This week left us dry by Friday, in terms of vocabulary words. Thus, I have turned to Barron's COOP/HSPT/TACHS test prep guide for a list of commonly tested words to feature as this week's vocabulary. Many of my students will be applying to private high schools and so are preparing for various entrance exams. The words from commonly tested lists will definitely help them, as well as prepare all of my students for future standardized tests. And then, of course, there is always the simple pleasure of gaining a more extensive vocabulary!
I have chosen the words in alphabetical order, through ten, and so stopped with a "j" word. I explain to my students that whenever a week's vocabulary needs to be supplemented, I will choose words from Barron's list of commonly tested words. Through the whole-class, Vocabulary #5 guided assignment, I ask my students to identify each word's part of speech, based on its definition. I then call on students to offer an original sentence using knowledge of the definition and the part of speech. If a student offers a sentence such as "My mother is irascible," I encourage him/her to add something to the sentence that offers a clue towards the word's meaning. For example, "My mother is irascible and often loses her temper over small things."
I assign flashcards as homework for this set of words, as this is an approach I have not yet required.
The rest of the period is dedicated to my students creating a character for the neighborhood of Mango Street that we will replicate on one of our classroom walls.
I explain to my students that they may choose any character from The House On Mango Street that we have read about thus far, excepting Esperanza and Cathy. Esperanza is off limits, I say, because one of the goals of this activity is to determine the ways the characters in the text have influenced who she is and who she is becoming. Because I have used Cathy as a model for this assignment (and because we analyzed her at length when I first introduced the practice of making inferences), she is likewise unavailable.
I first walk my students through the steps of the Neighborhood Assignment as I have listed them on the whiteboard. I then display the model of Cathy that I have created on the document camera. In the middle of the room, I have markers, crayons, and colored pencils for my students to use. I give each student a piece of white computer paper, a copy of the text, and they are off and running. As they work, I visit each student, checking in on their progress and making sure they are working with what is implicit rather than what is explicit in the text.
If my students are not finished by the end of the period, and if they have worked diligently on the assignment for the time provided in class, then I will allow them to complete the activity for homework.