I post here daily about what we accomplished in class each day, including handouts and links available to students on my CANVAS site.
Day 56, Sem. 1
The primary focus of class today was a visit from Mr. Gross, a counselor from our award winning Student Services department, who provided the annual sophomore guidance information about everything from driver's permit qualifications, to course registration information, to college planning, and everything in between. If you would like to see the Power Point of his presentation, you can visit the Student Services weebly Sophomore section here. After he left, we had just a short time to discuss reading schedule and expectations for Night, assign vocabulary words, and preview the independent study packet that is the main grade for reading this text. More on those things Monday.
Homework: The Night reading schedule is for students to have read chapters 1-2 for class discussion on Monday. Chapter 3-6 need to be read over the Thanksgiving break, and the final chapters, 7-9, are due on Wednesday 11/29.
Day 55, Sem. 1
We started with 10 minutes of independent reading. Since today is the first day of our Holocaust comparative literature unit, students could read our assigned novel, Night, or one of our book club choices in addition to any other book of their choice. Next, we reviewed comma rules by going over the answers to the 2 comma exercises students have done for homework since Tuesday night.
Finally, I introduced some of the essential questions and critical issues for the Holocaust unit with a "silent discussion" activity. First, we watched a video slide show about Children in the Holocaust and then students held a silent discussion by responding in writing only to 5 questions on big poster paper around the room. They also responded to each other's responses. For most classes, that activity went very well and took us up to the end of class. I asked them all to read chapter 1 of Night for homework to prepare for tomorrow's class, but they will be able to get caught up over the weekend if necessary.
Day 54, Sem. 1
As usual, on a test day, we start with the test to ensure that everyone has plenty of time to finish. Today's test was on the novel Things Fall Apart plus a new reading comprehension skills assessment (reading a short story with similar setting, characters, and themes from the novel). Most students finished in about 45 minutes and then had time to read independently. Once everyone finished (usually within an hour), we reviewed the comma exercise handout that was yesterday's homework.
Homework: Complete 2nd comma exercise practice on the back of Tuesday's handout. Finish adding self-selected robust vocabulary words to the back of the Things Fall Apart vocabulary notes sheet to turn in on Thursday. Bring the next book, Night, with you to class tomorrow also.
Coming up: A school counselor, Mr. James Gross, will meet with our classes on Friday for a group academic counseling session. He will discuss transcripts, GPAs, planning for course registration in February, and what sophomores should be doing about college planning.
Day 53, Sem. 1
After 10 minutes of reading, we returned to our discussion of the author's purpose, how to discover it, and what it looks like in our novel, Things Fall Apart. We discussed how characterization, patterns (motifs), and archetypes (tragic hero and epic hero) help us to see the author's purpose. Lastly, we talked about the connection between theme and author's purpose, and how if theme is a universal truth, then we should be able to compare the themes of this novel to a completely different text to find common themes. To practice, we compared the novel to a Smarter Every Day YouTube video about riding a backwards bicycle. See video below.
For the final 15-20 minutes of class, students had time to finish their found poem assignment from yesterday. Those who finished early worked on a comma rules practice handout that is due tomorrow.
Homework: Finish found poem if necessary, study for unit test using Study Guide on Canvas, and complete comma rules handout (Practice 1 side only).
My apologies for the "lost" week of blog posts. Please email me or send me a message in Remind if you need to know anything about a day from the previous week.
Day 52 of Sem. 1
After 10 minutes of reading, we did a quick overview of our next grammar unit: punctuation and capitalization. The only work we did in the unit today was to read over the 7 comma rules for understanding. I then assigned them to memorize the acronym for the 7 rules and what each letter stands for. They will have a 10% quiz one day this week on which they will have to write the acronym and the meaning of each letter (each rule). The final quiz for this unit will also require them to provide the acronym and meaning for each letter.
Next, we had a 15 minute discussion about author's purpose and how to "read" the author's purpose in Things Fall Apart, especially in part 3. Everyone should have read chapters 20-22 already (20 pages total), and they need to finish the book by reading/annotating chapters 23-25 tonight (17 pages total). Then, I gave students the Found/Blackout poem assignment that focuses on a crucial conversation in Chapter 21 between Akunna and Mr. Brown. This conversation is a perfect example of the author's purpose for this text, so students are practicing close reading skills by analyzing one character's point of view as a step in seeing the author's purpose. We will finish the found poem part of the process in class tomorrow (steps 1-5) to turn in. Students have the option to complete step 6 after I evaluate the found poem as an extra Smart Lunch or homework replacement assignment.
At the end of class, I pointed students to the Study Guide on Canvas for our unit test on Wednesday on our reading and discussion of Things Fall Apart. Students will need the book for our next unit, Night, in class starting on Thursday.
Homework: Finish reading/annotating Part 3 (chapters 23-25 if on schedule). Begin studying for the unit test by using one or more of the active study strategies on the Study Guide.
Day 6, Sem. 1
Today, I previewed the novel Berlin Boxing Club for students before we began our independent reading time. This historical fiction stems from the story of Max Schmeling, the German boxer who Hitler used to promote the superiority of the Aryan race. Schmeling did in fact rescue two young boys from Nazi Germany and got them safely to America. This story imagines how he would have gotten involved, and the plot focuses on the boy's experience in pre-war Germany as a Jew.
After reading, we discussed the next five vocabulary words on our list from Things Fall Apart and then reviewed definitions and examples of sentence fragments and run-on sentences. We will spend one more day on those topics for our second grammar unit and then take a quiz on sentence types and punctuation of compound, complex, and compound-complex sentences on Monday.
The rest of the class period (~30 min.) was time for groups to work on the group project along with individual projects for Part I (all due on Friday, end of class).
Homework: Work as needed on Part I chapter annotations and individual projects. Read chapters 14-15 in Part II. Annotate as you go, or wait to annotate by skimming next week.
Wed., Nov. 1
Day 45, Sem. 1 (Quarter 2)
At the beginning of class, I reminded students about Smart Lunch and late work policies. I also previewed one book, Salt to the Sea, that is one of the choices for our Holocaust/World War II unit coming up later in the quarter. I'm encouraging everyone to pick up each one of the book choices for that unit and read for 10 minutes to see if it's of interest. I will introduce each of the seven books that are options for that unit over the next several days in class. After these introductory comments, everyone read for 10 minutes.
Next, we discussed the first 5 vocabulary words on our List 1 from Things Fall Apart. We will cover 5 words per day and then review the words before scheduling a vocabulary quiz for next week (around Wed. or Thurs.). Then, we worked on creating complex and compound-complex sentences in our grammar unit packet.
For the final ~30 minutes of class, groups worked together on group and individual projects from Part I of Things Fall Apart that are due on Friday. We will have additional class time to work on these projects on Thursday and Friday this week.
Homework: Continue annotating each chapter in Part I for character name/identity details, vocabulary words (robust and Igbo words), writing summary chapter titles, and highlighting 2 significant lines/quotes from each chapter. Students should finish Part I annotations by Friday.
Day 44, Sem. 1
Last Day of Quarter 1!
We started with independent reading and then quickly went over the fourth type of sentence structure, compound-complex sentences, practicing writing a few and noting punctuation rules for each. We will conclude this grammar unit by reviewing fragments and run-on sentences, which are often punctuation errors, and how to correct them.
After grammar, we spent a good bit of time on the annotation requirements for Part I of Things Fall Apart. Students have read all 13 chapters of Part I already, so I am asking them to now GO BACK through the chapters to find and annotate the following: important characters (underline name and margin notes of important details to know about the character), robust and Igbo vocabulary words (note meanings in the margin), chapter titles (one per chapter to practice summary skills), and significant quotes (highlight 1-2 per chapter and margin notes about reason for significance).
We also looked very briefly at a few literary techniques that Achebe uses throughout the novel: allusion, figurative language, proverbs, and folk tales. I then gave out the project options for Part I, which students will work on starting tonight and in class through Thursday. Each table group will choose one group project, and each group member will choose one individual project (no duplication within the group).
Homework: Work on Part I annotations and begin individual project (due Thursday).
I was so busy grading ACES portfolios this week that I negelected my daily posts. My apologies. Here's a quick look back at the rest of the week:
1st/3rd: Independent reading (20 min.). Things Fall Apart seminar discussion for Part I, writing reflection.
4th: Midterm Benchmark assessment
Homework: Complete essay, engage in peer review, revise essay. Submit to Ms. Houck via Google doc share by Friday pm
1st/3rd: Midterm Benchmark assessment
4th: Things Fall Apart seminar discussion for Part I, writing reflection, notes on author's claims (from video interview of Chinua Achebe)
Homework: Complete essay, engage in peer review, revise essay. Submit to Ms. Houck via Google doc share by Friday pm.
Grammar lesson: Adjective and noun clauses (dependent clauses; complex sentences), work time on Rhetorical Analysis essay in media center
Homework: Cont. reading Things Fall Apart, Part I, seminar preparation
Review of introduction and conclusion requirements, work time on Rhetorical Analysis in media center
Homework: Cont. reading Things Fall Apart, Part I, seminar preparation
Day 39, Sem. 1
We spent most of the class today in the media center working on the rhetorical analysis essay. Before we left the classroom, I gave them a quick tutorial and assignment on adjective clauses (2nd type of dependent clause) and went over the instructions for the upcoming seminar on Part I of Things Fall Apart. For this seminar, each student has a different short reading selection from Part I and the discussion will allow students to compare/contrast their individual pieces to put together an understanding of the Igbo tribal culture presented in this first part of the novel. This is an introductory seminar, instead of a concluding seminar like we had after studying Oedipus Rex. Therefore, the seminar prep and participation are classwork and homework grades instead of assessment grades.
The goal in writing for the seminar today was to complete AT LEAST two paragraphs of the overall essay, in order to finish drafting the other three paragraphs during class tomorrow.
Allison Houck, MAT