Rules, procedures, and relationship building are definitely my top priority during the first week of school. Getting those down during the first 5 days will spare me from headaches during the other 175. That said, I really can’t stand seeing those faces in my room and not teaching my content, so I tried to cover some basics this week.
Parts of Speech
This year, I’ve taken on an idea from a stellar colleague Jeanette, my 7th grade counterpart. My students put together grammar and vocabulary books that we’ll use the entire year. I’m so excited about them. They are basically Duo-Tang folders where we will keep our notes about grammar topics like parts of speech, sentence types, phrases, and clauses. We will also keep all of our notes about vocabulary words in the folder, filing the words by part of speech. We’ll have blank pages for notes on roots, affixes, and context clues.
As we learn new vocabulary words, we will list them along with their part of speech in the table of contents.
After this, students put one sheet of blank loose leaf paper for notes on roots and affixes followed by tables to list the meanings of the roots and affixes we encounter throughout the year.
After the tables, students put a few sheets of loose leaf paper in for notes on context clues. We will learn about those starting Monday.
Then, students cut and hole punched different colored construction paper to correspond with the multi-sensory grammar color coding our school uses. We inserted some pages of my modified Frayer models for vocabulary instruction. Then when we have writing lessons, and I tell the students to use more adverbs, for example, they’ll flip to the purple section of their book and have some great tier 2 level adverbs to choose from! Again, this is not my idea, but I think it’s a great one, and I’m looking forward to seeing how it works.
As an aside, I was COMPLETELY freaking out about getting my students to organize so many papers, not to mention CUT WITH SCISSORS and HOLE PUNCH on the second day of school, but I was worried for nothing. Each team member had a different job in helping each other put these together. They did great! They even organized and put away the extra supplies without being asked, and one student on her own initiative made an extra book for a teammate who was absent.
After putting together our grammar books, I gave each team of students an index card with one part of speech and examples. For instance, a card that said adjective and then listed 3 different adjectives. Each group prepared a poster to teach their part of speech to the class. As groups presented, students took notes in their new grammar books!
Then, we hung the posters on the grammar wall.
This is not really the purpose of the wall, but the kids have been using the posters during our daily grammar/writing warm ups, so I’ll leave them up for a little while.
Question Answer Relationship
Along with grammar, we worked on QAR, a reading strategy we’ll use all year long. The type of thinking required in this strategy is different from what most students are used to, so this is some pretty heavy stuff for the first week, but with lots of encouragement, scaffolding, and practice, students can do it. We started by taking notes which included sorting questions of each type of QAR and glueing them into our journals right with our notes.
Then, I asked students to take out a functional text I wrote detailing my classroom procedures. We’d used it earlier in the week for a part of speech scavenger hunt. But now, the students used it to practice QAR. Students had to classify the questions by QAR and then underline the parts of the passage that help them with the answer. We used colored pencils to color code our answers and underlines.
(Haven’t you ever tried to copy something only to have half of your pages come out on colored paper someone forgot? Oh well! I kind of like the blue paper. It’s pretty.)
In addition to my language arts block, I teach a one hour reading enrichment class for a very small group of students. The goal is to fill the gaps in their reading skills and exit them from the class as quickly as possible. This week, I gathered a lot of data. Students filled out interest forms, so I would know what they like to read and what their struggles are. I used the San Diego Quick Reading Assessment to get an idea of their levels, and I administered a paper and pencil multiple choice reading pretest. The results of the pretests fascinated me.
My completely unscientific data analysis chart for the pretest revealed that my students are pretty great with narrative text (#12 – 20), but they need some work with expository. How very ELAS! But so much for the novel studies I’ve found to be so successful with these groups. My mother is coming to the rescue and mailing me some National Geographic materials.
We also learned about word parts and played a fun game I found at one of my favorite websites that I usually called That Florida Site.
One week down! I’m glad it was a great one.