My Yorkie, Blue, is nowhere near as talented.

I told my class to watch closely and remember as many tricks as possible.

After we watched the video, my students were able to write all kinds of sentences using gerunds as the subject and as a predicate nominative.

  • Pushing a shopping cart is the dog’s best trick.
  • Weaving in and out of cups would be hard to teach.
  • The puppy’s cutest trick is skateboarding.
  • Wrapping herself up in a blanket was the cutest trick.
  • Painting is a trick I would never expect a dog to do.
  • Pushing the car with her nose was a cute trick.
  • Putting away the laundry is a trick I should teach my dog!
  • The first trick I would teach my dog is doing my homework!

Of course, you know me, I’ve been trying to think of other ways to incorporate viral videos into my practice activities in Tornado Time.

There are a couple of routes I could go.  I could always go with an old classic like this:

Or I could find a series of viral videos like this one:

Knowing your students best, you probably already know what kind of videos you’d want to use.  Think of how you could get your students writing with particular parts of speech or sentence structures by giving them a visual prompt like this.

What viral video clips do you love?

What great ideas just popped into your head?

I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments!

 

 

 

Rain, Rain Go Away….or the Queen Will Come Out to Play

So, I’ve been sick, and my students have been sick. It was also raining this morning, and it was time to start prepositional phrases.
They were not very impressed, nor were they motivated by my “Interactive Grammar Notes” from the textbook to introduce this concept.

So today, the Queen of English made her first public appearance. Dressed in her finest, she became the subject of all of our sentences and she was a wonderful model of the correct use of prepositional phrases. 

Isn’t she lovely?


She was inside a binder. She was sitting on a student’s head. She was hiding under the table. She was looking out the window. I even stuck her outside the window. 
Desperate times call for desperate measures. The Queen of English is silly and juvenile, but it works with 7th grade, especially when I fall into the role of Queen. Then they really love making her do silly things!

They had the Queen doing all kinds of things in their sentences. She even met some of the characters in our novel and went into the cave with Tiger.   

Silliness like this opens up lots of room for creativity and gave the students a chance to explore prepositional phrases, which was a totally new concept, without feeling threatened. I mean, who’s afraid of a plush puppet?

Today was kind of an exploration day to kick-0ff prepositional phrases. However, I’m sure we haven’t seen the last of the Queen….

The Outsiders Epilogue

Last year we attempted to have out 7th graders write an epilogue about a chosen character from the novel. 

The results were far from stellar.  We did not realize the difficulty of this task for students who struggled with creativity, making inferences, and writing in general. 

This year we approached it from a different angle, assigning each student one character and then giving them three choices for their epilogue.  

These activities ranged from letters to diary entries to speeches to conversations between old friends and new family members. 

Below is a screen shot of what they received today. 

  As my co-teacher and I walked around the room, kids were holding their heads and looking genuinely perplexed and confused. I said to one boy, “What’s wrong?”

“I don’t know which one to pick…they are all so good!!”

:::::::teacher love and heart swell:::::

I’m looking forward to the next step which their language arts teacher has laid out a nice plan for with very specific tasks and skills. It includes checkpoints along the way to ensure success. 

I’ll share the PDF of the choices I created. It’s very much like a RAFT writing assignment. 

Hopefully this year’s epilogues are better than last year’s!

Week 8-10: A Blur

Week 8 and 9…and 10  were a total blur.  These weeks consisted of sports, my first IEPs of the year, PT conferences, our spirit week, a huge presentation at work, and very little sleep.

So now I’m moving into Week 11 which is the first week of the 2nd nine weeks.

We have been continuing with Fish and working a lot with the vocabulary, as well as an annotation strategy that the kids really enjoyed.

Throughout the chapter, as we read aloud, I would say STOP and they would have to write a question in the margin of the book.   We then shared them, many of which were very good questions. A few of my kids even think the Guide could be a bad guy leading the family into a trap. I heard some pretty insightful questions too. One of my favorites because it had the vocabulary words “reluctant” in it:

If the wolf mistook Tiger for her cub, why was she reluctant to approach Tiger?

We continued to work on vocabulary as well.  One Friday we did two stations with our vocabulary. The first was a matrix where students had to choose combinations of words and write sentences using both words. I loved overhearing their conversation during this activity.  Fish Vocabulary Matrix

The second was a Tic-Tac-Toe board where they had to choose a set of three prompts to answer by next Wednesday.  Each prompt required brainstorm, restatement of the question, and an answer.  Ideally, I planned on having them do all three in the one period, but realized it was far too much for them to do in the allotted time. So for three nights in a row they were assigned a “tic,” a “tac,” and a “toe.”  Fish Vocab Tic Tac Toe

I’ll leave you with the rubric/checklist my students used for self-evaluation of their Tic-Tac-Toe. Tic Tac Toe Writing Checklist Rubric  Students had to complete this checklist prior to turning in their writing notebooks. It definitely saved me some time on grading and their final products were better when they knew what I was looking for!!

Hope you had a good week or two…or three!

Happy November!!

Resources to download if you are reading Fish by L.S. Matthews

 

 

 

 

 

Week 7: Global Read Aloud #GRAFish and Literary Elements 2.0

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.

Twitter Exit Ticket

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.

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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!

 

 

Materials for Fish by L.S. Matthews

Fish by L.S. Matthews was my pick for the Global Read Aloud.  We are only a chapter and a half in, but so far, so good.

I’ve been making some vocabulary squares for my 7th and 8th graders and thought I would post them here in case anyone else could use them. Even if you aren’t reading Fish now as part of the GRA, maybe you will in the future.

At this time, I have three sets you can download.  I’ve also linked my Quizlets for each set.

Pre-Reading Fish Vocab Squares (PDF)
Quizlet – Fish (Pre-Reading Vocab)
Quizlet – Pre-Reading – Using Words in Context

Fish Vocab Squares Ch.1-2 (PDF)
Fish Vocab Squares Ch.3-4,  (PDF)
Quizlet – Fish Ch. 1 and 4 Vocab

Please leave a comment if you are doing the GRA! I would love to connect with others who are participating!

Week 6: A Summarizing Tool and Evaluating Writing Notebook Entries

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:

Summarizing

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

5W Summary screenshot

 

Here is the PDF to download: Summary Graphic Organizer

 

Writing Notebooks

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.

 

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  • 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:

Refugee Writing Prompts

Writing Notebook Rubric Checklist

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!

Week 5: Cutting Text Evidence and a Mentor Sentence Mash-Up

Cutting Text Evidence

This week I had my students literally extract their evidence out of their articles, by cutting and pasting sentences into a graphic organizer.

By physically cutting it and placing it in the appropriate box, I was hoping to show that citing text evidence requires you take words right from the text. 

We cut up three articles we had read over the past week or so; they all had a similar theme (overcoming hardships).   It was very easy for those who had annotated!!

image

Language and Author’s Purpose Mash-Up

In order to review and practice author’s purpose and introduce direct objects, I decided to make sentences for my 8th graders that not only had direct objects in them, but were able to be analyzed for author’s purpose. In the 7th grade, they worked on helping verbs and author’s purpose.

image

This young lady was ready to go with an assortment of markers and highlighters.

Students also had to create their own visual representation of Author’s Purpose in the journals next to a page of copied notes in Author’s purpose.

We talked about neatness, adding color, visuals, “smart spelling”, and  including the appropriate information (title, definitions, and examples).

The day they were due, they had to complete a self-evaluation of their work.

Imagine my face when a young man came up to me and said, “You are going to be disappointed in me. It was a crazy week. I didn’t have time.”

Here are a few of the better examples from this assignment:

It was a good week even though I was exhausted beyond belief.  It’s hard to believe we are at midterm already!

Week 4 Recap: Annotating, Subjects/Verbs, and I Wish My Teacher Knew….

So many great things are happening in my classroom, and I want to share them, but between golf and marching band, I can’t find the time.

I decided to try to highlight some things that happened in my room this week, and perhaps I will post a little recap each week. Never mind there is no Week 1, Week 2, or Week 3….. I’m officially starting with Week 4.

Annotating

We have been working hard on annotating the short informational texts we are reading in class. These text selections from Newsela and Readworks  are building background knowledge for the novel we will be reading in October, Fish by L.S. Matthews.

By the end of Week 4,  my 8th graders came up with the following for our WE KNOW bulletin board.

We Know Annotating

The premise behind this bulletin board is where I want to post some really big concepts that can be applied to all parts of school, and beyond. I let them decide on the wording because I wanted them to “own it.”  Students copied the final wording in an Annotating Foldable.

We’ve been practicing annotations using a set of  symbols and following these rules:

1. Don’t go highlighter crazy!

2. If you highlight,  you must write!

Here is a link for the quiz I made:  Annotation Quiz  (The story I used for annotating is from Readworks. I just wanted to provide my students with a large margin.)  Readworks: Famous African Americans Muhammad Ali: The Greatest

Subjects and Verbs

My 7th grade is working on identifying subjects and verbs, while 8th grade is finding subject, simple predicate and complete predicate.  I continue to use Mentor Sentences to teach these concepts. Again, I used the reading from readworks.org to make short simple sentences for the 7th grade.

Subject Verb Mentor Sentences example

 

I used sentences from an article we read on Newsela for the 8th graders.

 

Subject Predicate Mentor Sentences

 

Before I forget, did you know that Kahoot! now has “Public Kahoots.”  Maybe they always have, but I didn’t know it until this week when I was getting ready to make my own subject/verb Kahoot.  What a relief when I found something that worked perfectly!!  My students had a lot of fun reviewing for their quiz with this particular Subject & Predicate Kahoot someone else made!!

I Wish My Teacher Knew

Obviously, you can guess what I had my students do.  I asked every student to write me a 6-8 sentence paragraph in their Writing Notebooks using that prompt: “I wish my teacher knew….”   My heart melted and ached as I read some of their responses. I did not expect to get such honest responses, and I learned so much about my students.  I spent the next two evenings writing a half to full-page response back to each of them.  It was a simple activity I recommended to all of my teacher friends.

So there are the highlights of Week 4. If there is anything you are specifically wanting to know more about, leave me a note in the comments.  Hopefully I’ll be able to post again at the end of Week 5!

 

Mini Unit: Go, Fight, Win!

As the year begins, one of my co-workers has been assigned a “Plus” class, where she will provide reading instruction to a small group of students who will benefit from an additional period of language arts.

She came to ask me for some ideas, and together we figured out a good starting point.

I figured as we developed the lessons, I could share them here as Mini-Units.

The resource I gave her was from Achieve the Core. (Click here to go to the Fluency Packet for the 6th-8th Grade Band.) The passages are going to be used to work on fluency, but also as a springboard/mentor text for the week’s plans.

We are starting with the first text selection which is a speech by Muhammad Ali called I am Still the Greatest. For an audio, click here.

This is a good starting point for the year because it sends a great message about not giving up.

We liked the Achieve the Core resources because each of the passages comes with  a few extended response questions and some vocabulary to teach, as well.

I then showed her this video, which I was already planning to use on the 2nd day of school.

I just love Mr. Humphrey’s energy, delivery, and message.

At the end of the video he says, “That is what defines who.. .you… are.”

…A perfect lead-in to some positive self-affirmations (an idea I stole from my blogger friend, Miss AuburnChick) and our bulletin board entitled “I Am…” where students will post their affirmations.

Finally, we talked about adding some current music, and I immediately thought of “Fight Song” by Rachel Platten and all of the figurative language. Plus it’s just a great song.

Other ideas:

  • Speaking and Listening: Performance Fridays
  • Possible Research Topics: Muhammad Ali, Olympics, Parkinson’s Disease
  • Language skills are hidden throughout the passage for use with mentor sentences
  • Text-to-Media connections

As we come up with more ideas, I’ll add them here.  As always, if you have a great idea to add, share it in the comments!! 

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