In place of the whole class novel I typically use during the second quarter, I created a four-week intensive Reading Workshop. The plan includes choice, rigor, technology, informational texts, analysis, study skills, reading comprehension strategies and creativity. It also dove tails nicely with Common Core target skills.
Here is my plan for a new, improved second quarter:
- Each student chooses a book appropriate to his/her grade level. I am hoping that by second quarter, I will have some idea of what those levels are for each of my students.
- Each student will be given a reading journal where he/she will keep track of his reading through summary, reading responses, and a series of original writing prompts.
- Each week, one full class period will be devoted strictly to reading. The understanding is that kids should be reading at home as well.
- The other class periods will be used for in-class close readings of informational texts: New York Times book reviews, authors’ biographies/autobiographies, selected texts on the craft of writing. Students will be expected to annotate these texts and will complete short and extended response writing activities and graphic organizers, all designed to strengthen reading comprehension and written responses.
- Students will also watch selected clips of book critics sharing reviews on network television programs such as CBS This Morning and Today.
- Students will have four weeks in which to read their self selected books.
- At the end of the four weeks–or sooner for kids who zip through their books–each student will create a “mural” as a backdrop for the bulletin board. They will also compose a two minute book talk about their books.
- Each student will prepare his book talk and using the mural, we will film it in class with classmates providing technical support during the filming. The book talks will be compiled into a class disc and shared at a middle school library event TBA.
- Finally, every student will write an on-demand, in-class analytical essay using the critical lens format.
I have filmed with seventh graders this past year (see my post on this blog entitled “Lights! Camera! Action!”) and now that I know some of the technical pitfalls, I am confident that I can pull this off. II also know that it is essential that every student not on camera have a specific role to fulfill while we are doing the filming.
I would welcome any and all comments from anyone out there who has had some experience with this type of in class concept. I am working totally without a net here and any safety tips will be helpful!