Showing posts from October, 2012


The Phrase
L.7.1c. Place phrases and clauses within a sentence, recognizing and correcting misplaced and dangling modifiers.
Writing sentences with phrases~prepositional, infinitive, and gerund~is a higher-order thinking and writing skill. For a seventh-grader to consistently write with a variety of sentence structures is something that just doesn't happen often. In my Language class, the students are learning to identify phrases and to use phrases in their own writing. If I give them a multiple choice assessment in which they have to identify the phrase, they do pretty well~the last assessment had a class average of over 75%. But, if I ask them to read a sentence and write the phrase, they don't do as well. It is even more difficult for them to write a sentence using phrases creatively~especially at the beginning of the sentence. I'm finding that I need to go slowly and break the skill into small steps~constant review at the beginning of class helps also.
Here is an exampl…


Formative assessment vs. summative assessment~what exactly do the two mean? Are they processes or tools? What is the goal of each? How do you assess students using each of these types of assessments?

One of my personal goals this year is to get a handle on assessment~and I'm not just talking about grading papers in a timely manner (although I need to get a grip on that also). I'm talking about using daily meaningful assessment as part of my lesson plan. In fact, I'm now creating two basic plans for each week~one is a lesson plan, an outline of what lessons will be taught on each day of the week; the other is an assessment plan.

The assessment plan is a chart that states exactly what I want the students to do to show me that they have learned the lesson (ex. I can identify conflict in a teleplay), how they are going to show me (TLW fill in a chart with examples of least three conflicts in the teleplay), and what I'm going to do if the student(s) cannot do this by the e…


This week my 7th graders are going to learn how to read a print advertisement, create a print advertisement, and analyze visual effects in ads. I've decided to do this lesson this week for one main reason: our annual cookie dough sale fundraiser is going on and I could use the classroom funds. I decided to kill two birds with one stone.
We'll start off by reviewing the academic vocabulary used for this unit: persuasive techniques, bandwagon, loaded words, and testimonial. I say these are review because I know that they did a similar unit in the 6th grade in our school. I've already added the words to my ELA Academic Vocabulary on Quizlet
Here is a writing prompt that you can use as a journal warm-up to prepare students for this unit.
Here is another document that gets students thinking and discussing print advertisements.
In order to read print advertisements, students need to be able to form generalizations and identify persuasive techniques. Here is a link to a lesson to h…


The Visit , 1899 by Lilla Cabot Perry
On the surface two things may seem alike. If you examine them closely, however, you find differences. When students understand how two or more things are alike, they can begin to organize their own ideas for written explanation. Being able to identify how things are alike and different can help students make a decision on what is best for them--think presidential candidates here.
Use the painting above to help students identify similarities and differences in a visual media. Then move on to a short piece of text.
Aquarium fish are cold-blooded, so they cannot adjust to abrupt changes in water temperature. As a result, you must keep the water temperature steady in any aquarium  The water's composition may be different, though, depending on the kind of fish you have. Marine (saltwater) fish need exactly the right amount of salt and other compounds dissolved in their water. Freshwater fish, on the other hand, cannot tolerate much salt. In general, m…


Structure, a photo by p medved on Flickr.
A text structure is the pattern a writer uses to organize ideas or events. Writers commonly use five major patterns of organization: cause-effect, chronological order, comparison-contrast, listing, and problem-solution. Being able to recognize these structures is an important skill that students need to be able to better understand informational text and the main idea of that text.
In order for students to be able to recognize and identify the organizational structure of a text, they must have continuous exposure to these types of texts. They must also know what each type of text is.
Cause and effect structure is divided into two parts: a cause is an event that makes something happen while an effect is what happens. An effect may have more than one cause, and a cause may produce several effects. 
Taking care of my new puppy has changed my schedule. Since the puppy has to go out first thing in the morning, I have to get up thirty minutes earlier. T…


Words, a photo by trs125 on Flickr.
Vocabulary study in the middle school curriculum is crucial to understanding both the curriculum and the texts. However, finding time to devote to full word study during the week can be an exhausting task.
Several years ago our school adopted a school-wide Word Immersion program. The program was based on Robert Marzano's six-step process for learning vocabulary. I really liked the program and saw its potential for students. Unfortunately, most of the other teachers didn't. They saw it as a waste of time and energy, not to mention the number of copies needed each week for the vocabulary notebook.
The process for learning vocabulary has six basic steps:
1. Explain the words to the students giving the definitions, examples, anecdotes related to word, etc.
2. The students then write their own understanding of the words in their Word Immersion notebook.
3. The students then draw a picture or symbol that illustrates their understanding of the word.
4. Th…