After giving my 7th/8th graders a small grammar pre-test, I launched my first unit for the year. When examining the Common Core standards I decided to launch a narrative unit first. Generally speaking, students really enjoy writing narrative pieces and reading them as well. I kicked off the unit by displaying the CCSS literature standard and the writing standard on the whiteboard:
- (RL.8.2)Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text, including its relationship to the characters, setting, and plot; provide an objective summary of the text.
- (W.8.3)Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, relevant descriptive details, and well-structured event sequences.
a. Engage and orient the reader by establishing a context and point of view and introducing a narrator and/or characters; organize an event sequence that unfolds naturally and logically.
b. Use narrative techniques, such as dialogue, pacing, description, and reflection, to develop experiences, events, and/or characters.
c. Use a variety of transition words, phrases, and clauses to convey sequence, signal shifts from one time frame or setting to another, and show the relationships among experiences and events.
d. Use precise words and phrases, relevant descriptive details, and sensory language to capture the action and convey experiences and events.
e. Provide a conclusion that follows from and reflects on the narrated experiences or events.
*I am displaying the 8th grade standards here as an example.
I then wrote a few I can statements on the board so the students know what they will be able to do by the time we finish the unit. I do not put all of the I can statements on the board at once. I only put the ones on the board that the students will be currently working on. In a given day students could see up to four I can statements. Today, I had two on the board.
- I can analyze plot (the events that happen) to determine a theme (author’s overall message).
- I can define narrative and describe the basic parts of plot (exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution).
After sharing the standards and explaining what we are going to be doing, I share with my students the CCSS website. In addition, I share with them the mastery connect app where they can access the CCSS at anytime to see what they will be learning. I did actually have one student download it to their phone.
With all curriculum talk aside, I introduce my students to memoirs. We discuss the characteristics of memoirs and then provide them with some models. The book I introduce them is The Freedom Writers. I give the students background information on the book and then read a few passages out of the book. We then focus our attention back to memoirs and I assign them to write a 6 word memoir. I provide the students with several examples and then release them to write a 6 word memoir on Schoology. I put their assignment under the discussion tab and ask them not only write their 6 word memoir here, but to collaborate and respond to one other classmate. Tomorrow students will go back and create their first writing piece to put into their portfolio by revising their 6 word memoir and adding a picture and putting it into Google Docs. The 6 word memoir is the start to how the students will scaffold into a more complex memoir and narrative. My 7th graders are going to write a This I believe Paper and my 8th graders are going to write the more complex memoir. Below are some student examples of 6 word memoirs.
- Dance all day, sleep all night. (7th grade)
- Everything is lost, nothing is found. (7th grade)
- Ate Mom’s cooking; died right there! (8th grade)
- Keep smiling, even without the camera. (8th grade)
On a side note, my 5th hour class ran into a Schoology glitch today. Schoology decided to shut down their site for an update or something along those lines, it was very inconvenient and instead of panicking, I had the 8th graders research online what is an osage orange and if it has a realistic purpose.. You always have to have plan B ready to go!