I will admit that I stole this idea from Ian’s 5th grade teacher, who stole it from Pinterest. I had Dee snap a picture of it at Open House.
I think it’s a great idea and it has proven to be effective in my classroom.
As we are answering extended response questions or citing evidence from the text, I direct students to look at the back bulletin board to “Show Me the Evidence” (which I say in a dramatic voice). It makes me smile every time as they all whip their heads around to look at it. And then the hands start shooting up.
Right now it’s still awkward for many to use these phrases, which do not come naturally. Some of them are, however, starting to make sense of it.
My hope is that these words will become habit and they will be able to use them naturally on their own. Modeling goes a long way with intervention students. It works because they see themselves being successful and they feel “smart” using words and phrases such as these. Students love to read their answers out loud when they sound “professional,” as one boy told me.
The other day our copier was broken and I was unable to copy the questions for their novel. So I quickly selected half of them, took a screen capture on SMART Notebook (one per page) and we talked about how to answer the question 1) by restating the question and 2) using some of the examples from the bulletin board.
Every student got out a sheet of notebook paper. I asked for suggestions from the class and then we selected our favorite. I modeled it on the SMART board and they had to copy these frames. I also posted a PDF of the pages on Schoology in case they got confused.
A recent post I read, entitled Remember When, got me thinking about mix tapes and and listening to the radio as a kid. My sister and I used to write down the lyrics to songs – rewinding again and again and again until we figured them out (and we still probably didn’t have them right.) I remember making mix tapes for my best friends, my family, and to play by the pool. Little has changed…I am still making mixes for my kids, my boyfriend (I know, sappy), and to play in the kitchen while I’m making dinner. Same idea, but now we call them playlists. And it’s easier than ever; hit a few buttons on iTunes or YouTube (and then Zamzar it) and you’ve got the ultimate playlist. I just finished a “Carnival 2012” playlist for my boyfriend’s middle school carnival. This playlist is a hit with my two kids at home and will definitely be part of our 11 hour ride to Myrtle Beach.
A great way to connect with kids (especially teenagers) is to incorporate current music into your teaching. Some teachers play music as students enter the classroom or as they do seat work. At our school this spring, we were all set to “Rock the OAAs” and played great 80’s music every Friday a.m. over the P.A. system.
One way that I incorporated music into my classroom was by making a novel playlist for our 2nd novel of the year, Stargirl. The idea came to me the first year I did this book with my Resource Room. A very popular song at the time was “DJ Got Us Falling In Love Again” by Usher and it fit perfectly with Chapter 31. So perfectly, that I downloaded it and played it for my class. I asked them why it was a good song choice. Seeing their reaction (one quiet, backward boy actually got up and started dancing), I knew I was onto something. I quickly worked on a playlist that weekend and burned 11 CDs.
On the day before Christmas Break, I reenacted a scene in the novel where Stargirl leaves loose change around town for children to find; I left 11 pennies in random places around my room. I “charged” everyone one penny for their Christmas “gift.” And we spent the rest of that period listening to the playlist and discussing how each song fit in the novel. It was a hit.
The second year I taught the novel, I decided to take the playlist to a new level. First, I updated it to make it “current” and I set up my lesson plans to include the playing of tracks after the appropriate chapters. I created extended response prompts that required the students to reflect on the song, explain how it related to events of the chapter, and evaluate if the song was a good choice.
Below is my Stargirl playlist, which I still listen to regularly. It still brings back some great memories of some great moments in class.
Do you have a summer playlist? Are you taking a long road trip this summer (with 4 kids)?
Here is the “Carnival 2012” playlist, which I am now renaming “Myrtle Beach or Bust 2012”, if you need some inspiration.
Do you spend a lot of time teaching your students how to answer short answer and extended response questions for state tests?
Do you do daily journal writing (or do you wish you had enough time to do journal writing?)
Do your students hate it?
I have a fun way to tackle it all.
Using pictures, images, and photos gathered from various places, I create writing prompts that model the wording of constructed response questions.
To get started, you are going to need to gather a lot of pictures.
- You can use your own if you are an aspiring photographer and have the time. It might be fun to include images from your own town.
- Look for creative writing websites that provide a daily photo prompt. One of my favorites: 365 Picture Prompts to Inspire Your Creativity. Go to this website every day this summer and you’ll have almost 90 random pictures to get the year started. Another good site that also offers tips and a starter set of photo prompts is Picture Prompt-In-A-Box
- Find images online. The possibilities are endless. Sometimes I search for pictures related to what we are studying. Sometimes I just use random pictures I find while browsing.
To organize your prompts, find a system that works for you. Some suggestions:
- Post your photo prompt online if your school uses Edmodo or another social learning network.
- Create folders or photo albums on your computer.
- I use a single SMART Notebook file and simply add a new page each day. I am able to type the prompt below the picture (and then clone the page if I need to modify it for another class).
I start each day with a photo prompt on the SMART Board. At the start of the year, we spend a lot of time discussing the parts of the question, what makes it a 2-point or 4-point question, and how to mark their answers with numbers to show that they have answered it completely.
To mix things up, allow students to respond in different ways throughout the week. Again, find what works for you and your students. You could use spiral notebooks, composition books, dry erase boards, computers, or personal electronic devices. Our school is piloting Bring Your Own Technology (BYOT) next year, so I hope to have my students use an app (like Pages or Notes) or Edmodo from time to time.
While students are writing, circulate around the room and help individuals with weak skills. This is a good opportunity for one-on-one intervention. If you are working on a particular skill in grammar, you could reinforce it as well.
Encourage a few students to share their writing each day. Because this method leaves some room for creativity, you may find you have some budding authors. Each week, take a grade on one of the prompts. Sometimes I grade for content. Sometimes I grade grammar and mechanics.
Below are some examples I’ve used in my 8th grade Resource Room.
(The last two show some of the markings we use for Extended Response.)
Do your students write every day?
Where do you get your topics?
How do you practice short answer and extended response?