Today, we’re working on a lot of things–wrapping up a couple of things, and starting a few new things. On Friday, October 7, we’re taking an assessment over story elements–summarizing, theme, and text-based answer format. Today, students were given a summative-theme-assessment-study-guide. We also finished our “Flowers for Algernon” unit and students will be getting their RACER assessments back. Students also need to read “Miss Awful” (miss-awful) for tomorrow.
A short week coming back after a three-day-weekend is always great for the teachers and the kids. Last week, our main goal was to learn to read a fictional text, find the important parts, and being able to summarize the important parts through writing an objective summary. The kids did pretty well! This week, our main focus is on correcting and relearning elements of the objective summary we may have missed and transitioning into theme.
Today, I handed back students’ objective summaries with grades and comments. From there, students either did an intervention or extension to improve their summary writing abilities. Two things that we really didn’t do well on were central idea and connecting elements of the story together. The students who needed to improve their summaries worked on the skills they needed and had a chance to improve their grades, and students who did well had a chance to extend their thinking. At the end of class, we reviewed how to write a theme statement.
We reviewed theme statement today briefly, but really spent our time focusing on the themes of the story we’re about to read. If you’ve never read the short story version of “Flowers for Algernon” by Daniel Keyes, do so–it’s an incredible story with really strong and powerful themes. It’s a great story in to talk about theme development and to also work on our focus of the week for next week: text-based answer format. However, it’s also just a story that I enjoy reading with the students because Charlie is such a great main character–he really helps us examine places in our own lives where we can be better.
We are finishing the MAP test, reviewing text-based answer format, and assessing our theme statement writing abilities.
It was such a fun first week getting to know the 70 new students who are in my Language Arts class. Between seeing them every day for a week, reading their letters to me, and seeing their composition notebooks, I’m excited get to know even more about them.
A highlight for me was talking about being a good classmate and listener, and seeing how the students really responded to being kinder and more respectful to one another. I also really enjoyed watching the color poster presentations; since they were all video-ed, it will be fun to re-watch them at the end of the year to see how much the students have grown in their presentation and speaking skills.
Speaking of growing, all of our first day heights have been recorded and we will see how much we physically grow throughout the year (unfortunately, I’m not sure I’m going to get much taller). But, we don’t have a lot of time to dwell on last week, as we hit this week running.
Here is the agenda:
Monday 8/29–Students reviewed annotations–why we do them, how we do them, and how I grade them. One big change from last year is that I really want students to focus on the task at hand. Meaning, I want them to think about what they will have to do after reading, and focus on that as they annotate. I’m hoping this will help narrow their annotations to what is actually important, and not just what is interesting. And they really had to do that with the story we read, “The Treasure of Lemon Brown” by Walter Dean Myers. If they didn’t really focus on the task after reading (writing a summary), then annotations would have taken them a really long time.
Tuesday 8/30–Students typically grumble when we review the stages of plot. They can regurgitate the definitions of each of the stages like champs. But when it comes to actually identifying the stages of plot in a story, we really struggle. So, we focused on how to identify the main conflict of a story in order to help us identify the stages of plot. This, in turn, helped us to write a summary. It’s difficult to know what are the “important parts” of a story if we’re not focused on the main conflict. So, even though students dislike reviewing parts of plot because, “We already know this. We do this every year,” it really is a necessary review in order to learn how to process what is important and what is not (an important skill for college and beyond).
Wednesday 8/31–Now we get to practice and apply all of those things we reviewed on Tuesday. Students will read “The Lady or the Tiger?”in order to focus on what is really important, create a plot pyramid for the story, and write an awesome objective summary.
Thursday 9/1–Even though I’m hoping I can look through what students did on Wednesday, and say, “Great! We got it!” I’m anticipating that we will probably need to work on a couple of things, including central idea, finding the main conflict of a story, and being objective. Here’s hoping that we will all be perfect on Wednesday! But if we’re not, I have stations planned to specifically target those things, as well as reading and evaluating peer summaries based on the rubric.
Friday 9/2–And all of this should prepare us to be assessed on summary today. Students will be asked to read a story and write a perfect objective summary in order to prove that we can read and identify only the important parts of a story, and write it in a concise and coherent paragraph.
This is the very first post to start off a really great year with PVJH 8th graders! For me, the primary goal of the first week is just to get to know the students–we won’t be able to accomplish much else without getting to know each other and having a little fun. Other secondary goals for the week are to discuss classroom expectations, evaluate current levels of reading, writing, and speaking, and get organized for the year.
Wednesday 8/24:Get-to-know-you activities, reading expectations, and personality quiz. Students will create a color poster based on the results of the color personality quiz. Color poster presentations will be on Friday, September 1.
Thursday 8/25Annotation and social skills. One thing that’s really important in my classroom (and in life) is being able to be pleasant, polite, respectful, being able to carry on a conversation, and being able to have a discussion with peers and adults. In our classroom, it’s extremely important that we have a great classroom climate as students will be asked to share their writing with each other. In order to have students do their best writing, they will need to be in a safe, caring environment. Today, we are going to start discussing what being a great classmate looks like.
Friday 8/26 Woo! TGIF! We made it through our, like, first week (well, almost week). Today, we will have our color poster presentations. We will also continue getting to know each other and continue working on discussions and classroom climate.
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