Children’s Book Assignment was a success

click to expand...

click to expand book covers…

The students put forth great effort with this assignment. I had about 95% participation with this assignment. A few students were still putting their finishing touches on the assignments as the due date past, but they will still have an opportunity for credit if they turn it in.  This assignment was different from most because for this assignment, I let students work in collaborative groups. However, I let students have the option to work individually as well. Some students worked well together while others struggled to creatively coexist. Those that chose to work in groups learned a valuable lesson – working with friends doesn’t workout all the time. I let them know that it was something they would have to work around as well as through as they continued their academic journey. They smiled and took it all in stride. Overall, the students enjoyed working together as well as presenting their children’s books that had valuable lessons for their younger relatives. I encouraged them from the beginning to keep their audience in mind, and I let them know this would make for a good gift for their younger brother, sister, or cousin.

If you would like to view the assignment and rubric, please view here >>> Children’s Book Assignment  & Rubric. The task was as follows – students will have the option to work in collaborative groups in roles of a writer, illustrator and editor to develop a children’s book. Furthermore, students will create a children’s book with a lesson to be learned in language that a child would be entertained as well as informed.

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View & Respond – Hadiya Pendleton

View & Respond - Hadiya Pendleton

View & Respond – Hadiya Pendleton

While reading the news, I came across a disturbing story about Hadiya Pendleton. From CNN, “A teen who performed at events around President Barack Obama’s inauguration was shot to death in Chicago this week, and now her story has become part of the debate in Washington over gun violence nationwide. The shooting death of 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton came up in a U.S. Senate hearing and a White House press briefing Wednesday. “She was an honor student and a majorette,” said Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois….”

On Friday (2/1/13), I will be working on (7.SL.1) & (7.SL.5) common core speaking/listening standards with this view & repond about Hadiya Pendleton. Students will begin class with a bell work prompt about any violence they’ve seen or read on the news, and how does it make them feel. I will be passing out a news story via CNN to give students background on the story about Hadiya Pendleton. Along with that news story, students will have questions to answer before we begin classroom discussion. That handout can be viewed [here]. The The class will then move to the viewing portion by watching this video [here]. Students will be prompted to actively watch by using the 5W’s (who, what, where, when, and why)… Students will be given about 5 to 7 minutes to answer the questions from the previously mentioned handout. Once students have completed the handout, I will open up the floor for discussion. Continue reading

Are You Smarter Than a 7th Grader?

Sometimes you have to laugh at yourself...

Sometimes you have to laugh at yourself…

I preface this post with the notion that I have told my students in the past that one day they may have to correct any errors during my instruction if they see and/or hear something wrong. Today was that day… We’ve just completed the reading of The Time Machine by H.G. Wells. I couldn’t be more proud of these 7th Grade students. If you’ve ever read The Time Machine, you know that it is by no means an easy task especially for 7th Graders. They had a few complaints, but they pushed through the book. Some liked it, some were on the fence, and a few were upset at the ambiguous ending [spoiler alert]. That being said, I had to adjust my approach during in class reading and take a more active role because of the high level of vocabulary. I made sure they were actively reading by encouraging all students to take notes for comprehension in the following format – Question, Predict, Setting, Connect, Summarize & Reflect – see [here]. I also made sure to make them copies of the difficult words they were going to see in each chapter – see [here]. I also used popcorn reading strategy to keep them on task as well as help with comprehension issues.

As we ended the book, there appeared to be some confusion about who exactly was the narrator and why it wasn’t simply first person from the Time Traveler’s point of view. I held on to the real answer because I wanted the kids to work it out for themselves and partially because I couldn’t answer the question on the spot w/o confusing them more. This was also the first time that I’ve taught the book.To say the least, I was a bit rusty as to how to explain to the students that the story was being narrated from an omniscient third-person point of view. Frankly, I had forgotten or was unaware that this was the case because for the first 87 pages, it appears to be in first person point of view with the Time Traveler being the narrator. As one of my students pointed out, paraphrasing of course, “Mr., go back and look and see the quotation marks on every paragraph from pages 1-87.” I would like to say I purposely forgot that it was written in the previously mentioned point of view, but I simply forgot. I always tell my students that I am not the smartest person, and to not be afraid to challenge me if I get something wrong. However, when they do so, it should be in a respectful manner. I told the students that I would do some research, and that I would have an answer Continue reading

Class update #8 [Week of 1/28/13 – 2/1/13]

Week #5: In Class Reading of The Time Machine [Pp. 71-90], Vocabulary HW & Book Quiz, Children’s Book Assignment…

Week #5: In Class Reading of The Time Machine [Pp. 71-90], Vocabulary HW & Book Quiz, Children’s Book Assignment…

Here is an update for 7th Grade Language Arts (Literature & Writing). I have a hyperlink to my lesson plans for the week of 1/28/2013 to 2/1/2013. If you would like to view the lesson plans, please do so here >>>Lesson Plans for Week 5 – Quarter 3  [click to open].

In Language Arts/Literature, we will be completing our in class reading of  The Time Machine by H.G. Wells. Students will be actively reading pages 71 through 90 this week. During in class reading, students are encouraged to take notes for comprehension in the following format – Question, Predict, Setting, Connect, Summarize & Reflect… View [here] for more details about in class note taking. Students will also be participating in a view & respond of The Time Machine adapted film from 2002. The movie stars Guy Pearce, Yancey Arias and Mark Addy. Permission slips were sent home on Friday. If you would like to view that permission slip, please go [here]. Students will also work on Week #5′s vocabulary words. This week students will be given Week #5′s vocabulary words on Monday, and they will have two assessments in the form of homework due on 01/29/2013 as well as a Book Quiz on Chapter’s 7-12 of The Time Machine on 2/1/2013.  I will be pulling all of this year’s regularly scheduled vocabulary words from the Scripps National Spelling Bee & SAT lists for 7th Graders >>> [vocabulary guidelines & instructions]… Please make sure your student is completing their vocabulary homework every Monday because we will have a quiz assessment on those words every Friday.

In Language Arts/Writing, we will continue Unit Three – The Art of Storytelling. Students will learn how to write a short story, write a children’s book, participate in investigative reporting,  oral history/interviewing, and a write a research paper.  During week #4, students will learn how to write a children’s book via direct instruction, classroom activities, and note taking. Specifically students will learn about Narrative and Literary Writing Exploring a Child’s World, Creating Your Book, Reviewing Book, Publishing & Presenting via The Writer’s Craft textbook. Students will also participate in a view and respond to give them a visual as to how children’s books and/or stories unfold via multimedia viewing of The Three Little Pigs, The Grasshopper & The Ant, and The Hare & The Tortoise. During week #5, students Continue reading

Grading is for Planning Period & Grading Rubrics…

Letting grading pile up is never a good thing...

Letting grading pile up is never a good thing…

Now some might be shocked at that notion because they’ve always imagined or heard stories about teachers staying up late at night grading papers. Honestly, there are some teachers that do that, but I’m not one of them (I used to be). I’m somewhat task oriented – borderline OCD when it comes to completing tasks;] For example, if I have 50 short stories to grade, I will try my best to grade them during a specific planning period that I have designated for grading or allot about a 2 hour time frame after school to get it done. I can remember one student telling me, paraphrasing of course, “you should make it easy on yourself and not give us so much work, so you don’t have to grade it.” I thanked him for his kindness, and let him know they didn’t hire me to take it easy. I must mention, this whole notion of grading during planning period only works if you have lesson planned in advance. I don’t mean a day or two; I mean a quarter or two.

To the notion that a teacher has to bring work home. If that’s the path you take, it’s a quick way to burn yourself out. During my 2nd year, I was doing that a lot. It was mostly due to the fact that I was lesson planning about three weeks before the actual lesson plan was meant to be delivered. I digress, this year, I’ve themed my grading around immediate feedback. At the beginning of the year, I asked students if they had ever had a teacher take more than a week to grade something they had turned in, hands popped up. I thought, no big deal. I asked them if they had turned things in and it took longer than that, hands popped up. I told them that they didn’t have to worry about that in this class. For example, Language Arts/Literature quiz assessments occur on Fridays. They take the test in an allotted amount of time, test is completed, students chose a book for Sustained Silent Reading for an allotted amount of time, they journal for an allotted amount of time, and I grade during the students structured activity [see Egg Timers Aren’t For Cooking to understand how I move the class forward]. This is just one example of multitasking in order to give the kids immediate feedback. Once they are done with Sustained Silent Reading and their journal, we move one to Galileo/AIMS Preparation. At the end of class, students get to see their quiz score. It’s a win/win. I’m done grading that class period’s quizzes, and the class gets to know what they’ve earned. Continue reading

Fairness – Character Counts

Fairness - Character Count

Fairness – Character Count

Each month our school participates in a in a program called Character Counts. There are six pillars, and they are as follows: Trustworthiness, Respect, Responsibility, Fairness, Caring, and Citizenship. Here is a snippet from the Character Counts website for those unfamiliar as to what Character Counts exactly is, “The CHARACTER COUNTS! approach to character education doesn’t exclude anyone. That’s why we base our programs and materials on six ethical values that everyone can agree on — values that are not political, religious, or culturally biased. Use the points below to help young people understand the Six Pillars, and use the mnemonic devices at right to help them remember.”

This Wednesday the class (Language Arts/Writing periods 1 & 4) will be participating in a lesson based on the character of Fairness. The lesson will start with an introduction as to what Fairness exactly is. I will share information from a document I obtained from the Character Counts website [here] – only using page 1 of the document. I will then open it up for a brief discussion on what the students feel Fairness is to them and how it applies to them during their daily routine. We will continue the lesson on Fairness with an arts and crafts activity in which the students will design posters about what Fairness means to them in collaborative groups. We will then conclude the lesson by Continue reading

Egg timers aren’t for cooking in the classroom…

Egg Timers keep the classroom moving...

Egg Timers keep the classroom moving…

I cannot recall how I came up with the idea to use an egg timer to keep things moving in my classroom, but I’m sure it was in a practicum class during my teacher certification program. One thing I do know, this is by no means an original idea. I have a total of 60 minutes for each class period. One might think, seems like myriad of time, so what’s the rush? Indeed it’s a lot of time, but I like to use all 60 minutes in an effective fashion. That being the case, if I don’t monitor my time correctly, I would fail at that task. I could just look at a clock on the wall, but I don’t have one. The no clock thing wasn’t intentional. However, during my first year, I realized I had a few “clock watchers.” I used to be one myself during my younger days from time to time, so I wasn’t offended. It’s important to note, this isn’t a fool proof method of time management. There have been times that I have run out of time in the classroom due to student discussions, direct instruction comprehension issues, or extended question & answer segments in class.

I’m digressing – let’s get to the method itself. There are a couple of reasons that I use an egg timer, but it’s mostly about time management in the classroom, but it also has a level of behavior management which usually go hand in hand. In order to give you better insight as to how a typical Language Arts/Literature class goes, I will layout the schedule as follows: bell work to start class in which in which I take attendance & settle kids (5 – 7 minutes total), daily reading comprehension worksheets in which instruction is given w/ a 5 minute per sheet (2) time frame as well as a call and response for comprehension check (12-15 minutes total), popcorn reading of current reading selection while using active note taking skills (30-35 minutes total), and a reading journal w/ comprehension check as ticket out of class (10-12 minutes total). As you can see, these are typical time frames in which I keep the class moving forward to meet the varying objective(s) for the day. As mentioned earlier, this isn’t a fool proof system, but having an egg timer to keep yourself on the tight schedule helps. That being said, I have to be flexible because if I’m not, it doesn’t leave extra time for student interaction and/or extra questions. To simplify, every time we move forward in class, it’s done so on a time table that is monitored by the old trusty egg timer.

The second reason I use the egg timer in class is for the fact that it helps with classroom behavior management. Students Continue reading

Class update #7 [Week of 1/22/13 – 1/25/13]

Week #4: In Class Reading of The Time Machine [Pp. 64-80], Vocabulary HW & Quiz, Short Story Assignment Due, Children's Book introduced…

Week #4: In Class Reading of The Time Machine [Pp. 64-80], Vocabulary HW & Quiz, Short Story Assignment Due, Children’s Book introduced…

Here is an update for 7th Grade Language Arts (Literature & Writing). I have a hyperlink to my lesson plans for the week of 1/22/2013 to 1/25/2013. If you would like to view the lesson plans, please do so here >>>Lesson Plans for Week 4 – Quarter 3  [click to open].

In Language Arts/Literature, we will continue reading The Time Machine by H.G. Wells. Students will be actively reading pages 64 through 80 this week. During in class reading, students are encouraged to take notes for comprehension in the following format – Question, Predict, Setting, Connect, Summarize & Reflect… View [here] for more details about in class note taking. Students will also work on Week #4′s vocabulary words. This week students will be given Week #4′s vocabulary words on Tuesday, and they will have two assessments in the form of homework due on 01/23/2013 as well as Vocabulary Quiz on 1/25/2013.  I will be pulling all of this year’s regularly scheduled vocabulary words from the Scripps National Spelling Bee & SAT lists for 7th Graders >>> [vocabulary guidelines & instructions]… Please make sure your student is completing their vocabulary homework every Monday because we will have a quiz assessment on those words every Friday.

In Language Arts/Writing, we will continue Unit Three – The Art of Storytelling. Students will learn how to write a short story, write a children’s book, participate in investigative reporting,  oral history/interviewing, and a write a research paper.  During week #3, students were  assigned a Short Story Assignment that will be due on 1/22/13 for 50pts upon their return from the long weekend. If you would like to view the assignment, please click [here]. You can also view the Grading Rubric for the assignment [here]. Students were given ample class time to complete the assignment as well as time at home. During week #4, Continue reading

Impromptu mini-lesson on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

LA/Writing Bell Work

LA/Writing Bell Work

A student asked the other day, “Why do we get Monday off?” It kind of reminded me that some students don’t know, and that it might be important to let them know a little bit about Dr. Martin Luther King. I began with bell work in order to jump-start the conversation. The kids were great, but they didn’t really know too much about what he did in general. However, they did know about his “I Have a Dream” speech, but outside of that, not so much. A few kids knew that he was assassinated in 1968. One student knew that he had been to jail on either one or more occasions, and for some reason or another the students got a chuckle out of that. I was encouraged that they knew a little beyond the famous speech he gave in Washington, D.C. on August 28, 1963…

This limited type of feedback was what I was expecting, so I took it as an opportunity to move on to our view and respond. I found a short clip on youTube via Mojo.com called, “Martin Luther King Jr.: Life and Death.” After the class did some active watching (jotting down the who, the what, the when, the where, and the why), we came back together to participate in an acrostic poem about Civil Rights. We had a short discussion to wrap up the mini-lesson to see if I had reached my goal for the mini-lesson. That main goal being, get a higher percentage of students to understand who Martin Luther King Jr. was beyond his famous speech(s) via bell work, view & respond, acrostic poetry, and a classroom discussion. That being said, the class volunteered to read their acrostic poems, and then we moved on to our Short Story Assignments which was the overall objective for the day. The mini-lesson took about 25 minutes, and hopefully they now know at least one more thing about why we get Monday off for Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday.

Class Update # 6 [Week of 1/14/13 – 1/18/13]

Week #3: In Class Reading of The Time Machine [Chps. 4-7] and quiz, Vocabulary HW & Quiz, and Short Story Assignment…

Week #3: In Class Reading of The Time Machine [Chps. 4-7] and quiz, Vocabulary HW & Quiz, and Short Story Assignment…

Here is an update for 7th Grade Language Arts (Literature & Writing). I have a hyperlink to my lesson plans for the week of 1/14/2013 to 1/18/2013. If you would like to view the lesson plans, please do so here >>> Lesson Plans for Week 3 – Quarter 3 [click to open].

In Language Arts/Literature, we will continue reading The Time Machine by H.G. Wells. Students will be actively reading pages 28 through 63 this week. During in class reading, students are encouraged to take notes for comprehension in the following format – Question, Predict, Setting, Connect, Summarize & Reflect… View [here] for more details about in class note taking. Students will also work on Week #3′s vocabulary words. This week students will be given Week #3′s vocabulary words on Monday, and they will have two assessments in the form of homework due on 01/15/2013 as well as The Time Machine Chps. 4-7 Short Answer Quiz on 1/18/2013.  I will be pulling all of this year’s regularly scheduled vocabulary words from the Scripps National Spelling Bee & SAT lists for 7th Graders >>> [vocabulary guidelines & instructions]… Please make sure your student is completing their vocabulary homework every Monday because we will have a quiz assessment on those words every Friday.

In Language Arts/Writing, we will continue Unit Three – The Art of Storytelling. Students will learn how to write a short story, write a children’s book, participate in investigative reporting,  oral history/interviewing, and a write a research paper.  During week #2, students learned about Narrative and Literary Writing via class lecture, activities, and notes. Specifically, they learned about The Five Elements of a Story, What Your Short Story Should Include, and Drafting a Plan. During week #3, students will be assigned a Short Story Assignment that will be due on 1/22/13 for 50pts. Please encourage Continue reading