Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Green Day and Natalie Merchant Came to School!

I love the feeling I get when a student completely NAILS an assignment. It is an amazing moment when you read a student response and they explain their thoughts with depth and feeling. I am so proud of the responses my students shared during this lesson.
During our unit, Following Characters into Meaning, we read the book Wonder by RJ Palacio. Several times in the book, the author refers to songs or uses songs as chapter titles. She uses quotes from songs to divide the book into sections. She cites certain songs that relate to certain characters. Two of the songs she happens to use are in my list of favorites on my iPod. They are songs I have heard live in concert. They are songs that my students had never heard.  So I felt it was my duty to change that. 
That is why my students grooved to Wonder by Natalie Merchant and rocked out to When September Ends by Green Day!
One of my professional goals this year is to make a concerted effort to spend more time exposing my students to a variety of genres. I'm not just going to teach the typical units that are required. I plan to incorporate genres throughout all of my teaching. Music is poetry so it fit perfectly into my plans!

I gave students the lyrics so they could follow along as they listened to the songs. The first time they simply listened to the song. The second time they sang along (if they wanted to), danced, and played air guitar and/or drums. The third time they made notes on their lyric sheets. For the first song I simply had the lyrics printed on the sheets. For the second song I added in guiding questions.

You can tell this student takes music lessons by his notations.

She made a personal connection to her religion by commenting that God should be capitalized.

He labeled the poetry pattern in the stanzas of the lyrics!

A Sticky Situation

My students keep collections of their jottings in a portfolio. When they learn a new strategy, sometimes they struggle to write about it. They may understand how to use the strategy, but they may have trouble citing text evidence. The students (and myself) can see how their jottings improve over time. They also have a collection of my comments to them.
Well, I teach 49 students in my two blocks of Literacy...
               and that can be time-consuming and tiring to write comments on all of my students' jottings.
So I type specific comments regarding the strategies I am assessing and I print them out on address labels. This makes it easy for me to select the comment I want to share with the student. Then I just stick it on!

When I am done reading all of my students' jots, I have a visual of the group as a whole. I can see which strategies they are successful with and which ones they need to practice.

WONDERful Jottings

Jottings are an important part of a Balanced Literacy framework. Yes, the sticky notes are abundant and can be found everywhere! How can you manage the jottings and use them for instructional purposes? When I assign students specific jotting topics, the students turn their writing in on the Parking Lot. I have students design the Parking Lot to reflect the current unit of study.
During our unit, Following Characters into Meaning, we read the book Wonder by RJ Palacio. Students designed their parking spaces in the style of August, the main character.

I can get an instant visual of who did not complete their jotting. I can quickly read over their jots to see who needs to conference with me. I will conference with students who used the targeted strategy incorrectly.