This is our daily warm up, wherein students work with two or three Latin roots per day. The resource that I use to get my roots is Perfection Learning's Everyday Words from Classic Origins.
Every day, when the students arrive, I have two Latin roots on the SmartBoard. Their job is to generate as many words as they can that contain the roots, and they try to guess what the root means. After I give them about five minutes, we share words and I tell them what the root means.
The students compile these daily activities in their class journals. After every twelve roots, they take a test on the roots themselves and a set of words that contains them.
While the kids were completing their warm-ups, I took a few minutes to pass out the drafts that they completed in the last class (which we had in the computer lab.) All of my students had a draft of at least a few paragraphs; the longest one was nine pages long (1.5 spacing!)
I tried to distribute the longest drafts to my strongest readers OR I matched up students who had stories of similar lengths. This worked out well, because (though I didn't think about it at the time), it ended up matching students who had not worked together before. At this point in the year (the end of February,) everyone gets pretty stuck in their ways, so it's nice to shake it up gently.
A few lessons ago, the students used highlighters to find characterization, conflict, setting and mood in the first four paragraphs of "To Build a Fire." So, I put the terms on my white board in the same way I had put them up there in the previous lesson, and I put up the directions.
During this first section, students had to read the story once, then use the highlighters to find and mark the elements. I was adamant that they had to do a first read without marking the text, and they did well with that. [Actually, they handled the sequencing of the assignment really well. It was tricky, because kids had drafts of different lengths, and some are just faster workers. But it worked.]
After the students have read the stories twice and considered them in terms of the literary elements, I ask them to consider three questions. The students write the answers to these questions on the drafts or on a separate sheet of paper.
The questions help the students to focus and to have some "talking points" when they meet.
The first question asks for an adjective to describe the draft. I talk to students about "good" and "bad" adjectives and how telling something that their draft is good, or even interesting, really isn't that helpful to the writer.
After all of the writing and highlighting, the students then meet to discuss their feedback. While they did this, I went around and checked in with the pairs. The room was very noisy (27 kids talking at one time, what do you expect?) but it felt like focused, productive noise. Some kids asked really good questions and gave great feedback.
To help "cement" what was discussed in pairs today, I had students write down just one thing that they are going to change or add to their drafts. They know that they have all week this week to work on the draft at home, and we have computer lab time again this Friday.