Extending and Applying Our Inquiry Work with Kernel Essays: Next Steps

In my last post, I shared how I'm frontloading our argumentative writing unit with an emphasis on key concepts and text structure as we explored mentor texts and applied Gretchen Bernabei's kernel essay strategy to help students organize ideas.  In this post, I'll share how we extended that work and how students had opportunities to … Continue reading Extending and Applying Our Inquiry Work with Kernel Essays: Next Steps

Inquiring into Argumentative Writing: Deconstructing Text Structure with Kernel Essays

Last week we moved from our exploration of features of argumentative writing to text structure.  On Wednesday, we began with the following writing activity using these images I projected onto the board with the LCD projector and these prompts: Once students had time to think and write, we came together for whole class discussion to … Continue reading Inquiring into Argumentative Writing: Deconstructing Text Structure with Kernel Essays

Counterclaim Station Throwdown

After introducing claim statements with a task card walk last Wednesday, we then began inquiring into counterclaims and rebuttals on Thursday and Friday.   I decided to do station rotations as our learning activity, and after a little tweaking with my first two classes, I polished the learning structure for my final two groups. We began … Continue reading Counterclaim Station Throwdown

Introducing Claims with Task Card Walk Goodness

Last Wednesday, we began our formal exploration of claims, counterclaims, and rebuttals, some core concepts I felt needed to frontload with my 8th graders based on the results of a survey they had completed about 10 days earlier. One of my favorite ways to use task cards is for an gallery walk style learning experience.  … Continue reading Introducing Claims with Task Card Walk Goodness

Introducing Argumentative Writing with Four Corners Debate, Table Talk, Ping/Pong Pros and Cons, and Team Debates

Taking a page from the playbook of Jennifer Gonzalez at Cult of Pedagogy, I decided to introduce our new unit on argumentative writing with some informal debate.  On Day 1, we started with this ticket in the door that surveyed students on what they knew about debate.  Students engaged in partner talk (I recommend the … Continue reading Introducing Argumentative Writing with Four Corners Debate, Table Talk, Ping/Pong Pros and Cons, and Team Debates

Give Them Something to Talk About: Book, Head, Heart Reflections + ConverSTATIONS

A few weeks ago my students completed a Book, Head, Heart set of reflections as a formative assessment and reflection for their day of in-class reading of their choice library books. I borrowed this strategy from Bob Probst and Kylene Beers; you can read more about BHH in their book Disrupting Thinking.   Once they completed composing … Continue reading Give Them Something to Talk About: Book, Head, Heart Reflections + ConverSTATIONS

Personalizing Goals for Outside of School Reading Time

  Last semester we tried as a grade level to require students to read a uniform number of minutes outside of school time.  I really wanted to stay away from reading logs or anything like that, so I provided my students a calendar to keep in their literacy notebooks to track their minutes.  Unfortunately, the … Continue reading Personalizing Goals for Outside of School Reading Time

New Year, New Semester: The One Word Project as Our Compass

Many teachers like to begin the school year or a new semester with a One Word reflection and/or art project to help students choose a focal point for their academic and personal lives.  I decided to kick off the new semester and new year earlier this month with our own variation on a One Word … Continue reading New Year, New Semester: The One Word Project as Our Compass

Active Learning and Thinking: Walk and Talk Partner Discussions

Right after the first of the year, one of my favorite teachers and literacy leaders, Sarah Brown Wessling, posted this video about taking her class on the move.  Last year, I crafted and incorporated many learning activities for my high school students that involved movement, and I've continued that with my 8th graders during the … Continue reading Active Learning and Thinking: Walk and Talk Partner Discussions

PD Session for Teachers: Helping Students Generate Questions for Inquiry and Deeper Thinking

Our school district returned on January 2 to begin a new semester, and our first day back was one with a focus on professional development.  At my school, four sessions were offered for our faculty that touched on each area of our school improvement plan.  My principal asked me to lead a session on helping … Continue reading PD Session for Teachers: Helping Students Generate Questions for Inquiry and Deeper Thinking