Yesterday we discussed all the words that we wrote on sticky notes. We defined the words that we knew, that could be considered common knowledge, and identified the words that we need to use context and dictionaries to learn. How did you feel about that process? What was the most frustrating part of the activity? What do you think would be the most effective way to create the definition? Explain with concrete evidence and commentary.
Today we had were lots of run-on sentences. I believe there were three, which gives students multiple opportunities to practice identify the subject and predicate to determine whether there's a complete sentence with an independent clause tacked on, or if it's two complete sentences jammed together. And no, putting a comma between two complete sentences won't work. You still have a run-on sentence.
I had to give student about ten more minutes to finish the vocabulary part. They sometimes write slower than I think they're going to. I made to sure to reiterate that this activity wasn't just about copying, but about sharing definitions. Copying is a part of sharing, but it's not the whole part. Sharing, in this context, means talking about the words and explaining the information.
One student asked, "But what if they won't talk to you because they're talking to someone else? Can't we just copy then?"
Insert teachable moment here.
We roleplayed. I played the role of a student who was talking to another student, and Elena was given the opportunity to be the obnoxious student who comes up and interrupts. She even tapped me impatiently on the shoulder! I turned around and said, "I'm working with Isaac right now. Can you wait a couple of minutes?" She said, "But I need help now!" I said, "Is that homecourt?" Elena signed. "No. Okay!" I finished saying something about dependent clauses to Isaac, and then turn to Elena.
Teachable moment over. Go!
Last year, if I had told students that we were going to be reading a story in an anthology twice, they would have mutinied. I think they would actually have built a ship and lake, in order to mutiny and make me walk the plank. I'm not exaggerating.
This year? "We're going to read it again? Okay." And that was true in all my classes, honors, co-taught, and 'regular.' I may have even heard a "Cool" in there.
I wouldn't do this type of reading with all the stories in the various anthologies. I would never do it for Gary Soto's "Seventh Grade," for instance. The stories you read twice are the ones that are deeply meaningful and raise rigorous questions. They're the stories that confuse you and keep you up at night. They're the ones without happy endings. They're the ones that make you angry. "The White Umbrella" is perfect for a second read.
I allowed my honors classes to choose their own groups. They could read the story by themselves or with a small group. Small group. No more than three people! For my other classes, I divided them up into three groups. One group read with my co-teacher, one group read with my student teacher, and the third group was stuck with me. My eighth hour is so small (we're up to fourteen kids! What will I dooooooooo?) was broken up into two groups.
And we read. I had each kid read a half a page. Some kids went over because they didn't realize they finished a half a page and I forgot to remind them. Whoops. This oral second read was successful because they knew the plot, words, characters, etc. Doing an oral cold read with new stories? Painful. This time? Not so much. Their fluency was better because they were familiar with the story. And that's okay.
We stopped at basically the same points throughout the story as during the first read. We stopped at suspenseful places. If there was white space, we stopped. We stopped at the end of the story. Crazy, I know, but we stopped there, too.
Each time, they wrote a comment. I had the picture below up on overhead screen for reference. Some students didn't just write a comment, they wrote a question. This time, one group latched on to the notion that the father is only mentioned once, and then never again. Why? they asked. Make sure you check out their comments in the video in the next section. I even played it for my students. The ones in the pictures at the beginning and end loved it especially. When they recognized their comment? No words.
I collected the students' papers and they put their books back on the shelf. When we were all back in seats, I asked for some volunteers to share what they noticed for the first time or what they now understood. Some of the best comments often come from students who don't like to volunteer, so I quickly skimmed the comments and read the ones that made me go, "ooooohhhh." Many of them appear in the video in this section. I plan on sharing this video with the students tomorrow before their discussion.
Today's lesson picture is two of my students discussing their comments during the second reading of "The White Umbrella."