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Tag Archives: Language arts

Reading Folks

My 7th grade Language Arts students will be starting the novel, Seedfolks by Paul Feischman this week.

I really wanted to do something different, like my Literature Circles. However, I only have 8 students in this intervention class, and I knew I needed to make some modifications for something like this to work this year.

This new collection of Seedfolks Chapter Worksheets has 13 graphic organizers (all the same, but labeled with each character’s name.)

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I plan on completing the first few together, and then have them work with a partner or group on others.  At some point near the end of the novel, they will do one on their own for a grade.

I also made 8 different pages that look like this:

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Each page will ask the students to list three character traits, which is a review from earlier in the year.  Also, on each page, the students will have to ask one question, as if they were talking to the character in the chapter. I’m excited to see what they come up with for this box!   The box across the bottom and the box on the right-hand side are  different on each of the eight pages, covering a variety of reading skills including:

  • Inferring
  • Visualizing
  • Characters
  • Making Connections
  • Author’s Craft
  • Asking Questions
  • Reflection
  • Evaluating Text

My plan will be to pass a different one out to each student at the start of the chapter, and then we will discuss in a literature circle type fashion.

Seedfolks is based on the concept of individuals coming together to create a community garden.  My lessons will be based on the concept of a community of readers.

I may just call them my “Readfolks. “

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Tiny Check Sheets for Grading

In an effort to make my grading more efficient and to provide appropriate instructions and feedback for my students, I created several “tiny grade sheets” for writing assignments.

Originally, I printed these out on colored paper, cut them, and stapled a slip to each assignment when it was turned in.

Over the past few months I decided it made more sense to paste the tiny grade sheet right into the assignment.

The benefits are obvious:
1) Saves paper
2) Reminds students what they need to include in the assignment
3) Saves time
4) Provides a permanent record they can clip in the binder (no lost quarter-slips of paper)

I have created one Google Doc with three of my most commonly used grade sheets: Tiny Check Sheets for RACE and Paragraphs

  • The single RACE response
  • The double RACE response (or what I have labeled as RAC²E Response)
  • The 5-7 Sentence Paragraph

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As I create an assignment, I just go to the Google Doc and copy and paste the grade sheet into the text of the assignment.

This works for hard copies that I pass out in class, but it also works with Google Classroom when I post a template for students to work with.

Note: This does require me to print out the submitted assignments. However, we are doing more and more of our writing on Google Classroom these days, so it’s worth it. (If you don’t know the trick to printing an entire class’s work with the click of one button, go look up pdf.mergy)

I know there are rubric add-ons, applications, and extensions you can put into Google Docs, but sometimes I get so tired of looking at the computer screen, I just find this a better option for me.  Plus, who doesn’t love to grade with their Paper-Mate Flair pens?

How do you speed up grading?

How do you provide feedback?

What other grade sheets, check sheets, or rubrics would be useful in your classroom?  

Leave a comment and share your thoughts, ideas, or questions!

 

Tools for the ELA Classroom (My Padlet)

I’m on this Padlet kick lately. (Actually, it’s become an obsession.)

I’m finding it so much easier to add resources to a specific padlet page than to bookmark them. I think it’s because I use my phone, my iPad, my Chromebook, my MacBook, and my school desktop computer throughout the day.

I can also easily share this Padlet with my student teacher and my inclusion teacher, as well as all of you!

The added bonus is the visual it provides me. I can look at the image and it jogs my memory (which is getting worse the longer I teach) as to what I am looking for and where to go.

So here is the link for my Tools for the ELA Classroom. If you have anything great to add, please leave me a comment!

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A Padlet of Videos for the Classroom

I finally found a way to organize all of the video clips I like to use on a regular basis in class.  I come back to these videos often, and I also wanted something I could post on Schoology for my students to use as a resource.

Now I can easily add to this Padlet anytime I find a new video, and I can share it with other teachers (and you) as well!

Click HERE for the link. (This is just a screen shot.)

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Planning a Manic Monday Before Thanksgiving

Tomorrow looks to be a day full of interactive, technology-based assessment in my classroom!

I have a student teacher starting during the 2nd semester, and he’s coming tomorrow to get his hours of observation in.  Last week he let me know that he needs to observe some use of technology to assess students for his current class.

I didn’t want him to watch the same thing four times in one day, so I decided to do a different activity each period.

1st period LA 7 will be completing their first activity on Padlet, which I am super excited about.  They will be writing about various themes from our novel.  I am brand new to Padlet, but I practiced using it with a co-worker Saturday and tested it on school devices, as well as personal devices. Don’t you just hate when you plan a technology-based lesson and the filters suddenly don’t cooperate? Fingers crossed that this is what they see tomorrow at 8 a.m.!

Fish Theme

 

2nd period LA 8 will be using Plickers to do a pre-assessment for after Thanksgiving break when we start verbals.  It will be short – only 10 questions. I like Plickers over Kahoot for assessments like this, because I get specific results and data to work with. I hope I am surprised that they remember some of the “8th grade secrets” I taught them last year. Even so, this will cover adjectives, nouns, and verbs as well.

Plicker participles

 

4th and 6th period tutoring will be playing Kahoot to review for their science quiz on Tuesday.  This is an 8th grade group studying “The Restless Earth.”  Kahoot is super popular now at our school. The kids love it. It’s fast paced. It’s fun.

I feel it is imperative I get control of the class after the standings have been posted so we can discuss the question and answer.  I also have a 20 second rule for choosing a school appropriate name.   With those rules in place, I think Kahoot can be a great tool to get kids engaged and review for a quiz or test.

Kahoot Earth's Interior

Follow this link to see/play: (I am not sure which link will take you to the teacher page). 
https://play.kahoot.it/#/k/76f9dfb2-f6e2-496d-a9fe-1da7fa8a38a4

So it likes Mr. Student Teacher will be getting plenty to write about, and it looks like my Monday will be a fun one!

If I don’t post again before Thanksgiving, have a wonderful time with your family!  Teachers, enjoy your much-needed break!

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!

 

 

 

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 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!!

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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!

Which Outsiders Character are You?

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Our 7th graders will be starting out the year with The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton, so I wanted to share the activity I used last winter when I read the book with my Resource Room.

I needed something to hook the kids, and from my experience with the book, the characters can be quite confusing for students.  I decided that I would assign each student a role, and they would represent that character while we read the novel.

Going with the very popular idea of quizzes that we all take on Facebook (Which Disney princess are you? I’m Jasmine!)…I decided to do something similar with my students.

Because I don’t know how to make an actual quiz like that, I just used a Google form and with 8 students, I figured out the results to strategically meet the needs of my individual students.

First, the questions:

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The next day, I handed out the slips of paper one at a time and read the descriptions to the class.  They then inserted the description, as well as a photo I had printed, into a 4 x 6 acrylic picture frame.

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Each day as class started, the students would get their frame and sit it in front of them on their desk. As we sat in a circle, I was able to reference/point to students as we were summarizing.

By having them associate the characters with their classmates, it was easier for them to keep the characters and plot straight.  It was also fun to build suspense and keep students interested.

“Will Johnny/Blake live or die?”

 “Will Cherry/Sydney fall in love with Dally/Josh?”

“Will the Socs/Nathan seek revenge for Bob’s death?”

Other skills I covered during this activity:

  • Point of View – Students were asked to rewrite their description several times – in 1st and 3rd point of view.
  • Perspective and Summarizing- After major events in the book, students had to get into character and write a journal entry or letter about the current situation.
  • Predictions – Students were asked to make predictions about their characters.

I am not sure how this would work in a very large class, but I am anxious to hear your thoughts.  If you could use this technique with a novel you are reading, please share in the comments!!

 

 

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