Friday, December 20, 2013

In order to focus on CCSS many schools are integrating studies. Here is one school's solution. Courtesy of ASCD SmartBrief.

Texas middle school nearly doubles instruction time for core subjects
A Texas middle school has adopted a schedule that nearly doubles class time for core subjects -- math, science, English and social studies -- to 85 minutes from 45 minutes. Officials said the change is intended to help students better grasp core subjects and allow more time for remediation. The schedule limits students to one elective course daily to allow for the additional instructional time. Commerce Journal (Texas) (12/17)Bookmark and Share

Saturday, December 7, 2013

The December writing lesson has arrived. Courtesy of the Harrisons.

I hope you'll be inspired by photos of a new monthly writer's notebook activity we've been doing:  I call these assigned notebook tasks "Tributes to Literature."  Once a month, I select a story (or poem or novel) that we've read together, and we all create a one-page tribute to that piece of literature in our notebooks, creating a rough draft first, then copying it as neatly as possible into our notebooks as a "second and final draft."  For the last two of these with my 8th graders, I taught a skill from the writing trait known as IDEA DEVELOPMENT with each tribute assignment:
  • For their "Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" page, they had to use their five or six favorite descriptive passages (based on their analysis of details and vocabulary choices) and create an image that could use Ambrose Bierce's words as part of the "word art."
  • For their tributes to the story of "Oedipus," they had to look back through their last year's writer's notebook, then steal an idea from themselves to creatively re-tell the story in a unique way.  Some used "Top ten lists" or "Storyboard summaries, or "Recipe metaphors," but all students had to show me the page from their previous notebook that inspired a unique tribute to the story.  We borrowed and tweaked ideas from ourselves for this last one, and the kids had fun mining old notebooks for ideas.
  • More to come.  Soon, I will have finalized "Animal Farm" tributes from my sixth graders and "Chains" tributes from my seventh graders.
I'll have December's "This I Believe" personal essays link uploaded soon...if I can't access tomorrow, I will contact the management.  Thanks for your patience.
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