Poems from Quaranteens: A Virtual Poetry Chat in Flipgrid + An eBook

As part of our continued study of poetry and a celebration of National Poetry Month 2020, my students composed poems last week using a wide range of strategies.  In this post, I'll outline how we not only composed original poems, but I'll also explain how we used Flipgrid to share those poems and interact with … Continue reading Poems from Quaranteens: A Virtual Poetry Chat in Flipgrid + An eBook

Thank You—Tuesdays with Poetry Is Funded + Virtual Poetry Tuesdays Presentations in Flipgrid

This post is a bit belated, but I want to publicly express my gratitude to Donors Choose and everyone who contributed to my Tuesdays with Poetry project!  Thanks to the generous donations by so many people, the project was funded March 21.  I'm in awe of the kindness of so many people who helped make … Continue reading Thank You—Tuesdays with Poetry Is Funded + Virtual Poetry Tuesdays Presentations in Flipgrid

Double The Donations: Donors Choose #FillEveryShelf Campaign Starts TODAY!

I am thrilled to share that today is the beginning of a special 5 day campaign with Donors Choose:  #FillEveryShelf .  What is this awesome campaign? Right now, any contribution you make to my project will be doubled by a group of anonymous donors. This is an amazing opportunity for my classroom! Your donation will … Continue reading Double The Donations: Donors Choose #FillEveryShelf Campaign Starts TODAY!

Beginning Our Argumentative Writing Unit with an Inquiry Stance, Part 3: from Gallery Walk to Collaborative Noticings and Reflections

In my previous two posts, I outlined the activities that were our first points of inquiry into argumentative writing and essays.  In the last post, I shared how I organized a gallery walk (via tables instead of walls) for students to explore a variety of "texts" and to identify the argument.  Students posted their thinking … Continue reading Beginning Our Argumentative Writing Unit with an Inquiry Stance, Part 3: from Gallery Walk to Collaborative Noticings and Reflections

Beginning Our Argumentative Writing Unit with an Inquiry Stance, Part 2: Arguments in the Wild Analysis Safari

In my last post, I shared how we began to take an inquiry stance to explore what we thought we knew about argumentative writing.  For the next part of our inquiry, I set up a gallery walk of sorts with a variety of different texts that presented an explicit or implicit argument.  We reviewed our … Continue reading Beginning Our Argumentative Writing Unit with an Inquiry Stance, Part 2: Arguments in the Wild Analysis Safari

Beginning Our Argumentative Writing Unit with an Inquiry Stance, Part 1: Anticipation Guides, Partner/Trio Talk, Everyone Up, and Pop-Up Discussions

Earlier this past week, we formally began our extended argumentative writing unit of study.  As I'm often wont to do, I wanted to find a different way to introduce the unit.  I wanted to get a sense of what students already knew while infusing inquiry into the first few days of learning activities. We began … Continue reading Beginning Our Argumentative Writing Unit with an Inquiry Stance, Part 1: Anticipation Guides, Partner/Trio Talk, Everyone Up, and Pop-Up Discussions

ConverSTATIONS with Book Clubs: Cross-Pollinating Thinking Across Texts

We finished our literary nonfiction and memoirs on January 31; I wanted students to have a way to discuss their books and share their thinking across texts.  While I really wanted to do a "Peeling the Fruit" or "Circle of Viewpoints" thinking activity, I didn't feel like my 8th graders were quite ready for this … Continue reading ConverSTATIONS with Book Clubs: Cross-Pollinating Thinking Across Texts

Discussion Structures and Tools for Supporting Book Club Discussions in 8th Grade

In my last blog post, I shared the note-taking strategies for reading our book club texts more closely and choices for taking reading notes.  In this blog post, I'll outline the discussion structures/strategies for each book club meeting and scaffolding I provided for meetings and refinding notes for each of my classes.  Whether you are … Continue reading Discussion Structures and Tools for Supporting Book Club Discussions in 8th Grade

Strategies for Reading Notes and Annotations: Literary Nonfiction and Memoir Book Clubs

We are a full week into our literary nonfiction and memoir book clubs, and I'm happy to report most students completed their first required reading goal for our first book club meeting on January 17.  This past Monday I introduced four options for taking reading notes and strategically annotating their books.  I built on strategies … Continue reading Strategies for Reading Notes and Annotations: Literary Nonfiction and Memoir Book Clubs

Reading Workout with Literary Nonfiction and Memoir Book Clubs

Inspired by the always innovative Sarah Brown Wessling, I adapted an activity she shared this past December that she calls Reading Workouts for independent reading time.  I made a few modifcations to account for a shorter literacy block of time and the needs of my 8th grade learners, but here is my version that was … Continue reading Reading Workout with Literary Nonfiction and Memoir Book Clubs

Introducing Book Clubs with Partner Reading and Noticings About Themes, Central Ideas, and Issues

Yesterday, I introduced book clubs by issuing students their books with their reading tickets/schedules (see previous blog post, please).  Students also got new seating/table assignments when they arrived; I projected these onto the board as students arrived.  Students are either seating with their entire book club OR in a "subgroup" of a larger book club … Continue reading Introducing Book Clubs with Partner Reading and Noticings About Themes, Central Ideas, and Issues

Literary Nonfiction and Memoir Book Clubs: Organizing Groups and Resources for Success

We just started our literary nonfiction (my favorite genre!) and memoir book clubs yesterday!  In this post, I'll outline the "legwork" I did to get the clubs formed and ready to go. Book Sampling/Book Tasting We began with a book sampling/tasting in early December; compared to years past, I kept this activity pretty low key.  … Continue reading Literary Nonfiction and Memoir Book Clubs: Organizing Groups and Resources for Success

New Year, New Reading Goals

Students returned to school this past Monday, and our first day was all about goal setting with reading.  We will tackle writing goals in February since our focus will be extended writing pieces in February and March. Quarterly Reading Goals Our first layer of goal setting was to think about reading goals for the third … Continue reading New Year, New Reading Goals

Revisiting and Exploring Tone in Nonfiction and Fiction

Last week, we engaged in some targeted mini-lessons and learning activities to grow our understanding of tone.  We had practiced analyzing tone earlier this fall, but since this is sometimes a challenging concept for 8th graders and because I knew they would have a constructed response about tone on their 2nd quarter benchmark, I designed … Continue reading Revisiting and Exploring Tone in Nonfiction and Fiction

I Scream, You Scream, The Students All Scream for Gimkit!

Have you tried the hottest learning tool in the edtech universe, Gimkit?  Fellow Language Arts teacher Jeanne Rountree first put this technology on my radar during preplanning in August, but I didn't actually try it with my students until November.  According to Gimkit's creator, high school student Josh Feinsilber, Gimkit is: "...a game show for … Continue reading I Scream, You Scream, The Students All Scream for Gimkit!

A Unique Twist on Formative Assessment: “Give Me All You Got!”

At the end of November, I stumbled upon this great idea from English teacher Kelly Culp: The basic premise is that students do a "brain dump" of sorts about a specific reading and share everything they know about it with you through text and images.   I decided to utilize this strategize to do a formative … Continue reading A Unique Twist on Formative Assessment: “Give Me All You Got!”

Annotating for Active Reading: Post-It Notes and File Folders

This fall my 8th graders have practiced Notice and Note annotation strategies as well as those from Cris Tovani.  I have not required my 8th graders to annotate their independent reading, but earlier this month, I felt annotating their reading for an in-class reading day would be beneficial for my students.  I also felt this … Continue reading Annotating for Active Reading: Post-It Notes and File Folders

Powerful Practice: Read Aloud Reading Partners with Informational Text

One of the simplest but most powerful practices this fall has been read aloud reading partners.  I love the learning structure because it's so versatile and can be used in multiple ways. On a simple level, I used it last week when I lost my voice and needed students to review instructions for an annotation … Continue reading Powerful Practice: Read Aloud Reading Partners with Informational Text

Please Help Purchase Books for Our Literary Nonfiction and Memoir Book Club: My 8th Grade Amazon Wish List

I normally fund requests for my classroom through DonorsChoose, but we are unable to create projects asking for book purchases until after January 10 due to the crush of the holiday season with Amazon.  None of the other vendors approved by DonorsChoose have my books that we need to give every student his/her first choice … Continue reading Please Help Purchase Books for Our Literary Nonfiction and Memoir Book Club: My 8th Grade Amazon Wish List

Growing Our Conversation Skills with Socratic Seminar

We are continuing to grow our discussion skills in my 8th grade classes with a variety of conversation strategies.  Prior to Thanksgiving break, we engaged in a Socratic Seminar over a variety of related texts.   If you want to see some additional interesting twists on Socratic Seminar, check out this great blog post. While I've … Continue reading Growing Our Conversation Skills with Socratic Seminar