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Showing posts from March, 2016

Grammar and Punctuation

Anyone remember this gem?  When I was in high school, I took a year long course where we did nothing BUT exercises from this book.  We even diagrammed sentences on the chalkboard!  
I loved it!  Unfortunately, I cannot dedicate my entire year to teaching grammar and punctuation.  Therefore, I have to think carefully about what to teach and how to teach it.   This year I noticed that the majority of my students did not know when to use a comma with a coordinating conjunction. I began by teaching students FANBOYS, the acronym used to remember for, and, nor, but, or, yet, and so.   That was easy!  Then, I began to teach them the difference between an independent and a dependent clause.  This proved challenging for many students.  After  taking notes, punctuating sentences together, and watching a video on the subject, I had students fill out an exit slip on the day's lesson.  I asked students to explain in their own words when to use a comma with a FANBOY, as well as to rate their unde…

Middle Schoolers and Monkeys

Today I had a college student come observe my teaching day.  She wants to be a teacher.  I asked her what she wanted to teach; she said high school.  By the time she left my classroom, she was having second thoughts.  First, she watched as my first two English classes worked in groups to analyze symbolism, characters, conflict, and propaganda in a story.





 Then she watched them take out a Chromebook and get to work writing an essay. She also got to observe  them read and mark the text on an article on insects as a food source.  That led to a great discussion!
  "Wow! We never did anything like this when I was in school," she said.  She couldn't believe how focused and insightful they were-how engaged they were.  The first two classes were my honors classes. I think she was expecting spit wads and mass chaos!
My last class was my reading intervention class.  She watched students read a newsela article at their lexile and take a quiz. She watched them work together on the qui…

Read Arounds

It's that time of year-the time when 7th graders begin to ask for recommendations for next year's electives-classes like  journalism.  I received an email from a student asking me for such a recommendation, and in her message she said, "You keep saying that we should write for larger audiences.  That's why I want to take journalism next year!"  I was elated!  As stated in a previous post, one of my goals is for students to write for a larger audience-not just the teacher.  

This week students had the opportunity to do just that.  After finishing "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" by James  Thurber and analyzing his techniques, students wrote their own Walter Mitty adventures.  Students had the opportunity to work alone, with a partner, or in a group three. Once again, I love giving students choices! Students worked on their stories in class for several  periods, during which time they barely spoke to me!  They were so engrossed in writing their stories.  …

Book Club Wrap Up

I wanted to revisit how I conducted book clubs this year.  In a previous blog I talked about the importance of giving students the time and opportunity to find a book they are excited about reading! However, I found that changing up the jobs was also helpful in making this year's book clubs a  huge success.  

First of all, I gave students choices!  For example,  the character captain (aka person who finds passages that show character) could select from several activities such as: character report card, character cell phone, or character keyhole.



 Students like choices!  Also, for the traditional literary luminary (aka person who finds meaningful, important passages), I required students to post their passages on a Google slide show that was shared with me.  Rather than have students just talk about the passages, I required each group member to respond to the passages on the Google slide.  As a result, I received thoughtful responses, everyone participated, and I could actually read…