Here are a few ideas I’m considering that will continue for the entire course of the year. This will leave me with 60 minutes of regular instruction each class. I may try to book the computer lab for Fridays (each class only meets every other on block), but that seems a bit selfish so I need a new schedule there!
*We are on block schedule, so I plan to have SSR Mon-Thurs (students may choose to read ahead in class novels or to work on their independent reading) for about 15 minutes at the beginning of class each day.
*To reduce the grading load, I am planning to prepare a reading quiz for every day, but it will be delivered randomly. This means that all students will be expecting the quiz, but only 1-2 classes each day will actually take it. It will likely eat into their SSR time. The purpose is to provide accountability without being so tedious.
*THEN, we’ll implement a few minutes of “Fun day Friday” as I was asked for this constantly last year. The first 15 minutes of class on Fridays will be allocated to a vocabulary activity. (Catch phrase/something with vocab flash cards/jeopardy? -still creating list)
*Since we will no longer be doing journaling at the beginning of class, this will be moved to the class Ning. Students will be responsible for responding to or creating discussions once a week on the Ning forums. These discussions can be in the form of a picture, quote, song, prompt (what would you do, etc), article, video, etc. External links are encouraged! Extra credit will be awarded to students with high quality posts.
*Going along with SSR and independent reading, students will also be using Ning for blogging responses which is three fold because it offers accountability, authentic audience, and a place to recommend books to peers.
Found tip for blog posts: “critically reflect back (past experiences), forward (future implications), inward (current feelings or emotions) & outward (other’s point of view) on the topic/text” – In detail at THIS SITE
*I will also encourage students to use the group features for lit circles or long term group work (like our Gatsby Meets the Press newspaper) to share sources, ideas and keep files. Additionally, I will introduce Google docs to assist with group work, so it will depend on student preferences.
*Side note: Next time we do online “lit circles” using Ning’s “Groups” feature, will keep groups small (4-6??) and consider having students log on as specific characters and solve problem?? using skills/character traits particular to each individual character.
Other Activities I like (or want to try!):
*Maintain portfolios - Ummm…. Tips??
*Conferencing - Similar to writer’s workshop, but not sure how often I’ll be able to follow through or how structured it will be. Some will be in class – do you recommend requiring/allowing before/after school sign up as well? How do you do run this?
*Socratic Seminars – Once a month at least. (“Circle discussions” in between- use ticket in the door for questions.)
*Building background information – Scaffold notetaking skills. (Create own webquests: King Arthur and The Crucible?)
*Gallery Walks – when we do any kind of visual projects, we should use this + student vote for fave ( a couple extra credit pts). Gives better purpose for projects.
*Using roles/using lit circles throughout the year. Must be effective. Create product/offer personal synopsis in writing?
*Debates: 1-2. Assign roles, give time to prepare.
*Mock trial. Shoot for 1 per year? (OMM; Beowulf ?)
*Diigo – we do lots of research based papers (with plenty of room for personal/opinionated voice). See if this tool can help students organized and improve my ability to check in on them.
*Think – Pair – Share activities where students are called on periodically to share their responses with the class to keep them accountable.
*Skits/Reader’s Theater – students create their own scripts (familiarity with text) sometimes making up new settings, sometimes staying true to text. Good for kinesthetic learners/kids who love drama.