I have not heard much feedback about the usefulness of this site, so I will simply link to the writing and reading calendars below. If you would like to hear more about what’s going on in the classroom, please leave feedback below, and I will be happy to do weekly updates here once again.
October 20, 2017
Writing Calendar: This week, we spent time reflecting on our learning with individual conferences. Ask your child to tell you about that experience.
Reading Calendar: In reading, we watched The Outsiders movie, directed by Francis Ford Coppola (1983) and work on the standard of comparing the adaptation of a story from one medium (book) to another (film). We also make time to visit the school book fair and select books for this week and next (before we begin our book group projects).
October 13, 2017 (final grade submitted Tuesday)
Writing Calendar: This was a short week. We took some time to reflect on what we know and can do in writing after just nine short weeks together. Students are working on their reflection letters with a new speaking video and a link to their finished essays. We also had Friday sharing, as usual. Students are really making this their own as they are taking on the tasks of setting up of lights, hosting, facilitating the celebrating, and even conducting the routines of calling on students and keeping everyone focused. Their voices are really shining.
Reading Calendar: In reading, we spent a day trying our hand at adapting a short scene from The Outsiders into a movie. Students shared the responsibility of directing by deciding on which shots and angles to use to capture the narration, and then they divided up who would be the cinematographer and actors. My hope is that they will carry this immersive experience into their movie-watching experience on Monday when we watch the Francis Ford Coppola’s version of The Outsiders and do an analysis. We also started our final exam, a celebration of all that students learned and practice in reading The Outsiders this term. I gave students immediate feedback as they took the test to clarify their understanding and be sure that I could evaluate what they really know and can do as close readers. The results are outstanding! I will meet with students during Monday’s movie to talk about their final grades.
October 6, 2017
Writing Calendar: This week we published our biographical narratives. Ask your child to log you into kidblog.org/class/Donovan to read these beautiful stories. Evaluations for specific narrative skills are in SIS. Any score of a 1 means the student has not yet demonstrated this skill in the published piece. A zero means that the student has not attempted this or highlighted it in the piece to show evidence of learning. These can be revised, but the student must let me know. We also started developing slideshows for our teacher-for-a-day project. Research says that we learn 95% of that which we teach others, so I am teaching students to teach others about different grammar and literary terms. Twice a week, students will lead the class in a short lesson that we can all apply to our reading and writing. Our next formal writing project is a series of informational essays on topics of interest to students.
Reading Calendar: In reading, we nearly finished with The Outsiders. Students should finish this book over the long weekend. We are focusing on writing concise summary statements, exploring the connotation of words and phrases in context, and analyze the development of the central theme. Students participated in a fishbowl method of discussion on Friday and did very well. We also began learning some film terminology in preparation for meeting the standard to compare and contrast how a story is adapted into a film. Next week, students will experiment with making director-choices before we watch the Coppola version of The Outsiders.
Homework: 3 reading responses using the format CLAIM- EVIDENCE-REASONING in their reading progress forms; finish The Outsiders.
September 29, 2017
Writing Calendar: This week we revised our biography/narrative essays. I met with students one-on-one to discuss the strengths of their drafts and suggested specific revisions or edits for improvement. Monday is our first publication party – -a day set aside for celebrating a successful writing process and sharing the fruits of our labor. We started a project called “Teacher-for-a-Day,” where students prepare a lesson on a grammar skill or literary device and lead the class in an activity. We are in the research phase, which means students looked up the significance of the topic and crafted examples. Next, they will prepare presentations for our writing-workshop.
Reading Calendar: In reading, we have finished half of The Outsiders with a guided reading approach, meaning we read it together and practiced several standards: summary, text evidence of what the text explicitly says, vocabulary denotation and connotation. Next week, students will do this work independently, and we will have our first Socratic Seminar on Thursday or Friday depending on our preparations. I will also be teaching students some film grammar to prepare us for the standard comparing a film adaptation of a text.
Homework: 3 reading responses on different days each week; we reviewed expectations, looked at feedback, and practiced in class so that students were prepared to practice at home
September 22, 2017
Writing Calendar: This week we worked on drafting and revising our biographies. We took notes, practiced, and integrated sensory language, dialogue, and complex sentences into our biographies. This weekend, I will read their biographies and give some preliminary feedback. There is no “the” writing process but “a” writing process for each writer, so we do not have a firm deadline that this is due; today, however, is a day for me to get a sense of where everyone is in his or her process and what I can do to support students next week when we will finalize these pieces and have a celebratory publishing day!
Reading Calendar: In reading, we started The Outsiders. We focused on how S.E. Hinton began her narrative, specifically the characterization methods: appearance, personality, relationships, background, actions, language. Students noted the class conflicts emerging in the book as well. We also did some close reading of vocabulary in context. We are looking at denotation and connotation.
Homework: Regarding independent reading, we discussed trying to find time to read each day. Our schedules are getting busier as clubs get into full swing. I asked students to practice their reading response a minimum of three (3) times a week; the expectation is to write in their reading form two sentences that include a statement, a quote with a page number, and an explanation. I gave students a paper with ideas and examples. The 3 responses are expected by Saturday each week so that I can check the progress Sunday morning and offer feedback or suggestions for the following week.
September 15, 2017 (Midterm 1)
An official and concise midterm progress report will go home in the hands of students next Friday, 9/22.
A more detail account of what students have learned, how, why, and evidence of that learning is available to you today. What you will see in these accounts is how attentive students have been to what they are doing and why. You will also see how they are learning about who they are as readers and writers as they celebrate their progress and set goals for their development. Also, I hope you will see that they are making friends and really building a safe community for learning (and having some fun). They really seem to love story time and book groups on Fridays, as do I.
The easiest way to access the detailed reports is by asking your child to show you with their Chromebooks the following:
- the midterm letter to parents about writing class, an informational essay in letter form written by the students; and
- the midterm slideshow and video about reading class, a video of your child showing what he or she did and explaining it.
If you prefer to take a look on your own, follow these instructions:
- go to kidblog.org/class/Donovan ;
- type in your child’s first name in the “members column” (right);
- click on your child’s name for his/her posts to appear on the left;
- click on the “writing midterm letter” and enjoy; and then
- click on the “reading midterm slideshow” and enjoy.
Some of the teacher’s feedback is in the letter and video, but if you’d like to see more concise evaluations, you can go to SIS and look at the “gradebook” for each class (or ask your child to show you). For the assignments, you will see the skill (speaking, listening, reading response, etc.), a description, and then a score: 2-1-0.
- A “2” means the student shows competency/quality in that skill/standard based on the evidence produced;
- a “1” means that he/she still needs to practice and make revisions;
- a “0” means that no evidence was submitted due to absence, focus, or confusion; and
- any “1” or “0” can and should be addressed in class, at lunch, or after school so that all students can reach competency/quality in every standard; not everyone learns at the same time and in the same way.
Next week: Reading: The Outsiders; Writing: Drafting our Biographical Sketches
September 8, 2017
What a wonderful 7th grade welcome picnic today! Everybody seemed to have a great time.
This week in reading we focused on the small group collaboration Common Core State Standard. We analyzed our last discussion much like football analysts do–by drawing the path of the conversation, observing what went well, and then reflecting on goals to improve the experiences. Then, we practiced again. The other standard was using literary vocabulary during discussions (academic language). Students did a great job and had fun in their groups–lots of smiles. Ask them to show you the video! Click here for the reading calendar.
This week in writing, we started our biography project by interviewing partners for setting, characters, conflict, sensory detail, and theme. Lots of practice in listening and note taking while being kind and attentive. This was beautiful to observe as a teacher. The students are so compassionate. We had our Friday sharing on Thursday because of the wonderful OF A welcome picnic. Click here for the writing calendar.
Next week: midterm progress reflections
September 2, 2017
This week we took a detour from our routine for MAP testing in Reading (one day) and Language Arts (one day). Some students did not finish these tests in the time allowed (two class periods), so these students will be pulled out of class (not sure which one) to finish. I will print out the results for every student (once all are finished), and we will put these in our portfolios to share with parents.
In reading, we talked about the subjects our books explore and how character interaction shows characters coping with this issue. For example, a subject may be refugees, and characters in the story respond differently to the journey to safety. We continued to practice elaboration by using “for example” and “because” in our written and verbal discussions about literature. We finally posted our partner introductions practicing several technologies: Google slides, Screencastify, blog posting, and commenting on blogs. On Friday, students met in groups of five to discuss their books and practice collegial discussions, staying on task, asking clarifying questions, using examples from the book, and being a good, supportive listener. All of our work this week is available on kidblog.org/class/donovan. Ask your child to login so you can see/view them.
Also in the reading realm, I won a grant for $1000 for book groups: young adult novels that explore contemporary local and global issues. Please vote on which books to buy: voting form.
In writing, we began the brainstorming part of our first narrative project: biographical sketches. Students will become a biographer for a classmate and write the classmate’s memory in a narrative form. I shared a bunch of my childhood stories to model the kinds of topics we might share with our biographers. On Friday, the blue group shared a piece of writing publicly, and we practiced listening for author’s craft, text evidence, and complimenting. A few students were absent; they will share on Thursday with the next group.
Coming up: Tuesday, September 5th is open house, and Friday, September 8th is the 7th grade welcome picnic.
August 25, 2017
This week we focused on creating routines for reading and writing. Our lives are busy, but we can make time every day for a little reading and writing to nurture our imaginations, consider new ideas and ways of life, and maybe even relax or feel some joy in reading or crafting a story. Plus, research shows that the only way to become a better reader and writer is to, yes, read and write a lot.
In reading, we created personal Google forms to track our reading progress. We have 15 minutes set aside in class each day for reading. I meet with about 10 students each day to discuss their reading and offer book suggestions. We are working on reading responses with text evidence, citations, and specific details from the text. (e.g., including “for example” and page numbers to show evidence). This week, we discussed point of view, narrator, and characterization (e.g., insolent actions, reactions, responses). At home, students should be reading about 20 pages a night at home, and they can use the form to track that progress (homework).
In writing, we are focusing on public speaking and positive feedback. Students write on any topic and in any form they wish for 7 minutes each day, and this week, we moved into small groups to practice reading aloud and giving compliments on the craft. The goal this week was for students to become more comfortable sharing and to get to know one another better so that when we have more formal speeches, they will be more comfortable. Today (and every Friday) select students will read more formally, recording their speaking for self-assessment.
Next week: Monday is the MAP reading test, and Tuesday is the MAP Language Usage test.
Books to add to your to-read list:
- Scar Island
- Clayton Bird Goes Underground
- Forget Me Not
- Orphan Island
- Walking with Miss Millie
- The Ethan I Was Before
- The Someday Birds
- Real Friends
- Amina’s voice
- Three Pennies
- The Great Treehouse War
- How to Be an Elephant
August 18, 2017
This week: Thank you for a great week (actually three days) of school. These first days together are essential in building a learning community that values one another, allows space for individuality and cooperation, creates a safe space to take risks, and experiences some joy. I think we are off to a good start.
In reading, we focused on uncovering stories from our lives through speaking and listening. Students interviewed a peer, created a slideshow, and will record a video introducing partners. In writing, we focused on developing topics and experimenting with form (argument, narrative, informational) in our daily “compose for 7” (or free write time).
Please be sure students have a journal and a new book on Monday.
Next week: Monday (8/21) is an assembly schedule, which means shortened periods so that we can have an all-school assembly and review of school-wide expectations of respect, responsibility, and safety. In reading, we will be discussing digital citizenship.
- Respect: help and encourage others online; be considerate of others’ views and needs; work should be positive, educational, and helpful to others; manage your device with care; devices should only be used in the classroom when approved and for educational purposes.
- Responsible: practice responsible and legal use of technology and follow copyright laws; cite sources for any images, videos, or ideas that are not your own; use your student account for educational purposes only; carry your Chromebook with two hands or use shoulders straps, work on a flat surface, and use the case; title or close the screen when not in use.
- Safety: practice safe use of information and technology; recognize, avoid, and report any inappropriate interaction or use by others; recognize, avoid, and report cyber bullying; personal information should be kept private; only students who have signed consent for their image can have their image/picture published
Comment, question, concern, compliment?