“Milestones Mania and More!” Station Rotations and Review

Springtime in Georgia brings abundant pollen, April showers, restless middle school learners, and the state end of year Milestones testing.  This year I decided to craft "work at your own pace" station rotations that emphasized the three types of writing prompts students would see plus some additional stations to support our study of poetry and … Continue reading “Milestones Mania and More!” Station Rotations and Review

Finding a Path into Poetry with Annotations, FSLL Charts, and Poetry Chats

Last week  (April 17) we began our exploration of poetry with an inquiry-oriented warm-up.  I presented students two documents: An annotated copy of "Alone" by Maya Angelou (annotations by me) A FSLL (Feelings, Story, Language, and Lines) that I had completed for "Alone" by Maya Angelou. Students could work alone or with a partner to … Continue reading Finding a Path into Poetry with Annotations, FSLL Charts, and Poetry Chats

Next Steps for Thinking About Theme, Central Topics, and Social Issues: Pop-Up Book Club Meetings

In my last post, I shared how we used a Lucy Calkins learning structure to think about more deeply about theme, central ideas/topics, and social issues.  Yesterday, I did two variations on some "pop-up" book club meetings to help students think through these elements. Variation #1, Periods 1 and 4 On Monday evening,  I compiled … Continue reading Next Steps for Thinking About Theme, Central Topics, and Social Issues: Pop-Up Book Club Meetings

Looking for Seeds of Theme, Central Ideas, and Social Issues in Our Nonfiction Books: Scaffolding, Structure, and Strategy

This past Friday and Monday (April 12 and 15), I wanted my students to have an opportunity to think a little more deeply about their nonfiction books.  Using a focal point from one of our Lucy Calkins units of study, I crafted a graphic organizer to help students identify each of the following elements in … Continue reading Looking for Seeds of Theme, Central Ideas, and Social Issues in Our Nonfiction Books: Scaffolding, Structure, and Strategy

Navigating Our Nonfiction Books with Notice and Note Signposts

As you read in my last blog post, my students have started reading their self-selected nonfiction books.  Our first in-class reading day was last Thursday, April 11.    To help my students jump into their books with some purposeful annotation that would not overwhelm them, we reviewed both the Notice and Note nonfiction signposts as … Continue reading Navigating Our Nonfiction Books with Notice and Note Signposts

Nonfiction Book Tasting + Google Forms

We are rapidly coming down the home stretch with only six weeks left in the school year!  We returned from our spring break last week with a two-day book tasting of six nonfiction books, selections we made as a grade level based on the Lucy Calkins nonfiction and literary nonfiction units of study: March Forward, … Continue reading Nonfiction Book Tasting + Google Forms

Argumentative Writing March Madness with Post-It Note Reading, Think Tank Conversations, 11×14 Reasons and Evidence Mapping + Essay Drafting

The last five weeks have been a whirlwind here between district third quarter benchmark testing and next steps into argumentative writing, the culminating activities of the front-loading skill work we did in February (see previous blog posts, please).  I'd like to share our journey of reading, writing, and thinking with you by outlining the major … Continue reading Argumentative Writing March Madness with Post-It Note Reading, Think Tank Conversations, 11×14 Reasons and Evidence Mapping + Essay Drafting

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