Wednesday, December 17, 2014

L.7.4b - Using Greek/Latin Roots to Determine the Meaning of Complex Words

With an understanding of Greek and Latin roots, students can determine the meaning of difficult words - or at least get closer to what those difficult words might mean. I started by connecting this skill to real life. I found two online texts that had words in their titles that were complex and had roots in them that we would study in our lesson.

This text had the word benevolent in the title. Most students don't know what this word means when they encounter it, so I explained that I would be teaching them a strategy to help them get closer to its meaning.

I then showed students the following slide that had the word malice in the title. We discussed how the word malice is a complex word for most middle school students, but with knowledge of Greek and Latin roots, students can get closer to its meaning!

I used the following SMARTboard presentation to help me introduce the concept of using Greek and Latin roots as a word-solving strategy.

As a seventh-grade team, we decided on several roots that we felt were prevalent in complex words middle school students typically see in texts. The root 'bene' or 'bon' was one root we decided to teach.

Students took notes on each word and as I revealed each definition, students started to notice a common pattern - all of the words had something to do with GOOD. (Students recorded their notes in the Language section of their Thoughtful Logs.)

We also decided that that root 'mal' was an important root to teach. I created these slides to teach about words with the root 'mal'.

Again, students took notes on each of these words and recorded their definitions.There was definitely a common pattern to the definitions. They all had something to do with BAD.

Here is one student's notes from the lesson.

We returned to the two articles from the beginning of the lesson to relook at the words benevolent and malice. In addition, we watched a video clip of the "Malice at the Palace" to see what 'bad' took place during the incident. It was clear that players and fans fighting, throwing food, cups, and drinks at one another, and rushing onto the court supported the fact that 'malice' is not a good thing!

For guided practice, students completed this activity to start identifying roots in complex words.

The second part of the activity asked students to find a word in the dictionary with each of the roots and an appropriate "good" or "bad" definition (depending on the root they were looking up).

The next day, students wrote each of their dictionary words and their definitions on two different post-its. We looked at each word and definition under the doc cam and discussed them. Several students came up with the same words so we grouped them. It was easy for me to see who understood this skill and who didn't. Some students wrote down words like 'mallard' - a type of duck. This was the perfect opportunity for me to discuss that not ALL words that have 'bene', 'bon', or 'mal' in them are related to the root, but many words are. 

I recorded each of the 'bene', 'bon', and 'mal' words students had found and put them on large chart paper to hang in our room for easy reference. Students are encouraged to find words with these roots in them in the books/texts they read on their own and in other subject areas. If they find a word, they are to let me know, and they'll get a smelly sticker in return for sharing it with the class. This is a wonderful way for students to independently identify words with roots outside of our classroom. (It's also amazing how much tweenagers love smelly stickers!!)

During a different week, we studied the roots 'man', 'manu', and 'corp' using these slides during the lesson. Again, students took notes and noticed patterns in their definition to infer the meaning of each root. 

Afterwards, students practiced identifying their new roots, in addition to the roots we learned the week before to spiral students' learning.

They also looked up 'bene', 'bon', and 'manu' words in the dictionary for each root and recorded the definitions, so long as the words' definitions had something to do with 'hands' or 'body'.

Friday, December 5, 2014

RL.7.6 - Comparing Two Perspectives in Touching Spirit Bear

I used this anchor chart to kick off teaching about comparing perspectives. The following questions guided our thinking about how a narrator communicates the different perspectives of characters in their stories. To model, I read aloud pgs. 137-139 from Touching Spirit Bear to refresh students on Cole and Garvey's perspective of the hotdog in the chapter 16. They have two very different perspectives! I also recorded what actions, dialogue, or thoughts as evidence the narrator provided for these characters that supported each of their perspectives. You can see my thinking recorded on the anchor chart below. (A) stands for an Action; (D) stands for Dialogue.

After watching me model how to record the two different perspectives about the hot dog in Ch. 16 and evidence to support each perspective, students practiced the same skills using the stick presented in Ch.17 on pgs. 144-146. Both Cole and Edwin view the stick differently.
 Students skimmed through their books to find actions and dialogue that supported each character's perspective.

The next day, we shared out about the two perspectives Cole and Edwin had about the stick. I recorded those perspectives on our chart. Then I had each student take a post-it and write one piece of evidence they found for either Cole or Edwin. We reviewed these as a class using the document camera. Many students found the same actions and dialogue which was affirming; it also helped me identify which of my students were still struggling.

Here's an upclose shot of the evidence students gathered to support Cole's perspective of the stick. This gave students who were absent a chance to quickly get caught up and a chance for students who didn't have enough evidence or the wrong kind of evidence to fix what they had.

This part of the chart helped us store evidence students found to support Edwin's perspective of the stick. Afterward, students worked to find evidence to support each character's perspective about the rock in Ch. 18.

Then it was time to use this information to respond to a prompt that asked students to compare two characters' perspectives about an item in the book. I brought out a previous anchor chart we had used for responding to a short answer question. We originally used it more in the context of informative writing, but I wanted to make the connections to writing about literature, too. One of the problems I've noticed in my students' writing is that they are good at finding evidence to support claims and main ideas, but they do very little to explain why the evidence supports their claim or main idea. So, as students shared with a partner about the evidence they found for each character's perspective about the rock in Ch. 18, I was sure to push them to use the following stems: One piece of evidence I found to support ____'s perspective about the ___ is _____. This dialogue/action shows that... Then when we shared out as a class, I was sure to have students use that same phrase. You can see I wrote it at the top of my board above the chart.

I modeled responding to the following prompt, using the perspectives of Cole and Garvey about the hotdog. My notes from the graphic organizer came in handy for helping me plan my writing!

We nearly ran out of time as I hand-wrote my model of responding to the prompt, so for the next class, I typed up my response and color-coded it so students could see each part of a strong response. (You'll see that these colors are also indicated on the checklist in the next picture.) I emailed this sample response to students so they had something to refer to when drafting their own response.

I had students use this checklist to help them organize their writing.

This writing assignment required that students do many things - refer to their graphic organizer of notes and the checklist, skim the book for appropriate page numbers and to clarify information, and type of their response. Talk about synthesizing materials to put them all together into one response! Because I modeled my response using the hotdog, students go to choose if they wanted to compare Cole and Edwin's perspectives about either the stick OR the rock. 

You can see that students color-coded their response as they drafted to 'prove' that had each part of the response. They also checked it off on their checklist.

Some students chose to hand-write their response but referred to my sample response to help guide them in drafting their own.

Students peer revised with one other person in the class by electronically 'sharing' their response. Peer revisors used the Google comment tool to highlight areas of the writer's work that needed more attention and leaving a comment about what to fix. Students then made the recommendation fixes based on their peer's feedback. Then it was time to print. Here is one student's final response comparing Cole and Edwin's perspective about the rock.
 This student chose to compare the two perspectives Cole and Edwin had about the stick.
We will continue to grow in our ability to respond to prompts using:
  • topic sentences
  • paraphrased or word-for-word evidence from the text
  • cited page numbers and sources
  • explanations for why the evidence supports the topic sentence
  • concluding sentences
It can't all happen overnight, but we're getting there!

Monday, November 24, 2014

RL.7.6 - Point of View & Plot Elements Affecting One Another, & W.7.3 - Writing Strong Narratives

Authors make explicit decisions about what point of view to write from depending on the kind of connection they want their readers to have with the text and/or the characters in the text. I recently anchored our learning about point of view on this anchor chart. Students received an identical chart to glue in their Thoughtful Logs.

To help students practice this this skill, I created 13 stations around the room. Each station had a short excerpt from a real text. I modeled the process at one of the stations so students knew exactly what to do and the expectations I had of their written responses. Students read the excerpt together, and through discussion, they had to determine:
1. What point of view is the excerpt written from?
2. How do you know? 

Students referred to the chart in their Thoughtful Logs that had the information we had learned about the different points of view. This chart became a valuable resource for helping students defend their thinking.

After students orally discussed their answers, they recorded the point of view and an explanation of their thinking in their Thoughtful Logs.

Here is one student's Thoughtful Log. I modeled #1 and had students record it in their Thoughtful Logs so they  had a sample written response to refer to no matter what station they were at. When students finished at one station, they looked around to see what other station was open and rotated to it whenever they were ready. You can see this student rotated from station #6 to #13 to #12 to #7.
You can see that this students also went to stations #12 and #6 and got the same answers as the previous student, despite them being in different partnerships. This process helped me identify which students needed more support and who was independent in the skill.

We have also been discussing the impact plot elements have on one another. Earlier in the month, we read a story about two boys named Carlos and Martino who went hiking on their own for the first time. Martino battled a man vs. self conflict, constantly doubting his abilities and worrying about what would happen with his parents not there. With this plot diagram, I changed the exposition to include the entire family going on the hike. (You'll notice I filled in the exposition with this changed information.) Students planned for the rest of the narrative using this plot diagram; they also had to pick a new conflict since the original man vs. self conflict was eliminated with Martino's family going on the hike together. By changing a plot element (the family hiking together rather than the two boys hiking alone as in the original version), the story had to take a different turn and put my students in charge.

After students planned their stories, they started their first drafts.

In a future lesson, I pointed out that great narratives have transitional phrases that help to move the story along. We read a mentor text called "The Party" and as I read, I had students record on the back of their planners all the transitional phrases they saw/heard and the paragraph where those phrases were found so we could easily locate and highlight them as a class after I read. Students then went back into their first drafts and revised their narratives to include transitional phrases. 
In another lesson, I pointed out that great narratives also have specific nouns. We looked at the first draft of a "Carlos & Martino" story that I had written and on the left recorded the common nouns in my draft. On the right side, students helped me brainstorm specific nouns that I could use for each of my common nouns. I also encouraged students to use Google to find the names of specific nouns if they were unsure of ones themselves. Students then went into their own narratives to make their common nouns more specific!