Welcome to Ms. Jeffers’ classroom website!

2017/18 School Calendar

2017 Student Syllabus

2017 “Letter” to Parents

Follow me on Instagram @ms.jeffers for homework postings, reading ideas, classroom activities, and other fun and helpful stuff!

I hope this site can be used by both students and parents to stay informed and involved with 7th grade language arts. Below you will find some basic information about class. I’m looking forward to the year ahead of us and cannot wait to get to know each and every one of you!

What is language arts?

In language arts, students are taught to think, read, write, speak, view, and listen.  Our work is grounded in the Iowa Common Core Curriculum and focuses on these elements: 1) guided reading of informational and literature based texts, 2) independent reading, 3) writing and language, and 4) speaking.

If you would like more information about the Iowa Core literacy standards, click here.

Students have a double period of language arts.  This means they will be in class for 93 minutes each day.  Because language arts is two classes, the homework and learning expectations are double that of a normal class.

What is the grading policy?

You may check your grade at any time by accessing the grade portal in Infinite Campus. When you look at your grade in language arts, you will find four weighted groups: Reading (35%) (literature and informational), Writing (35%) (grammar is included in this category), Speaking (20%), and Participation (10%).

I include participation in my grading because, as I tell the students, you must participate in your education and, therefore, I expect you to participate in class. Whether you are asking questions, volunteering answers, or passing out papers, you must contribute to class. It is not acceptable to sit back and let others do the work. Participation is measured by your passive participation and your active participation.

Passive Participation: – You are on task. – You are not talking at inappropriate times.

– You are respectful.- You come to class prepared. – You have your planner with you.*

Active Participation: – You volunteer answers. – You share during discussions.

– You submit word wall words.- You volunteer to help out. – You submit writing prompts.

– You give extra book talks.- You share your writing during W.O.W.

– You submit words for Word Stumpers.- You submit LA in Action forms.

*Please not that per school policy, students need their planners to leave class for any reason as it acts as their hall pass.

What happens each day in language arts?

Independent Reading (IR) for 15 minutes is how we will start off every class period. During this time, students are to be reading books of their own choosing and may not read assigned texts.  Please note that independent reading is a standing homework assignment, and students are expected to read an average of 25 minutes per day outside of language arts. Additionally, It is the expectation of the PV district that students complete a minimum of 25 books by the end of both their 7th and 8th grade years.

Notebook Thinking (journaling) will happen next every day. Some days students will be asked to respond to material we are discussing in class, and other days I will present students will a more general writing prompt. The most important thing is that they are writing and writing every day.

Focus Article (FOCART) According to expert English teacher and respected author Kelly Gallagher, “Part of the reason students have such a hard time reading is because they bring little prior knowledge and background to the written page. They can decode the words, but the words remain meaningless without a foundation of knowledge.” That is where the FOCART comes in. Some Mondays, students will interact with an article that helps them understand what is going on in the world. This process will help them develop strong skills in annotating, analyzing, and synthesizing materials. Additionally, students will demonstrate their mastery of certain language skill through their article write-ups.

CNN10 Each Thursday, the Notebook Thinking prompt will be from the current events news video CNN puts out each day. This will build on the knowledge students gain during FOCART activities and will not only help them become more informed and discerning citizens, but it will also require them to reflect on world events as they think and react in their notebooks.

Weekly Words The words will mostly be a combination of student submissions  (based on interesting words they come across in their reading each day) and words I choose (based on the book 100 Words Every Middle Schooler Should Know). Vocabulary instruction will also be supplemented by studying a root words as well.

Book talks will follow IR on Wednesdays. During this time, students share about the book they are currently reading. This activity allows students to practice summarization, sharpen speaking skills, and participate in a community of readers where they can give and get good ideas for future reads. Each student is required to to share at least twice per quarter. As the year progresses, the requirements will become more challenging.

Writings of the Week (W.O.W) will follow IR on Fridays. During W.O.W., student are encouraged to share a portion of their weekly writing with the group.

Reading activities, where we discuss and interact with texts from many different genres, take place on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. During this time, students will also receive direct instruction in reading strategies and skills, work on becoming critical and analytical readers, and, most importantly, develop a love of literacy as they use literature to talk about their own lives and their place in the world.

Writing takes many different forms in the language arts classroom. Students will have a lot of choice in their writing topics, and they will write in many different genres and for different audiences. Writing instruction will take place in the form of class-wide mini-lessons, targeted small group instruction, and individual writing conferences. Some of the main writing pieces include and informational speech, a suspenseful descriptive piece, a narrative, a personal philosophy, and an argumentative letter.

What is the policy for late or missing work?

Work is assigned for a reason: to help students learn, extend that learning, and prepare for activities to come. If assignments and readings are not complete on time, student learning and classroom activities are negatively affected. We need everyone doing his/her part to ensure the class is ready to participate/discuss every day. If a student turns in any assignment late, he/she is forfeiting the opportunity for the same timely feedback as the rest of the class. Late work is always the last thing I grade.

Daily assignments not turned in on time will receive a failing grade.

Major assignments (papers, projects, etc.) are a little different. Students will receive two grades for major assignments – a grade for the assignment in the proper category and a pass/fail grade for turning it in on time in the participation category.

*I reserve the right to close the gradebook on assignments after a reasonable time has passed.

I do understand that life gets in the way sometimes, and unforeseen circumstances might arise that make homework completion difficult. Therefore, each quarter students receive a homework pass. This does not exempt a student from an assignment; instead, it gives him/her an extra day to complete the assignment with no late penalty.

To learn more about the activities we do in class, please take some time to explore the website. I look forward to the school year!

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