Week 1, First 9 weeks, August 14-18
We're getting back into the swing of things. Nearly every student completed their homework over the weekend, and this enabled us to wrap up our All About Me Collage project and move on...
Students were introduced to our Bellringers for this year; there are two separate components to the Bellringer that each student will work on each day. Together, these two components get students working each day on multiple aspects of Reading, Writing, Grammar, and Vocabulary.
- Words for Success-this is designed to help students with general academic vocabulary and to improve their writing style. Each day they are given: a word with definition and synonyms. They are to create four sentences (that must be complex or compound) using the word of the day and it's synonyms. In addition to the structure requirement of the sentences, students must also write differenty types of sentences: Declarative, Imperative, and Interrogative. This is an opportunity to practice varying the types of sentences and the structure of sentences which will raise the caliber of students' writing considerably.
- SSR + Reading Count Logs-this was tough for students to understand on Tuesday but with daily practice, the routine of this exercise can support growth in students' literary analysis skills. They get to choose the book that they read silently in class (SSR = Silent Sustained Reading). After each reading, they must log the pages that they read and create an entry in their reading log on a particular signpost that they encountered in passage.
We spent considerable time in class on WORDS FOR SUCCESS on Monday and we did the same for the SSR + Reading Count Logs on Tuesday. This time investiment is going to pay off by building students skills significantly. To that end, each student has a collection of reference sheets and has already been coached on how to use some of these. As a whole class, we've modeled what it looks like when you're stuck on either of these two activities and we've modeled ways to use the reference sheets to inspire or assist students past any stumbling blocks.
Monday-practice Words for Success and begin collage portion of All About Me project. Word of the day: THEME
Tuesday-practice SSR + Reading Count Log and complete collage.
Wednesday-Class opened with the first full Bellringer. Afterwards, we began a review of basic literary terms and introduced a couple of new ones. Students will be working on note-taking skills in about 2 weeks, once we've gotten past the beginning of the year review. During this time, I am supplying guided notes which serve as a model for organinzing information once students begin writing their own notes. Today we started with general literary terms or elements. Word of the day: PORTRAY
Thursday- Class opened with Words for Success and SSR. Students completed their general literary terms PPT presentation with guided notes and they began a shorter presentation on THEME. Over the next week, they will be delving more deeply into specific components of literature and they will be tested on their understanding of what the terms mean. This combination of reviewing old terms, introducing a few new ones, and applying their knowledge to various short reads is designed to build the skills students need as they engage in more extensive literary analysis and critical writing pieces. Word of the day: INTERACTION
Friday-In addition to our usual 2-part Bellringer, students were introduced to the R.A.C.E. component of the Bellringer today. Afterwards, students worked in groups analyze short reads and identify the theme of the story. Word of the day: COGNITION
First two days of school, August 10, 11
Our first ELA assignment is an Icebreaker activity designed to help us get to know each other. You'll use your writing skills and creativity to share information with our class that tells us a bit about who you are. You will work on this in class on Thursday and Friday, and complete the project at home if you need more time. We will share our Biopoems in class on Monday. Here are the four documents that I will be handing out in class on our first day.
FRIDAY HOMEWORK! Any student who did not complete the Autobiography Pattern and the worksheet with BioPoem must do so over the weekend. These are due at the start of class on Monday. Students were also encouraged to bring in an especially creative image to use in the collages that they will assemble in class on Monday and Tuesday. According to the rubric on the back of the directions page, the way to get the maximum score for creativity is to have several images show creativity. The rest of the required number of images can simply be cut from the magazines that students will have access to in class on Monday.
The first 4-5 days of any school year are best spent focusing on school and classroom norms and expectations. We reviewed my policies and procedures, we engaged in role play and improv so students would have a solid understanding of the best practices (and also what NOT to do) in class. Please review the ELA Procedures and the Classroom Decorum and Discipline forms with your students. I ask you to detach the bottom of the Decorum document and send it back with your student by the end of next week. THANK YOU to the students and parents who have already returned these slips!
Lastly, I've asked students to complete job applications for the positions that they wish to hold in our classroom. Having students do some of the jobs in the class is a WIN/WIN. Students get to practice self-governance and responsibility, and I am free to focus more on monitoring individual student progress and giving support as needed. Thank you to all students who have already applied. I'm taking a stack of applications home tonight but I will continue to accept them through Monday. Parents, please encourage your student to participate in helping our classroom community to THRIVE.
I've attached all of the aforementioned documents below in case any student is unable to locate these over the weekend. Within the Classroom Decorum document, you'll find a quote at the top of the second page that states our social focus in the classroom this year. Ask you students where their REAL POWER lies.
Thank you to all students and parents for making this first week of 8th grade, or "high school prep" a raging success! I'm delighted to have each and everyone of my students in my classroom; together we will make this a wonderfully memorable and meaningful year!