Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Week 6: The IBP is Near! (week of 9/30/16)

This week, we continued our focus of characterization. We started the week off by watching the Pixar short, "La Luna" and making inferences as to the types of characters the boy, the father, and the grandfather were. The clues we were given were indirect characterization, or those obtained through the STEAL method (what they SAY, what they THINK, their EFFECT on others, their ACTIONS, and what they LOOK like, both clothing and facial expressions/body language). We made inferences and then elaborated on them, explaining our thinking and the reasoning behind it. If your son or daughter has Mr. Townsend, they're already familiar with evidence and elaboration. Mr. T and I echo each other a lot and evidence/elaboration is something we feel it is integral to a valid, cohesive argument. My students did amazing with their inferences and support!

We strengthened our understanding of characterization through watching "Partly Cloudy", you guessed it, another Pixar short. This time, I took the training wheels partly off, so to speak. I had the students watch the short twice and annotate what they saw was going on. Again, they made inferences and supported their thinking with evidence and elaboration. We did this think-write-pair-share style where each student was responsible for thinking and writing on their own before they shared with a neighbor, and eventually the whole class. Next week, they'll be putting their knowledge to the test on the District-wide writing assessment. This assessment is a narrative writing piece. I'll have more information for you next after the assessment. I know that my students are going to do amazing!

Lastly, we ended the week by going over the rubrics for the written portion of the Independent Book Project. I first explained the wording on the rubrics and what I was expecting. As we went through, we looked at the somewhat ambiguous wording (the rubrics are unedited, state-adopted rubrics that the SBAC test uses) and decoded it to discover exactly what was being asked of us. Then, I gave students four sample writing pieces for this project. They then used the rubric to assign a grade to each piece of writing. After each piece, we discussed the grades given and why those grades were earned as a class before I revealed the score I gave it and why I graded it that way. It turns out we were all pretty much on the same page and my students know what's being asked of them. Impressive!

As a note: extra rubrics and guidelines are available on Google Classroom and have been for the past month. A copy of the plot diagram is also available on Google Classroom. The written portion will be submitted digitally through Google Classroom; the plot diagram is to be turned in on paper in class. Both assignments are due Friday, October 7, 2016.

Question for the dinner table/drive home:
1. How is your Independent Book Project going? Is your best work being turned in on Friday? Why or why not?
2. What are this week's five academic vocabulary words? Use them correctly in a sentence.
3. How do plot and characterization work together to create a good and satisfying story.

Warmest wishes,
Kevin Laffin

Class website: https://sites.google.com/a/slcusd.org/laffin/home

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