Seeing the Big Picture with Theme: Collaborative Work + Learning Stations

In my last two posts, I wrote about some of the learning activities we did in my 8th grade Language Arts classroom to set the stage to do some collaborative work with theme.  Using the structure and materials from this "Discovering Theme" activity with learning stations as my framework, we spent roughly 4.5 days of … Continue reading Seeing the Big Picture with Theme: Collaborative Work + Learning Stations

Days 2 and 3 of Inquiring Into Theme: Introducing Purposeful Annotations + The Note and Notice Contrasts and Contradictions Signpost

In my previous post, I outlined how we dipped our toe into deconstructing a piece of literature to take apart the "puzzle pieces" with a short text and then put them back together to see a big picture of theme.  On Day 2, we did a quick recap of the previous day's activities and concepts … Continue reading Days 2 and 3 of Inquiring Into Theme: Introducing Purposeful Annotations + The Note and Notice Contrasts and Contradictions Signpost

Day 1 of Inquiring Into Theme: Deconstructing “Harlem” and Constructing Possible Thematic Concepts and Statements

This past Tuesday we began the third and final "bend" in the Calkins Deep Study of Character unit of study for middle grades reading.  I personally did not care for the mini-lessons and the methods for framing/introducing theme, so I decided to keep the key concepts but design a different path to the same ends. … Continue reading Day 1 of Inquiring Into Theme: Deconstructing “Harlem” and Constructing Possible Thematic Concepts and Statements

Scaffolding Student Thinking About Setting, Mood, and Diction

Those of you who follow me on Twitter know I am terribly unhappy with the first unit of study our school has been working with---the Lucy Calkins Deep Study of Character.  Concerns I have include: Lack of academic vocabulary that I know my students will be expected to know on state tests and in future … Continue reading Scaffolding Student Thinking About Setting, Mood, and Diction

When Students Are Struggling: Thoughtful Punting with Gallery Walks and Academic Speed Dating Conversations

My school is in our first year adoption of the Lucy Calkins Units of Study for Middle Grades Reading.   Because some units are not published for 8th grade and because we are all bravely piloting the adoption together, all three grades have started with A Deep Study of Character for the first nine weeks. The … Continue reading When Students Are Struggling: Thoughtful Punting with Gallery Walks and Academic Speed Dating Conversations

Building Community with Collaborative Class “Where We’re From” Poems

This year I wanted to start the school year with an activity that infused reading, writing, and critical thinking while building classroom community and some personal connections.  Inspired by an Instagram post from the Ohio Writing Project at Miami University, I decided to work with my students to craft a collaborative "Where I'm From" class … Continue reading Building Community with Collaborative Class “Where We’re From” Poems

Join Us at ILA 2018 for “It’s Sketchy! Visual Notetaking for Every Classroom”

I am honored to be presenting with Tanny McGregor and Paula Bourque at the 2018 International Literacy Conference in Austin, Texas this July!  If you are attending, please join our fun and interactive two hour workshop on Sunday, July 22 in Room 18B from 4PM-6PM.   This session is geared for classroom teachers, coaches, and administrators … Continue reading Join Us at ILA 2018 for “It’s Sketchy! Visual Notetaking for Every Classroom”

Adventures in American Lit Book Clubs, Part 4: Circle of Viewpoints Across Multiple Texts

In my last post, I shared how I set up "mixed" American Lit book club groups to facilitate a final cross-text discussion.  My 2A Honors class utilized the Making Thinking Visible strategy of Peeling the Fruit to make connections across texts.  For my 3B Honors class that met the following day, we utilized another Making … Continue reading Adventures in American Lit Book Clubs, Part 4: Circle of Viewpoints Across Multiple Texts

Adventures in American Lit Book Clubs, Part 3: Connecting Themes Across Texts with Peeling the Fruit

In my last post, I shared the nuts and bolts of the student book club work and meeting structures.  After our May 14 book club meeting, I wanted the remaining class sessions leading up to the week of final exams to be meaningful for students and engaging.  I wanted positive energy and for students' final … Continue reading Adventures in American Lit Book Clubs, Part 3: Connecting Themes Across Texts with Peeling the Fruit

Adventures in American Lit Book Clubs, Part 2: Organizing Prep Work, Learning Activities, and Conversation Structures

In my last blog post, I shared how I used book tasting to help students pick one of five books for our American Lit book club project.  There are many ways teachers may structure book club meetings and assignments---some choose a path that is very open and flexible while others may provide more structure.  I … Continue reading Adventures in American Lit Book Clubs, Part 2: Organizing Prep Work, Learning Activities, and Conversation Structures