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Thursday, March 31, 2016

Sentence BINGO

Image result for nerdA few nights ago, my ninth grade daughter came downstairs with English homework. Her teacher had given her sample editing and revising passages from previous state exams, along with a BINGO card with words, phrases, and sentence types to find. My daughter needed help understanding some of what she was looking for, so we spent some quality time together discussing grammar. 

Being a connoisseur of interesting lesson ideas, I emailed said teacher and asked if I could steal from her. My students took their state reading exam this week, and we are ready for more formal writing instruction. I looked at the BINGO card as an opportunity to review information my students have been working on since kindergarten. So with the high school teacher's blessing, I revised the BINGO card to fit the needs of my students:

Students were mixed into random partnerships and given two editing and revising passages from a previous English I (ninth grade) state exam. They had to look through the passages to identify sentences that would match the descriptions on the BINGO card. To challenge them even more, not every square on the card had a matching sentence in the readings. They were also not allowed to ask me questions about the information they were looking for; they had to look up everything online to assist them in finding what they needed. 

Once the partners felt that they had a BINGO, they had to come to me and confirm their choices. Every time they had a correct square, I marked it with a dot. If they made a mistake, they were sent back to try again. After my first class, I told all of the others that the high score was four BINGOs on one card, and that made the rest of my classes a bit more competitive. 

Although I was not sure how this was going to work, most of my kids were engaged in the activity, determined to get a BINGO. Many were not able to complete a row today and make BINGO today, so they asked for more time to work on the assignment. I don't think there is a better lesson than the one the kids ask to continue. 

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Writing and Researching with Fact Sheets: Part I

Sometimes someone passes along a piece of information that sends my brain into immediate teacher planning mode. With a change in our district professional learning this year, I have not had many of these moments as of late. But then my professor (I am part of master's reading specialist cohort) brought something to our last class that sent my mind a-spinnin'!

From Coaching Writing in Content Areas: Write-for-Insight Strategies (a book I am not familiar with), I was giving a fact sheet about whales. The page includes a list of information about whales, followed by student ability writing levels: 

My first thought: I can totally turn this into a game!


Writing Challenge Game 1: The Most Superior Writer of the English Class 

  • Each student will receive a copy of the fact sheet. 
  • Each student will attempt to write the bestest, most wonderfulest, superiorest paragraph about whales. 
I certainly don't expect perfection with their sentences, but I want to get them thinking before we move into more formal writing instruction. My secret superhero plan is to sneak into their documents from my computer while they are working, and tell each student that someone else's paragraph is better. It will drive my Pre-AP students nutty. 


Writing Challenge Game 2: Create a Stupefying Fact Sheet

  • Students will work in partnerships to create a fact sheet about an assigned topic. Look at me sneaking a mini-research assignment into class. 
  • I made the topics (but I can also see doing this with student-generated topics). 
  • Topics include endangered animals, planets, television shows, countries, authors, foods, universities, and... John Cena. 
  • The student-created fact sheets will be used to go through another round of Game 1. 

After this, I am going to do grammar and sentence structure lessons that we use to revise and edit the writing challenge paragraphs. This is one of those lessons that I feel giddy about, and I am hoping it goes as planned in my head. I may have to get some pom-poms or a coaching whistle. 

Stay tuned for the follow-up.