Grammar Assessment Practice and Research

Class began the usual way. Students completed a WA that had them looking at different evidence and using that evidence to figure out a reason to support a claim. This is very much like what they have to do for their projects – look at all of the research and figure out what reasons shine through from that evidence.

During IR time, I conferred with students about their argument checkpoint from Friday. Students had the opportunity to review and reassess if they needed/wanted to.

After reading and with their partners, students discussed the following questions before talking about this as a class:

  1. What reason can you draw from this evidence?
  2. Which piece of evidence doesn’t fit the reasons?
  3. Which evidence should we eliminate because it isn’t as good as the others?

The last question is one that I highlighted. There was one piece of “evidence” listed on the handout that was not necessarily evidence; instead, it was someone just restating the reason. It’s important students stay away from stuff like this because it doesn’t make more a very convincing argument to say “This is a reason because someone said it is a reason.” Instead specific numbers, facts, or experiences are much more convincing and worthwhile.

We didn’t have Notebook Thinking today. Instead, students took a practice grammar assessment. In two weeks, they will have their grammar test, and, as I explained to them in class, this isn’t something they can retake because we don’t have time for them to retake it. Also, they HAVE already taken it twice and have seen their scores, so this is the third and final time.

To prepare for this, I game them a practice test where they looked at seven different sentences and made corrections. Then, we went over it as a class, so they could have an idea of how they were doing. I suggested that they take a look at where they missed points and visit the grammar review section of my website to work on these things. For example, if they noticed they made a lot of mistakes with homophones, they could do one of the homophone reviews.

I have also linked the grammar practice assessment here and there, so they could retake it and check their work. An answer key is included.

The second half of class was spent in the library finishing up research. This is our third, solid day of research time, so research is due tomorrow. Students should be able to answer “yes” to all the statements at the top of their research document. Note: Only RESEARCH is due tomorrow. The OUTLINE is not due yet.

Homework:

  1. Read for 25 minutes.
  2. Bring headphones.
  3. Research is due tomorrow. Make sure to turn in your document!

Argument Checkpoint and Research

Class began the usual way. Students completed a WA that had them reviewing different grammar concepts. Believe it or not, the grammar final is two weeks from Monday! Holy cow!

After going over the sentence, students have some time to review for their argument checkpoint – either with a partner or by themselves, and then they took the checkpoint. If you were absent, this is something you will have to come in before or after school to make up.

Next, students wrote sentences for our weekly words, shared them with their partner, and then a few students shared their sentences with the class before we moved into W.O.W. where a variety of students shared a variety of different types of writing. We will only have two more W.O.W. days before the end of the year! Can you believe it?!

Before heading to the library to complete topic proposals and research, I gave students a quick reminder of how to navigate the databases and what they need to access when it comes to moving on to their research. I also reminded them of this page of my website where I walk students through step-by-step how to complete this process. That way, when they are ready to move on, they can, and they don’t have to wait for the next lesson or demonstration because the demonstrations are in the videos.

Students had the rest of the time (about 25 minutes) to work. If they didn’t complete their topic proposal by the end of class, they need to finish over the weekend and email me a picture of it.

Homework:

  1. Read for 60 minutes.
  2. FINISH TOPIC PROPOSAL AND EMAIL IT TO ME.
  3. RESEARCH – have at least five information boxes filled in on your research document
  4. Headphones all week next week

Quick Update

I’m unable to fully update due to internet issues. Here is a brief summary.

  1. IR
  2. Wrote down new words and definitions (see board. They will be on the final vocab test.)
  3. Quizlet live game to practice vocabulary
  4. Practiced identifying claim, reasons, and evidence in an article
  5. Showed students this page of my website
  6. Walked students through what a database is and how to navigate SIRS, providing different examples of questions and claims for filling out the topic proposal (extra topic proposals are by the absent binder)
  7. Students had time to explore the database, decide on a topic, and begin filling out the topic proposal

Homework:

  1. Read for 25 minutes.
  2. Complete grammar notes/practice that was assigned on Friday. See Friday’s post of the linked assignment.

Argument Stations

Class began differently than it usually does. We did not have WA or IR today because the second half of class was dedicated to a presentation in the library, and we still had work to get done in here.

Instead, students started right away with different stations to help them review argument and practice their delineation skills. The description of each station is below, and the materials for the stations can be accessed here in the event you’d like to practice more on your own. Feel free to email me for answer keys.

Station 1: Independently, students sorted cards in order to practice differentiating between claim, reason, evidence, and supporting claim. After each group member was finished sorting, they compared their work and come to a consensus before I checked their work.

Station 2: Students looked at a sample letter, and using different colored highlighters, they worked together to highlight to different components of the argument.

Station 3: Students were given a claim and a variety of evidence that could support that claim. They needed to work together to sort the evidence into like piles and then determine what reasons could be drawn from the evidence. This is something they will have to do once they begin researching, so it was good to start practicing this skill.

After going through the stations, we debriefed a bit, and then we headed to the library where Mrs. Roche did a presentation about social injustice – some from the past and many from today. Of course, many of these topics are controversial, and students were told on multiple occasions that the point of this presentation was to just get them thinking, and they are encouraged to choose EITHER side of the issue for their argumentative letter. Some of the ideas shared during the presentation are below:

Child labor (specifically talked about for harvesting cacao for chocolate, minerals/metals for our technology), police brutality and training, Kapernick kneeling for the national anthem, the Confederate flag, Confederate monuments, animal rights (specifically – should there be zoos and/or aquariums?), gay rights, women’s rights (specifically – What could be improved in our country? Could companies be doing more to promote women’s rights in other parts of the world?), sex trafficking (Specifically – is there more our government could be doing to cut down on this?), gun control (specifically – should teachers be armed?)

(I will be showing the students more ideas tomorrow.)

The presentation ended with a message about the following: We live in a great community in a great country, but no matter where someone lives, there are things that can be improved for someone, and even though students are only 12 and 13 years old, they do have the power to change things by having their voice heard. We are just encouraging them to find something they care about or think is interesting. They do NOT need to know anything about the topic at this point. They do NOT need to know what side of the argument they are in (in fact, sometimes it is much better to start research that way). Just find something that seems interesting, and go from there.

Homework:

  1. Read for 25 minutes.
  2. Grammar notes due WEDNESDAY (linked on Friday’s post)
  3. Headphones needed TUESDAY – FRIDAY this week

Argument: Day 2

Class began as usual. The WA for today was students completing some work they started yesterday – delineating an argument about whether or not we are “too wired” by determining the claim, reasons, and evidence. After IR, students had a chance to discuss their ideas with the person sitting next to them, and then we went over them as a class.

For Notebook Thinking, today was four prompt Friday, and the prompts the students could write about if they wanted to are below.

—Begin with these words: I stole this ____ from a dead man.

—NASA is currently working on choosing people to send to Mars. These people will begin a colony up there and will never return to Earth. What do you think of this idea? What do you think it would be like to live there?

—Write about a superhero who means well but is really clumsy and keeps messing stuff up.

—Who is the most interesting person you have ever met?

After writing, students practiced a bit more with delineating an argument. They had the choice of working with a partner or working independently to delineate an argument about how professional athletes are not overpaid. After working for 10 minutes, we talked through the answers.

Next, students received the actual argumentative letter that we have been talking about for so long!

Argumentative Letter Assignment – The Power of Words

Students had time to read through the assignment packet, and then I answered questions. Something important to note about this writing assignment is that it is the FINAL writing assignment for the year, and as such, it should demonstrate to me the skills the students have honed throughout the year. That means that I will not be giving AS MUCH feedback on this piece of writing as I have on all of the other pieces of writing they have done throughout the year because it is time for them to show me what they can do completely on their own. HOWEVER, it is important to note that I will be conferencing with students during this process during class, so I am definitely there to help them through stuckpoints.

We ended class in the library where students worked on completing their speech reflection, and if they had time, they began their homework.

Handout for the homework

Presentation for the homework

Homework:

  1. Read for 60 minutes.
  2. Complete the grammar notes/practice for WEDNESDAY.
  3. Headphones next week – Thursday through Friday

Introduction to Argument

Class began as usual. The WA had students correct a sentence that covered some new and old skills.

The last two welcome activities have covered that v. who. Often times, people say that when they should say who. For example, someone might say, “The person that stole the car was arrested;” however, since people aren’t things, the correct grammar is “The person WHO stole the car was arrested.” Since this is a more straightforward grammar concept, students don’t have an extended teach tool or exercises that go along with it, but it will be something we talk about often through WA since it does show up on the grammar test at the end of this month.

After discussing the WA, students moved into NBT, and we watched CNN10 as our prompt.

Today marks the beginning of our last unit of the year: argument. (Look at that colon usage!) To kick off the unit, students did a little brainstorming about the things in their homes, community (which includes their school), county, and world that they want to change.

If I had my way, I would change

Students had a chance to partner up with someone around the room, share with them, and generate some more ideas together.

After this, I said to students that if they ever really want to change something worth changing, they are going to need to know how to argue! Hank Green also helped me out with explaining the importance of this skill in the video below. (We watched the first 90 seconds.)

Together, we went through some different examples of claims, reasons, and evidence before students moved on to working on an activity with their partners where they read an article and then looked at different cards with sentences from the article on them, sorting those sentences into piles of claims, reasons, and evidence. This is called “delineating” an argument, and we will work on it more in the days and weeks to come.

Homework:

  1. Read for 25 minutes.
  2. Bring headphones tomorrow!