Tag Archives: free graphic organizers

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!

Writing an Argumentative Paper

After reading Side-Yard Superhero I had big plans to have my students write an argumentative paper on big city living or small town charm. I wanted them to make a choice and defend it.  As that time approached, I knew that it wasn’t a realistic assignment.  Most of my students, like most people in this small town, won’t ever leave this town.

So then I thought back to last year and the research project my students did on resilience. You can read about it by clicking the link.  Each student chose their own topic (a disease or illness that they had an interest in) and the final presentations were some of the most genuine and touching I’ve seen.

It only made sense to let them pick their topic this year too.  I did provide a list of questions that I found somewhere online (credit to whoever made this list).  I modified it somewhat and created the three handouts below.

Argument Paper Part 1 – Pre-writing, list of prompts, a prior knowledge sheet, and an opinion sheet for 6 other people – peers, parents, teachers. This was one of my favorite parts  – the students’ response to what people wrote on their paper. I appreciated the cooperation of my co-workers who took it seriously and gave my kids some extra attention.

Students were encouraged to ask others their opinion about their topic. This provided somewhere to start for those who were really struggling. It also made them rethink their own opinions.

Students were encouraged to ask others their opinion about their topic. This provided somewhere to start for those who were really struggling. It also made them rethink their own opinions.

Argument Paper Part 2– This is a 5 page graphic organizer for the intro, body, and conclusion of the paper.  We used the ACE model to write our body paragraphs. If you aren’t familiar with ACE, head on over to I’m Lovin’ Lit and read this blog post.   This is a strategy I found this summer and now all the 6th and 7th graders in our building are using it.

This was challenging for my students, but made them consider all the options. They enjoyed "debating" with each other about the topics.

This was challenging for my students, but made them consider all the options. They enjoyed “debating” with each other about the topics.

Checkpoints Argumentative Paper – I used this checkpoints paper as a way to guide my students through the beginning steps of the process.

Some of the topics my students picked:

  • Later start time for school
  • Being able to work at age 14
  • Dropping out of high school (She has since decided that is a BAD idea!)
  • Eating snacks in class (I’m a fan of that!)
  • Pitbulls as pets
  • Separate classes for boys and girls
  • Exotic animals as pets
  • Seat belt laws

I will admit that Christmas Break, followed by 3 snow days and an in-service day,  cut this project a little short.  We are going to have to go back and work on citing text some more, and we also need to spend some time on the concluding paragraph.  This writing assignment lends itself to a presentation and can cover a lot of standards. We’ll revisit it later next month.

But right now, we are reading The Giver, with a very heavy focus on close-reading, citing text evidence, and improving reading comprehension. Besides the fact I love the book and loved the movie, I am excited to get further into the book with my 8th graders!  But that’s another post for another time!

 

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