Welcome to 7th grade Reading and Writing at Plum Grove Junior High. This page serves as an introduction to our classes and a place for you to either comment publicly or ask a private question using the form at the end.
Who is the teacher?
My name is Dr. Donovan. I have taught seventh and eighth grade Reading and Writing for fifteen years in the district. I have also been teaching college courses at DePaul University for the past seven years. I have a Masters in Education in Curriculum and Instruction Leadership and a Doctorate in English Education from the University of Illinois at Chicago. I have published a book, chapters, and articles, and I have given many presentations at local, national, and international conferences on literature, writing, and teaching.I have finished a draft of a young adult novel in verse and am in the publication process. I read#bookaday, and you can see what I am reading on Instagram. My teaching philosophy is this: the written word is incredibly powerful, so we have to engage with the practice of creating and interpreting if we are to understand how it is used to move our hearts and minds and how we may use it to do the same — hopefully, for a better world in whatever field students choose to pursue.
You can read about why stories are so important to me here and listen to an interview about how I became a teacher here:
How will I know what’s going on in the classroom?
This year, I will communicate with you on a weekly basis about what is happening in our classroom by posting it on the Weekly Updates page of this site. All the weekly updates will be here whenever you’d like to see them, but I will send you a link through Remind for easy access.
Join Remind. It is an app that you can download to your phone, or you can simply get a text or email message, whichever you prefer If you haven’t received an invitation from me, you can follow these links to get connected.
What supplies do I need for WRITING class?
As you may know, each student will receive a Chromebook, which we will use, but each day we will write with pen and paper, too.
Please purchase the following:
- One, great journal that is comfortable for you to write in and carry around. Do you want the binding above or on the side? Do you want the pages lined or not? Is there a style that suits your personality better?
- Several pens/pencils that are comfortable.
What will students be writing?
Variety. Students will learn about a variety of writing forms and techniques and will be encouraged to take risks when crafting and revising their pieces including narrative, argument, informational (and blends of each). Students will select what they want to write about as much as possible so that their writing is generated by personal interest, curiosity, and, hopefully, joy.
Workshop. Our format is workshop style, meaning we will free-write, practice skills in short lessons, and then use most of the time for writing, conferring, revising, and editing. Grammar lessons or “proper” writing will always happen after students have a strong draft of their work and are ready for close edits and publication. All finished pieces will be published on student blogs to share with peers, parents, and the public.
What supplies do I need for READING class?
Although your teacher will not have a dedicated classroom — meaning every class she teaches is in a different room — we will have space for a small classroom library so that students can read self-selected books every day.
Please purchase the following:
- Sticky notes. Always have a pad of sticky notes with you when you come to class.
- Books. Please buy a new book that 1) you would like to read (but haven’t), 2)marketed as a middle grade, teen, or young adult novel/nonfiction book, and 3)has been published in the last year or so. This can be any genre (science fiction, mystery, fantasy, realistic, etc.). This will be a donation to our class library as we will spend time everyday reading, and instead of me choosing all the books, our students will have a voice in what is read, shared, and discussed. Here are some suggestions:
What will students be reading?
Together- whole class and small groups. We will read a variety of classic and contemporary literature including short stories and poems. We will also read news articles, speeches, and essays.
Independently. Students read self-selected books this school year in and out of the classroom. What is “appropriate” for one student may not be for another, and it is up to the student (and guardians) to make that judgment. I will do my best to advise, but I will not censor books. As a teacher, I respect your right to help your own child choose reading material, and ask that you respect the rights of other parents/guardians to do the same. If you object to your child reading a particular book, let me know, send it back, and I’ll help your child find another selection. I’ll put the first book back on the shelf because even though you don’t feel it’s the right book for your child right now, it may be the perfect book for someone else’s child. I would also encourage you to speak to your child about what types of books they feel comfortable reading so that this becomes a part of their selection process as well. If I can ever be of help to you in recommending titles for your family, please don’t hesitate to ask.
How will students be evaluated?
Students will receive a grade report at midterm and the end of the term, which means you will not see “grades” in SIS or on assignments in between those reports. This is a portfolio-based class, which means students will keep a digital portfolio (in Google slides) of images and links to their practice work during the term, have time to revise and improve their learning throughout the term, and then just before the grading report create a Screencast to demonstrate their learning and growth in skills and critical thinking. Learning takes time. A grade in the craft of writing or the growth of a reader cannot be assessed in a single product, and much of the learning is demonstrated in how the student explains the thinking process and choices, so a portfolio is the most ethical form of assessment for our subject area. As students are writing and reading, I will work alongside them to give feedback and help revise writing pieces or reread texts for greater depth. A student’s learning and evaluation, therefore, is personalized.
Check out this video explanation about my assessment method:
Students: Take this survey as evidence or your reading/listening of this page: SURVEY.
Parents: Do you have questions? Would you like to tell me something about yourself or your child that would make me a better teacher for your child? Complete this form: