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!
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.
“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/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:
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
Here is the PDF to download: Summary Graphic Organizer
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.
- 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:
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!
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:
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.
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!!
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.
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!
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:
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:
From my Ohio Middle Level Association presentation on Feb. 13, 2015…..
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)
Stay tuned to hear all about my experience at the Ohio Middle Level Assocation conference!