Sunday, March 6, 2016

Week 26: Incredible Book Clubs, Student Support, and Talking About Sanity (Week of 3/4/16)

English
This Friday was our very last official book club meeting of the third quarter. I know I've said it just about every single week of this quarter, but I'm so impressed with the book club meetings my students are having! Each and every group has been able to have a meaningful conversation about their book. I'll take a little credit and note that the structures in place have helped (pre-paragraphs, meeting notes, visible discussion questions, and the "meaningful conversations" handout), but the students have really taken the reins on Fridays. What's great is that their maturity has allowed me to free-float from group to group and join conversations myself. I've heard the students often "policing" themselves, reminding each other to stay on task, asking clarification questions, and adding information to each other's information. I truly feel like these book clubs have fostered an excitement for reading, which in turn has deepened the students' understanding of their book. A deeper understanding is just what these students will need for next week.



Starting on Monday, the students will be taking their notes from the past five weeks of book club meetings and applying them to a travelogue. I am asking my students to imagine that they've been transported into the world of their book and are being given a tour by the characters of their book. Student groups will "visit" five different settings with five different character tour guides. In each location, their tour guide will "teach" them not only about the setting and their own character/physical traits, but about one of the "big five" discussion topics (point of view, characterization, tone and purpose, plot elements, and theme). To view a sample of a final product, created by me, please click here. Scroll to the bottom of the page and look for "Kevin Laffin: The Hunger Games Travelogue Presentation". Right now, we have Monday and Tuesday slated to work on the project in class but I may add work days as I see necessary. Please note that I will be absent Monday, March 14- Wednesday, March 16, 2016. I will be hosting an after-school G-6 takeover (we now have our very own Chromebooks!) Monday, March 7-Friday, March 11, 2016, from 3pm-4pm.

This week, we also continued on with our study of bottled and tap water. After dissecting some vocabulary using context clues, we watch the video that our transcript, "The Story of Bottled Water", came from. In each class, I heard some opinions change as we realized that some companies use filtered tap water to fill their bottles. Did you know that in taste tests, bottled water LOST to tap water each and every time? It's interesting to think that when most people prefer bottled over tap. We'll be continuing on with our study by reading a fact sheet and a government document titled, "The right to water". As we read, students are building the case for their argument as to which water is better, bottled or tap.



Lastly, I'd like to again touch on my grading procedures. Since last week, I've had a couple of students confused as to my policies and so I thought I'd address them more widely by creating a "Grading Policies" page on my website. In short, on-time work takes priority over late work when I'm grading. Late work, whether a day or two weeks late, receives a deduction of 10% off of the student's final earned grade. I also spoke about the colored symbols on PowerSchool:

Blue circle/white C- there's a comment on the assignment.
    -Click the score to read the comment.
Green check- I have the assignment but have not graded it yet
-- (two dashes)  means that the assignment itself has been added to PowerSchool, but hasn't been graded (doesn't hurt the student)
Red triangle- the assignment is/was late
Yellow square- the assignment is missing
    -this assignment also receives a score of zero until it's turned in
Blue diamond- student is exempt from this assignment (doesn't hurt student)
Orange square/white asterisk- assignment not included in final grade (doesn't hurt student)

Please also visit my "PowerSchool Support" page to help yourself navigate the useful website.



AVID
This week in AVID, we put our comprehension to the test and filled out a graphic organizer on "The Tell-Tale Heart". Students started by working alone to get all of the information they could on their organizer. Then, students traded information to complete the handout while talking about the story in a meaningful way. I collected these handouts on Thursday, but will be passing them back out for an in-class discussion Monday.
We're going to be using our knowledge to really dive into what it means to be sane or insane. Once we have our answer, we'll be moving into irony to discover how Poe used irony to not only create suspense in his story but how he also used it to add to the narrator's overall characterization.



Questions for the drive home and dinner table:
-What five settings has your group decided to present in your travelogue? Which characters are giving you the tour? Why did you choose those characters for those particular locations?
-Has your opinion of which is better, bottled or tap, changed since last week? Why or why not?

Warmest wishes,

Kevin Laffin

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