This is the last vocabulary quiz of the year, and I have tried to be conscious of how to make the most out of it for my students, so that they can be successful (some of the sentence completions echo the sentences in the vocabulary review, two or three of the questions are definition rather than context based).
I am compelled to end this way because I have noticed a concerted effort this trimester from a few of my struggling students to improve their vocabulary quiz scores. What has been so gratifying is that their gains have largely been due to switching homework methods. As mentioned in several past lessons, my students are given a choice as to what vocabulary activity they do for homework, with the advice from me to select what works best for passing the vocabulary quizzes. Most gravitate towards making flashcards, automatically thinking this will be the most effective (not to mention easiest) way for them to study.
What a few of my students have found, however, is that creating original sentences helps them remember the words better, especially after working with the words in sentences as a whole group through our vocabulary reviews. As I type this, I can think of three specific students who have struggled with vocabulary all year, only to have discovered that switching homework methods and thereby studying methods has improved their performance.
I consider this a win-win. While it may have taken them awhile to get there, these are students who recognized that they have to own their learning, and that when something about how they learn is not working, then it's time to consider other options. This is a message I tend to slip in time and time again with my students, and it appears that it may just be sinking in with a few them!
After the vocabulary quiz, my students will begin drafting the informative essay that will accompany the shoes they will be creating for the character from To Kill a Mockingbird they have been assigned since the beginning of our unit.
I begin this transition by distributing a copy of the rubric to each student. We review the criteria of the rubric as a whole group, as I point out the new categories that are specific to writing an informative essay (taken from the CCSS for informative writing).
Next, I instruct my students to turn the rubric over, where I have included a sample informative essay that I have written to address the sample shoes of Curley's wife from Of Mice and Men that I made. I ask a student volunteer to read the essay out loud so that I am assured that every student has read/heard it. I then explain to my students that in lieu of a drafting template for this essay, I have instead provided them with an entire sample essay after which to model their own essays.
After we have reviewed the rubric and have read through the sample essay, I explain to my students that for the remainder of the period, they will be working on body paragraph one, which is the paragraph that explains who their character is and how that character functions in To Kill a Mockingbird. I want them to get this paragraph started under my watch, so that I can address any and all questions of "Where in the book does ___ happen?" and "What chapter does Mrs. Dubose first show up?" and so on and so on.
I instruct my students to skip eight to ten lines down on their papers and begin body paragraph one, leaving space enough for them to return to drafting the introduction at another time. This is a technique I have always offered to my students, of all ages, to skip introductions when inspiration is just not there, coming back to them later. Today, because I want to be able to help my students locate any necessary information in the text, it makes even more sense for them to skip their introductions for now.
My students will work on their paragraphs until the end of class as I circulate and help any who request assistance.