Category Archives: ELA

Thursday, October 19th, 2017

Writer’s Workshop

Zooming in on Small Details

Connection:

J.K. Rowling spoke at a graduation ceremony for Harvard Graduates.  This is what she chose to speak about:

“On this wonderful day when we are gathered together to celebrate your academic success, I have decided to talk to you about the benefits of failure. You might never fail on the scale I did, but some failure in life is inevitable. It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.
Failure gave me an inner security that I had never attained by passing examinations. Failure taught me things about myself that I could have learned no other way. I discovered that I had a strong will, and more discipline than I had suspected; I also found out that I had friends whose value was truly above the price of rubies.
The knowledge that you have emerged wiser and stronger from setbacks means that you are, ever after, secure in your ability to survive. You will never truly know yourself, or the strength of your relationships, until both have been tested by adversity. Such knowledge is a true gift, for all that it is painfully won, and it has been worth more than any qualification I ever earned.
  • Rowling wanted to teach people that it is best to face hard tasks, not avoid them.
  • Some people think of work-especially hard work as a negative thing, but we don’t have to be those people.
  • The best writers or runners are not just born with incredible talent.  The people who become pros are people who figure out how to work at it.

We have started to try techniques from our mentor text author in our own writing – this is a solid first step!

Teaching Point: 

Today I want to teach you how to use your to deliberately practice the techniques and skills you want to see in your writing.

Mini-Lesson:

Imagine a basketball player practicing layups in a gym, or a ceramic artist practicing his craft at a pottery wheel.  Now, imagine yourself, practicing a writing skill.  Instead of using gym equipment or pottery tools, you use your notebook, and your notebook becomes filled with your efforts to do that one thing better, better, better, over and over.

Let’s take a look at a mentor text:

(Author has climbed a tree in a park even though her mother warned her not to)

“Don’t look down, just keep climbing-you’re almost to the top,” Bobby urged. I swallowed and snuck one quick look.

1.) First attempt:

Lydia was still standing at the bottom of the tree, holding my dark, blue sandals with one hand and shielding her eyes, with the other, as she looked up at me.

  • These are tiny details but not something someone would notice who is high stuck up in a tree.

2.) Second attempt:

The tree swayed slightly, and I tightened my grasp on the trunk.  A rough piece of bark dug sharply into my forearm, but I didn’t dare move.

“I think I need help getting down,” I shouted, my voice high and tight.  I thought about my mother’s clear warning to stay out of the trees that bordered the playground.  This must be why.

“Hold on, ” Bobby called.  He circled slowly around the tree and then walked towards Lydia, talking to her in a low voice.  I couldn’t hear him over the rustle of the tree’s leaves.  Suddenly he grabbed Lydia’s arm and pulled her away from the tree.  “Run!” Bobby commanded, and they made a dash for the gate.

  • The author here has really tried Howe’s technique of zooming in on the small details.  To do that the author really had to put herself back in the park and replay the scene in her head.

Active Engagement:

Courtney practices narrating

Courtney noticed that Howe does little bits of explaining between the characters talking. This is called narrating in-between the character’s dialogue. Courtney worked on showing more of what she was thinking and how her mom was acting by adding lines.

Active Engagement/Link:

Try these techniques that the mentor author has used and incorporate them into your writing.

Use this image to organize your progress similarly on the bottom of your flash draft.

REVISIONS

Zooming in on Small Details (Strategy #1)

Screen Shot 2017-10-15 at 1.46.58 PM

  • You will keep track of all your revisions on the bottom to show your steps. It will show up in your draft and on the bottom in pink
  • Practice the strategy you want to try in as many places as possible.
  • Do it purposefully though! For example, don’t just throw any old sensory details into drafts at random places… add sensory details that make sense to the moment and the narrator’s point of view.
  • Use the How to Write Powerful Narratives as well!

Homework:

  • Membean Quiz tomorrow!
  • Fishbowl Group #1 Written portion and book review
  • Fishbowl Group #2-4: Keep reading
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Wednesday, October 18th, 2017

Today, we continued to discussed some common themes that continued to emerge in The Outsiders. As a whole class, we identified some evidence from the text supporting each of the themes.

  • Divided Communities
  • Empathy
  • Preserving Childhood Innocence

We added some evidence from Chapter 5 into our theme chart.

Homework:

  • Membean (3 days x 10 minute sessions = 30 minutes of practice) by Thursday night
  • Fishbowl Group #1 Written portion and book review
  • Fishbowl Group #2-4: Keep reading

Tuesday, October 17th, 2017

Writer’s Workshop

Session 7: Experimenting with Beginnings (Leads)

Connection:

Today is the beginning of the second bend in the unit. Instead of generating new personal narratives, you will select the story you want to develop.

We will call this piece your SEED idea meaning you will nourish and grow it into a publishable piece.

Remember, that does NOT mean that the personal narrative is already an incredible piece of writing.  It might just be an idea that you think you can develop into a powerful and meaningful story.

Teaching Point:

Today, you will learn that writers rehearse for writing by trying out several different leads.

Mini-Lesson: 

Writers study what great authors do!

Specific strategies:

  1. Zoom in on tiny details that must have actually caught his attention at the time
    EX: The missing fur, the leaky eyes, the stick-skinny body

  2. Inner Thinking that pulls me into his world and makes me curious about him
    EX: I also notice that, in his head, Howe has the narrator talking to the kitten in his mind, telling him how lucky he is and how he feels about the neighborhood kids.
    Why? I think what is really powerful about his inner thinking at the start of the story is the way it allows him to drop some hints about what his story might really be about.
  3. Including very precise details from the moment (from the narrator’s point of view)

Writers study what great authors do… and try more than one strategy in their own writing!

Active Engagement:

Take a look at the beginning of some of S.E. Hinton’s chapters in The Outsiders. What other strategies does she attempt in his lead?

Techniques for Writing Memorable Leads
  • Include the smallest details of the moment (paint a picture), the ones that ring true for the narrator
  • Include inner thinking to hint at what the story is really about
  • Include the precise actions of the characters
  • Include exact words the characters are speaking, in dialogue

Another resource to consider with similar types of leads

Examples of Leads to use in Narrative Writing

Student sample of leads for the same topic

Link:

Look at how much we learned from this writer today, especially including techniques for crafting a great lead.

Try a few different leads for your same story in a new doc in your Narrative Writing folder titled Brainstorm: Three Leads. Separate your leads by skipping a line before each.

Hint: If you start with a bit of dialogue, to quickly bring your characters to life for your reader, then next you might begin with inner thinking to hint at what the story is really about OR the smallest details of the moment OR precision character action.

Homework:

  • Membean (3 days x 10 minutes each = 30 minutes) by Thursday night
  • Fishbowl Group #1: Work on written portion and book review
  • Fishbowl Group #2-#4: Keep reading!

Monday, October 16th, 2017

Today, we discussed some common themes that have emerged and will continue to present in The Outsiders. As a whole class, we identified some evidence from the text supporting each of the themes.

  • Divided Communities
  • Empathy
  • Preserving Childhood Innocence

We added some evidence from Chapters 1-3 into our theme chart. This chart will be on-going throughout the rest of the novel!

The Outsiders Theme Chart
(This will be made as a copy and put in your Google Doc shared drive.)

We then read Chapter 4 and continued to add evidence for the common themes.

Homework:

  • Finish Characterization Schoology Discussion Post
  • Membean (3 days x 10 minute sessions = 30 minutes of practice) by Thursday night
  • Fishbowl Group #1 Written portion and book review
  • Fishbowl Group #2-4: Keep reading

Friday, October 13th, 2017

giphy

Today in class, we read Chapter 3 of The Outsiders. We continued to pay close attention to the valuable, dynamic characters. In groups, you were encouraged to document another one of the Level 6 traits to best represent your assigned characters. This trait and specific evidence was added to the Character Traits chart from Wednesday. It seemed S.E. Hinton was a big fan of indirect characterization.

If you were absent, be sure you get the evidence we found for Cherry and Johnny from a responsible classmate.

Afterwards, we discussed the results of Tuesday’s Chapter 1-2 Comprehension Check-In. Some of you decided you wanted to use the text to go back and make some Quiz Corrections using the PDF in Schoology. These quiz corrections should be submitted to the Quiz Correction assignment by Monday if you want to “up” your grade and didn’t get the chance to finish in class.

The remaining class time was perfect for some SSR. You were encouraged to watch for potential traits that could be used to describe a main character in your novel. On Monday, you will have a Schoology discussion post focusing on finding evidence from your SSR books to support that trait!

HW:

  • Quiz Corrections (Due by Monday)
  • Membean (3 days x 10 minutes each = 30 minutes) by Thursday night
  • Fishbowl Group #1: Work on written portion and book review
  • Fishbowl Group #2-#4: Keep reading!

Thursday, October 12th, 2017

Today in class, we started off with a mini-lesson about Flash Drafting with Ms. Welch.

You were reminded that writers fill themselves up with the true thing that happened, recall how they want to start the story, and then, keeping your mind fixed intently on the mental movie of what happened. Let your typing fingers fly. When you do this, you will finish a whole draft (or close to a whole draft) in one sitting.

Flash drafting tips for today:

  • Aim to get a first draft down, regardless of whether it is your best writing or not
  • Relive the story in your mind’s eye before starting to write, remembering the best of your leads from the days before
  • Listen and watch as the story unfolds in your mind, try to remember the littlest of details
  • Work silently and intently, holding yourselves to the highest of standards

Homework: 

  • Membean (3 days x 10 minute sessions = 30 minutes of practice) by Thursday night
  • Fishbowl Group #1: written portion and book review
  • Fishbowl Group #2-4: Keep reading

Wednesday, October 11th, 2017

Today, we discussed characterization, which is how authors build great characters. More specifically, you learned about direct and indirect characterization.

direct-and-indirect-characterization

For more information about both types of characterization, see the presentation you viewed in class below.

Direct and Indirect Characterization

You then were assigned a character from The Outsiders.  You reviewed chapters 1 and 2 and annotated for your assigned character. You compiled the information into a chart where you identified each trait, evidence, and its type of characterization. We shared our evidence Jigsaw style and recorded it in our charts.

Character Traits Chart

Character Traits Chart (Example)

Add these details to your chart imported to Notability.

Level 6 Traits Definitions

You then were encouraged to pay attention to the characters in your independent reading book and make note of character traits (direct or indirect) and evidence to support those traits. There will be a Schoology discussion post tomorrow for you to demonstrate your understanding of this skill.

Homework:

  • Membean (3 days x 10 minutes each = 30 minutes) by Thursday night
  • Fishbowl Group #1: Work on written portion and book review
  • Fishbowl Group #2-#4: Keep reading!

Tuesday, October 10th, 2017

Today in class, you read Chapter 2 of The Outsiders. You paid close attention to the significant pieces of the exposition specifically the different characters and social groups. You then completed the Chapter 1-2 Comprehension Check-In in Schoology to demonstrate your understanding of the text.

Depending on your progress, you finally had the opportunity to do some long overdue SSR!

Homework:

  • Membean (3 days x 10 minutes each = 30 minutes) by Thursday night
  • Fishbowl Group #1: Work on written portion and book review
  • Fishbowl Group #2-#4: Keep reading!

Monday, October 9th, 2017

Writer’s Workshop and the Outsiders

Session 5: Reading Closely to Learn From Other Authors

Connection:

What do apprentices do?

Apprentices are always trying to imagine the process behind the finished product.

Mrs. Macfadden’s metaphor– a salad presentation and new techniques to try

Writers study other authors’ published writing in the same way–to learn new tricks of the trade!

Teaching Point:

Writer’s read other authors’ texts not only to experience the characters’ story, but also to admire, study, and emulate the quality of the writing.

Mini-Lesson: 

Question of the day: What has this writer done to affect me so profoundly that I can try it in my own writing?

Let’s take a look back at Chapter 1 of S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders

Add to our new “Lessons from Mentor Narratives” Chart

  • Describe a scene or character’s feelings using alliteration (page 4)
  • When characters talk, writers make them say the words and use the tone that show their personalities and hints at the bigger meaning of the moment (page 13)
  • Writers explain why the characters act the way they do (page 8)
  • Writers zoom in on the small but powerful details that really capture big moments and feelings (“Show… Don’t Tell”) (page 4)

Active Engagement:

Continue to study today’s mentor text, S.E. Hinton’s Chapter 1. Did S.E. Hinton use any of the strategies from our Lessons from Mentor Narratives chart? What other strategies does she use to help you learn about the exposition (setting and characters)?

  • Turn and Talk
  • Share whole-class (be ready with what you found!)

Link:

Now… it’s your turn…

  • Review writing in your notebook!
  • Try to use at least two strategies from today!

Homework:

  • Finish using TWO new writing strategy/technique from today. Be sure you underline it, so it stands out!
  • Membean (3 days x 10 minute sessions= 30 minutes of practice) by Thursday night

Friday, October 6th, 2017

ELA 1/2

Today in class, we began our interactive read aloud for Chapter 1 of The Outsiders. As we read, we continued to add to our Inside the Outsiders character chart that we began on Wednesday. The purpose of the interactive read aloud is become an ACTIVE reader, paying close attention to the details and really understanding the importance of the exposition in this outstanding personal narrative!

ELA 8/9

Today in class, you learned about common slang used within the 1960s and specifically in The Outsiders. Afterwards, you finally had the opportunity to do some SSR and use up your PAT minutes.

ELA 1/2 and ELA 8/9

Attention– Fishbowl due dates are closer than they appear!

Fishbowl Group #1: You should be deep into your first novel of choice. Feel free to make a copy of the Fishbowl template and completing your Fishbowl Book Review on the Weebly blog.

Fishbowl Group #2-4: You should be reading daily and hopefully deciding on your book of choice!

Homework:

  • Membean week begins! (3 x 10 minutes = 30 minutes by Friday morning)
  • Read!