Further Reading: 50 Questions to Ask Your Kids Instead of Asking, “How Was Your Day?”
We are heading into our last week of the quarter next week! Check out what we did this week - in this PDF - and then enjoy the photos of your children taken by student photographers!! I love the different perspective. The rest of the year will be photos from students who've signed up for this responsibility!
Further Reading: 50 Questions to Ask Your Kids Instead of Asking, “How Was Your Day?”
We're finally settling into a routine in ELA class - Grammar hits the first two days of the week, article of the week on Fridays, and quick lesson / practice / independent practice throughout when it comes to reading strategies and writing. We were able to begin our writing unit this week, and some students are biting at the bit to try their hand at writing - about whatever they want!
We also celebrated this week when we received replies back from authors! Three of them emailed letters, and SEVEN responded back via Twitter! I wrote this blog post about it - check out all the children that received responses! Is one of them yours??
Check out what we did the last two weeks, and enjoy seeing your child read, write, and discuss in room 239...
Another two weeks have flown by! Check here for our plans for this week, and check below for photos of our class.
As promised at Open House / Parent Night, here are videos of your children and their six-word memoirs! Click on them to get to Animoto to see them larger, if you'd like.
More helpful information that was sent home this week:
Letter regarding grading information: ELA Grading Information for Parents
Video describing why we’re using feedback in lieu of grades: Feedback in Lieu of Grading in ELA
Video describing how you can view your child’s progress: PowerSchool “How To” for Parents
Further Reading: Top 10 Skills Middle School Students Need to Thrive, and How Parents Can Help
Hello, parents and guardians! Every two weeks, my plan is to update you on what we're doing in ELA class. I've heard from parents that they like the extra communication, so this is my way of keeping the lines open. PLEASE let me know whenever any questions or concerns arise, or if there's any news on the home front you think I should know. It may also be nice to see INSIDE our classroom - take a look at the photos below and what we did the last two weeks! Here is the page where you'll find daily updates - or ask your child to show you. Students can go to this any time they're absent, as well. It is my hope that photos will soon be taken by students! Here's to your seventh grader's best school year YET!
We finished reading The Outsiders last week with valuable discussions from students' own critical questions, and wrapped up many lose ends this week. Once again, Mrs. Rehberger and I met one-on-one with each student to discuss his or her grades. Although one letter is still a bit arbitrary, and working this way is not in any way a magic elixir, I feel that the grades students generated based on the evidence they provided were more accurate than they have been in years past. Our focus was on achievement only - even though behavior and effort attribute mightily to the proof students could provide! You'll once again find our conference notes in your report card envelope. I hope you found the narrative and video feedback on Edline valuable.
Please help me grow as an educator. Although this is my 22nd year as a teacher, I know I can always do a better job, and I've already asked for your child's feedback. I'd also love your honest feedback. Please fill out this survey (as much or as little as you like). It is anonymous, but feel free to add your name at the end. Thank you in advance!
Last request - please help your child continue to read over the summer. The habit of reading will pay off in the long run! The best way for readers to get better is to read more. Volume matters! Here's a link to our summer reading page, and another to our reading challenge page of this Weebly.
Further Reading: Life Lessons from 2016-2017 (We printed and cut and stapled these for your child. If they were accidentally left at TMS, feel free to print double-sided, with two slides on a sheet, portrait style. ;)
More Further Reading (an older post, but very true): Why Summer Reading Pays off Year-Round
After experiencing great weather at Taft for three days, we came back to regroup. We wrote about Frederick Douglass and a moment from Taft, and then we read a bunch and had a book picnic so we could get to know the summer reading books! The next week, we read another article of the week - a satire about fidget spinners! We then wrapped up poetry with "Casey at the Bat," "The Highwayman," and "Nothing Gold Can Stay." This last one is the famous poem from The Outsiders, which is what we've been reading this week! Since it is the end of the year, students know how to annotate and work independently, and the book is fairly simple for 7th grade, we are reading this book Whole Novels style (Ariel Sacks). See our work on this page of the website. We will continue with this for one more week. No spoilers! ;)
Further Reading: Reporting Student Learning
We started out these two weeks looking at four different sources that explained the airline incident that happened in early April. After looking at different perspectives, students realized that they had never had the whole story. We also decided that we are still missing information, and the situation was never about the actual airline itself, but about federal regulations.
We then spent two weeks reading, discussing, and writing about The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass himself. I believe we have more questions about slavery than answers. One of the lessons we've learned is to keep reading from different sources to get different perspectives. There are always at least two sides to every story. We will be keeping this at the forefront, and it's my hope students realize this is true of most things they read or hear.
Taft is next week, so our next update will be May 26th. Woah... this year is going by faster than all the rest!
Further Reading: Sorry, Parents: Middle School Is Scientifically the Worst
Last week, we wrapped up our Study Sync pilot unit regarding challenges of human interaction. We are now shifting gears. We've read two very different poems about the horrors of war ("The Charge of the Light Brigade" & "Dulce et Decorum Est"), and we've actually read them about five times, looking through various lenses.
This week we started with MAP testing, read, discussed, and wrote about an article of the week, and then dug into deciphering the three paragraphs of The Gettysburg Address! It's interesting to see what students know from the text alone, as I try to not share background information as we look closely at the words Lincoln decided to use in 1863.
When students had time to write today, some wrote in response to the article of the week, some wrote in response to The Gettysburg Address, and some wrote narratives or continued with creative writing. We've got two larger pieces of writing this quarter with more requirements than in previous quarters, so many students are buckling down.
Further Reading: How Empathy Is Important for Parents and Teens When Things Get Stressful
The week before Spring Break and the week after... it's a wonder we got any work completed!
The week prior, we celebrated students' hobbies / talents / skills with "Teach Me Your Talent" presentations. It was great to see some students in their element, and others muster up the courage to teach to their peers in small groups! Here's a glimpse into our presentations:
This past week, we began poetry week, which includes a chance at getting student work shared and literally hung on our very own "poet tree" (which is really a branch Mr. Kirr brought in during parent conferences)! We won't make poetry a huge focus in 7th grade, as 6th and 8th grade take on that role. We will have fun with it, however! One poem we read and analyzed this week was "Oranges" by Gary Soto. We then continued with the Study Sync pilot and read point and counterpoint regarding social media use for preteens. This led to discussion and writing about what constitutes a strong argument, and then we were able to have a fishbowl discussion regarding the arguments and preteen use of social media. Social media and even simple phone usage (setting time limits and putting all phones on the kitchen table at bedtime) would be great discussions to have this weekend with your adolescent. Side note: What shocked me was that many students did not think it was wrong to lie about your age when signing up for something online...
For further reading this week, ask your child to open up his or her ConnectEd / Study Sync account and show you the point/counterpoint article we read this week! I tried to find the original online, but, sadly, could not. If your child isn't home this weekend, try this one on for size: The First Cell Phone: Rules for Responsibility
We survived three days of PARCC testing last week! We also read a bit, discussed a bit, and wrote a bit, as well. ;)
To celebrate (or maybe just because we haven't gotten around to it yet and it's NOT tested...) we have been working on speaking skills this week. As always, you and your children can check this part of our website for day-to-day plans (with links) if someone is absent or just wants to "see that video again," and also keep tabs on this page for your children's books they've shared with the class. Hopefully our speaking practice lessons will transfer to our book talks on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Next week, students in ELA class will be teaching their peers! It will be their chance to show what speaking skills they've learned, while sharing something they love (hopefully)! Your child was asked to come up with a talent, hobby, or skill that he/she would like to teach. It could be something simple or a part of something larger. Want to join in the experience? Come join us on Tuesday or Thursday to learn, provide feedback, and see the 7th graders in action.
Here are our days with approximate times, as we're starting class with independent reading and book talks:
Tuesday, March 21
per 2: 8:35-8:53 (Round 1)
per 4: 9:41-10:21 (Finish Round 1 & go on to Round 2)
per 5 & 6: 10:45-11:49 (Rounds 1 & 2)
per 8 & 9: 12:57-2:01 (Rounds 1 & 2)
Thursday, March 23
per 2: 9:00-9:20 (Round 3)
per 4: 10:05-10:42 (Round 4 & 5)
per 5 & 6: 11:00-12:03 (Rounds 3, 4, and 5)
per 8 & 9: 1:05-2:04 (Rounds 3, 4, and 5)
Chat with your child and ask what day and period he or she is presenting, or see if you can decipher our code on this spreadsheet. I hope you can join us for more messy learning!
Further Reading: Emotional Agility as a Tool to Help Teens Manage Their Feelings
Simply email me to come into class in person or via Skype. We'd love to hear book talks (suggestions for good books) or picture books (read aloud by YOU). We hope to see you in class this year!
Mrs. Joy Kirr