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

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

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

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

Engage All Students in Quick But Meaningful Review with Everyone Up!

This is time of year  when many educators look at the calendar and begin to feel panic (or fully embrace the panic?) as they realize how quickly the remainder of the school year is slipping away.  I am most decidedly one of those teachers!  I need to finish our unit of study by the third … Continue reading Engage All Students in Quick But Meaningful Review with Everyone Up!

Before and After Reading Macbeth: From Write-Around to a Post-It Note Gallery Walk Around Provocative Statements

In early January, my seniors participated in a write-around as a modified anticipation guide to introduce themes of Macbeth with a series of 10 provocative statements.  At the end of the write-around, students received a copy of all 10 statements and were asked to do some written reflections on those statements.  We finished Macbeth last … Continue reading Before and After Reading Macbeth: From Write-Around to a Post-It Note Gallery Walk Around Provocative Statements

New: Upcoming Presentation at GCTE 2018

  After a long self-imposed hiatus from public speaking, I'm excited to be presenting a session in Athens, Georgia at the GCTE (Georgia Council of Teacher of English) in February.  Here is a preview of my session, Lift Every Voice and Sing: What Will Their Verses Be? Creating a Chorus of Student Conversations for Learning … Continue reading New: Upcoming Presentation at GCTE 2018

Visualizing Our Research with Sticky Notes

My seniors, who have been researching  their self-selected topics under the umbrella of "The Future of Work," have completed their first round of research.  We had roughly four days (we meet for 90 minute blocks) to delve into our research guide.   Students formed Birds of Feather groups by interest and designed their research questions … Continue reading Visualizing Our Research with Sticky Notes