This is the weekly review that corresponds to 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. The review takes the roots from the lesson and has students work with them, words that contain them, and other related vocabulary.
Yesterday, in class, we drafted sonnets using a template. Students were told that they could work on their sonnets at home, but I did not "assign" any particular homework. I told the class that they would have to finish the final copy in class today, so they should judge their time accordingly. This is a big issue for my eighth graders this year. Despite the fact that our team has a "no late work" policy (within reason), the kids still think every deadline is negotiable. Because they are going to high school very soon, I try to really train them to meet deadlines. (Easier said than done.)
To help them stay on track today, I asked them to do peer editing via Google Drive. This means that they shared their document with another student or students of their choosing and communicated with that student via the chat function. Though some face to face conversations were still needed, it cut down on the chatter and kept more students on task and less distracted. I really like the Google tools better than, say, Moodle, because it feels like a more logical way to do things, and it is more aligned with the way that most adults work.
So, once they completed their peer reviews, they worked on finalizing their poems.
The student needed two tools to work effectively on the sonnet: a rhyming dictionary and a copy of Twelfth Night. Yes, they drafted yesterday, but after getting feedback, many students had to revise extensively.
When we do creative writing in class, what really jumps out at me is how limited some of the students' vocabularies are. After all, one of the things that makes writing strong is specificity, and most of the problems in this assignment resulted NOT from their lack of familiarity with the play and its characters, but instead from "limp language." When I visited kids I felt compelled to ask questions like "When you say that "I am around her every day," can you be more specific? Do you pass her in the hall? Do you spy her across the lawn? Do you brush against her in the drawing room? (Remember, these are from the perspective of Twelfth Night characters...) The students almost seemed perplexed that I wanted so much specificity. It was almost as if they thought, "Hey lady, it rhymes. Are you happy now?"
Overall, it was a fun assignment. I wanted to see how well they understood the characters, and I feel satisfied with that. I do think it was a little challenging for some of my students who work a bit more slowly or who have less exposure to poetry. But, hey -- they wrote sonnets, too!