During direct instruction, I try to let the students interact as much as possible. I also try to infuse some humor because a little humor goes a long way when battling for a teenagers’ attention span. There are two factors that may limit the previously mentioned things, behavior and time constraints. Both of the factors, behavior and time constraints, can be problematic and lead to a teacher driven lesson for the day. I’ve told the students more than once – the more they talk the less I have to talk. They see me two times a day for Language Arts/Literature as well as Language Arts/Writing, so I like to keep the mood lighthearted but structured. Kids at this age (11-14) don’t do well when they aren’t in a structured environment. When I say structured, I mean creating a routine as well as an environment where kids know they are expected to work. I coach football and running a classroom is much like running a practice with obvious differences. Having a clear objective and activities on a daily basis helps with that previously mentioned notion of structure (i.e., Display Lessons on Whiteboard). Continue reading
I’ve decided to have a little fun with my Language Arts/Writing classes. I know you’re thinking, how does taking a test equal fun? I will bring that point home in a short amount of time. I was reading an article, How Smart Are you? Take the Wonderlic Test and Find Out on the Bleacher Report, and I thought I’d take it. I want to say I aced the 15 sample questions, but I didn’t. I received an embarrassing score of 8 out of 15. I gave myself about 5 minutes to take it and perhaps I should have cut the television off. That being said, I’ve always been honest and upfront about my test taking abilities and overall intelligence with my students [i.e., Are You Smarter Than a 7th Grader?]. I’ve never been a good test taker. Give me a written exam, and I will make magic happen;] I digress, for those that are scratching their heads wondering what exactly a Wonderlic Test is, it’s basically a cognitive test that NFL football players are given to gauge their intelligence. In more specific terms, “Players are presented 50 questions to be completed in 12 minutes. The questions are designed to test a person’s capacity to learn and ability to problem-solve, although the correlation between a high Wonderlic score and NFL success is debatable.” If you would like to take the sample test and see how you measure up, go [here]. Continue reading
Here is an update for 7th Grade Language Arts (Literature & Writing). I have a hyperlink to my lesson plans for the week of 02/25/2013 to 03/01/2013. If you would like to view the lesson plans, please do so here >>>Lesson Plans for Week 9– Quarter 3 [click to open].
In Language Arts/Literature, students will continue Unit Five – Doors of Understanding in their Literature & Language textbook. Students will be reading and responding to the following stories: Lazy Peter & His Three-Cornered Hat, Aesop’s Fables: The Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing & The Travelers and the Purse, Phaethon, and The People Could Fly. Students will participate in AIMS preparation via AIMS Buckle Down – Lesson 12: Graphic Features Pgs. 139-145. Student’s will also have extra help with comprehension of standards via Galileo Assessment Technology practice worksheets with an emphasis on S2C2: Elements of World Literature. Students will be assigned Week #9′s vocabulary words. This week students will be given Week #9′s vocabulary words on Monday, and they will have one assessment in the form of homework due on 02/26/2013. 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. Continue reading
I say this with a lot of humility, I’m still having a little trouble walking after our thrilling game. My 32 year old body doesn’t heal as quickly as it used to. Needless to say, the staff beat the boys basketball team 42-41 in overtime. I had 8pts, 3 rebounds, and countless 3 second violations…LoL That 6th to 8th Grade team gave us a run for our money. I felt like collapsing several times, but it was all in fun. I took my 5th period class to the event. I even let my Language Arts/Writing classes know that they could use this as their event for their current assignment [Investigative Reporting Assignment]. All in all, it was obviously about more than a staff vs. students game. For students, it was a chance to take on their elders and have some bragging rights. For teachers and staff, it was a chance to be shown in a more jovial light and hopefully not embarrass ourselves. Especially yours truly, who had engaged in a bit of light-hearted trash talking during the week leading up to the game;] Continue reading
Here is an update for 7th Grade Language Arts (Literature & Writing). I have a hyperlink to my lesson plans for the week of 02/18/2013 to 02/20/2013. If you would like to view the lesson plans, please do so here >>>Lesson Plans for Week 8– Quarter 3 [click to open].
In Language Arts/Literature, students will continue Unit Five – Doors of Understanding in their Literature & Language textbook. Students will be reading and responding to the following stories: A Crush & The Highwayman. Students will participate in AIMS preparation as well via Galileo Assessment Technology with an emphasis on S2C1: Elements of Literature. Students will also work on Week #8′s vocabulary words. This week students will be given Week #8′s vocabulary words on Monday, and they will have one assessment in the form of homework due on 02/19/2013. 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. Continue reading
There was a bit of confusion during the handing out of the classroom assignment [Investigative Reporting]. I took the time in class to clarify, but I still saw some confused faces. I have directed the students to this visual in order to clear things up as to how their work process should go. For any students taking the time to view this information, this will give you a visual as to how your work should be turned in. If any students/parents need further clarification, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or comment below – I will reply ASAP…
I have heard so much about the Flipped Classroom Model that I decided to look into it for future reference. I will say that I’m not completely sold on it, but I think it’s worth looking into. By basic definition a Flipped Classroom is, “A pedagogical model in which the typical lecture and homework elements of a course are reversed. Short video lectures are viewed by students at home before the class session, while in-class time is devoted to exercises, projects, or discussions. The video lecture is often seen as the key ingredient in the flipped approach, such lectures being either created by the instructor and posted online or selected from an online repository. While a prerecorded lecture could certainly be a podcast or other audio format, the ease with which video can be accessed and viewed today has made it so ubiquitous that the flipped model has come to be identified with it.” – EduCause Active learning and student engagement are terms that are thrown around a lot, but they are the main reasons I’ve been looking into this fairly new idea. That being said, upon delving into this type of model, I’m not sure if it can be used with this age group. I’m also not sure if it’s appropriate or productive to use at a high school level, at least during 9th or 10th Grade. I could be wrong, hence, the reason for this post…
There are glaring issues that are keeping me from attempting this on a large scale. The first being, not everybody has internet access at their house, so assigning activities that have video content becomes problematic. You may be thinking, we live in an information age, so everybody should have access to the internet. Yes, in a Utopian society, we all have access to the internet as well as wifi hotspots. However, all people don’t. Furthermore, this puts a lot of responsibility on kids that are in the age range of 11-14. I know I wasn’t ready or responsible enough to basically teach myself the lesson the night before as well as be prepared to be actively involved in class. However, the more I read about the model the more I think about things that I could do with this model working in my classroom.
At a Junior High age range, one is still in a battle with taking ownership of their own education. To automatically assume, kids will jump at the chance to take ownership of teaching themselves lessons via power point presentations and/or screencast is assuming a lot. There is the other side of the coin that will in fact jump at this opportunity to teach themselves because they learn better in smaller/quieter settings. The question still remains, would flipped classrooms work in Junior High School? I think they can, but I’m not sure if they will on a large scale as they do in higher education. I think I will attempt this on a small scale in a trial and error basis because if you think about it, teachers already flip the class on small scales when they ask students to complete assignments and present for credit as well as using those assignments for discussion starters [i.e., current events for homework – present & submit in class]. Still, the previously mentioned doesn’t fully embrace the concept of flipping classrooms. I’m not particularly sold on assigning a lesson via power point presentation because, again, it becomes problematic for those that don’t have internet access and for those that simply don’t do the work… Continue reading
Here is an update for 7th Grade Language Arts (Literature & Writing). I have a hyperlink to my lesson plans for the week of 02/11/2013 to 02/15/2013. If you would like to view the lesson plans, please do so here >>>Lesson Plans for Week 7– Quarter 3 [click to open].
In Language Arts/Literature, students will continue Unit Five – Doors of Understanding in their Literature & Language textbook. Students will be reading and responding to the following stories: Oh Broom, Get To Work, Medicine Bag, and The Arrow and the Lamp. Students will participate in AIMS preparation as well via AIMS Buckle Down – Lesson 11: Text Structures Pgs. 130-134 & 134-138. Students will also work on Week #7′s vocabulary words. This week students will be given Week #7′s vocabulary words on Monday, and they will have two assessments in the form of homework due on 02/12/2013 as well as a Vocabulary Quiz on 2/15/2013. 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 #6, students continued to master their storytelling with an emphasis on Investigative Reporting via class lecture, activities, and notes. During week #7, students will be given direct instruction on how to organize their information via a class lecture based on Write Source 2000 – Observation Reports. Students will also be given sketchbook activities, guided assignments, and think & respond activities via The Writer’s Craft textbook. Students will participate in one view and respond activity in order to gain a better comprehension of what investigative reporting is. The view and respond will be Hurricane Katrina – What Went Wrong? Students Continue reading
We broached this problem during the 2nd Quarter when I gave a Problem Solving Writing Assignment in letter format. As one of the assignment requirements, I stipulated that they must sign their name at the end of the letter. I found it puzzling that a good portion of the 7th Graders weren’t taught to write in cursive, or they had forgotten how. To their credit, they picked up on it in a matter of less than 45 minutes. Did I mention these kids are resoundingly awesome? I’ve read multiple articles on various news outlets saying there isn’t a need to emphasize cursive writing anymore. I’ve also had discussions with other educators about the matter. Personally, I see both points of view. I think we are in an information age where emphasis doesn’t necessarily need to be placed solely on penmanship. That being said, we are also in an age where everybody doesn’t have access to a computer inside the classroom or at home, so penmanship is still pretty important – print and cursive. The overall point of communicating your intelligence in as many formats as possible should always be valued whether it be on a computer, in print, in cursive, in pen, in pencil, or crayon;]
I digress, I took it upon myself to give my students a quick lesson on cursive handwriting with an emphasis on signatures which I think is a much-needed skill. The objective for the lesson, students will be able to sign their name in cursive. I let students know that long gone are the days of marking an X to signify that it’s indeed you, and that their computer might not always have enough battery life one of these days. There is always the option that students could just print their name and use that as their signature, but I’d rather they learn now than be relegated to print form. A good portion were happy to learn cursive and very appreciative, some were on the fence, and others didn’t see the point.
The mini-lesson took about 45 minutes, and it included ABC practice sheets (see picture above) where students traced letters as well as signing their name about 50 times up and down the lined paper (not pictured). The majority of the time was not spent on the actual application, but it was spent relaying the importance of being able to write in cursive and sign their name. A large portion of the kids picked up on it with ease Continue reading
It may seem like a fairly simple concept, but it can save a lot of time and energy explaining to the class what is on the agenda for the day. By no means is this a revolutionary idea or original for that matter. I saw this being done during a practicum class that I sat in on at Tucson High School. One major difference, he had a smart board – I clearly don’t have that (see pic for visual). However, I make do with what I have because it gets the job done.
During bell work, I go over what is on the agenda for the day. It cuts down on questions and/or kids feeling like they have absolutely no clue as to what is going on in the classroom for the day. I have two white boards, one for Literature & Writing. It works out perfectly. Each morning during prep time, I come in and set up the classroom for instruction, and I update the material that is populated on the whiteboards with current information. The white boards consist of bell work, objective, activities, and homework for the day. Again, this isn’t a revolutionary idea, but it does involve a little extra effort during morning preparation time.
Another reason that I’ve continued this practice, it helps out in classroom/behavior management. If students know expectations, it takes away the excuse of not knowing. It also sets the tone that we are in class to work, and the work is clearly laid out for you to follow. Just so we’re clear, this is a visual way to get your students on task. This may not be applicable for all classrooms and/or teachers. It has been working for two years in my classroom, so I thought I would share.