Posts Tagged ‘language arts’

High Five for Friday! 1-23-15

Week 20 – Officially halfway!!! It is the end of Quarter 2, which means grading, grading, graaaaaading. But there were SO many highlights this week! My favorite 5 are below:

ReadBox Kristen Dembroski

1. Readbox – Time for the big reveal – I finally finished my newest bulletin board! My 8th graders have been working on writing book reviews, which I have posted on my classroom wiki. Our school is one-to-one with iPads, so anyone can simply scan the QR code, which directly links to a student-written review. My students were SO excited to have their work posted like this, for anyone to appreciate. 

Donuts (c) Kristen Dembroski

2. Celebrating Success – More good news – we are done with MAP testing! Of my 8 intervention students, 6 of them made a 10-point gain which is the equivalent of gaining a whole grade level. I get goosebumps just thinking about it! Their confidence is soaring. We have been using MobyMax and Newsela to practice reading informational text and looking for text-based evidence. To celebrate, I brought in donuts for everyone. Yippee!!! 

Decide Now App (c) Kristen Dembroski Decide Now App (c) Kristen Dembroski

3. Decide Now App – Found a new app I love. There is a free version, but I opted for the paid version which has more editing capabilities. I made a wheel for each of my classes and filled in the names of all my students. Now, whenever I need help picking a random student, I just roll the wheel! This can be great when I have a lot of volunteers and want to be fair. Here is a link to the app if you are interested. The students really enjoy the anticipation of seeing who will be picked next! 

ACRMkit160

4. A Time for Justice – To kick off our unit on Spite Fences, we watched “A Time for Justice” this week. It is a great documentary that includes primary sources from the Civil Rights Era. Since we have just finished studying the Civil War and the 15th Amendment in Social Studies, it is fascinating to bring the students 100 years into the future and let them see how things simply didn’t just ‘fix’ or get better overnight like they thought they might. We learned that in one town, 50% of the eligible voting population was black, but only 1% of them voted for fear of retribution. The students are absolutely silent during this film, which I know shocks and engages them on a deeply emotional level. Teachers can order a kit including this video for free from the Teaching Tolerance Organization – just click here

NAEP  NAEP

5. NAEP – We had a professional development day for teachers on Monday, during which we explored the NAEP test. Information and sample test questions can be found here. I thought the questions were thoughtfully designed to engage students in deeper-levels of analysis. I just kept wondering – who is gonna grade all this?!? I think this will be a useful piece of data going forward when we do finally adopt the NAEP, but this is in addition to many other forms of assessment we already use in our school. I am always concerned about over-testing our kids – how much data (and what kinds) is enough? 

So how was your week? I’d love to hear about it! 

 

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Fingerprint Poetry

Fingerprint Poetry was an awesome way to start the year. It was an icebreaker, get-to-know-you activity, and a great transition back into writing after the summer off. Plus students get to write about their own favorite topic – themselves!

I was inspired with this idea when I noticed how my students never liked to write on straight lines. They love being artsy and letting their words flow like water. And what better way to personalize your writing than by making it on your own special fingerprint?

I first had them choose a finger and inspect it carefully. Were they a whorl? arch? loop? A lot of them had never really looked at their fingerprints up close, so they enjoyed this. .Then, they picked the fingerprint poetry template that best matched their own fingerprint.

I gave them 16 different options of what to write about, but ultimately tried to steer them towards a more ‘stream of consciousness’ type of writing or a ‘brain dump’ in which they fill the spaces with anything and everything they are thinking. It’s a very free flowing activity.

Next, I asked them to think about how they could use color, textures, and pictures to bring their fingerprint to life. They always impress me with their creativity! As you can see, the results were fantastic.

If you want to purchase this activity, which includes writing instructions and 3 fingerprint templates, click here and enjoy! Thanks!

Fingerprint Poetry (c) Kristen Dembroski

Fingerprint Poetry (c) Kristen Dembroski

Fingerprint Poetry (c) Kristen Dembroski

 

 

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