In this unit, my students are reading Jack London and writing stories. As I review their writing, I notice some grammar/writing trends and I try to address them through warm ups and mini-lessons. Today's lesson was inspired by a few comical sentences that were caused by misplaced modifiers.
The best resource I have found for focused, logical grammar lessons is Daniel Sullivan's book, Relax, It's Just SAT Writing. Though my students are years away from the SAT, the book is really simple, logical, and concise. I like its use of examples, and I lifted all of these directly from that book.
Ten minutes of grammar is about all that my students can take (and about all I want to provide, on any given day.) This lesson is cute, because the examples are silly. I do recommend that you change the names to a teacher in your school or a kid in your class...just because it makes the lesson more fun.
When we started the book groups, I put students together in 3-5 person groups, based on their reading rates. Then, the groups got together and negotiated a reading schedule (I give class time to read, since we have long classes.) In preparation for their book group meeting today, students prepared three questions each for discussion. They put the questions in baskets and drew them out, one by one.
There were two main challenges related to this assignment: 1. My classes are large, so six groups meeting at once got a little out of hand, volume-wise; and 2. I didn't do any real "quality control" for the questions, so some of my groups didn't go very deep. However, some of the discussions were really interesting and worthwhile, so I would probably do this again with few changes.
One day last week, I saw my teammate use a "parking lot" on her whiteboard, whereupon students post their questions on Post-It notes. Seeing that reminded me of that strategy, but I wanted to tweak it a little bit to fit our book group model.
So, after thinking for a moment, I decided on "Burning Questions/Brilliant Insight." I used chart paper and drew a fire on one sheet and a lightbulb on the other. They were pretty rudimentary, but the kids could tell what they were. I then gave every student a Post-It and told them that any time during today's reading time, they could write down a "burning" question or brilliant observation. In a perfect world, I would have students pick someone else's question to answer in class next time. However, I got more than a few questions that were not exactly thought-provoking. So, I have to decide where to go with that. The good thing is that I had both classes do the activity, so that means I have 60 Post-its to work with!