Today we'll start the hour off by finishing up our discussion on Of Mice and Men. Since we had such a lovely discussion last class period about the previous chapter, I anticipate that students will be ready to sound off about the final chapter this period! I will be using discussion questions in the resources section as an outline for this discussion time, but wherever possible I prefer to let discussion happen organically. To facilitate this, I will ask my first question, then let students address the question and pose questions of their own until there is a lull in the conversation, which is when I will insert another question from my list that hasn't already been discussed. Because we have our Amazing Grammar Race activity today as well, I will be watching the clock closely to ensure that we get this material covered in 25 minutes. I will also inform students of this time crunch so that they can monitor their own contributions. I have some students that can be over-sharers, so putting a clear time limit on discussions can be a great way to help them recall that others need the chance to speak as well. It can also give you a really polite way to move on from long-winded contributions.
At this point, we're going to shift gears from Of Mice and Men to the ACT results that students have all been emailed. These results included both the scores and my "top 3" areas to work on to improve, so I will need to go over exactly what those numbers mean to my students. I'm not a fan of test prep, though it is required by our district to some extent, so I will frame this conversation as a SKILL improvement, not a test prep activity, and we will only focus on the English results today. This will actually be an ideal time to review and remediate these common grammatical errors, as we will soon start drafting our research papers. The materials and activities small groups complete today will serve as great materials for editing help later!
I will start this section by reminding students of the emails I sent them, which contained both their results (and that they will need at the beginning of this portion of the lesson) and their pre-selected groups (and associated group colors). You don't have to pre-select groups, but I think it makes things much easier! We will then review the Amazing Grammar Race Presentation in the resources to get a better understanding of what their scores mean and get an overview of how the Amazing Grammar Race works.
If you've never checked out CBS's The Amazing Race, which this game is based on, I suggest you give it a quick view before you attempt to play this game. (Come on! Watching a full episode is kind of like prepping, right?!) It's been on for 24 seasons, and there is a new season beginning in September, so most of your students will have some idea of the game. In a nutshell, here's what you need to know in order to play this "game":
1. It's a race. Groups must start at the first task and work through them in order.
2. Every "pitstop" is set up the SAME way: a presentation about a concept, 2 group or individual activities, and a Winner Tally to report your group progress on the task.
3. The teacher will have to approve some things (Pit Stop #2 & Pit Stop #3), but the use of Google Drive and the Winner Tally will allow maximum interaction with students throughout the activity.
4. Before students arrive, the teacher will have to create and assign students 4 items in NoRedInk: a comma assignment, a comma quiz, an apostrophe assignment, and an apostrophe quiz. I will make my assignments 20 questions each and the quizzes 10 questions each to allow for plenty of practice.
5. "Fast Forwards" are basically extension activities. On the TV show, they allow contestants to skip tasks, but with this game, I WANT all my students to do all the work. In light of this, I will still make Fast Forward activities that groups can elect to do, and the FIRST TEAM to complete and submit the activity correctly will have 5 minutes taken off their total completion time. To keep it fair, I will only allow each team to win a maximum of one Fast Forward.
6. A designated student from each group needs to fill out the Winner Tally after they complete each section. You'll end up with several entries from teams on your Winner Tally (Responses) Sheet, but this way you'll have an accurate time stamp for when each "leg" was completed.
7. Remember that students can't complete MY Winner Tally Form since you won't see their results, but you can copy/paste my questions into your own duplicate form for your students to use.
After we've gone over the general idea of the game, students will pull up the "Amazing Race Overview" document. This document will contain all of the "route map" information. After finishing each activity, then will need to return to this document to start work on the next activity. Before I let students loose on their own, I want to model for them what a group should be doing and thinking for each task. We'll just walk through what it looks like, not actually do it together. Here's the procedure:
Once all students are confident with how the resources are ordered and arranged, we will begin The Amazing Grammar Race!
A Note for Using This in Your Classroom:
In the final moments of our class period, I will let students know that I will email winning groups by the next class period for today's game. I will also give them a digital copy of my ACT Review Materials so that they can spend some time at home preparing specifically for the test if they choose to do so. Additionally, I will assign them 20 additional notecards (bringing their grand total to 80 notecards) to complete before I see them again. This will conclude the notecards that I'm requiring for the research project, but they can absolutely make more if they desire. Like all of the other notecards, they should be properly tagged and in Evernote to earn credit. Since we have had such active discussion of the novel (and snow days have been killing our instructional time at the start of this semester!), we will not be taking an exam over it. I will advise students to keep their discussion notes in their shared folders, as some basic material from this novel will show up on their unit test and final exam.
Before our next class period, I will email all Amazing Grammar Race winners. I will also check all students' Evernote notebooks to see where they are at with notecard creation. For students who have not completed these notecards, I will email them a reminder that their due date is approaching. If they are over 20 notecards behind, I will also email their parents or guardians to let them know. I've found that this practice is really helpful, and parents are usually willing to be allies with getting notecards done! They're just as worried about the research paper as their children, so keeping them up to date is crucial!