A Writer Observes

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Having read through chapter 8 of Bad Boy, "A Writer Observes," SWBAT write what they observe by spending time outside of class, observing the activities of their own city.

Big Idea

Field trip to the front of the school!

Shortened Day Schedule

Today's lesson is designed for a 45 minute duration as opposed to the usual 70 minute duration.  This week is student-led conference week, which means we are on our minimum day schedule.

Bad Boy Reading Quiz #1

15 minutes

Today will be the first reading quiz my students will take, covering chapters six-eight of Bad Boy.  I have created a series of eight-ten basic comprehension questions from which to choose five, giving me the room to vary the quizzes from class to class throughout the day. For example, in one class I will ask the following five questions:

  1. What does his teacher, Mrs. Conway, give him?
  2. Name one of Myers "secrets."
  3. Why does his sixth grade teacher, Mr. Lasher, walk him home from school one day?
  4. How does Myers hurt his legs?
  5. On whom does he blame his hurt legs?

I pass out half sheets of scratch paper to my students and instruct them to write their names on their papers.  I then proceed to ask them the questions orally, advising them to answer the questions in ways that will prove they have done their reading.  I remind them that that is all I am after in this type of quiz--to see who is keeping up with the reading and who is not.  Therefore, if they forget the exact names or details of an answer, but it is clear to me through their answers that they have completed their reading, then they will get credit. 

I find that these quizzes are terrific for lighting a fire under the students who may not be keeping up with the reading, as I find that my students do not like to score low on them.  It is also a benefit to review the quizzes, either immediately after or before the next scheduled whole group reading of the book, as they tend to generate excitement from my students as they share what they know and remember from their reading.  This process also helps those that may have fallen behind in the reading by filling in the gaps before we read on.

Writers Observe "Field Trip"

25 minutes

I am fortunate that where we are in Bad Boy allows me to design lessons for the shortened class sessions that can be covered in the time allotted.

Chapters 6-8 of Bad Boy explore Myers's years in middle school, specifically what he was learning in his English class.  Thus, my lessons this week are an attempt to expose my students to his middle school education, taking our cues from what he was studying.  Today we are modeling the chapter "A Writer Observes," where he walks the streets of Harlem in an attempt at inspiration for something to write about.  We will only walk so far as the brick wall in front of our school, but in that we are located in downtown Los Angeles, my students will have plenty to feast their eyes upon.

I explain to my students that they will be bringing their classroom spiral notebooks with them, and that they will "become Walter" when we get outside.  Once there, I will have them sit along the low brick wall that lines the front of our school, along 6th Street.  We will be right in front of a bus stop, directly across from a public park and a public library, and a mile or two west of the high-rises of downtown.  I instruct them to write what they see, and to not worry about cohesion, spelling, grammar, or syntax.  The goal is to complete the exercise with enough writing to potentially shape into something more polished as the week progresses.

The total amount of time spent writing is about 15-20 minutes, which should give my students enough time to get something workable on their pages.

Writers Debrief

5 minutes

We have just enough time by the time we get back upstairs to our classroom to debrief about the experience of writing from observation.  I ask for students to share their thoughts on the experience , or, if there is time, to read what they have written to the whole class.

I close the lesson by explaining that we will be returning to what they have written in a future lesson for further development.