Tag Archives: literature

Week 7: Global Read Aloud #GRAFish and Literary Elements 2.0

Global Read Aloud

This week I kicked off our classroom participation in the Global Read Aloud.  I chose the book Fish by L.S. Matthews for my middle school classes.  I am so happy to finally be doing some literature-based activities. Our focus up to this point has been strictly informational text.

We’ve been reading and writing a lot about refugees in the first few weeks of school, so my students have a pretty solid background on refugee camps and current refugee situations.

The GRA is designed to connect classrooms around the world.  While we haven’t made any contacts with other classrooms yet, I created a Twitter account so we could participate in some of the “slow chats”.  However, our school doesn’t allow students to access Twitter, so I am going to need to come up with some creative ways for us to use Twitter as a class.

My 8th graders are already asking if they can tweet questions and comments.  I quickly made this simple exit ticket where students can record their thoughts each day and submit them to me for review before I tweet them. I know there are several versions of Twitter Exit Tickets on Pinterest and TPT, but I figured something simple was fine.

Twitter Exit Ticket

Click here for a free PDF of my Twitter Exit Ticket

Literary Element Graphic Organizers – Simplified

Speaking of simple, I decided to revamp some of my graphic organizers and teaching tools.  Considering I have some of the same students for a few years in a row, I needed some variety.

I will admit, I used to spend a lot of time making graphic organizers and making them “pretty” and “perfect.”

I realized recently, simple works too.  I spend far too much time worrying about the alignment and formatting of my handouts.

It’s time to simplify my life and my classroom a bit and put the creativity into my students’ hands.

As we started our novel, I had students glue each of the organizers below into their reading journals. They glue one on the left hand side and skip the right hand side, because that is where they create their own rendition.

This past week, I gave them three separate pages to glue in.  We will be adding to each of them as we work our way through the exposition of the novel.

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Clicker here to download the free PDF of my  POV, Plot Diagram and Conflict Graphic Organizers

I’ll be sure to share some student samples in the next post.  If these aren’t quite what you are looking for, try my Easy Access page with an entire bank of free graphic organizers and teaching tools.

**If you are reading Fish now too, leave a comment! Maybe our classes can meet up online and talk about the book!

 

 

Differentiated Literature Circles

My 7th graders are starting A Wrinkle in Time in about two weeks and I decided to use Literature Circles. This will be my second time attempting Lit Circles and this time, with a push from our district, I created two versions of each role to meet the needs of various learners in my classroom. Read this previous post about my first experience with Lit Circles. 

diff lit circles

The “A” version is for my higher resource students and my “B” version will be for some of my students who are alternatively assessed and follow the extended standards. Here is an example for one of the roles.

A and B roles ex

A few students will be paired up so that they are doing the same task as a classmate but at a different level. For example, I will have two students doing the “Discussion Director” tasks for the same chapter but one will do the A version and one will do the B version. Everyone will be responsible for participating daily.  (See the grading system at the end of the unit).

The roles are similar to those I used last year, but with new worksheets and a page with the corresponding standards.

  • Word Wizard
  • Passage Picker
  • Clever Connector
  • Figurative Language Lover
  • Discussion Director
  • Sci-Fi Guy (aka Game Changer)

As we read the book, I’ll try to update on our progress and success.  Let me know what you think and if you see any immediate changes that need made.

 

 

Being Resilient When Times Get Tough (Do you have what it takes?)

A few months ago, I sent Ian an Instagram photo of the popular Japanese Proverb:

falldown

We’ve all heard this one dozens of times, but for Ian, I had to explain what it meant to him…a couple of times until he really understood.

Don’t worry. I’m not going to write a post about how I’m a girl who’s been knocked down over and over. If you know me, you know I am the girl who has had the opportunity to get back up…over and over.

And now I’m not only teaching my own children that important lesson, but also my students.

Our school has a building-wide theme this year – GRIT (Gumption, Resilience, Initiative and Tenacity). Before that was ever announced, I had already settled on my theme for the year: Conflict

During the first nine weeks, we studied conflicts in literature and connected the text to our own lives.

Hanging in my classroom

Hanging in my classroom

In the second nine weeks, I tweaked my theme to fit the GRIT theme and we are focusing on resilience.   In class we have been reading informational text about teens that have stayed resilient in tough times.   Surviving storms, dealing with illnesses, saving lives, standing up for themselves, teaching others valuable lessons….these true teen accounts are easy for my students to read and discuss and then step back and ask themselves, “Hmmmm….would I be able to do that if it happened to me?”

The beauty of this theme is that it lent itself to an amazing (in my own humble opinion) writing experience with my Resource Room.  I will be posting the details of that project very soon.

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Ideas for Teaching Sequencing and Plot

Teaching plot with the plot diagram and sequencing events are two activities we’ve focused on a lot lately.

I was amazed how the activities surrounding one short story came together. We did these activities over the course of four days as part of our reading instruction for the week.

First we read “The Green Ribbon” in our literature book.

Then we watched the video:

As I was watching the video on my iPad I got the genius idea to do screen shots of different part of story for sequencing purposes. (I am becoming a huge fan of the iPhone/iPad screen shot and have probably a dozen ways it makes my life easier.)

I went into SMART Notebook and used the Hot Spots tool to create two different but related activities surrounding plot.

First, students had to place the labels for a plot diagram in the appropriate place.

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You can customize this tool by drawing your own graphics or pasting an image. I just drew this plot line with the line tool.

Next, students had to place the events of the story in the appropriate place on the plot diagram.

This activity was very effective for teaching exposition, climax, and resolution.

I also used SMART Notebook’s Image Arrange tool and the screen shot images of the video so students could sequence the major events.

You can paste any images into this tool. These are the screen captures from YouTube.

I wasn’t so sure about this last-but-not-least activity, but I am glad I gave it a try. It incorporated sequencing, summarizing, sentence writing, and speaking & listening.

To prepare, I had Tweedle Dee draw 8 different pictures in cells like a comic strip (in random order). I asked her to keep the drawings simple and to reflect the main events of the story. Since she loves to draw and most of my students hate it, this was a win-win situation.

In class, I gave a copy of the mixed-up comic strips to each student. They had to cut, sequence, and paste the cells in order. They then had to retell the story in their own words under each cell.

I encouraged them to use their books for vocabulary and spelling. I thought this might be too juvenile or easy for my students but it was definitely challenging. Everyone’s story was slightly different in terms of wording. In fact, they did a little 4-3-2-1 sharing right before our comprehension quiz.

Here is one of the finished comic strips from my class:

Providing the pictures was a huge relief to many students. If they had asked, I would have let them draw their own. But no one did.

This link highlights just 14 of the SMART Flash Activities in the Activity Toolkit. If you are new to SMART Notebook this is definitely worth checking out.

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