Reflection: Learning Communities Prepping for Book Talks - Section 2: Students Prepare Their Graphic Organizers


Here, at the exalted end of the middle school spectrum, we are often confronted with students who do not have the background knowledge that they need to do quality "8th grade" work (as defined by, well, us.) When this happens, we do what comes naturally -- we look for a reason, a culprit, a scapegoat.  I mean, why in the world would a 13 year old have no concept of theme?  Can you believe that only three of my students could identify a preposition?  Who TAUGHT these students last year?

Yeah.  I've probably said some version of all of those questions.  It's the blame game approach.  The "I do what I am supposed to do, so why doesn't everyone?" concept.

As natural and human as these instincts are, we have to get over the impulse to blame our fellow teachers.  Our kids come from so many school experiences; they have good, rich teachable days and crazy, distracted ones.  Some students learn after being told something once, in passing.  And others need infinite practice.

Just because they don't know it doesn't mean that someone didn't teach it.  That amazing lesson you did last week -- the one with the video that took you an hour to make?  At least five students were absent.  One couldn't pay attention because he was obsessed with the new Call of Duty game that was coming out at midnight.  The boy in the back was trying to text in the pocket of his skinny jeans (good luck with that.) And at least three of the kids in your classroom are in love at any given time.

These aren't excuses not to teach.  They're reasons to stop blaming.

I'm going to try.  Want to join me?



  The Blame Game
  Learning Communities: The Blame Game
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Prepping for Book Talks

Unit 18: Independent Reading
Lesson 1 of 3

Objective: SWBAT identify the central question in a text in the process of preparing for an engaging peer-to-peer book talk.

Big Idea: To find the central question in a text, identify the conflict and its solution...working backwards leads to greater understanding.

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