Posts Tagged ‘revision’

High Five for Friday! 12-12-14

12/12 – a Lucky Day! And only 13 Days Until Christmas! The excitement is surely palpable. I finished Christmas shopping and wrapping last weekend (please refrain from hurling things at me), because I am just that Type A person. I don’t like surprises or putting things off until the last minute – this means I can enjoy myself and worry less (a good goal all around).

We had a really productive, great week and I have many exciting highlights to share!

Newsela progress (c) Kristen Dembroski

1. Newsela – I’ve been using Newsela with my intervention groups (2 small groups of 4 students each) for the past month. We have seen steady progress. I can’t say enough great things about this website! They translate high-interest current events topics into leveled articles with Common Core aligned quizzes. I select an article, choose a Lexile level, and we read and discuss the article together as a group. I give my students highlighting or annotating tasks as we engage in text-based discussion. Then, they take the quiz on their own. They are building skills and confidence – love it!

Compromises Manipulatives Activity (c) Kristen Dembroski

2. Manipulatives for Adolescents – When I asked my students to bring scissors and glue to class on Tuesday, their quizzical expressions slowly turned into a smile. They hadn’t been asked to cut or glue for many, many years. In Social Studies class on Tuesday, however, I had them cut apart and sort facts into the correct pre-Civil War Compromise we had learned about that week. They practiced several times, then glued down the correct answers. Not only was this engaging, but it was also a great review activity that tapped into several different learning styles. (You can purchase this activity as part of a mini-unit here).

Pre-revision Personal Narrative Example copy Personal Narrative Example Hour 6 copy

3. Personal Narrative Revision – In Language Arts class this week, we are working on revising our Personal Narratives (which I have called “Small Moment Assignment”). To practice revision, I gave my students a model paper that needed a lot of elbow grease. I split up the model into 5 color-coded sections, and I assigned each section to a small group. The group was tasked with revising their section based on everything we have learned in class about what makes a great personal narrative (sensory language, metaphors, descriptive words and details, specific adjectives, suspense, foreshadowing, higher level vocabulary, adding a hook, sentence variety, etc.).

The left picture is the original, and the right picture is their revised version (you can click to enlarge and read). It is SOoooOOoo much better now! I was very proud of the work they were able to do. Each small group read their part and presented to the class the techniques they used/added. Then, students had a model/plan for how to attack revision successfully, and they went off to revise their own papers with a partner. I would do this again in a heartbeat!


4. Uncle Tom’s Cabin – In Social Studies class, I often try to work in Art History and art criticism techniques. We ‘read’ images and look for deeper meaning within the context of history. This week, we viewed this illustration from Uncle Tom’s Cabin as part of our unit on The Civil War. I had my students first identify what they see (just take inventory of what is here), then begin to comment on what the illustration might be trying to communicate about the different characters. The slave is depicted as old, feeble, weak, and on all fours like an animal. The slaveholder is standing, powerful, wealthy, ‘looking down on’ the slave, and about to kick the slave. We then discussed the impact of this image on various groups within society at that time – how the image would be viewed and interpreted. I think it is very important to discuss images with students to practice the power of inference.

Rocket & Ruffy (c) Kristen Dembroski

5. Snuggle Time – Only 6.5 more work days, and this will become my life for a whole 12 day Winter Break! Yes, to them I am nothing but a treat-dispensing, door-opening, warm human dog pillow, but it’s the best job and someone’s gotta do it!



Only 13 days until Christmas, and the countdown continues….!
How was your week?


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Rewind, Pause, Redo Day!

So here we are, 5 weeks into school, and I wasn’t liking the grades I was seeing. Students had lots of missing work, and that’s not good news. Furthermore, they weren’t realizing that 8th grade means giving more effort than 7th grade – their work was off topic, didn’t follow directions, or was riddled with simple errors. This showed me that students weren’t taking their work as seriously as they need to. What to do…. what to do…

I decided to stage a “Rewind, Pause, Redo!” Day. It meant we would be off track of our schedule by one day (I bumped my Tuesday plans to Wednesday), but I felt it was necessary and definitely worth the sacrifice.

Before school, I made instructions for 4 different stations. I then made copies of the instructions and handed them to the correct student as they entered the room. These were my 4 stations:

1. Great job! You are all caught up on your work, and you received an A on our last writing assignment. Please read your library book and work on your Independent Reading Project.
2. You received a B or a C on your first writing assignment because either your evidence wasn’t specific enough, or your links were weak or vague. Please look at my comments and focus on revisions and editing. You should also refer to the model writing piece for ideas and sentence stems. Turn in your revised writing piece by the end of the hour.
3. You received a D on your first writing assignment because your piece was missing critical elements. I have created a scaffolding grid to help you focus on one piece at a time and to make sure you don’t miss anything. Let’s work on this together this hour.
4. You have missing work. You have until the end of the hour to complete and hand in your missing work.

At the beginning of my 3 classes, I listed how many students were receiving each letter grade in their Language Arts class. Then, at the end of class, I revised the numbers so they could see how their hard work paid off. I was honestly so impressed, I was almost moved to tears. The students were incredibly proud of themselves as well. I don’t believe that students earn ‘bad’ grades because they are naughty or lazy – they just haven’t yet received the support they needed. Taking a whole class to address their questions and concerns was an eye-opener for all of us! I can’t afford the time to do this every week, but I know that taking a “Rewind, Pause, Redo” Day early on in the year set the tone for our class for the rest of the year. Here are their MAJOR improvements:

Rewind Pause Redo Day (c) Kristen Dembroski

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