The warm 3-day weekend wrapped up with the historic inauguration of our President on the same day as we celebrate the achievements and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, jr. In fact, I found out that President Obama is one of only 17 presidents to give an inaugural address to jump start his second term. Did you know that his second inauguration is not the first Presidential Inauguration to coincide with MLK Day? Interestingly enough, President Bill Clinton‘s second inauguration was also on MLK Day. How fascinating!
On our first day back (and the day before the Georgia Middle Grades Writing Assessment) we played an ELA version of Family Feud for the activator (the 10 minutes prior to the main lesson) and played Writing Assessment Review Jeopardy. The students seemed to have a wonderful time.
This afternoon was the last of the Pre-Writing Assessment after-school tutoring sessions. I want to thank all of the students who stayed after school or came during connections for additional help. That level of initiative is what will surely be the foundation of success. I am so proud to teach such students!
HOMEWORK: Get a good night of sleep! Read for 30 minutes and work on the Guided Book Review which is due in 1 week (on Tuesday, January, 29th, 2013).
In preparation for tomorrow’s Writing Assesement, last week was devoted to review of all of the writing strategies that had been addressed in class. I held two tutoring sessions during and after school to assist those who felt they needed to practice some skills, ask additional questions, or receive extra teaching. It was an absolute blast! As a result, I will be holding weekly after-school tutoring sessions starting within the next couple of weeks. Finally, on Friday, we wrapped up the week with a timed writing to simulate part of what the students will encounter tomorrow.
HOMEWORK: Read for 30 minutes and work on the Guided Book Review (Due Tuesday, January 29th, 2013)
I hope everyone had a safe and wonderful Winter Break!
On this first day back for the students, we did a writing strategy recap. As a whole group, we looked at a sample expository writing prompt and broke it down using TAPP-F. This strategy helps the students look at the key points in a writing prompt to determine what it is that they need to do in order to be successful.
- This is where the students take a topic in its entirety and summarize it in one to two sentences.
- According to the writing prompt (topic), who is going to read the essay/letter/speech?
- Why is this essay/letter/speech being written? Is it to persuade or to inform/explain?
- P=(Organizational) Pattern
- How should you organize your writing? Should it be organized in:
- chronological order (in order of time)?
- logical order (in order of what makes the most sense to you)?
- cause and effect order (where the cause of something is discussed first and then its effects)?
- problem and solution order (where the problem is presented and then you discuss a possible solution)?
- comparison and contrast (where two or more things are discussed for how they are similar and dissimilar)?
- How should you organize your writing? Should it be organized in:
- In what form are you writing? Is it supposed to be:
- a letter?
- an essay?
- a speech?
- In what form are you writing? Is it supposed to be:
The students had to dissect and brainstorm using TAPP-F on the topic below:
HOMEWORK: Read for 30 minutes and write an introduction paragraph based on the topic presented in class. Read for 30 minutes.
PowerPoint: Writing Strategy Recap 1.8.13
In class, each student continued formulating and organizing their ideas using a graphic organizer to map out their body paragraphs. I provided some assistance by guiding them through the process using the ELMO document camera.
HOMEWORK: Complete the body paragraph sections in the graphic organizer provided in class. Read for 30 minutes.
PowerPoint: Body Paragraphs 1.9.13
Having mapped out the body paragraphs both in class and for homework the previous night, the students began work on sculpting a strong conclusion. With the time remaining in class, each student then took what they wrote in the graphic organizer the night before and translated it into a rough draft. Those who did not finish in class had to complete it for homework, due at the beginning of their class period on Friday the 11th.
HOMEWORK: Complete the rough draft of the letter to the principal. Read for 30 minutes.
PowerPoint: Conclusions 1.10.13
The week wrapped up with practical application of all of the skills practiced this week in the form of a timed writing. As a reminder, the students used the acronym of T-BOW ( (c) 2013 Me) to guide them through the writing process. T-BOW represents:
- T=TAPP-F (see above under “Tuesday”)
- O=Organize (see above under “Tuesday” as well)
All of the drafting homework from the previous days this week were due at the beginning of each class with no late work being accepted (except in rare circumstances).
HOMEWORK: Read for 30 minutes. Remember, this upcoming Tuesday is our next Library Day! Find your library books and have a wonderful weekend!
PowerPoint: Timed Writing Day 1.11.13
On this Halloween week, we reviewed, researched, solved a crime, critiqued the writing of others, and tried to persuade friends to vote as we would. As the old saying goes, “variety is the spice of life!” The goal of this week was to prepare the students for creating more substantive long-form essays in the coming weeks.
Monday, October 29th, 2012
- The students participated in review activities to become re-acquainted with the grammar and writing concepts we have addressed to this point.
- 10-29-12 Grammar & Writing Check Up
Tuesday, October 3oth, 2012 (Library a.k.a. Media Center Day!)
- As a preview to online research, the students participated in a Web Quest where they followed specific instructions to learn more about things going on in the world.
- There were some broken links in the pre-made Web Quests presented so I compiled a a couple of articles to which the students were to respond with their thoughts.
- 10-30-12 Library Day!
Wednesday, October 31st, 2012 (HALLOWEEN)
- The students worked whole group to deduce who was guilty in “The Case of the Fallen Roses.” I enjoy the use of mysteries because it requires the students to use context clues, draw inferences, demonstrate their reading comprehension, in addition to using common sense to find the answer. The best part of it all is that it is fun, engaging, and does not feel like work either (oh, and I get to read in funny voices too).
- After the mystery was solved, the students worked on a differentiated assignment. They all had the same essay from which they were to pull out information (much like in the mystery) but the requirements varied based on whether they were Extremely Advanced, Advanced, On-Level, or Struggling Learners. In order to disguise this fact, I color-coded the requirements and assigned them to each student in that manner.
- 10-31-12 ELASI-ELA Scene Investigation
Thursday, November 1st, 2012
- The students worked with me to identify the strengths and weaknesses of up to three model papers. These model papers were ones written by actual Georgia 8th graders for the annual Writing Assessment. The scores of the papers we discussed were either a 1 (the lowest), a 2, or a 3. **A paper with a score of a 5 is the highest.
- 11-1-12 Upgrade It!
Friday, November 2nd, 2012
- The students completed a short quiz to review their understanding of the acronyms TAPP and DRAPES.
- The students then had to complete a timed writing of at least 3 paragraphs on the topic below:
- Election day is Tuesday. Which man do you think will be the best choice for President of the United States? You can choose from Pres. Barack Obama (Democrat), Gov. Mitt Romney (Republican), or Gov. Gary Johnson (Libertarian). Write a letter to your classmates to convince them to vote the same way you would.
- 11-2-12 Quiz & Timed Writing Day
“Before everything else, getting ready is the secret to success.” –Henry Ford
As a method of getting ready, we had the first Writing Folio Mock Writing Assessment which mimics the 8th Grade Writing Assessment. Completed within 100 minutes, every student remained in their homeroom in order to remain focused on doing their best on a topic of which they had no prior knowledge. This mock assessment is hand-scored, just like the actual writing assessment, and is logged online so that the scores of each paper can be accessed from the internet. Our plan as an English Language Arts department is to use this as a way to help each student know where to improve upon their writing and how.
For the remaining class periods, the students concluded the Sentence Auction started on Monday. It was a BLAST!
HOMEWORK: Read “Out of Bounds” on pages 165-180 in the Reader/Writer InterActive Workbook. Complete all of the questions in the margins.
PowerPoint: 10-9-12 Fun Times at the Sentence Auction Part 2
Ahh, the end of the week. Friday was our usual assessment day where the students took an open-note quiz on sentence trees, dependent clause types, and independent versus dependent clauses. The students then created a 1-page essay during the remainder of class to the topic below:
Topic: A lot of schools hand out “Participation Awards” or “Perfect Attendance” certificates at award ceremonies. However, there are those who think that this encourages people to not try their hardest. Therefore, at an award ceremony, is it better to recognize everyone for trying or should only the people who did the best be recognized? Write an essay to convince Mr. Bivens to agree with you. Be sure to include specific details to support your claim.
For the students who finished the 1-Pager essay, they were directed to begin working on creating sentences for the Sentence Auction taking place on Monday.
HOMEWORK: No homework. Have a wonderful weekend!
What a busy week this has been!
On Friday, the students took a quiz on brainstorming, TAPP, and clauses. Overall, the students did well. These scores will be used to determine the students’ groups and pairings for next week’s activities.
Once the students finished, they had the opportunity to begin brainstorming on a topic of their choice from the ones below (1st and 2nd periods did not have the opportunity to do this):
1. Should state colleges be free to attend?
2. Should all American citizens have to complete a year of community service?
3. Should students be required to take Spanish classes?
4. Should the voting age be lowered to thirteen?
5. Should the driving age be raised to twenty-one?
6. Should immigrants who came to the U.S. illegally be given legal status if they have been here for a certain number of years? (this one was created by a student in 2nd period)
The plan right now is for these brainstormed ideas to serve as the basis for a writing assignment next week.
HOMEWORK: None. Have a wonderful weekend.
PowerPoint: 9-28-12 Assessment Day
On Thursday we began looking at building stronger body paragraphs through generating ideas. We reviewed the concept of brainstorming in general, then I reintroduced the concept below:
HOMEWORK: Continue week-long homework assignments (In-Class Essay and Take-Home Quiz)
PowerPoint: 9-27-12 Building Ideas into Body Paragraphs
Wednesday plunged us deep into class discussions on the following topics:
- Should college athletes be paid for playing?
- Should the elderly receive free bus rides?
- Should state colleges be free to attend?
The students really enjoyed discussing these and their opinions varied widely. It was quite exciting! We then took a step back to channel these ideas into a mind map and just practiced brainstorming. In fact, the students were able to use the points brought up in discussion to assist them.
HOMEWORK: Complete week-long assignments
Due to time constraints on Monday, this lesson was moved to Tuesday. In all periods, we re-introduced the concept of clauses. Since we covered clauses in-depth last year, this lesson focused more on the types of dependent (also known as “subordinate” clauses). There are two types of clauses: independent and dependent. While there is only one type independent clause, there are three types of dependent clauses: noun clauses, adjective clauses, and adverb clauses. Luckily, these clauses act as they are named.
- A noun clause is a group of related words with a subject and a predicate that together act like a noun. You can check to see if a clause is a noun clause by seeing if it can be replaced by the word “it.” If it can, it is a noun clause!
- An adjective clause is a group of related words with a subject and a predicate that acts like an adjective. This clause modifies (describes) a noun or pronoun.
- An adverb clause is a group of related words with a subject and a predicate that acts like an adverb. This clause modifies (describes) an adjective, a verb, or another adverb.
*Note: Before this lesson on clauses, 7th period went into a little more depth breaking down how to move from a writing prompt to a full-fledged essay on a topic. The students will provided with the graphic organizer below:
- Writing Prompt to Essay Graphic Organizer: Topic to Thesis to Supporting Details Graphic Organizer
HOMEWORK: Construct 5 questions you still have about clauses (if you have none, write 5 things you know about clauses). They must be in the form of simple, compound, complex, or compound-complex sentences.
PowerPoint: 9-25-12 Be clause you’re worth it! (Take 2)
Graphic Organizer: Clauses Graphic Organizer