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

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

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

Student Self-Assessment, Scaffolding, and Seesaw

Now that Seesaw is Chromebook friendly, I am incorporating it as a digital portfolio and space for reflection/self-assessment with my 8th graders.   Earlier in the school year, I walked students through signing up with their class code through their district Google accounts.  For our first entry in October, students captured and recorded their reflections on … Continue reading Student Self-Assessment, Scaffolding, and Seesaw

Supporting Writers in Progress: Paired Texts Study, Comparing/Contrasting, and Literary Argument Paragraphs

Earlier this month, we composed our first literary argument paragraph, a stepping stone to an extended piece of writing we'll do in early November as part of our work from the writing unit, The Literary Essay:  Analyzing Craft and Theme. Part 1:  Introducing and Immersing Ourselves in a Paired TextLet me start by backing up … Continue reading Supporting Writers in Progress: Paired Texts Study, Comparing/Contrasting, and Literary Argument Paragraphs

Revising at Points of Need: Narrative Revision Stations

One of my goals this year as a teacher is to make room for revision stations and alternative ways of tackling revision.  I am proactive in providing ongoing feedback in real time through Google Documents, but toward the end of the year, I honestly felt I needed additional ways to help my students take more … Continue reading Revising at Points of Need: Narrative Revision Stations

Designing a Meaningful Extended Narrative Writing Assignment in Context

This past spring, I read a blog post by Dr. Sarah J. Donovan that pushed me to think about how to better integrate Milestones writing tasks into context.  While I certainly am not a fan of teaching to a test, her approach made sense to me because students received regular and gentle writing opporutnities to … Continue reading Designing a Meaningful Extended Narrative Writing Assignment in Context

Digging into Dialogue Writing Skills—Exploring Dialogue Tags

Earlier this month, I used resources from the beloved late Dr. Rozlyn Linder to help my students inquire into noticings about the purposes and patterns of dialogue tags.  I crafted a guided study lesson and resources from her book, The Big Book of Details: 46 Moves for Teaching Writers to Elaborate, to help us explore … Continue reading Digging into Dialogue Writing Skills—Exploring Dialogue Tags

Argumentative Writing March Madness with Post-It Note Reading, Think Tank Conversations, 11×14 Reasons and Evidence Mapping + Essay Drafting

The last five weeks have been a whirlwind here between district third quarter benchmark testing and next steps into argumentative writing, the culminating activities of the front-loading skill work we did in February (see previous blog posts, please).  I'd like to share our journey of reading, writing, and thinking with you by outlining the major … Continue reading Argumentative Writing March Madness with Post-It Note Reading, Think Tank Conversations, 11×14 Reasons and Evidence Mapping + Essay Drafting

Extending and Applying Our Inquiry Work with Kernel Essays: Next Steps

In my last post, I shared how I'm frontloading our argumentative writing unit with an emphasis on key concepts and text structure as we explored mentor texts and applied Gretchen Bernabei's kernel essay strategy to help students organize ideas.  In this post, I'll share how we extended that work and how students had opportunities to … Continue reading Extending and Applying Our Inquiry Work with Kernel Essays: Next Steps

Inquiring into Argumentative Writing: Deconstructing Text Structure with Kernel Essays

Last week we moved from our exploration of features of argumentative writing to text structure.  On Wednesday, we began with the following writing activity using these images I projected onto the board with the LCD projector and these prompts: Once students had time to think and write, we came together for whole class discussion to … Continue reading Inquiring into Argumentative Writing: Deconstructing Text Structure with Kernel Essays

Counterclaim Station Throwdown

After introducing claim statements with a task card walk last Wednesday, we then began inquiring into counterclaims and rebuttals on Thursday and Friday.   I decided to do station rotations as our learning activity, and after a little tweaking with my first two classes, I polished the learning structure for my final two groups. We began … Continue reading Counterclaim Station Throwdown

Introducing Claims with Task Card Walk Goodness

Last Wednesday, we began our formal exploration of claims, counterclaims, and rebuttals, some core concepts I felt needed to frontload with my 8th graders based on the results of a survey they had completed about 10 days earlier. One of my favorite ways to use task cards is for an gallery walk style learning experience.  … Continue reading Introducing Claims with Task Card Walk Goodness

Introducing Argumentative Writing with Four Corners Debate, Table Talk, Ping/Pong Pros and Cons, and Team Debates

Taking a page from the playbook of Jennifer Gonzalez at Cult of Pedagogy, I decided to introduce our new unit on argumentative writing with some informal debate.  On Day 1, we started with this ticket in the door that surveyed students on what they knew about debate.  Students engaged in partner talk (I recommend the … Continue reading Introducing Argumentative Writing with Four Corners Debate, Table Talk, Ping/Pong Pros and Cons, and Team Debates

Active Learning and Thinking: Walk and Talk Partner Discussions

Right after the first of the year, one of my favorite teachers and literacy leaders, Sarah Brown Wessling, posted this video about taking her class on the move.  Last year, I crafted and incorporated many learning activities for my high school students that involved movement, and I've continued that with my 8th graders during the … Continue reading Active Learning and Thinking: Walk and Talk Partner Discussions

Common Dialogic Threads: Library Collections and Your Student Writers

Many of you know I was an English teacher and then a school librarian for over ten years before returning to the classroom in 2016.  Both professions and all that has come "before" and "after" inform the work I do and how I think about my practice as a literacy educator.   Sometimes it is an … Continue reading Common Dialogic Threads: Library Collections and Your Student Writers

Building Community with Collaborative Class “Where We’re From” Poems

This year I wanted to start the school year with an activity that infused reading, writing, and critical thinking while building classroom community and some personal connections.  Inspired by an Instagram post from the Ohio Writing Project at Miami University, I decided to work with my students to craft a collaborative "Where I'm From" class … Continue reading Building Community with Collaborative Class “Where We’re From” Poems