I give vocab words every Monday, in the first five to ten minutes of class. Most of the time, the kids don't love this system because these words are so foreign to them at first and memorizing them is hard, but it works better than any other system I have tried. I started it three years ago and I have been so pleasantly surprised to have current juniors come back to tell me that they see "our" vocab words everywhere and use them often in their essays.
Each week they add three new words and a commonly confused situation in the vocab section of their notebooks. It doesn't sound like a lot, but since the list grows every Monday, the words really add up and the stakes are raised for each quiz. I have compiled the vocab list for the year from the books we read and from lists of common SAT words. At the end of a month, they are quizzed on the words, but throughout the month, and the year, they receive extra points on any assignment wherein they use words correctly. One word is worth one point. I have had students who raise an essay grade 5-10 points, just by using words correctly.
The three new words for this week are: altruism, commiserate, avarice
The commonly confused situation is: accept and except
I keep a running list of words on a bulletin board throughout the year, so the students can always see them. I do not write the definitions or part of speech down; the students have to practice listening skills in order to accurately copy them. I also provide a sentence or two, so that they hear how to use it in context (L.9-10.4a). And I constantly remind them that they will never be quizzed on definition only; they always have to show that the understand how to use the word in a sentence.
We tried a double-entry journal with Chapter 2, but I think that it will work much better with Chapter 3. In this chapter, students will focus on the ways in which the convict is characterized, by writing key quotes on the left side of their notebook and their analysis of said quote on the right (RL.9-10.1). I will do most of the reading aloud, stopping at key moments so we can add to the worksheet. By "key moments," I mean both significant moments in the text that deserve reflection and moments when I feel that the students need to shift focus from reading to writing. The latter always depends on the class, not the text. Here, I show two examples.
These notes will become useful when we meet the convict again-- but that's still over twenty chapters away-- and they are asked to question preconceived reactions about him. In this chapter, the convict is dirty and frightening; he threatens Pip and tears out into the marshes after the other escaped convict. When Pip meets him again as an adult, he will still be dirty, but he will treat Pip very differently, highlighting essential themes of the text (RL.9-10.2).
When we finish the chapter, I will ask the whole group how setting and character complement each other. Through think-pair-share, we will try to make some conclusions. Students will first think and write independently; then, they will flush out ideas with another student; finally, we will come together as a whole group and discuss what the pairs decided.
I know that we won't have enough time to thoroughly analyze the chapter, but I want them to begin thinking about more than one element at a time. And mostly, I want them to habitually reference specific details from the text-- as if it's second nature-- when presenting an argument (RL.9-10.1).
I expect that we will be short on time, but before students leave, I will remind them that their homework this week is to continue reading their choice book.
I don't do any formal checks on their reading (I'm trying to emphasize time management), but I am giving consistent reminders, so that if they fail to complete their work, they won't have an excuse.