Today we did the odd-numbered practice sentences in the exam review packet. Kids worked in teams to complete these together before we went over them as a whole class.
Homework: Complete the even-numbered grammar practice sentences independently. Mark any that you aren't sure about
Today we started exam review for English class. Since final, cumulative exams are new for the sixth graders, I made sure to let them know that for English they've actually been preparing for this exam ALL YEAR. Every vocabulary test included review of the Greek and Latin roots from all previous lessons; every new thing we learned in grammar built upon the foundational work from early in the year (we couldn't diagram the prepositional phrases in the sentences last week if we could still identify the subject and predicate, work we did back in September and October); all of the literary elements and techniques we looked for in the short stories at the beginning of the year are the SAME elements and techniques we looked for in the recent novel and Shakespeare studies; the strategy for writing a short answer response in September is the SAME strategy we employ now. So, while English class covers a LOT of ground, we are really just practicing the same concepts again and again, in a variety of texts and genres. This means that there isn't so much content to try to review and cram before the English final - they've been preparing for it all year long.
Our focus today was on reviewing vocabulary. I have to first give a shout out to VocabGal, who had a great exam review strategy posted on her blog yesterday - categorizing. We listed four random categories on the board and kids worked in table teams to sort words from this year into them. Then, they had to defend their choices. The kind of thinking required to explain how the word decrease fit into the "history" category, or how denominator fit into "zombies" was impressive. They clearly know these words well. Thanks again to Sarah (aka VocabGal) for the awesome review idea.
We also practiced analogies with our vocab words. They have come a long way with this kind of logical thinking and word pairing. These were a BREEZE for both classes.
Finally, kids had some class time to create additional StudyStack sets for all of the roots, prefixes, and suffixes, plus any lessons that they'd not yet completed.
Homework: Finish the analogy practice set in the review packet and use StudyStack to continue review and practice with the words. (Remember: Hungry Bug, Scramble, and Hangman do NOT help you review because they focus only on one half of the equation - they do not connect the words and the definitions, which is what you really want to do.)
For the first three days of the week, we worked on getting to a "finishing point" of our research. The focus this week was on crafting introductions and conclusions and then revising and editing the drafts in our writer's notebooks. For the revision process, we did a kind "paint by number" process in which we used specific colored markers to highlight the drafts. For example, we circled all end punctuation in red and then numbered the circles. (This helped easily identify whether the paragraphs met the length goal - grade + 1.) We underlined alternating sentences in purple and yellow. (This made it easy to compare sentence length so that we could aim for a variety. A good mixture of sentence length makes the writing flow more smoothly; too many short ones and the writing is choppy; too many long ones and it becomes confusing.) We circled all of the main verbs and verb phrases in green. (This helped us to evaluate whether the writing contained an overabundance of being verbs.) Finally, since part of the lessons about research writing included thinking about transtional words and phrases, we made sure to document evidence of those in orange.
We started today with a survey about the independent reading project. I am very interested to see their feedback about what worked well for them about this project, and what great ideas they'd suggest to make it even better. I am incredibly proud of the work they did this year with their independent reading ... they are well on the way to being lifelong readers!
We completed the grammar diagramming quiz and then read the corresponding sections of our graphic novel for Act 3, scene 2. This is where it all gets really crazy!
Homework: Actively read the scene summaries for Act 4.
We've been experimenting with different forms of quiz-taking this week. Today we tried another format on the iPads and it was overwhelming preferred to all previous options. We may have a new winner!
Then, we reviewed all the sentence diagrams from last night's homework and discussed the process for successful diagramming:
Step 1: Find the SUBJECT(S) and VERB(S) and build the basic diagram structure
Step 2: Look for DIRECT OBJECTS or PREDICATE ADJECTIVES/NOUNS -- those go right behind the verb, on the same line
Step 3: Look for ADJECTIVES (hint -- check for nouns or pronouns and see if there any words describing them ... those are your adjectives). These will "hang off" of the nouns they modify.
Step 4: Look for ADVERBS (remember they modify verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs) and will also "hang off" the words they modify.
Step 5: Look for prepositional phrases. These always start with a preposition and end with a noun or pronoun. They may act as adjectives or adverbs, so you have to carefully consider what the preposition is telling you more about and then diagram them "hanging off" of that word.
Slowing down and thinking carefully about the job of each word in the sentence is especially helpful to successful diagramming.
Homework: Active read the next scene summary for Midsummer; remember diagramming quiz tomorrow.
Today we read act 3, scene 1 in our Midsummer graphic novels. In this scene, the mechanicals are meeting for a rehearsal in the woods outside of Athens and are worried that their intended audience might be too frightened by the portrayal of the lion, or might not realize that the actor holding the lantern isn't really the moon. To resolve these issues, the players draft a prologue, which will explain to the audience that they're all just actors and that nothing and no one really gets hurt during the presentation of their play.
They also discuss how the two main characters, Pyramus and Thisbe, meet in secret and speak to one another through a "chink" in the wall. Naturally, we had to make our own wall, complete with chinks.
Homework: Practice diagramming sentences (all with a Midsummer theme). :-)
Very busy day in English today.
We started by copying the homework for the week. (Note: if Dorothy Andrew Day is postponed for rain, the Friday assignment may change.)
LIT: We read the section from our graphic novels that corresponds with act 2, scene 2. This one has the "confusion/chaos" theme all over it (though would you believe me if I told you it gets even more crazy in a scene or two?). We really worked on reading the lines with emotion - we spent time figuring out how the characters might be feeling at various moments during the scene, and then tried to convey that emotion in our reading of the lines. We are definitely getting better at this.
We also took two very short quizzes on MND, act 1 and and 2, scene 1. For these, we utilized the Socrative app/website, which allowed the students to answer the questions via iPad or laptop.
Finally, we returned to our work on the research writing process. Some folks are the "taping strips" stage, pictured above. Using their research notes, they are creating slivers of information and physically manipulating them into the order in which they plan to incorporate them into their paper. This process is similar to writing an outline, but allows kids to physically move their information, appealing to multiple senses as they work.
Homework: Actively read the scene sum
Only one class met today ... (I know ... the other class and I had a brief moment of sadness, but vowed to pick up the English excitement on Monday).
We reviewed the homework from last night (sentence diagrams) and got cranking on research papers. More of this next week.
Today we read the graphic novel version of act 2, scene 1 for Midsummer. Working in partners, teams rehearsed (and rehearsed, and rehearsed ...) the section with Helena chasing Demetrius through the Athenian forest.
After some partner practice, we presented as many interpretations of this section of the scene as time allowed.
Homework: Sentence diagramming sheet - due tomorrow!
Yes, today was all about the details. (How'd you guess)? We started off by highlighting all of the main verbs in last night's character sketch paragraph homework. Since we'd worked yesterday on eliminating the being verbs in favor of stronger action verbs, I wanted the kids to pay attention to this detail in their finished products. (It's also good grammar review and practice in preparation for the upcoming final exam ... bonus - a two-fer!)
The next detail we took time to notice today was end punctuation in those same homework paragraphs. Students used a different color to circle every piece of end punctuation. The reason for this was to see whether they'd met the expectation for paragraph length (the number of sentences in a sixth grade paragraph should be at least seven: grade level plus one).
Detail number three: we reviewed the work we'd done last week when we actively read the summary for Midsummer act 1, scene 1. We generated a list of all the kinds of active reading notes we made. These included circling (and numbering) character names, marking and labeling themes, interacting in ways that help us understand (noting setting, asking questions, making connections, documenting observations and characterizations). All of these steps are included on the handout students received last week about how to active read the summaries. On the reverse side of the summary is a graphic organizer to help the young scholars distill the key ideas - this includes noting act and scene, listing the characters present (in order), telling the setting, giving a three-event highlight list (exactly like the students have been doing for each chapter in The Breadwinner and later, in A Single Shard), and writing about one theme, with examples and explanations. Then we remembered that when they were given the summary for act 1 scene 2 last week they were told to use the work we did together as a model for how do their own active reading. These were the things that I was looking for in the work they did on the summary for act 1, scene 2. Tonight they have another crack at this process when they active read the act 2, scene 1 summary for homework.