Search This Blog

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

You compared the plot chart to WHAT?

Sometimes I have to wonder if the statements my students make are incredibly odd or insightfully genius. Today, I am going with genius. 

I was using The Walking Dead (among other shows/movies) to help students understand rising action, climax, and falling action. I was explaining that as we move through the rising action, things start relatively calm, but we suddenly find our hands making tight fists and our breathing becoming shallower. As the story reaches its climax, we are often holding our breath because the storyline becomes so intense. With the falling action, we start breathing again and our fists release as things calm back down. 

"That's like when you have to pee really bad!" a student blurted out. 

Yes, I was filled with confusion, but I had to allow her to explain. 

This is what she shared: Rising action is like when you have to pee a little bit, and the longer you wait, the more intense it becomes. The climax is when the teacher lets you out of class and you experience the moment of urination. The falling action is the moment of relief that follows the entire process. 

Linear plot and the process of urination. Who would have thunk it?

I'm Ready for My Close Up...?

Today was the day. After days of anxiety and nervous tension, I was filmed presenting the vocabulary routine that is part of my campus Data Improvement Plan through the Texas Literacy Initiative. (If you look over there on the right, you will see my tag list. Vocabulary Routine is one of the bigger ones. I write about it a lot if you are interested in reading more.)

The overarching lesson for today focused on the elements of linear plot - exposition, rising action, conflict, climax, falling action, and resolution. For the most part, these words were review for my students. The bigger goal, however, based on our state standards, is to understand the connection between resolution and the conflict of the story. 

Because we are focusing so heavily on vocabulary, we use a lot of choral techniques and deepening comprehension activities - like the vocabulary routine. I built two routines into the lesson linear plot lesson - one for conflict and one for resolution

Under different circumstances, I probably would not have used the word conflict in a routine. My students know what a conflict is. I did, however, want them thoroughly focused on its meaning to understand its connection to resolution. The vocabulary routine focuses more on tier 2 words that students are unfamiliar with but are likely to encounter in multiple situations. 

One of my district curriculum specialists came in to observe and to film the vocabulary routines. At the same time, I had my student teacher film the entire lesson for me. Who doesn't love seeing themselves on film and thinking, "Do I really talk and move like that? I teach students AND teachers for goodness sake!"

So, for those of you who are wondering what exactly this routine looks like in action, I present...ME and my wonderful third period class (and before you look around and wonder where the rest of the class is, I am blessed to have one class that consists of only twelve students). 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Deepening Vocabulary Understanding

This year, I am getting much better about reusing lessons that work, rather than reinventing the wheel for everything I do. For the past two days, my students have been working on our vocabulary for "The Tell-Tale Heart." This has included a Texas Literacy Initiative vocabulary routine and a sketch-to-stretch assignment. 

Today I had a follow-up vocabulary booster training to last year's vocabulary routine training. Although I have been using the routine, I realized that I have not been moving through the entire process. I introduce the words, but I have not been working to deepen understanding as much as I should. I put the words on a word wall and often refer to them, but I have not really had my students doing much with them. 

So guess what's happening now.  With some guidance from Bringing Words to Life, I am creating daily review lessons for the rest of this week to deepen understanding of our vocabulary words. 

Deepening Understanding Lesson #1: Find the Missing Word 

This strategy is essentially a fill-in-the-blank. Since I have been out for a day and a half, this will help show me how much my students have learned without my presence. In order to ensure feedback from all students, I am creating the review as a Kahoot lesson. Kahoot creates high engagement, and my students often ask if we are ever going to use it in class. This will be the first time in my class this year. 

Deepening Understanding Lesson #2: Making Choices 

For this strategy, students will be given examples and non-examples for each word. If the information given is correct example, the students will say the word. If it is not, they will not say anything at all. 

For example: If I say something you think is truly hideous (and not just your personal opinion), say hideous. If you do not think it is hideous, do not say anything at all. 

  • Adam Levine
  • Freddy Krueger
  • a puppy dog
  • maggots on rotting food

Deepening Understanding Lesson #3: Putting the Words to Use

On Friday, I am going to have my students complete a timed writing with the words. In an effort to get them to apply our vocabulary words to other disciplines, they will have to write about what they are doing in another class, using at least four of the nine words. This week I introduced Seven-Up Sentences, writing with a minimum of seven words per sentence, to make their writing more powerful. They will need to incorporate this into their work (to the best of their ability under timed writing circumstances). 

I am looking forward to seeing how things go this week. The district goal is to focus on 4-5 words per week. I have more for this week because I am using a district-created lesson. Once I see how things go for the next week days, I will determine if I continue using this set for another week, and if not, I have to figure out what to next. 

Stay tuned.