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.
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.
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!
NOTE: This is a repost/upgrade from last fall. In this updated post you will find some improvements and changes. My apologies to anyone who tried to access the missing video or the activities that were blocked in google drive. Everything should be accessible now. If not, PLEASE comment so I can fix the links.
I also added a new Prezi for the short story.
This coming week my Resource Room will be reading The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe. The Lexile is 1350L which is definitely challenging for my class. Luckily, the book I use, Bridges to Literature, has an abridged version which will better suit our needs (580L). We will also watch this short video, The Tell-Tale Heart, and compare and contrast it with the textbook.
Some of the reading skills we will cover with this classic story include:
- character motive
- point of view
- setting and mood
- vocabulary (vulture, precisely, mortal, and cautious)
I created this Prezi as an upgrade for my 7th graders this year: The Tell-Tale Heart Prezi
This story, much like The Green Ribbon, just lends itself to a comic strip activity, so we will revisit that activity this week too. This time I am going to require them to use the four vocabulary words in their summary. (Shout out to Follower 100!)
In my search for other materials and ideas, I found some other resources that you may be able to use. I am going to take bits and pieces from several and add to my SMART Notebook file. (As always, if you’d like a copy of the SMART Notebook file, drop me an e-mail and I’ll send it to you.)
As we finished up Stargirl,I knew I wanted to do a final plot diagram activity. I found a pretty good Prezi of a story map for the novel. I had to change some of the vocabulary to make it appropriate for my class. (The fact that Prezis are editable and reusable is one of the things I love about the whole Prezi concept.)
I printed out a PDF of the plot line and passed out the pages randomly. I challenged them to put the events in order correctly. As we sat in front of the bulletin board,which I temporarily covered with a giant plot diagram, we took turns reading and placing the events in the appropriate place. We used push pins so that it was easy to rearrange when we needed to.
The final result was pretty impressive and showed me how they understood the story. They loved doing this activity.
Big impact. Little preparation. No worksheets. Win-win-win.
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.
Next, students had to place the events of the story in the appropriate place on the plot diagram.
I also used SMART Notebook’s Image Arrange tool and the screen shot images of the video so students could sequence the major events.
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:
My Resource Room students have been reading several short stories in our literature book and I have been teaching/reviewing story elements and conflict.
These are the notes they pasted in their journal and what we will reference each time we discuss these ideas throughout the year. I try to always come back to the same notes/handouts each time we work on a concept. I think the repetition and consistency helps with their retention and association.
Now before you laugh at my artwork, which I honestly don’t think is that awful, there is something to be said about teacher created artwork…especially if you can laugh at it. Kids remember these drawings. These are not stock clip-art images. These are never-seen-before renderings. They are real and they are authentic. These pictures also increase my credibility with my students.
A student once told me in reference to a similar handout, “Geez…you MADE this for us? In your free time? You really work way too hard.”
In addition to these notes, students have been completing these graphic organizers as well. The first few times we use this organizer, I will model for them and provide more guided notes. Eventually, I’d like to see them fill it out independently.
Please feel free to download these for you classroom.