Did you bring your A++++ game?

Class began with IR. As students read, I checked in their literature circle tasks. We followed up reading with students having about 10 minutes of speech practice time to the wall, and then I took volunteers for Day 1 of speeches (Friday). Students will receive the complete speech order on Thursday. At that point, everyone will know which day they are going.

After speech practice, students moved into their last journal for literature circles! That journal prompt is below:

You are done! Great job! While I hope you enjoyed the book you chose, it is okay if you didn’t; the book’s feelings won’t be hurt and neither will mine. Sometimes things work out, and sometimes they don’t. Either way, it is important to think carefully and deeply about what it was in the book that you liked and/or didn’t like, so you know what to look for in the future. Also, keep in mind that you can like some parts of a book but not all parts.

Take some time to think about what you would rate the book on a scale from one to ten. What parts did you like? What parts would you change? Make sure you can back up your rating with specific events or details, so you can discuss this with your group members.

Upon completion of this writing, students had some time to review their purple “Talking in Circles” handout where they have been tracking their discussion progress throughout these literature circle conversations. They had some time to think about and share with their group members the specific things they would be working on today during discussion.

Discussion worked like it did for students mid-point check, so half of the students started with discussion and the other half started with some independent work.

Those doing independent work first worked on their note cards for their speeches, and then they used this presentation and this handout to learn about semicolon and colon usage.

After 20 minutes, the groups switched. This allowed my helper and I to have at least 10 solid minutes with each group to observe their discussion moves for their final assessment.


  1. Read for 25 minutes.
  2. Vocabulary quiz tomorrow

Speech Practice and Vocab Review

Class began the usual way. Since speech outlines were due today, students were able to go to the library in shifts in order to print.

After reading, students had 10 minutes to practice their speeches to the wall. The purpose of this time was for students to not only figure out how long/short their speech was, but it also allowed them to make any changes or additions while simply getting to know their speech better.

After practicing, students looked over the rubric, and I explained how both presentation and organization are equally important when it comes to public speaking. If a speech isn’t presented well with good eye contact, volume, and expression, a speech will be boring no matter how interesting the content; however, even if a speech is presented well, if it isn’t organized, the audience will get lost and walk away thinking, “What the heck did I just listen to?” That’s why those organizational pieces – the thesis statements in the intro and conclusion, the transitions, the topic sentences, the summary sentences – are so important.

Next, students had 10 – 15 minutes to start note-carding their speech.

Afterwards, we spent a chunk of time reviewing vocabulary with three different stations: memory, review Jenga, and quizlet. That took us to the end of the period where I reminded students that it is CRUCIAL they come prepared for their literature circle discussion tomorrow because tomorrow’s discussion is like their “final test” of discussion skills.


  1. Read for 25 minutes.
  2. Complete Day 6 literature circle reading/task
  3. Bring headphones/earbuds!
  4. Vocabulary quiz on WEDNESDAY

Discussion Move Bingo

Class began the usual way. Students who needed to complete their point of view checkpoint did that today, but if they didn’t finish, they will finish tomorrow. Independent reading time was extended today for those that were done/proficient, so students could have time to work on this.

After IR, I took some time to talk to students about our April calendar and a few changes to it as well as reflect on the ALICE drill yesterday.

Next, we moved into literature circles, and today’s journal prompt is below:

Experts have identified seven qualities of a good reader. According to this list, a few things good readers do are as follows: they make predictions, visualize events of the text, and recognize confusion. Your journal today is based on these ideas. Answer one or more of the questions below:

  • What are the predictions you have? Explain. You can be general or decide to make predictions about something specific.
  • What scene or scenes have you been able to visualize the best? What was it about that passage that enabled you to picture it? (You could reference a specific passage.)
  • What parts have been especially confusing to you? How have you overcome that confusion? What are you still confused about?

On Tuesday, Mrs. Ruff and myself visited in with each group for about 10 minutes and kept track of the discussion moves students were making. This wasn’t for a grade; instead, it was so students could use the feedback to continue tracking their progress toward proficiency in the learning targets.

Today they received that feedback and transcribed it onto their purple tracking sheet. Overall, students’ conversations have improved greatly already, and this is not only evidenced by the data they received today, but it is also clear through the time I have spent with each group. I gave students a few tips for improvement. For example, if a student is not yet at a + with summing things up, here is a sentence frame I suggested to help with that:

I agree/disagree with what you said about _______ because ______ .

Also, I suggested that students KEEP THEIR BOOKS ON THEIR DESKS. This will make them much more likely to reference the text in a specific way.

For our discussion today, students played discussion bingo ignorer to encourage them to expand their use of the discussion moves and to combine them. The link to discussion move bingo is here.

We ended class with a quick reflection. I asked students to think about their first conversation with their groups and answer this question: How has using the discussion moves changed the discussions in your groups? The conversations the students had about this were insightful.


  1. Read for 25 minutes.
  2. Complete literature circle day 6 reading/task for TUESDAY

Did you bring your A game?

*I won’t be here tomorrow because I have meetings all day. The homework will be the same tomorrow as it is today. If you are absent on 4/11, make sure to ask a friend what happened in class, so you know what you need to do to get caught up.

Class began the usual way. If students needed to finish reviewing their point of view stuff, that did that during IR. Those students who were ready to retake the checkpoint had time during IR to do that as well. Those that didn’t have a chance to begin or didn’t finish will finish on THURSDAY. (If you weren’t here today, make sure to complete your review BEFORE Thursday as that will be the day in class anyone remaining completes the assessment.)

After IR, I talked with students about the active shooter drill happening tomorrow and answered any questions that they had.

Then it was time for literature circles. The journal prompt for today is listed below, so if you were absent, make sure you complete that.

Look at the topics list below. What topics do you see shining through so far? Make a list of the topics you see on your notebook paper. Next, write which ones you think are the most important or most prominent. What is happening in the novel that relates to them, why are they important, what message is the author sending about each?

* Friendship * Courage * Fear * Hope * Trust * Justice * Revenge * Forgiveness * Violence * Sacrifice * Generosity * Race-relations * Freedom * Tradition * Childhood * Fame * Growing Up * Survival * Purity * Family * Toughness * Perseverance * Love * Self-esteem * Gratitude *  Laziness * Acceptance * Kindness * Risk-taking * Happiness * Helpfulness * Empathy * Nature * Patriotism * Appearance * Reality * Stereotypes * Money * Ignorance * Knowledge * Technology * Science * Innocence * Religion * Loyalty * Selfishness *

Today marked the midpoint check for students when it came to their discussion skills. That meant that Mrs. Ruff was in our classroom, and her and I sat quietly (and awkwardly) in on every group, taking note of the discussion moves we heard happening but not participating in the discussion at all.

Before students began discussing, they were invited to take out their sheet where they wrote down their feedback from their first meeting, so they could review the skills they were strong in and the ones they needed to work on. Next, half the groups began discussing and other half had time to work on their This I Believe… speeches. About halfway through, those roles switched.

If you were absent today, make sure to grab a purple sheet out of your literature circle folder, so you can make-up the missed discussion.


  1. Read for 25 minutes.
  2. Complete lit circle day 5 reading/task for THURSDAY

Review and Beginning

Class began like it normally does, but IR time was cut very short (for some students) today. After students had time to write down their synonyms and antonyms for the words from last week (engross, kindle, havoc, and translucent), IR ended in order to give time for students to do some review work with POV.

This review began with a quick whole-class review on choosing evidence, and for that, we used the presentation below.

POV Checkpoint – Reteaching

Last week, students took a checkpoint over POV. That score will ONLY go in the gradebook for students who scored proficient on it the first time around. Those students had a variety of options today related to language arts that they could have done during the first half of class.

For any student who struggled on a particular area – either analyzing a text for the appropriate POV of a character and/or explaining evidence – they had a different review task today, and they will have a chance to reassess tomorrow. That is the score that will actually go into the gradebook.

For those that needed to work on analyzing a text for POV, they completed an activity where they physically sorted evidence under the POV that it aligned with, seeing that while a piece of evidence here or there might work for something else, the VAST majority of evidence aligned with one of the POVS.

For those that needed to work on explaining evidence, this is the video they watched today to help them look at examples and think through errors and how to correct them.

They used the handout below to follow along.

Revisiting PoV Checkpoint – Explanations

Once the first half of class was over, students had a short break, and then they had an opportunity to look at example of people’s “This I Believe” projects. I had eight different essays out around the room, and students took at least two back to their desks to read just to get an idea of how their speeches will be constructed.

Some students already know the belief they want to speak about, and some students are unsure. For those that are unsure, I explained that their job today is to first figure out what belief they want to speak about, and they could do that by reading more examples OR completing the brainstorm sheet attached below.

TIB – Moments that Changed Your Life

Once students had their beliefs, they could go to google classroom to see where they will type their speech outline. I also provided an example for them, and that example is linked below.

Jeffers Example

Students had the rest of the time to work. These outlines are due Friday, but students should have time to complete it in class, so it is not homework at this point.


  1. Read for 25 minutes.
  2. Complete your lit circle day 4 reading/task for tomorrow


What do you believe?

Class began the normal way. Students completed a WA that had them review a variety of different grammar skills. The grammar final will be here more quickly than you think, so now is the time to ask questions if you have them and review using the kahoots linked in the grammar section of this website.

After going over the corrections, students moved into notebook thinking, and the video was the NCAA “One Shining Moment” video for 2018. I invited students to write about the “shining moments” in their own lives – accomplishments they have felt super proud of – and also their biggest disappointments since there are a lot of disappointed athletes in this video as well.

We had some W.O.W. time today, and then I introduced students to our next project. Since we have been working with point of view over the past few weeks, it is time for students to share their own points of view! We started diving into this by students watching a video where people from all over the world shared their beliefs and then doing a little brainstorming on the document attached below.

I Believe POEM Brainstorm

After students had some time to share a few beliefs with their group members, I introduced them to the speaking assignment. They looked through the explanation and the rubric, and then they had time to have any questions they had answered. That is attached below.

This I Believe – Speech Assignment-Rubric

The schedule for preparing, practicing, and giving this speech is on the monthly calendar in the back of the room.

Class ended with a few minutes of reading time for literature circles.


  1. Bring headphones on Monday if you can!
  2. Read for 60 minutes.
  3. Complete your DAY 4 literature circle reading/task for TUESDAY


Literature Circle Fish Bowls

Class began with independent reading as I checked in each student’s literature circle task. Remember: it is vital to your group’s success that you are completing your tasks and completing them well!

Our discussions were a little different today. Instead of everyone discussing at the same time, four groups discussed while the other four observed one of the groups. The observing group was in charge of tracking the discussion moves of one of the participants inside the “fishbowl.” They used this handout to do that and to reflect on their partner’s strengths and areas of improvement when it comes to discussion. After one group was finished discussing, the groups switched, so everyone had a chance to discuss and receive feedback.

As groups discussed, I listened in or chatted with the observers about what they were seeing. A general consensus was that the sum it up move is not happening as much as it should. Students often agree or disagree with each other, but they do so in vague terms by saying, “I agree with you because…” Well, what is it specifically that you are agreeing with? By changing your response pattern to “I agree with your point about ______ because ______,” then you are showing you are listening through summing it up, and you are bouncing because you are adding onto what someone says. This is what we will work to target during our next literature circle discussion.

We ended the class by announcing the winners of the March Madness Book Bracket. Many people picked the winning book, Ready Player One! Also, we watched part of CNN10.


  1. Read for 25 minutes.
  2. Complete your literature circle reading/task by the start of class on TUESDAY.