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Tag Archives: Language arts

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!

 

 

 

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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.

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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?

Screenshot 2015-08-09 at 7.44.35 PM

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!!

 

 

If you read a children’s book to your 7th graders…. 

Today on the board my 7th graders saw “Flashback Friday” under “How We Will Achieve Our Goals.”

Of course, that sparked their curiosity.

How could it not? I was speaking their language.

After everyone was seated, and we took care of our other learning goals, they gathered around while I read this “classic” out loud.If_you_Give_a_Mouse_a_Cookie

 

While I read it, some giggled, some read along, and some rolled their eyes.

But all of them had to help me find the independent and dependent clauses in the book.

Oh, and they identified sentence types too.

Pretty sneaky, huh?

By the end of the book, they were seeing the pattern of the complex sentence. And luckily, Laura Joffe Numeroff included some simple and compound sentences just to keep it interesting. We had a nice discussion about how the author used a variety of sentence types to create a story that children would enjoy.

The learning didn’t stop there. I had more planned for them!

Taking some concepts from our novel, The Outsiders, I wrote the following on the Smart Board:

If you give a Greaser a……

If you give a Soc girl…..

I kept the directions simple: Finish the dependent clause and add an independent clause to make a complex sentence. 

After they conferenced with me, they were able to glue them on the poster below.

 

I know the post-its are hard to read, so here are a few of my favorites: (Spoilers ahead!)

  • If you give a Soc a car, he will mess with the Greasers.
  • If you give a Soc girl a hard time, she will most likely throw a Coke in your face.
  • If you give a Greaser a dollar bill, he will be your best friend.
  • If you come home late to Darry’s, you should not mouth off.
  • If you give a Greaser a blade, he will use it to defend himself.
  • If you attack Ponyboy, Johnny will kill you.

They had such a great time with this lesson, and I felt like I was able to hit a lot of concepts in one period!

Independent and dependent clauses and sentence types are a Common Core standard for 7th grade.

We worked on editing our sentences for capitalization, punctuation, and spelling which is a definite need of my students.

We were able to review characters and events from the first four chapters of the novel.  (Some of them got a little creative and didn’t have true facts from the story, but I wasn’t looking at that.)

At the end of class, students had to mark and label clauses in four different sentences I had taken (and possibly slightly adapted) from the novel.

  • If I had worries like that, I’d consider myself lucky.
  • They were getting over it though, as we walked to Two-Bit’s house to pick up the car.
  • When I was ten I thought Mickey Mouse and Soda looked alike.
  • When you’re thirteen in our neighborhood, you know the score.

My students asked if they could bring in other children’s books from home, so we could find complex sentences. Who am I to say no?

They decided that would be their homework this weekend.

Honestly, when I put the book in my book bag earlier in the week, I felt like it would be too immature and they would hate the activity.  I almost trashed the idea at the last minute. I’m so glad I didn’t.

Maybe give it a try in your classroom and see how it goes. You never know!

If you give a 7th grader an idea, they just might run with it!

Have you used children’s books to teach a middle school concept?

How was it received by your middle schoolers?

I’d love to hear some ideas, so share in the comments! 

With Love,

The day after I emailed S.E. Hinton, I received an email from another author, Lois Lowry, who I also contacted.

Her email was short, but sweet:

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And then today, her letter was in my school mailbox at the end of the day.

In the one page letter, she wrote about her life, growing up, her interests, and a little about her writing career.  Did you know Lois Lowry has written 45 books?

While I’m saving the whole letter for my 8th graders tomorrow, I am pleased to share a sneak peek of Lois Lowry’s love:

Loislowry

When Every Minute Counts: Making the Most of Journal Writing

From my Ohio Middle Level Association presentation on Feb. 13, 2015…..

 

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To access the paper handout: OMLA Journal Writing Handout (PDF)

To view the presentation slides: OMLA Journal Writing Slides (PDF)

To view the powerpoint: OMLA Journal Writing Presentation (pptx)

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Stay tuned to hear all about my experience at the Ohio Middle Level Assocation conference!

 

Teaching Figurative Language in 2015

As I drive MJ and Ian around town, or drive the four blocks to work, I always have the radio on. The Language Arts teacher in me hears the figurative language, and if the kids are in the car…I have to shout it out.

I will admit, it is incredibly hard finding lyrics that are school appropriate.  I get nervous every time a student asks me to play a song.

So, nothing fancy, but what I did for you is pull a stanza or so from a dozen songs and posted them here. This could easily be copied into a worksheet, or you could post it on the board for students to identify the figurative language.

Sledgehammer by Fifth Harmony

If you could take my pulse right now
It would feel just like a sledgehammer
If you could feel my heart beat now
It would hit you like a sledgehammer

Blank Space by Taylor Swift

New money, suit and tie
I can read you like a magazine
Ain’t it funny rumors fly
And I know you heard about me
So hey, let’s be friends
I’m dying to see how this one ends

Dark Horse by Katy Perry

So you wanna play with magic
Boy, you should know what you’re falling for
Baby do you dare to do this?
Cause I’m coming at you like a dark horse
Are you ready for, ready for
A perfect storm, perfect storm
Cause once you’re mine, once you’re mine
There’s no going back

Charli XCX – Boom Clap

No silver or no gold
Could dress me up so good
You’re the glitter in the darkness of my world
Just tell me what to do
I’ll fall right into you
Going under cast a spell just say the word
I feel your love

Ariana Grande – Break Free

I only wanna die alive
Never by the hands of a broken heart
Don’t wanna hear you lie tonight
Now that I’ve become who I really are

Magic! – Rude

Saturday morning jumped out of bed and put on my best suit
Got in my car and raced like a jet, all the way to you
Knocked on your door with heart in my hand
To ask you a question
‘Cause I know that you’re an old fashioned man yeah yeah

Clean Bandit – Rather Be

We’re a thousand miles from comfort, we have traveled land and sea
But as long as you are with me, there’s no place I’d rather be
I would wait forever, exalted in the scene
As long as I am with you, my heart continues to beat

One Direction – Steal My Girl

I don’t exist
If I don’t have her
The sun doesn’t shine,
The world doesn’t turn,
Alright (alright)

But I know, I know, I know for sure

Everybody wanna steal my girl
Everybody wanna take her heart away
Couple billion in the whole wide world
Find another one ’cause she belongs to me

One Republic – I Lived

Hope when you take that jump
You don’t fear the fall
Hope when the water rises
You build a wall

Hope when the crowd screams out
They’re screaming your name
Hope if everybody runs
You choose to stay

Hope that you fall in love
And it hurts so bad
The only way you can know
Is give it all you have

And I hope that you don’t suffer
But take the pain
Hope when the moment comes
You’ll say…

Taylor Swift – Out of Style

Cause You got that James Dean daydream look in your eye
And I got that red lip classic thing that you like
And when we go crashing down, we come back every time.
Cause we never go out of style
We never go out of style

Vance Joy – Riptide

I was scared of dentists and the dark
I was scared of pretty girls and starting conversations
Oh, all my friends are turning green
You’re the magician’s assistant in their dreams

Oh, and they come unstuck

Lady, running down to the riptide
Taken away to the dark side
I wanna be your left hand man
I love you when you’re singing that song and
I got a lump in my throat because
You’re gonna sing the words wrong

American Authors – Best Day of My Life

I had a dream so big and loud
I jumped so high I touched the clouds
Wo-o-o-o-o-oh, wo-o-o-o-o-oh
I stretched my hands out to the sky
We danced with monsters through the night
Wo-o-o-o-o-oh, wo-o-o-o-o-oh

MKTO – Classic

Ooh girl you’re shining
Like a 5th avenue diamond
And they don’t make you like they used to
You’re never going out of style

Related Posts:
Teaching Figurative Language in 2014
Figurative Language in Pop Songs
Teaching Figurative Language with Media

FYI: Easy Access

Did you know the easiest way to access many of my graphic organizers, handouts, and other goodies is to go to the Easy Access page?  It is located in the menu bar or you can click here. Check it out!!

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