Week 8


We started the week with an extended weekend to write mid-tri comments.

MON: Day off (Mid-tri comments)

TUE: Riddles

I started Anahita’s Woven Riddle with a pop quiz. I used to give a lot more of these pop quizzes earlier on in the school year last year, but I guess I was too wrapped up in the tech stuff this year to do so. What’s great about giving a number of these pop quizzes, though, is that it definitely motivates kids to keep up with the reading schedule, and it immediately singles out the kids early on that are not reading.

After the quiz we parsed the riddle Anahita poses to her father in the first chapter and came up with a simple formula to make a similar riddle: give an obvious clue (about a property of the answer), a not-so-obvious clue, and a metaphorical clue (based on a metaphorical view of the answer).

I gave them chapters 3-4 for reading homework.

The 8th graders had a drop block today.

WED: Essential Questions

I started the 7th grade classes by having each table group come up with a riddle based on yesterday’s formulation. As they came to an agreement about their riddle, I had them write the riddles on the board and then had the entire class try to guess at the riddles. The formula we came up with actually held up pretty well, and I was surprised at how good some of these riddles were.

We then took a moment to review the characters we’ve encountered so far in the book. We also took a look at the essential questions for the book. Using the general essential questions for the year, I try to tailor more specific ones for each book we read. The idea is to give these questions ahead of time so that students know what in particular to pay attention to as they read. It gives some guidance for active reading and some clues as to how I’ll frame essay questions later on. A good idea might be to give students bookmarks with the questions printed on them.

I’m a bit of a dilemma about how helpful I should be in helping my students organize their knowledge about the books we read. On the one hand, I could follow my instincts from the beginning of the year and have my students form an extensive reference on the wiki, outlining each character and plot point. I suppose that could be a good model of the kind of notes they should be taking as they read, but it also could be a good excuse not to read at all. I kind of dropped the wiki idea for now.

For homework, I had the students read chapters 5-6 and post a riddle of their creation on their blogs.

As for my eighth grade classes, we also went over the essential questions for their new book, The Secret Life of Bees. The first chapter of the book, which they should have read, is a long one and stages the rest of the book, so it was good to cover the essential questions when we did. We also did a vocabulary refresher to help them prepare for their vocabulary quiz tomorrow.

THUR: Suitor Portraits; Vocab Quiz #2

We did a fun art activity in the 7th grade classes today. The past several chapters in Anahita’s Woven Riddle has been devoted to profiling each of Anahita’s potential suitors, so I assigned each table group one of the suitors (one of the tables did Anahita herself) and had them:

  1. find descriptions and characteristics of that suitor in their respective chapter and
  2. draw the suitor on a large poster-sized paper.

For homework they have to read three more chapters: 7-9.

My 8th graders had a vocabulary quiz today. After the quiz we went over the five major sentence patterns, and I hinted that we would learn how to diagram sentences later on in the school year. The sentence patterns we went over are found at http://www.io.com/~hcexres/textbook/twsent.html:

  1. S + V
  2. S + LV + Subject-Complement
  3. S + V + DO
  4. S + V + IO + DO
  5. S + V + DO + Object-Complement

For homework, I had them read the next chapter (2) in The Secret Life of Bees. Last year I had a less intense reading schedule for my 8th graders, but I’m looking over the amount of time we have before the end of the trimester, and it looks like it’s going to have to be pretty much a chapter a night if we’re going to finish the book in time.

FRI: The Dating Game; 8th Grade Blog Feeds

Picking up from yesterday’s activity, our class role-played the Dating Game using Anahita and her suitors. It was a fun activity, but it reminded me again how great it would be if I did some effective improv drama activities with my classes.

We had a relatively forgettable discussion, and then I assigned chapters 10-11 to read for homework.

My 8th graders went back to the computer lab to learn how to subscribe to RSS feeds using Bloglines. More chaos and frustration. I’m starting to hear a lot of bitching and moaning about the blogs. Hmmmm.

Doesn’t help that we’re plowing through the reading while they’re deep in the throes of their Williamsburg project. Must remember to do a less involving book during this time period next year. They had to read chapters 3-4 over the weekend (chapter 3 is short).


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