Did you know that there was a word to describe an environment created to house lizards and snakes? I didn't, and neither did some of my students. These daily paragraphs are not only good for practicing editing skills, but teaching students about concepts like mythology, science, and social studies. This week is all about vivariums.
Throughout the week, students practice using commas to separate items in a list. The list could be a list of nouns, verbs, or adjectives. I teach students that the last comma in the series, right before the conjunction, the Oxford comma, is not optional. Yes, technically it is optional, but writing is just clearer with it in. Who cares about the Oxford comma? I do.
For the love of all that is good and holy, please read the reflection in this section first. Go. I'll wait.
Did you read the reflection? No? Please go read it. I teach seventh graders, I'm patient.
Did you read the reflection? Yes? Excellent. Let's proceed.
My students have had reading log homework for the entire year. It had basically the same assignment for both co-taught and honors--they needed to read. Co-taught classes needed to read for about 15 minutes a day, one hour and thirty minutes a week. Honors classes needed to read for two hours and thirty minutes a week, about 30 minutes a day. To demonstrate proof of their reading, they needed to write a T3C paragraph about what they read.
For second semester, I slightly changed the assignment for honors students and drastically changed it for co-taught students. They still have to read for the required time, but I'm giving co-taught students the reading assignment and I'm giving honors students part of the reading assignment.
Since I'm changing the rules (OMG! Ms.DeVries! You can't DOOOOO that!), I sent about fifteen minutes going over the changes with my honors classes. For my co-taught classes, I spent the whole period modeling the process.
Directions for My Honors Classes
I explained that they needed to read this passage multiple times. At least once, the passage should be read aloud. They needed to answer the questions, and cite evidence for the questions. Questions one through three deal with main idea. One of those statements is the main idea one statement is too broad, and one is too narrow. If it's the main idea, it'll be found in all or most of the paragraphs. If it's too narrow, it's in just one or two places. If it's too broad, it's too big to be found, really. The proof for question four, which is subject matter, is in the main idea. The other questions are straightforward.
Once they've got their answers, they transfer them to the bubble sheet on the back. They write a T3C paragraph as well. For their T3c paragraph, they can either write about the passage I gave them, or something else they read. I was a bit surprised at how relieved some of them were at being told what to write about.
See the video about filling in the bubble sheet to see how students bubble in their ID number. I don't know why this is so hard, but it is.
Directions for my Co-Taught Classes
We still had about five students who we still needed to give the reading level test to, including students who switched classes at the semester or who switched schools at the semester. (In the last week, I've gotten six new students, and lost one student. One student is continuing to say that he's leaving for another middle school in town, but he's been saying that for three weeks now. How many new students did you get at semester break? Let's compare!) Since we still had students that we didn't have the level for, and for purposes of making the modeling the process easier, we gave all students the same passage printed on green paper. They all got a packet about the Parthenon.
We walked students through the packet. There's three passages. The first passage is easiest, the third passage is hardest, and the middle passage is in the middle. Each passage has five questions. The last page of the passage has the T3C outline and a bubble sheet.
We spent five minutes explaining the bubble sheet. No, seriously. Five minutes.
Then we read the first passage aloud, five times. After each time, I modeled making a mark at the top of page to keep track of how many times we'd read it aloud. I read it once, my co-teacher read it once, a student read it once, we picked five students to read it again, and my co-teacher read it once. We wanted to make it clear that they needed to read it five times aloud.
Then we modeled answering the questions, underlining where the answer was found in the passage, and labeling it with the number of the question.
Then we showed them how to fill out the bubble sheet. The three passages have five questions each. Each set of five is numbered 1 through 5. The bubble sheet has the numbers 1 through 20. On the bubble sheet, questions 1 through 5 are for passage one. Questions 6 through 10 are for passage two. Questions 11 through 15 are for the third passage. Questions 16 through 20 should be left empty. No, don't scratch them out. No, don't bubble in whatever you want. Just leave them blank. The box to the right is where they put their school ID number.
The last thing to do is to write a T3C paragraph about what they learned in the passages. For this week, they'll all write about the Parthenon. They use this handout that has both the bubble sheet and the outline.
We'll see how they do next Monday.
The last day before Winter Break, students were going to make posters showing the four components of a ballad. However, school was canceled because of snow. Apparently some areas of town got seven inches of snow! I didn't. The snow was melted by noon, and I didn't even have to shovel. But we have a ton of students in outlying areas, and some students spend an hour one way to get to school, and at 4:00 when they make the call, it was pretty bad out.
So today we did the ballad posters thing. The directions were still the same--create a better ballad reference sheet than I did.
Today's lesson picture is of one of my students' posters. All aboard the ballad train!