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Tag Archives: summarizing

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!

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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!!

 

 

Another Graphic Organizer for Summarizing

Each week my Resource Room students have to complete a reading passage and comprehension questions at their specific ability level. This ranges anywhere from Beginning-Low to Intermediate-High. I like to use stories from ReadTheory.

Students are expected to complete these one page readings independently. The last few times we did this activity, I made them circle the text that supported their answer. This forced them to go back, locate the “evidence” and confirm their answer. I’m happy, and not suprised, to say their scores have drastically improved since I starting enforcing this rule.

To get the most out of this leveled reading I created an additional activity which students have been completing in groups. On the first page, students have to identify:

  • title
  • setting
  • character
  • conflict
  • resolution

Short Story Summary

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Identifying the conflict in this story was challenging. My students couldn’t understand why a woman would leave a baby on a bus.

On the second page I decided to throw in some grammar/language and vocabulary. Note the small boxes in the right hand corner of each. This is where I can modify the assignment for each student. I put a number in each box to tell them how many nouns, verbs, and adjectives they need to find. I do the same for the vocabulary words.

Short Story Language and Vocabulary

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This ended up being a great review of parts of speech.

This activity takes them quite awhile and is very challenging for this group of students. I direct them to their journal notes or the Part of Speech bulletin board to figure out what they are looking for. It takes about 20-25 minutes for most groups to complete it. This provides me with some time to circulate and talk to all the students and note what they are having trouble with. It also gives me time to point out things like capitalization of names and cities.

The way I designed this, it can work with any short story. If you think of any ways to improve or to add additional skills let me know.

Watching History Unfold in the Classroom

So, I have mentioned before that my boyfriend, affectionately referred to as Admiral Bodee, is a 5th grade Language Arts and Social Studies teacher. He recently shared a really great idea with me as we were discussing non-fiction books and pirates…

(I know, totally random. More on that later.)

Anyway, CNN has an online segment called CNN Student News. Each day CNN produces a short 8-10 minute newscast on current events. Each day he starts class with this newscast and students have to complete a daily summary. Here is his email with directions to his co-workers.

I decided to make a weekly sheet for them to fill in to learn more literary terms along with current events.

The “A” story is to be for Monday viewing, the “B” for Tuesday, and so forth. When you turn the page over, C and D are for Wed/Thurs. Then, they do a summary on Friday for the whole week of news casts.

I attached both pages to be copied back to back; having holes punched in them is helpful, too.

Check out his templates here: CNN TEMPLATE page 1  CNN TEMPLATE page 2

So, how exactly did this work in the classroom? I tried it today.  We watched the news cast  this morning for the first time and of course, it was all about the election. It featured a clip of President Obama’s acceptance speech. If you watched his speech last night  then you will recognize where he said,

I believe we can keep the promise of our founders, the idea that if you’re willing to work hard, it doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from or what you look like or where you love. It doesn’t matter whether you’re black or white or Hispanic or Asian or Native American or young or old or rich or poor, able, disabled, gay or straight, you can make it here in America if you’re willing to try.

I looked over and one of my girls was quickly wiping the tears out of the corner of her eyes. It was then that I knew this was a very good thing. You see, right before we started this activity, she said, “We’re watching the news?? I don’t ever watch the news. We don’t got cable.”

And here she was, obviously deeply moved by a current event, a moment in history, that she otherwise wouldn’t have seen.

So my thanks go out to Admiral Bodee for a great classroom activity and to all of the voters who gave President Obama a second term. I was thinking about it this morning….His re-election kind of goes with my philosophy: Everyone deserves a second chance. 

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.

Novels In the News

I was cleaning up my computer and came across an activity I used last year for The Outsiders.

JUVENILE DELINQUENTS TURN HEROES

I created a cloze activity for students to report on Johnny and Ponyboy’s exploits…from the murder of Bob to saving the children in the church fire.

I provided enough prompting and left the key details up to the students.  I don’t know about your town, but in a small town like mine, the police log in the newspaper is big news.  If there’s one part of the paper you can bet kids know about and/or read…it’s the police logs.

I think there are many short stories and novels that would lend themselves to this type of activity. Right now I’ve got my eye on The Tell-Tale Heart. 

This activity is sparking some ideas for a whole newspaper on The Outsiders.  Students could write:

  • An editorial about if the Curtis boys should stay together
  • Personal ads written by Greasers or Socs
  • Comic strips depicting particular scenes (thinking of Cherry throwing Coke in Dally’s face)
  • Obituaries for Johnny, Dally, and Bob
  • Advertisements reflecting the cost of items back in 1967
  • Informational article on rodeos
  • Current events/trends of that time period (movie reviews, music, fashion)
  • A food/cooking section with recipes for chocolate cake and baloney sandwiches
  • Police log for the various crimes (slashing tires, Pony getting jumped, Dally and the robbery)

While my ideas are a little rough and in the early stages, I do think this could be a great culminating project. It could be assigned to groups, or each person in the class could have a responsibility and you could have one class paper.

You could also make it a weekly writing assignment focusing on different events/skills each week and at the end of the unit you would have all the parts to make a paper.

Skills that could be covered: comprehension, making inferences, summarizing, sequencing, research, expository writing, narrative writing, characterization.

This would also give students an opportunity to use Microsoft Publisher.

Any other thoughts or ideas on how to build this activity?

I would love to hear them!

Summarizing Short Stories: Story Elements and Conflict

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.

plotdiagram.jpg

There are many variations on definitions for the different parts of a plot diagram. These may or may not match what you use in your classroom.

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.”

My students totally enjoyed (laughed at) these pics when I passed this out.

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.

This is a screen shot of all the parts from SMART Notebook on one page. You can see that I give them a lot of guidance in the first few boxes. Starting is usually the hardest part.

Please feel free to download these for you classroom.

Plot Diagram (PDF)

Conflict (PDF)

Short Story Summary (PDF)

 

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