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

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

Annotation Conferences as Formative Assessment

We are racing toward the end of the year, and my juniors have been working hard between their prep work for our first American lit book club meeting tomorrow (for A day classes) and Friday (for B day classes) and our state End of Course testing.  About 10 days ago, we revisited two sets of … Continue reading Annotation Conferences as Formative Assessment

EOC Writing Test Prep with Noticings and an Inquiry Stance

We're sprinting toward EOC testing this Friday with some inquiry stance/noticings based activities for informational/explanatory constructed response prompts and extended constructed response narrative prompts.  Using materials available to the public from the Georgia Department of Education, students had opportunities to read literary and informational texts.  We then looked at possible constructed response and extended constructed … Continue reading EOC Writing Test Prep with Noticings and an Inquiry Stance

Strategic Writing Loops and Blind Peer Review for the Georgia Milestones EOC Test

This Friday, April 27 and Monday, April 30, my juniors will take the Georgia Milestones/End of Course test in 11th American Literature and Composition Language Arts, a state exam that counts as 20% of their final average.  Though ideally I would have done more intentional writing loops earlier in the year like those outlined in … Continue reading Strategic Writing Loops and Blind Peer Review for the Georgia Milestones EOC Test

Creative Formative Assessments of Independent/Choice Reading

As we were winding down our final week before spring break last week, I wanted to give my juniors a way to compose a creative product as a formative assessment of their independent/choice reading.  Students could create the product over: A book they recently finished A current read of an entire book (great for students … Continue reading Creative Formative Assessments of Independent/Choice Reading

Supporting Student Book Clubs with Scaffolding Structures: Senior Book Club Meetings 2 and 3

Earlier this month, I shared the "glows" and "grows" of our first 12th ELA student book club meeting.   Building on the glows and grows of that meeting, I wanted to share some learning tools and structures I incorporated into the second book club meeting to help support student talk. Support/Scaffold Structure 1:  Kickoff Quotes To … Continue reading Supporting Student Book Clubs with Scaffolding Structures: Senior Book Club Meetings 2 and 3

Deconstructing Argumentative Texts from the Wild: From Small Group Analysis to Making Our Thinking Public with Our Peers

  At the end of February, we began a gentle entry into a study of argumentative writing.  Though seniors have theoretically had instruction in this kind of writing the previous three years, it is part of our 12th ELA district ELA standards, and more importantly, I know a focal point of entry level English courses … Continue reading Deconstructing Argumentative Texts from the Wild: From Small Group Analysis to Making Our Thinking Public with Our Peers