How do I explain evidence?

Class began the usual way with students completing a WA and then reading. However, the WA was a little different because it was them reading over their next writing assignment! This assignment is Letters About Literature, and I have attached the handout the students received; however, I’ll also provide the additional information students received in class.

LAL student handout 2017

  • Students need to have the book they are planning to use for this. We went to the library today, so students could check the book out or put it on hold. They have two and a half weeks to re-read the book in whole or in part before we begin the project.
  • We will start the actual writing process the first week of December.
  • All students will be submitting their letter to the contest, so it should be a very polished and professional piece of writing.
  • Students who write to an author that is still living will be encouraged to send the letter to him/her as well! Many students have received letters back from authors in the past. How cool!
  • Students should see me with any questions or concerns.

After going to the library to finish IR and for students to check out books, we returned to class, and I introduced students to an incredibly important concept of explaining evidence. Students picked up a note sheet (extras available in the room), and they walked around the room where the answers to the blanks were posted and worked to figure out what goes where. What they should have come up with is below:

Part 1: Explain the SIGNIFICANCE of the evidence

  • Most detailed (at least two sentences)
  • HOW does the evidence show the theme?
  • What is important about the evidence?
  • What inferences are being drawn?
  • Be careful not to summarize

Part 2: Connect back to the big idea (theme)

  • One sentence
  • Begins with a transition word or phrase

After students checked their work on this and looked at the example on the bottom of the handout, we reviewed RACER from the beginning of the year. Using the RACER format and their new knowledge about explaining evidence (the E in RACER), students got onto google classroom to complete an assignment that asked them about the theme in the story “Ruthless” from yesterday. This was to be completed and turned in by the end of the period.

When students finished, they went onto the vocabulary study section of this website in order to review their vocab for the quiz on FRIDAY.


  1. Read for 25 minutes.
  2. Review vocabulary for at least 20 minutes.
  3. Book talk reflections due tomorrow for those that went last week.


Theme Gallery Walk

Class began with a WA that asked students to review vocabulary. They were each to write a sentence that used at least two vocabulary words, and I asked them to challenge themselves by not choosing words they already felt super comfortable with.

After reading and discussing this WA, students got back their terrifying scene assignments! Below are some of the key points I explained to them before they looked at their scenes.

  • Average score = B; Highest score = 100%
  • My focus was on the things you did well because I already provided you feedback with the areas to improve before you went through revision.
  • You can always revise again! Come in after school one day to meet with me, go over what you want to improve, and set a due date.
  • If you scored below 42, then this is required. Don’t worry though! That just means your writing process wasn’t quite done. It doesn’t mean you aren’t capable!

If students had disagreements with me on a score, I asked them to let their thoughts marinate for a day and look over their piece tonight. For example, if they didn’t get full credit for power sentences, but they thought they deserved it, they should look at their submitted draft tonight and talk to me tomorrow.

The purpose of today’s lesson was all about figuring out how to write a good theme for a text. Students received the sheet below that described a rating system for different theme statements, and then we looked at examples of themes students submitted yesterday after reading “The Monkey’s Paw” in order to see what was good and what might need to be changed.

Gallery Walk – Evaluating Themes

Students then worked with a partner to walk around the room and evaluate 15 different theme statements that students turned in yesterday.

At the end of this activity, students looked at their own theme statement, rated it, and revised it based on their new understanding of how a theme should be written. They shared these new themes with their group members and got feedback.

All of this practice with theme will certainly help students with their homework tonight because for homework students need to read the story “Ruthless” and use the organizer to determine the theme. Students had time to begin their homework at this point in class.


Discovering Theme GO (7th)

Students had 10 – 15 minutes to work on their homework, and then we ended class with notebook thinking. The video prompt is below, and I asked students to think about the theme of the video while they were watching. How would you word that theme in the right way?


  1. Read for 25 minutes.
  2. Finish reading “Ruthless” and using the yellow sheet to come up with the theme.
  3. Book talk reflection (for those of you who went last week on Friday)

Writing Contest and Figurative Language Review

Class began the usual way. For WA, students looked at a sentence with errors in it, and they had to correct the errors.

Original: When there teacher is gone their to talkative and the effect is they loose the chance to earn panera.

Corrected: When their teacher is gone, they’re too talkative, and the effect is they lose the chance to earn Panera.

After going over the WA, I talked through the calendar with students, noting important dates, and then we moved into NBT, but today’s prompt came in the form of a writing contest! Scholastic Scope’s Write a Story contest has just begun, and this year Gordon Korman is the author helping out with it. He provided students with three different lines they could use to begin their own short stories, and then what happens next is up to the student! Students received the information they need to enter the contest, and they watched a short video where Gordon Korman talks about tips for writing a really great short story.

Students were encouraged to not only use the starters as their writing prompt today, but I also encouraged them to enter the contest! If they are interested in the contest, which many were, they received a second handout with a graphic organizer and a checklist to help them make sure they have everything they need. Entries aren’t due until March, but I’ll be sure to remind students as the year goes on.

After writing, students learned about the new book talk expectations, and they received the two handouts below. Students volunteered or were chosen to go for book talks tomorrow.

Book Talk HOOK Options

Book Talk Expectations-Rubric-Reflection (2nd Quarter)

The last portion of class was spent doing a review of figurative language by working with a partner to complete a variety activities at stations around the room. Students have a quiz over figurative language tomorrow.


  1. Read for 25 minutes.
  2. Study vocabulary and figurative language for at least 15 minutes.

Magic Beyond Words

Class began the normal way, and students completed a WA where they had to change normal sentences into figurative language.

Turn these sentences into figurative language:

Hyperbole: Andy walked for a really long time through New York City.

Personification: Bombs fell on the city.

Metaphor: Carla was brave.

This is something that will prepare them for their figurative language quiz on Friday.

We briefly went over our agenda for the week and the homework (at the end of this post). Students then took a pretest on theme.

The last 30 minutes of class was devoted to beginning the movie Magic Beyond Words: the J.K. Rowling Story. We are watching this movie for a few reasons:

  1. Students just finished writing their own narrative pieces, and the movie relates to that by showing J.K. Rowling’s process of writing Harry Potter.
  2. The movie shows the struggle J.K. Rowling had when writing and publishing Harry Potter, and this is important for students to see. Success, especially success with writing, isn’t a quick process. People actually turned down J.K. Rowling! That goes to show students that writing is a struggle even for professional writers, so it is completely normal for them to struggle with the process and have to revise.
  3. The movie is rife with themes, and we will use the movie to jump start our discussion of theme as we move into the next unit.
  4. It’s super fun! The movie gives you an idea of how J.K. Rowling took inspiration from her own life when developing the details for her novel. Students had and will have a good time seeing those connections. This is also a good lesson in how ideas for your writing can come from anywhere!

We will finish the movie at the start of class tomorrow.

At the end of class, I also announced the winners of our terrifying scene contest! Congratulations to all winners and to everyone for working hard!


  1. Read for 25 minutes.
  2. Due Tomorrow: Fig. Lang. and IR
  3. Due Wednesday: Theme NOTES (7th) UPDATE – use google presentation


Great work!

Great work this week with revising your scenes and Iowa Assessments. A lot of brain frying things were happening, you and all handled it like champs! I hope  you have some time to relax this weekend and get re-energized. Only a few more weeks until Thanksgiving break! You can do it!


  1. Read for 60 minutes.
  2. Complete the figurative language in IR sheet (attached below) by TUESDAY.

Fig. Lang. and IR

Introduction to POWER SENTENCES

Class began with students turning in their first quarter tickets for extra credit. Students could also choose to turn in their homework passes, or they could keep them for the next quarter.

After reading, we listened to a few of our final book talks for first quarter (the others will finish tomorrow), and then we moved into a long awaited lesson: power sentences. Power sentences can be scary because they are a new way of constructing a super descriptive sentence with an interesting structure and precise diction; however, they really make your writing pop!

Students began learning about them by looking at these three examples from my story and thinking/talking about what they notice about them:

Smashing the fallen leaves on the gravel path, my shoes trampled on through the night, so dark I felt I was walking through black ink.

Rustling the brittle leaves, the wind scratched my cheeks and gnawed at the tip of my nose.

Like razor blades, spindly fingers protruded from the figure’s endless limbs.

Next, students received the handout below, and we worked together on writing a variety of power sentences, changing the mundane sentence “The boy went up the stairs.” to much more interesting and descriptive sentences.

Crafting Power Sentences


There are a few keys to writing a power sentence.

  1. The first part MUST describe the subject of your sentence.
  2. Your verb MUST be a strong one, not one that we use in our regular, everyday speech.
  3. The ending MUST be detailed and descriptive. It doesn’t have to describe anything in particular, but there needs to be something there that “paints a picture” for your reader.

After practicing as a class, students practiced in their groups and then on their own before using the back of the handout to plan the power sentences for their own writing pieces. I visited with each table and examined at least one power sentence written by each student, so everyone received at least some feedback today.

Class ended with students beginning to code their pieces, so they are ready for peer revision tomorrow. Students should use the code on the sheet below. There is also an example of it on google classroom.

Terrifying Scene – I’m done. What do I do


  1. Read for 25 minutes.
  2. Book orders due tomorrow
  3. Rough drafts due on Friday by noon – should be absolutely, 100% as good as you can get it on your own


Class began a little differently today. We had computer access during the first half of class, so it was during this part of the day that students were able to work on their writing projects.

Before diving into that, however, students read through my example piece in order to see what one looks like when all said and done.


Students located and labeled both the setting and character paragraphs as well as the figurative language within those paragraphs. I drew students attention to the fact that the protagonist in my scene barely moves at all. A maximum of 700 words is not a lot, so don’t forcus so much on a character doing a lot of different stuff; instead, focus on creepy things happening around him/her.

After going over this example, students had about 25 minutes to work on their scenes. When done, they received the handout attached below to help them revise and make their scenes even stronger.

Terrifying Scene – I’m done. What do I do

After work time, students took a quiz on connotation/denotation and mood, wrote down our new vocabulary words, and moved into IR.

Ensanguine – adjective – blood red

Egregious – adjective – well beyond the bounds of what is right or proper; outrageous

Sabotage noun – a deliberate and usually secret act that causes damage or hinders an activity

Surreptitiously – adverb – to do something in a furtive/sneaky way; secretively

Class ended with students discussing the WA on compound and complex sentences.


  1. Read for 25 minutes.
  2. Have your draft ready for peer revision tomorrow.
  3. Book orders are due on THURSDAY by 11:59 PM.