Teaching Iroquois Folktales in Middle School – common core aligned

Teaching literature, including myths and legends, are a part of the Common Core curriculum, as well as in numerous state standards for English Language Arts in upper elementary and middle school students.  In my seventh grade classroom, I use “Legends of the Iroquois” as a resource for teaching folktales to my students.  Click here to check out all the free and paid materials available.

I have created a two-week unit which is aligned to the New York State Common Core Standards in English Language Arts.  It is aligned in chronological order of the book and uses some additional resources as well.  It can be found here:

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This unit also uses the children’s book, “Brother Eagle, Sister Sky”.  This is a book with rich illustrations by Susan Jeffers.  This book can be used individually or as a part of the unit above.

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Implementing children’s literature is a great way to increase interest in a middle school lesson.   This is why so many of my units have children’s literature embedded within them.  To check out the quality of my work, click here view a free product! 

I love Paul Goble’s literature to reinforce my middle school unit.  I use his books as read alouds with my students and in jigsaw learning!  Here is a product of extensive reading comprehension questions to correspond with his books:

Paul Goble Children’s literature questions.  Check our all Paul Goble has to offer, check out his materials available on Amazon.

We practice picture writing using the book as a guide.  I let the students create stories on the chalkboard and using an app called my popplet!  It’s very fun and engaging.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Everything you need to teach “The Outsiders”

The Outsiders – Mega Bundle

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**individually these products total over $75 $$ SAVE $$
PDF Files:
Section 1: Interactive Learning – This first section includes interactive learning. This is 5 “Reader’s Theater”, a Mock Trial, and a game; Greasers vs. Socs
Section 2: Chapter Activities, vocabulary, journal entries, reading calendar, FB activity
Section 3: Poetry Connection – lessons and handouts to correspond with the poem “Nothing Gold Can Stay”.
Section 4: PowerPoint Presentations
Section 5: Assessments

Section 1: Interactive Learning
1. 5 Interactive Role Play – Reader’s Theater
This product is 5 reader’s theaters that corresponds with Chapter 2, 3, 4, 7, & 11 of “The Outsiders” by S.E. Hinton. It includes teacher instructions. There is an exit activity attached to each of the reader’s theater for a summative assessment. The exit activities are visually appealing. Chapter 11 lesson also includes 8 task cards. The document is 32 pages.

The product is 5 different scripts for the above mentioned chapters in the novel. Each chapter includes teacher instructions. Students will assume the role of characters from the novel and perform the chapters in a dramatic fashion. The dialogue in the scripts is taken exactly from the novel. The reader’s theater is active learning and dramatic in flare. It is very appealing to reluctant and struggling readers. It can be used as an introduction to the chapter, as a practice for close reading strategies, or as a review. Just print, copy, and use!

I conduct these types of reader’s theater frequently in my seventh grade classroom. The students are always engaged and excited about the day. When the students come into my classroom and see it is set up for a reader’s theater, they often come in requesting roles and ready to learn.
What people have said about this product:
On October 2, 2016, KATHRYN D. said:
This is exactly what I was looking for! Thank you so much. Excellent product, worth every penny.

On August 24, 2016, Michelle Sharp (TpT Seller) said:
Awesome!!! My 7th graders love this

On June 30, 2016, Linda L. said:
This reader’s theater will certainly engage my students – thanks!

On November 6, 2015, Barbara Ann M. said:
I love having a premade script for readers theater!
2. Mock Trial: The People vs. Johnny Cade
Handouts for implementing a Mock Trial
Classroom simulations/role plays are excellent tools to enhance student achievement and increase classroom motivation. As educators, we believe in the power of active learning in the classroom. As a result, we have spent many years creating activities that require active learning in the classroom and have had incredible results. Students come back year after year and always remember the skits, mock trials, reader’s theaters, games, and simulations that have occurred within our classroom.

Image a fictional world where Johnny Cade survived the fire and is now facing murder and must stand trial. This productl is 73 documents to implement a cross curricular mock trial. We conducted this mock trial at the seventh and eighth grade level. While Social Studies taught government, ELA taught “The Outsiders”. There are activities to be completed before, during, and after the trial. The trial can be modified to your preference. Use some or all of the activities. It is truly AWESOME and one of my favorite units of all time. Please check out the table of contents below to see in its entirety.

Table of Contents:
Pages 4 – 8: Teacher Directions and Handouts:
Teacher Overview
Teaching Timeline
Pre Trial Activity A & B
Role Assignments

Pages 9-68: Student Handouts:
Student Handout 1 – Introduction and Overview
Student Handout 2 – Strategy & Outline
Student Handout 3 – The Facts, Timeline, and Twist
Student Handout 4 – History of Johnny Cade – to be completed while reading chapter 2
Student Handout 5 – Affidavit – to be completed while reading chapter 4
Student Handout 6 – Arrest Report – to be completed by Starsky and Hutch
Student Handout 7 – Legal Terms
Student Handout 8 – Legal Terms Practice Sheet A
Student Handout 9 – Legal Terms Practice Sheet B
Student Handout 910 – Legal Terms Quiz
Student Handout 11 – Roles Request Sheet
Student Handout 12 – Role-Play: Opening Statement
Student Handout 13 – Role-Play: Objections
Student Handout 14 – Role-Play: Closing Statement
Student Handout 15 – Lawyer’s Roles and Responsibilities
Student Handout 16 – Mock Trial Procedures (Evidence and Forgetful Witnesses)
Student Handout 17 – Objections
Student Handout 18– Roles and Responsibilities: Judge/Bailiff
Student Handout 19 – Roles and Responsibilities: Lawyers
Student Handout 20– Roles and Responsibilities: Witnesses
Student Handout 21– Roles and Responsibilities: News Media
Student Handout 22– Witness Biographies:
Includes Officer Starsky, Sergeant Hutch, Dr. Perri-Medic, Randy, David, Johnny, Ponyboy, Darry, Soda, Steve, Two-Bit, and Cherry. If there are not enough students for roles, eliminate David and Steve first.
Student Handout 23– Graphic Organizer: Witness Biography
Student Handout 24– Opening Remarks
Student Handout 25– Charges and Objections
Student Handout 26– Closing Remarks
Student Handout 27– Jurors’ Handbook
Student Handout 28– Jurors’ Outline

Pages 69-73: Answer Keys
Legal Terms Practice Sheet A
Legal Terms Practice Sheet B
Legal Terms Quiz
We will be adding more simulation and active learning activities on this store in the future. Please “follow” us and keep an eye out for exciting activities.
What people have said about this product:
On January 21, 2016, Bridgette Murray (TpT Seller) said:
Excellent resource! It worked great with my 8th grade class!

On August 10, 2016, Chelsea W. said:
My students absolutely loved doing this last year. Great materials and character bios.

3. Greasers vs. Socs
Two page PDF File. First page is teacher instructions for a game of Greaser vs. Soc and a second page is a “Ticket Out the Door” for student assessment.

Section 2: Chapter Activities
1. Journal Writing Responses by chapter
This product is a 12 page packet with one journal prompt to follow each chapter in “The Outsiders” by S.E. Hinton. It is an activity planned to be an individual reflection of the actions of the characters and how to use these situations as teachable moments and spark writing prompts geared towards character education. Each page is identical in design and contain a graphic to coincide with the theme of the passage.

There is a one page instructional handout for the writing packet which follows the wording below:
“The Outsiders”, by S. E. Hinton, is a novel full of teachable moments that help the student understand how the protagonist, Ponyboy Curtis, grows and matures. Students are able to gain knowledge about Ponyboy to critique and understand his actions and feelings. Then, students can use these experiences as an opportunity for personal growth.

As students read the novel, they will take a break at the end of each chapter to think about the moral and ethical actions presented to them. They will take all of the situations that are dealt to Ponyboy and try and relate them to their own life. Students will ask themselves some tough questions and answer honestly. This is a good time to reflect on personal integrity, which includes having responsibility for your actions and showing respect to yourself and those around you. Students will think about these questions: Are you trustworthy? Are you fair? What makes you a good friend?

The students will take each learning experiences presented to Ponyboy in each chapter as a way to practice moral and ethical behavior in their life. They will think about moments from their past when they made a great decision. Then, they will think about those times when they could have chosen better. Students will think about: How does learning from past mistakes help build character? How does is show courage?

Students will: Use the writing prompts at the end of each chapter to analyze character development (the character of the character) to think about values; respect, responsibility, and citizenship. Answer all the writing prompts in complete sentences. Please use additional paper if needed.

The document is a PDF file. It is ready to print and copy for student use.
What people have said about this product:
On November 10, 2015, Abby B. said:
Great independent product for students!

2. Literature Based Vocabulary
This is a 32 pdf file, PRINTABLE and ready to use. This directly corresponds with the novel, “The Outsiders”.
This product is for two literature based vocabulary lists (18 and 21 words) found in the novel, “The Outsiders” by S. E. Hinton. The product includes a list of the words with its part of speech, page number from the text, definition, and a fill-in-the-blank sentence.
Also, it includes a reinforcement activity for each word. All of the activities are different so students are able to try different strategies to see what works for them. Strategies include, but are not limited to, completing a Frayer model, writing a journal entry, drawing an illustration, finding synonyms, etc. There is a text-based example for each word.
In addition, the packet includes a synonyms worksheet with a key and an assessment with key for each list. The synonyms worksheets ask students to work in groups with their lists to match words with their synonyms. The assessment instructs the teacher to dictate the words, like a spelling test, then the students match them with their definition.
I try to introduce a “Word of the Day” as bell work for each lesson. Then, we are always looking for the words embedded within the text.
Research continues to point to vocabulary development as essential to reading comprehension. By consistently introducing and mastering higher level vocabulary, students’ comprehension will increase as a result. Display the words in your classroom. Look for meaningful and relevant opportunities to include this language in your reading and writing. I hope you find this extremely helpful!

3. Chapter 2 – The History of Johnny Cade
This is a one page PDF handout, ready to print, intended to give students background information on Johnny Cade. The flashback in Chapter 2 helps the reader to understand why Johnny is the way he is. It is important information to have as the novel develops.
4. Chapter 4 – Affidavit
This is a one page PDF handout, ready to print, and intended to use as the police report for the murder scene in Chapter 4. It begins with fill in the blanks where students use the chapter to complete. Then, it gives questions that get students thinking about motive and the events leading up to murder.
5. Reading calendar
One page editable calendar with reading assignments, words of the day, activities, quizzes and tests.
6. Ponyboy’s Facebook Page
This is a PDF file to complete a Facebook page for Ponyboy Curtis. It can be used throughout the novel or as an independent assessment.
7. Short Response Writing
This activity asks students to describe if Johnny Cade is tough or sensitive using specific text-based details to support their response. It works best as an activity to complete about mid-way through the book or as an assessment tool.

Section 4: Pre-Reading Activities
“The Outsiders” Pre-Reading Activities
This product is for one week of classroom activities (31 pages) that serve as pre-reading activities for the novel “The Outsiders” by S.E. Hinton. This includes cooperative learning tasks, expository writing based from nonfiction text, and vocabulary. I use the vocabulary as the introduction (bell work) activity each day.

Day 1 –
Vocabulary: Read through list of 10 words and fill in the blanks.
Introduction to Stereotypes:
There is a one page lesson procedure and three pages of images to use under a document camera. There are discussion prompts to discuss general, gender, and teenage stereotypes. Then, there is a cooperative learning group activity that discusses stereotypes in school. The purpose of this lesson is to lead to uncovering the stereotypes given to Greasers and Socs.

Day 2 –
Vocabulary: Crossword puzzle
“The Life of Reilly”:
This lesson includes a link to a website about an article on ESPN dealing with stereotypes. The lesson requires students to complete a close read on the article and answer questions dealing with the stereotypes given within the article. I put the article under the document camera and model highlighting and annotation techniques. Students then answer the questions with their group. The lesson includes a Ticket out the Door for individual assessment.

Day 3 –
Vocabulary: make flashcards of each of the words using index cards
Questionnaire:
The students are each given a series of questions that they have to answer individually about issues that will arise in the novel. Then, they circulate the classroom and tally their classmate’s responses. The teacher will conduct a discussion about the experience and students will complete a Ticket out the Door for immediate feedback.

Day 4 –
Vocabulary: Game (laminate pictures for game pages.
S.E. Hinton: Expository Writing
This activity requires the students to read a brief article about author S. E. Hinton. Then, students complete an expository writing task where they are required to use evidence based details from the text to answer questions. This is one of the first times I introduce using text-based details to enhance student responses (a common task required in CCLS)

Day 5 –
Vocabulary: assessment
Would you ever…..
This is a cooperative learning activity where students will circulate the room and discuss eight task cards about issues from “The Outsiders”. Students will move through each of the stations and spend about 2 minutes discussing each of the topics. (I laminate the task cards and place them around the room so students are able to move about the classroom). As we read the novel, I always refer back to these discussion prompts so the students see their relevance.
What people have said about this product:
On August 21, 2016, Sydney Y. said:
This is perfect! I needed something to get them ready that wasn’t the norm.
On January 2, 2016, Rebecka Durflinger (TpT Seller) said:
Great thanks!

Section 4: Poetry Connection
1. “Nothing Gold Can Stay” Persuasive Essay
This product is a 9 page packet in PDF format ready to print and use. I use this lesson with my seventh grade students when we read the novel, The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton. The assignment is a persuasive essay in response to the poem, “Nothing Gold Can Stay” as found in the novel.

It begins with a warm up activity (aka “Sponge” activity) where the teacher would read the children’s book, ‘I Wanna Iguana” and students would record evidence and reasons on a graphic organizer. Please note, this product does NOT come with this book. I use a Youtube.com free video of the book in my classroom.

Then, the student receive the essential question: Do you agree with Robert Frost that gold can stay?

There is a two page outline which guides the students as to the information to include in each of the four paragraphs which will make their essay. There are two pieces of lined paper to write the final copy. There is also a rubric attached which assesses students on the information in the essay on the bases of “below, at, or above grade level”. Lastly, there is a sample essay.

Again, I use this with seventh graders but could be used with any grade level reading “The Outsiders”.
2. “Nothing Gold Can Stay” Literal and Figurative Meaning
This product is a 5 page PDF file exploring Robert Frost’s poem “Nothing Gold Can Stay”. I use it in a seventh grade class with the novel, “The Outsiders”.

I have a hyperlink giving the exact location of the poem, as it is still under copyright.

The handout goes through each line of the poem twice. First, it explains and has fill in the blank spots for discovering literal meaning of each line. Poetic elements (alliteration, assonance, metaphor, and personification are noted). A punctuation tip is included. Students read through each individual line to answer the literal questions. After the first reading, student define gold in terms of its denotation and literal meaning.

The second reading requires more inference. There are sentence stems here to give students writing ideas. There are also places to fill in the blank as they try to interpret the meaning. It concludes with students defining the connotation of gold and describing the poem’s figurative meaning. This is a five page document with a “sunrise” clipart on each page.

The product includes a 5 page key. However, answers are very interpretive so it is really just a suggestion for teachers or a guide. I use the key for students who need a copy of notes as per their IEP or for absent students.

The activity can be teacher directed or student led. My students always love this poem and find a lot of connection to their own lives. Again, I use it with “The Outsiders”, but there are only two questions directly related to the text within the handouts.
What people have said about this product:
On September 27, 2016, Buyer said:
Super helpful

3. Writing a Couplet Poem –

This is a one page PDF handout for students to write a couplet poem following the same pattern as Nothing Gold Can Stay.

Section 4 – PowerPoint Presentations:
1. What Makes You, YOU!
Each slide contains a personal connection type of question (7 in all) that relates to the novel. The PowerPoint could be used in three ways:

First, it could simply be used as an activity (to be used with the novel within the first few chapters). The teacher could use each slide as a discussion point.

Second, the teacher could laminate each slide and place them around the classroom. The students could break into small groups and circulate the classroom reporting to each station for a minute or two to discuss the topic on the task card.

Third, these topics could be used as writing prompts for a journal to be completed while reading the novel.

The PowerPoint has an introduction slide explaining the procedure. Each slide is created with a “denim” background to relate to a Greaser.

2. Cause and Effect – Chapters 1-4
6 slides that will be printed and cut into quarters. Make a few class sets and allow students to match the causes with the effects. It’s quick 10-15 minute review activity.

3. Would You Ever? A Pre-reading activity
8 slides with pre-reading questions to evoke conversations about pertinent themes that will be uncovered in the novel. Download a this free here: Would You Ever?

Section 5 – Assessments
1. Chapter 1 Characterization Quiz
This product is a three page quiz to be used after reading Chapter 1 in the novel “The Outsiders” by S.E. Hinton. The quiz is ready to print and use. It includes a key.

The first 20 questions are matching the character with an exact quotation from the novel. Then, there are three questions based from a short, nonfiction excerpt about S.E. Hinton. Lastly, there are two short response questions that require students to read a short passage from Chapter 1 of the novel and use a text-based detail (textual evidence) to support their answer to the question. Both short responses give prompts to assist the students.

This is an excellent quiz to review characters, but also to re-read text for greater comprehension. “Stay Gold”!

2. Chapter 2 – Quiz
This is one writing prompt to use with chapter 2 of “The Outsiders” by S.E. Hinton. It requires the student to use the text to find a text based detail (evidence based detail) to answer a questions about Chapter 2 of the novel. I used it as an open book quiz. The task includes the NYS short response writing rubric for assessment.
3. Chapter 3-5 – Quiz
This is a one page PDF file. The quiz is one short response question (students choose), a fill-in the blank sentence and one bonus question.
4. Chapter 6 – Quiz
One-page short response quiz. There are one short response question, one cause and effect question and two quotation identification and explanation questions.

5. Chapters 8 & 9 – Quiz
PDF file with five and six multiple choice questions for Chapters 8 & 9. There is writing prompts. Key included
6. Chapter 12 – Quiz
Two page PDF file including five, open-book, multiple choice questions. Three short response questions and three additional multiple choice questions asking about conflict. Key included.

7. 50 Multiple Choice Questions
The attached pdf is 50 multiple choice type questions for the young adult novel, “The Outsiders”. “The Outsiders” is a realistic fiction novel written by S. E. Hinton highlighting two rival gangs of teens during the 1960’s. Half of all the questions are “right there” type of questions and the other half of “inferential” type questions. The inferential questions are higher level thinking and deal with the figurative language, vocabulary and themes presented within the novel. These questions would be most useful for middle school aged children. The questions have four possible choices with the correct answer highlighted for each.

Reading literature and/or informational text and being able to answer questions based from text is central in today’s Common Core Learning Standards. Although the idea of formal testing can be intimidating, there are some benefits in improving measurable reading comprehension. There are even some fun ways to create better readers!

Reading Comprehension Questions in Education Island.

What skills are being mastered by answering questions?

Reading Comprehension:

One of the primary standards that needs to be addressed in the 21st century is teaching students to become efficient rigor. Reading comprehension is the foundation in developing literacy. Guided reading levels, or Lexile levels, have been created to meet a student’s individual need and build reading at their appropriate speed. This product is for comprehension questions to assess a student’s understanding of a piece literature at their specific reading level.

In addition, by answering the “right there” type of questions, students will need to recall information and use close reading skills to go back into the reading to find the details to answer the question. “Inferential” type of questions require students to read the material, arrive at a response, analyze their response, and draw a conclusion based from this multi-level thinking.

Close reading techniques are best to use when reading a piece of text for the first time. Close ( or sometimes Cloze reading) follows three basic steps:
Look over the text (book or article). Look at the title, any bold words or heading. Glance at the pictures, charts, graphs, etc. Make a prediction!
Read the text.
Re-read the text looking for specific details and mastery.
Complete the assessment task.
Assessment Strategies

By answering a variety of questions based from a piece of literature, student’s knowledge in finding answers by using close reading strategies will dramatically increase!

How can you use these questions in your classroom?
Upload questions into Powerpoint presentations or internet classroom games sites like com,Kahoot.it.com to create interactive classroom games.
Print out questions to use as a formal assessment for students when completing the book individually or as a class.
Send questions home as reading reinforcement when completing nightly reading assignments.
Print out questions and cut into individual pieces for differentiated instruction and use in many different classroom strategies to increase lesson rigor.
What are some instructional ideas to implement the use of these questions in my classroom?
Jigsaw – this is a strategy where students study chunks of content in expert groups, then teach their content to each other.

Divide students into groups of 4-6 people. These are called Jigsaw Groups. Jigsaw works best when you have the same number of students in each team; although this is rarely possible, try to get as close as you can.

Divide the questions into equal piles for each group. (If you have 4 students per group, give each student in their Jigsaw Group the SAME five questions). Then, give the students time to read and answer their five questions together. When the class seems finished, give each group the answers to their questions. Have the students discuss how they decided on their answers, where they found the answers, and how they will teach the questions.

Next, create new groups where there is one “expert” from each Jigsaw Group. Each Expert Group should have one student from each of the Jigsaw Groups. Distribute ALL the questions to each student. As the new groups go over the questions, each student will have the opportunity to be the “expert”. The reason this works: Cooperative learning has been identified as one of the nine instructional methods proven by research to make a significant difference in student performance (Marzano, Pickering & Pollock, 2001)

2. Reciprocal Learning is one of the driving instructional means. These are activities where students coach each other through exercises that apply to the content.

There are two types of Reciprocal Learning that could be used. The first is a “Think, Pair, Share” and the second is a “Back to Back and Front to Front”. In a “Think, Pair, Share”, students in pairs or small groups are given a question or topic. Then, they are given time to think about their response. Then, the partners share their thoughts with each other. Finally, they share their responses with the class. In the “Back to Back and Front to Front” method, students stand back to back with a partner. The same procedure is followed. Partners continually change throughout the unit.

The reason this works: Students who work in peer partnerships make measurable academic gains, develop more positive attitudes toward subject matter, become less dependent on the teacher, and spend more time on a task when working with a partner than when working independently (King-Sears & Bradley, 1995).

3. Flipped Learning is a strategy where the students complete the traditional instructional work at home and class time is used for reinforcement, clarifying and challenging learners.

Students will take home the book and questions. For “homework”, the students will read and answer the questions at an individual pace. Students will answer the questions.

During the next class period, class time can be used to dig further into the concepts for each question. The text can be reviewed and deeper connections made. With the shift to more learning outside of the classroom, the content moves from playing a “supporting” role to playing a central role.

The reason this works: “Class time is now maximized in order to adopt various methods of instruction such as active learning strategies, peer instruction, problem-based learning, or mastery or Socratic methods, depending on grade level and subject matter.” (http://www.flippedclassroomworkshop.com/the-4-pillars-of-flipped-learning-the-keys-to-successful-flipped-instruction/ 2014)

4. Mind’s Eye is a fourth strategy which could be implemented, however, it would require additional preparation by the classroom teacher.

How it works is that the teacher would choose 10-30 words from the text that evoke strong feelings or images in students’ minds.

Before starting the lesson, teachers give students a very limited overview of what they are about to read, so they have some content to build on.

Read the words slowly and dramatically. Instruct students to create movies in their minds of what they think will happen in the text. As each new word is read, students should try to incorporate it into their mental picture. Students can then draw a picture, write a questions, make a prediction, or describe a feeling the mental picture gives them.

Then, students will read the book and compare it with their initial thoughts. The questions will then serve as a formative assessment on the text.

The reason this works: The impact of Mind’e Eye is based on the principle of dual coding, the idea that storing information in two ways (through language and images) makes learning stick better. This has been shown to be especially true for reading (Sadoski and Paivio, 2001).

I have numerous reading comprehension bundles in my store. Here is a free sample of the quality of my work: The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses, by Paul Goble. This is a Guided Reading Level N.

Here is a link to all the products I currently have available in my store: Reading Comprehension Questions in Education Island.

Please follow me at my TpT store: Education Island, to stay current as I have over a hundred book question bundles that I will be publishing in the next six months. I’m working on some larger bundles by Lexile Level that will be available soon.

This is a link to literature specific to winter.
Stay connected with me:

Blog: https://wordpress.com/posts/educationisland.wordpress.com

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/educationisland/

People who have used my products have said:

“This question assessment is very well thought out and provides many ideas to incorporate into a Native American unit. Thank you for sharing!” Dana B.

“These are great questions! I am so happy with my purchase, Thank you :-)” Buyer

“This was a terrific list of questions, I was able to pick and choose for a variety of assessments as we read the book.” Amy D.

Black History Month – Middle School

Showing “Courage in the face of Racism” is a central idea that can be applied to nonfiction, historical fiction, images, video and more when exploring the plight of the African American.  I have taught middle school ELA for many years, and the history and struggle of the African American is a sensitive subject, and can often be confusing for students.  The time period that I like to focus on is the century between the end of the Civil War and Civil Rights movement.  Students are often unaware of the struggles that African Americans still faced after slavery was abolished, but before the Civil Rights movement.  After many years, I’ve adapted the idea of showing “Courage in the face of Racism” to learn about the African American throughout history.

First, I use a list of words that can be categorized as a “courageous” word or a “racist” word.  I assign an individual word to each student and they become the “expert” on their word throughout the lessons.  Using historical fiction, articles, a webquest and a reader’s theater, this topic is explored.  Click here for a free PowerPoint presentation of the words that I use for this unit.

Second, I use Mildred D. Taylor historical fiction pieces to give  accourage-precurate examples of an African American living in the South during the Great Depression.  Click here to view the unit in its entirety or click on the picture to the left.  This was a time of economic struggle and discrimination.  The students are able to see how courage was needed to fight and stand up for basic human rights.  The excerpts in the unit are taken from “Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry” and “The Gold Cadillac”.  They are also found in the book 101 Read Aloud Classics.  As Mildred D. Taylor celebrated her 40th anniversary, her book covers have been recently updated.  Click here or on the picture to see the article.  roll

Next, I use article from ReadWorks.org.  You do need an account to access these articles, but it is free to use.  Here are the links below:

Slavery in the North

Front of the Bus

Readworks.org is an excellent site to find informational text.  You can search by subject, grade level, or Lexile level.

I also like to incorporate technology whenever possible.  Because seventh grade studeimg_0319nts find this century between the Civil War and the Civil Rights Movement so confusing, I created a simple virtual field trip that gives and overview of the time period.  I use this on
Google Classroom and ask simple questions about the content of the slides, video links and images within the field trip.  The Virtual field trip can be found in the “Courage in the face of Racism” unit above, or in my “Song of the Trees” unit which is available here.

“Song of the Trees” is a short novella which can be used as an extension to this unit, or on its own.  The book describes the white men trying to take advantage of the Logan family while the father is away working because of the Great Depression.  It touches on “courage in the face of racism”, protecting the environment, and paints a true picture of the economic struggles and prejudice at this time in American History.  I use it with my seventh graders, but could be used effectively for grades 4-6 as well.

Lastly, I try and incorporate poetry into the unit as well.  Langston Hughes is probably the most prominent African American poet during the Great Depression.  The unit includes a reader’s theater where the biography of Langston Hughes is acted out and students are called to explain how “their word” is once again exemplified in the piece.

My entire Langston Hughes unit can be found here.

This unit is BRAND new and has not yet been rated.  It is currently at a discounted price, so check it out as this price will be going up soon!  It includes “I, too, Sing America”, “Poem”, “April Rain Song”, “Mother to Son”, “Harlem” and “Dreams”.  This unit also includes the reader’s theater of Langston Hughes, as mentioned above.

Finally, “A Long Walk to Water” is the perfect middle school book to use to study Black History Month.  Especially during this political time where refugees are being banned from Sudan, this unit touches it all.  Please click on the photo below to read my blog post on this incredible unit.  https://wordpress.com/post/educationisland.wordpress.com/169

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Johnny Tremain

Johnny Tremain is a class novel teaching the events leading up to the American Revolution in a historical fiction novel.  Character, Johnny Tremain, faces obstacles and matures in this coming of age novel where he interacts with historical characters and plays a believable role in these events.

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Pre-Reading Activities and Webquest:

First is a 7 page PDF file to use as a pre-reading activity to correspond with the novel, “Johnny Tremain” by Esther Forbes. It includes 2 pages of teacher instructions and ideas, 3 printable pages for student use and 2 rubrics for grading.

There are two classroom activities to complete, which are teacher directed. Then, there is an assignment for students to complete. The assignment is a deep study on Boston’s Freedom Trail to prepare for the setting of the novel. Directions for each slide and two grading rubrics are included.

The activities will probably take one class period and the PowerPoint presentation could be done in class with a partner or assigned as a project. The instructions are clear to the students. I have used these lessons with my seventh grade students in preparation for reading “Johnny Tremain”. I hope you find this helpful.

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2 Reader’s Theaters:

The next is two reader’s theaters to correspond with Chapters 6 & 8 in “Johnny Tremain” by Esther Forbes. Each reader’s theater uses the exact dialogue from the chapters to present the events in the novel. These are ready to print and use.

Chapter 6 – The Boston Tea Party. This read aloud goes through the events leading up to and including Johnny’s role in the Boston Tea Party.

Chapter 8 – So A Man Can Stand Up. This read aloud goes through a secret Sons of Liberty meeting where James Otis explains the purpose of gaining independence from Great Britain.

Each theater comes with the roles of the characters and a narrator. I usually make a class copy then print one copy for each of the parts to use. I highlight the character’s lines in these scripts so the reader’s theater will move more easily. The students really enjoy participating in these types of interactive role plays. It is a unique way to close read or re-read text.
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Chapter Printables:

This product is a 35 page printable packet to coincide with each chapter in the novel “Johnny Tremain” by Esther Forbes.  It includes a full key.  The printables come in a zip file with the files broken down into four sections with the appropriate keys.  They are all PDF files.

The printable break down the novel into reading chunks to fit into 27 class dates.  Each day has a literature based vocabulary word and activities to correspond with the reading.  The activities are varied throughout the course of the novel, thus corresponding with most of the common core learning standards.  Reading Strategies are varied and guided reading continues throughout the novel.  The implementation of the literature based vocabulary adds to increased student reading comprehension and is offered with practice activities for each word.  There are text based examples for each chapter.  Literary elements are introduced and explored.  There are numerous opportunities to inference and explain rationale.  Visual interpretations and prediction are other skills used to master comprehension.  There are also varied reading strategies to use as a class for discussion purposes.

As the genre of this novel is Historical Fiction, there is a section devoted entirely to this genre.  In addition, students must determine between history and fiction with both characters and events.  The historical aspect of the Pre-Revolutionary War is closely followed and taught using the combination of history and fiction.  Characterization, theme and symbolism are thoroughly explored within this unit.  In addition to cause and effect, expectation vs. reality, and chronological order development.  This printable bundle would be sufficient to teach the entire novel in 27 classes of about 40 minute classes.

Chapters 1-3:

Words of the day, literature based vocabulary development and practice

Literary elements:  personification, setting, foreshadowing, symbolism, irony

Text examples

Visual interpretations, predicting

Reading Strategies:  Back to Back and Front to Front; Cause and Effect

History:  Paul Revere – historical account

Responsive writing

Comprehension questions

Chapters 4-6:

Words of the day, literature based vocabulary development and practice

Reading Strategies:  Reality vs. Expectation; Back to Back, Front to Front, Kagan Mat

History:  Whig vs. Tory

Comprehension and application questions

Guided Reading questions

Reviewing Literary Elements

Writing Strategies Choices:  Informational, literary, argumentative, expressive

Historical Fiction

Theme of Maturity

Chapters 7-9

Words of the day, literature based vocabulary development and practice

Characterization

Reading Strategies:  Jigsaw Learning, Fish Bowl Discussion, guided reading

Writing Strategies:  reflection/expressive writing, Acrostic Poetry

Cause and Effect, Historical Fiction

Theme

“Paul Revere’s Ride” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Chapters 10-12

Words of the day, literature based vocabulary development and practice

Chronological order/historical timeline

Writing Strategies:  responding to history; reflection/expressive writing

Prediction

Visual interpretation

**Available ONLY in this BUNDLE:  Activities for Chapters 1-4:

Included is a 2 page PDF file with three creative activities to correspond with Chapters 1-4 in the novel.  Students will be able to choose one, or complete all the activities, using creative means.  Students can be an architect, an author or an artist.  A fun way to review reading!

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Independent Reading Assignment:

This is a 4 page PDF file that gives instructions for students to independently read “Johnny Tremain” by Esther Forbes and assess their comprehension through a PowerPoint Presentation. The project has clear objectives and two grading rubrics. There is a graphic organizer for slide material.

This activity would allow students to read the novel independently and present their understanding of the text upon completing the book.

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50 Reading Comprehension Questions:

Lastly, a PDF with 50 multiple choice type questions for the young adult novel, “Johnny Tremain”. “Johnny Tremain” is a historical fiction novel written by Esther Forbes highlighting the events leading up to the American Revolution. Half of all the questions are “right there” type of questions and the other half of “inferential” type questions. The inferential questions are higher level thinking and deal with the figurative language, vocabulary and themes presented within the novel. These questions would be most useful for middle school aged children. The questions have four possible choices with the correct answer highlighted for each.

Reading literature and/or informational text and being able to answer questions based from text is central in today’s Common Core Learning Standards.  Although the idea of formal testing can be intimidating, there are some benefits in improving measurable reading comprehension.  There are even some fun ways to create better readers!

Reading Comprehension Questions in Education Island.

What skills are being mastered by answering questions?

Reading Comprehension:

One of the primary standards that needs to be addressed in the 21st century is teaching students to become efficient rigor.  Reading comprehension is the foundation in developing literacy.  Guided reading levels, or Lexile levels, have been created to meet a student’s individual need and build reading at their appropriate speed.  This product is for comprehension questions to assess a student’s understanding of a piece literature at their specific reading level.

In addition, by answering the “right there” type of questions, students will need to recall information and use close reading skills to go back into the reading to find the details to answer the question.  “Inferential” type of questions require students to read the material, arrive at a response, analyze their response, and draw a conclusion based from this multi-level thinking.

Close reading techniques are best to use when reading a piece of text for the first time.  Close ( or sometimes Cloze reading) follows three basic steps:
Look over the text (book or article).  Look at the title, any bold words or heading.  Glance at the pictures, charts, graphs, etc.  Make a prediction!
Read the text.
Re-read the text looking for specific details and mastery.
Complete the assessment task.
Assessment Strategies

By answering a variety of questions based from a piece of literature, student’s knowledge in finding answers by using close reading strategies will dramatically increase!

How can you use these questions in your classroom?
Upload questions into Powerpoint presentations or internet classroom games sites like com,Kahoot.it.com to create interactive classroom games.
Print out questions to use as a formal assessment for students when completing the book individually or as a class.
Send questions home as reading reinforcement when completing nightly reading assignments.
Print out questions and cut into individual pieces for differentiated instruction and use in many different classroom strategies to increase lesson rigor.
What are some instructional ideas to implement the use of these questions in my classroom?
 Jigsaw – this is a strategy where students study chunks of content in expert groups, then teach their content to each other.

Divide students into groups of 4-6 people.  These are called Jigsaw Groups.  Jigsaw works best when you have the same number of students in each team; although this is rarely possible, try to get as close as you can.

Divide the questions into equal piles for each group.  (If you have 4 students per group, give each student in their Jigsaw Group the SAME five questions).  Then, give the students time to read and answer their five questions together.  When the class seems finished, give each group the answers to their questions.  Have the students discuss how they decided on their answers, where they found the answers, and how they will teach the questions.

Next, create new groups where there is one “expert” from each Jigsaw Group.  Each Expert Group should have one student from each of the Jigsaw Groups.  Distribute ALL the questions to each student.  As the new groups go over the questions, each student will have the opportunity to be the “expert”.  The reason this works:  Cooperative learning has been identified as one of the nine instructional methods proven by research to make a significant difference in student performance (Marzano, Pickering & Pollock, 2001)

     2.  Reciprocal Learning is one of the driving instructional means.  These are activities where students coach each other through exercises that apply to the content.

There are two types of Reciprocal Learning that could be used.  The first is a “Think, Pair, Share” and the second is a “Back to Back and Front to Front”.  In a “Think, Pair, Share”, students in pairs or small groups are given a question or topic.  Then, they are given time to think about their response.  Then, the partners share their thoughts with each other.  Finally, they share their responses with the class.  In the “Back to Back and Front to Front” method, students stand back to back with a partner.  The same procedure is followed.  Partners continually change throughout the unit.

The reason this works:  Students who work in peer partnerships make measurable academic gains, develop more positive attitudes toward subject matter, become less dependent on the teacher, and spend more time on a task when working with a partner than when working independently (King-Sears & Bradley, 1995).

3.  Flipped Learning is a strategy where the students complete the traditional instructional work at home and class time is used for reinforcement, clarifying and challenging learners.

Students will take home the book and questions.  For “homework”, the students will read and answer the questions at an individual pace.  Students will answer the questions.

During the next class period, class time can be used to dig further into the concepts for each question.   The text can be reviewed and deeper connections made.  With the shift to more learning outside of the classroom, the content moves from playing a “supporting” role to playing a central role.

The reason this works:  “Class time is now maximized in order to adopt various methods of instruction such as active learning strategies, peer instruction, problem-based learning, or mastery or Socratic methods, depending on grade level and subject matter.”  (http://www.flippedclassroomworkshop.com/the-4-pillars-of-flipped-learning-the-keys-to-successful-flipped-instruction/ 2014)

4.  Mind’s Eye is a fourth strategy which could be implemented, however, it would require additional preparation by the classroom teacher.

How it works is that the teacher would choose 10-30 words from the text that evoke strong feelings or images in students’ minds.

Before starting the lesson, teachers give students a very limited overview of what they are about to read, so they have some content to build on.

Read the words slowly and dramatically.  Instruct students to create movies in their minds of what they think will happen in the text.  As each new word is read, students should try to incorporate it into their mental picture.  Students can then draw a picture, write a questions, make a prediction, or describe a feeling the mental picture gives them.

Then, students will read the book and compare it with their initial thoughts.  The questions will then serve as a formative assessment on the text.

The reason this works:  The impact of Mind’e Eye is based on the principle of dual coding, the idea that storing information in two ways (through language and images) makes learning stick better.  This has been shown to be especially true for reading (Sadoski and Paivio, 2001).

I have numerous reading comprehension bundles in my store.  Here is a free sample of the quality of my work:  The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses, by Paul Goble.  This is a Guided Reading Level N.

Here is a link to all the products I currently have available in my store:  Reading Comprehension Questions in Education Island.

Please follow me at my TpT store:  Education Island, to stay current as I have over a hundred book question bundles that I will be publishing in the next six months.  I’m working on some larger bundles by Lexile Level that will be available soon.

This is a link to literature specific to winter.
Stay connected with me:

Blog:  https://wordpress.com/posts/educationisland.wordpress.com

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People who have used my products have said:

“This question assessment is very well thought out and provides many ideas to incorporate into a Native American unit. Thank you for sharing!”  Dana B.

“These are great questions! I am so happy with my purchase, Thank you :-)” Buyer

“This was a terrific list of questions, I was able to pick and choose for a variety of assessments as we read the book.”  Amy D.

“Hoot” by Carl Hiaasen – vocabulary

Currently, I’m teaching the novel, Hoot, by Carl Hiaasen for the tenth time.  I finally think I have mastered the vocabulary instruction portion of the unit.

First, I give the students a master list with 24 words found in the novel.  Then, I work on a word each day.  Words are assessed at four quarters in the unit.  Then, the students complete a poster or PowerPoint presentation.  They need to find a visual representation for each word using a common theme.  I put some examples below.  Click on the photos to see my entire unit:  

 

 

Linda Sue Park


I had the unique experience to take my daughter and niece to meet Ms. Park.  I have some exciting ideas that I will be adding to my bundle this year!!

Linda Sue Park – An Author Study
A two week unit for the middle grades

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My seventh graders had the unique opportunity to meet Linda Sue Park!

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This year, I taught a two week author study about Linda Sue Park, author of “A Long Walk to Water”. In this unit, students were exposed to her various genres and study the craft and literary style of the author. This unit was primarily based from an 85 slide PowerPoint presentation that works through the lessons chronologically and the PDF files that correspond with each lesson. There are 16 PDF files and an additional Unit Summary to use as a guide. I completed this mini-unit with my seventh grade students after completing the NYS Common Core Module One; Unit One – “A Long Walk to Water”.

 

All texts and excerpts will have to be supplied by the teacher. Teacher will need one copy of the following books: “Tap Dancing on the Roof”, “What Does Bunny See?”, “Bee-bim Bop!”, “Xander’s Panda Party”, and “The Third Gift”. The following books I used excerpts from that can be found for use on Linda Sue Park’s website: http://www.lindasuepark.com/books/books.html . However, I kept one hard copy of each of the books for students to view more in depth. These books are: “Seesaw Girl”, Wing & Claw “Forest of Wonder”, “Keeping Score”, “A Single Shard”, “When My Name was Keoko” and “Project Mulberry”. Also, I used a class set of “The 39 Clues; Storm Warning”.

a single shard

Standards addressed:
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.7.4
Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative, connotative, and technical meanings.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.7.5
Analyze how a particular sentence, paragraph, chapter, or section fits into the overall structure of a text and contributes to the development of the ideas.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.7.6
Determine an author’s point of view or purpose in a text and explain how it is conveyed in the text.

All lessons correspond with the PowerPoint.
Day 1:
Explain author’s craft and literary style as used in the CCLS. Then, I would photocopy enough “charts for identifying literary style and crafts” for any or all of the texts studied. I photocopied them on a different color paper so students could begin to see the common themes as we went through the unit.
Activity: Read “What Does Bunny See?” aloud. This is a basic children’s book. But, it is a perfect book to explain style and craft can be identified in any type of work. There is a two page PDF file to correspond with this book that asks simple questions about style and craft. Then, more difficult questions are answered (typical CCLS type questions) using this whimsical text.
Then, I had students use the same chart for “A Long Walk to Water”, which they had already read. They identified literary crafts and styles and looked for any styles consistent through the two texts. It is a stretch, but lays the foundation for the objectives of the unit.

Day 2:
Introduction Slide: Dr. Seuss comic. Ask students if they can identify the author based on the text structure, style and craft. Explain Dr. Seuss’ unique style.
Activity: Read “Bee-bim Bop!” to the students. Answer the questions in the corresponding 2 page PDF file. Complete the chart for identifying craft and style. Look for similar styles and crafts. For example, same tone as “What Does Bunny See” and a cultural theme as in “A Long Walk to Water”.

Day 3:
Introduction slide: Shel Silverstein poem. Ask students if they can identify the author based on the text structure, style and craft.
Activity: “A Single Shard” – excerpt and poetry comparison. Print the excerpts from the novel, “A Single Shard” and the excerpt from the poem, “Turn, turn my Wheel” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and make comparisons. Question prompts are in the PowerPoint.

Day 4:
Introduction slide: Langston Hughes poetry sample to identify the author based from craft and style.
Activity: Read “Xander’s Panda Party” aloud to the class. Then, the students will follow along in the corresponding PDF file following the same pattern as the children’s books.

Day 5: “Tap Dancing on the Roof” – an introduction to Sijo poetry.
Activity: Begin reading “The 39 Clues; Storm Warning” chapters 1-3. Use the foldable that corresponds with the book and make notes as the story progresses. In addition, the teacher will print out the Day 1 worksheet to use again with this book. Students will continue to note consistencies in Linda Sue Park’s writing styles.

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Day 6:
Introduction slide: Sojo Poem
Activity: “Wing and Claw: Forest of Wonder” – book review; This PDF includes a 2 page article, edited for grade level appropriateness with two pages of questions which correspond with the article. Key is included.
Quiz – Literary Style; 20 multiple choice question quiz based on the literary styles and crafts being studied in the books.
“The 39 Clues” – chapters 4&5

Day 7:
Introduction Slide: Sijo Poem
Activity: “One Question Quiz” – Chapter 5; This is a one page PDF with three recall questions based on the content within chapter 5. I printed these out and let students pick a random question to answer. The key is included
“Keeping Score” – read the excerpt and complete the corresponding worksheet
“The 39 Clues” – Chapters 7 & 8

Day 8:
Introduction Slide: Sijo Poem
Activity: Reading “The 39 Clues” – Chapters 9-12 and adding to “foldable”.

Day 9:
Introduction: “When My Name Was Keoko”. Students will read an excerpt, a book review and an interview with Linda Sue Park about the writing of this book.
Activity: Reading “The 39 Clues” – Chapters 13-15

Day 10:
Introduction: One question quiz from Chapter 15
Activity: “Project Mulberry”- Students will review the craft and literary styles presented in the unit. The worksheet will show the different crafts and styles as they are used in “Project Mulberry”.
Reading “The 39 Clues” – Chapters 16-18
Day 11:
Introduction: “The Third Gift” – Teacher will read the children’s story aloud to the class. Students will take notes on literary craft and styles, as done on previous activities. Teacher will print out the Day 1 worksheet to use again with this book. Students will continue to note consistencies in Linda Sue Park’s writing styles.
Activity: Reading “The 39 Clues” – Chapters 19-21

Day 12:
Introduction: “SeeSaw Girl” – Read scenarios presented in this upper elementary book. Then, the students will read a few brief text excerpts and respond.
Activity: Finish reading “The 39 Clues”. Finish foldables. Discuss writing styles and crafts.

Day 13:
Final test – This is an 8 page test, with key. The test is three sections. The first section is a text excerpt from “Archer’s Choice” with 10 multiple choice questions. Then, there are three multiple choice questions on the Sijo poem, “Frog”. A final short response ends section one. The second section is a text excerpt from “The Kitefighters”. Students need to identify 5 author’s craft from the passage. There is a lengthier short response in this section. The third section is a summary from “Mung Mung” and two short response questions that ask students to compare writing styles with another Linda Sue Park book.

Day 14:
Make a poster activity – based from “The 39 Clues”. Students will study the sentence structure and tone of “The 39 Clues”. Based from this language, they will create a poster that would correspond with a movie based from the book.

This bundle will be getting additional recourses this winter.  But it at today’s price so you will receive the new products at no additional cost.  Buyer will be notified when the bundle is updated.  Thanks for reading.  

7 Tips for the First Day of Middle School ELA/English Class 2017

Welcome!  This blog has been updated on June 20, 2017!

I always have student teachers and colleagues asking, “How do you run the first day of school?”  Well, after 18 first days of school, I have some suggestions.  But, this is a link to a back to school digital storytelling projectdear future selfie!  It’s one of my newest products created to get to know your students using the latest technology.  It’s interactive and relevant to the students!  Check it out in my store! But first, check out this free sample of a handout that I give to my students in the spring and place on my website as well: Avoiding Summer Brain Drain.

1.  Make sure every student has a place.  What I mean by this is, when the students are entering your classroom on the first day of school, they want a place to go.  They are nervous, confused (for some it might be their first day of middle school) and they need a seat assignment.  I’ve done this several ways:  handing them a number on their way in and they find the table with that number; displaying a seating chart on the document camera, or placing their name on an index card and they find it on the desk.  I really prefer the document camera because it requires them to read the chart, navigate themselves through the classroom, and helps them to become familiar with the room.

Click here to see my Back to School Mega Bundle!back to school tntn

2.  Make the room inviting.  At the end of the school year, I have my students create a “key to seventh grade”.  This is a colorful bulletin board that gives suggestions and tips for incoming seventh graders.  You could always do this on a larger scale yourself.  I also hand up motivational posters, have personal pictures, and plants to make a “homey” feel.  I always ask the students to look around the room on the first day and make observations and predictions based on the room itself.  Check out the photograph of my bulletin board:

2Keys to 7th grade

3.  Don’t overload your students with the “rules and regulations” – they get this ALL DAY.  Yes, I distribute a course outline, but I graze over it.  What I really like to do is model and practice classroom routines.  For example, when the students walk into my classroom, they pick up any handouts they will need in class that day.  So, I actually have the students get out of their seats, walk back into the hallway, and enter the classroom by picking up the handout and taking their assigned seat.  In addition, I make them greet me on their way in and I give them a warm welcome into the class.  This helps students understand that their expectations are to enter the classroom, pick up any necessary materials, and take their assigned seat.

4.  Start with a “get to know you” activity!  Students are always nervous on the first day of school.  Try some easy activities and begin teaching!  I always begin with discussing homophones.  It’s a term not all students remember, but the know words like to, two, too.  I have them brainstorm a list of homophones and we discuss them.  But my newest product is going to cut the ice!  It is a “Fortune Teller” foldable activity specifically for ELA.  It’s probably best to use with upper elementary or middle school students.  You can check it out here!  But, students cut and fold the fortune teller then play with it with a partner.  One student chooses a genre and then count the number of letters in the genre.  Then the students pick a title of a book or poem.  Again, count the letters in the title to find your fortune.  When they choose the last title, it will unfold for a fortune that reflects some type of theme in the book!  It even includes a blank one to create your own!

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5.  Set a daily routine.  After the first three steps have been completed, I address the students to their “bell work” and how they will expect class to run each day.  I have a specific place on my chalkboard that the students must fill into their agenda each day for the class assignments, upcoming events, or messages to home.  Some days this might simply say, “Pleasure read tonight”.  But, it ALWAYS says something.  I tell students to expect homework each night, however many nights are simply to pleasure read.  Getting them in the habit of writing their assignments down in one place each day also helps with organization (which is often a challenge for middle school students).  However, that’s an entire post in itself.  On the first day of school it reads, “Complete interview tonight”.  Yes – I give them homework on the first day of school (it’s really more for dramatic purposes though).  Then, I direct the students to the front screen where I will have their “bell work” each day.  On the first day of school it reads, “look over the course outline”.  Again, it just gives the kids some security.

6.  Refer back to their previous grade!  Students find comfort in what they already know.  I like to remind them of the summer reading they were assigned in the last school year and just discuss what they read and share experiences.  This gives them comfort in the familiar, however reminding them that they will have a task due based from their summer reading soon (wink, wink).  Just for reference, here is a link of the summer reading expectation from my school:  http://www.grandislandschools.org/resources.cfm?subpage=5269

7.  Complete an activity that will help you get to know your students!  As I said earlier, kids are overwhelmed on the first day of school with rules and regulations.  I try to complete a fun “get to know you” type of activity that the kids can just talk about themselves and things they love.  I also try to get the kids thinking about goal setting.  Because middle schoolers LOVE taking selfies, my first day of school activity is a goal setting worksheet, “Dear Future Selfie”.

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7.  Assign Homework!  Yes, I said it!  The kids are shocked, curious, and excited to do this.  I love the element of surprise when I assign homework on the first day of school.  Basically, the kids go home and interview an adult on how they use reading, writing, listening and speaking in their daily lives.  It helps the students to gain purpose and to allow them to see the relevancy of ELA first hand.  On the second day of school, we discuss their interview results.  Again, this activity allows students to bring in what is familiar to them to successfully begin to build trust between teacher and student.  First Day of School Interview Assignment.

interview preview

Because you’re reading this blog, I have the two visually appealing, worksheets bundled together here.  I really hope this helps you on the first day of school!  Have a great year!

IMG_4252Lora Randles, Education Island