Monday, July 27, 2015

The Classroom Sparrow Goes Back to School


It's A Bird... It's A Plane... It's The Literary League's Back to School Blog Hop!! Hard to imagine that we are already planning for another school year, the summer just goes by way too fast! While the inevitable is near, the planning must begin! So, once again, for those who say teachers don't work in the summer....think again!!

Who am I?
I have seven years of teaching experience teaching grades 9-12, in particular English Language Arts. Teaching English is, by far one of my favorite subjects to teach because there is a lot of room for flexibility in what you teach, you can have your students meet different outcomes by doing different activities and still have fun doing it. In addition to English Language Arts, I have taught an array of subjects all the way from 2D Animation to Family Studies. Fun fact: A week prior to school starting, I was notified that the Family Studies class included a weekly day care for part of my class. Talk about giving a Type A personality experience a minor heart attack! All ended well, but that's why planning is key and why The Literary League has come to your planning rescue.

Reluctant reader strategy:
If I come across a student who is not interested in a novel study, it challenges me to find ways to engage them in reading. During reading strategies, while daunting for students at the start, can get students engaged in the material they are reading.  Then as they start to dissect the novel, they get a better understanding of why authors make the choices they do. For this reason, literature circles and classroom discussions are a great strategy that I would recommend for teachers of reluctant readers. Usually, I have three different novels going at one time and the students are so engaged in their discussion, that I can easily manage going back and forth between the groups without the students getting off-topic; hard to believe, but true!

One of my favorite novels: 
Keeping on the theme of reluctant readers, I too fell into this category as a child. I never really enjoyed reading, which most of my English department colleagues nearly gasp at the first time they hear me tell them. I, however, feel as though the fact that I was a reluctant reader myself is beneficial to any future uninterested readers I have in my classes. Why? I get where they are coming from. My job is to show them that reading can be enjoyable. Part of the problem I think was finding a style of author that I really enjoyed. Last summer, I decided to do something crazy. Something that my teenage self would scoff at. I went to the book store and bought myself a book! That book was The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. Wow, what an amazing read! I was captivated the entire book.  I highly recommend this as a personal read, as well as for a classroom novel study. You can find the novel study I created for this book here

The Fault in Our Stars Novel Unit by The Classroom Sparrow

First day of school activity: 
I think English teachers thoroughly enjoy getting to know you activities for a couple of reasons.  Not only that it not only gives us some information on the student, but it also gives us a glimpse into the writing skills of a particular student.
From these types of activities, we can see what we might have to focus on during the next few weeks to help prepare our students for a new school year. During the first few days of a class, I have the students complete a Back to School Newspaper Article

The Classroom Sparrow Goes Back to School

Why this activity is helpful:
1) It gives each student an opportunity to settle into a new class by working on an activity for the first couple of days. 

2) It gives me a look into each student's individual writing ability, with an article short enough to get a good idea of their writing, but not too long where they will lose interest.

3) The assignment gives the students a choice as to what they might like to write about, so they aren't stuck staring at the outline with a lack of ideas or interest. 

You're not alone if you feel like you are not quite ready to head back to school, but let The Literary League help to ease some of that stress by checking out a few of our back to school ideas!




16 comments:

  1. That's a great book. I caved and bought it after so many students told me, "Mrs. Daring English Teacher, you HHHAAAAAAVE to read The Fault in Our Stars." I'm glad I did!

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  2. It is such a great novel. John Green has been a great help in getting our reluctant readers to read. Thanks for all of the great ideas, Sparrow!

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  3. I have 5 copies of The Fault in Our Stars in my class library and all five are checked out consistently. Love that book, and I'm sure your students are thrilled to do a novel study with it.

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  4. I'm going to do your essay scavenger hunt pretty early on this year. :)

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  5. I really like the idea of the newspaper article. It helps the teacher get quite a bit of good information about the students!

    -Lisa
    Mrs. Spangler in the Middle
    Mrs. Spangler in the Middle

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  6. I love The Fault in Our Stars but I don't know if I want to teach something so sad.

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  7. John Green has a knack for engaging even the most reluctant of readers. I adore your "The Fault in Our Stars" novel study!

    Literary Sherri

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  8. "The Fault is Our Stars" is one of my favorite novels too! I really love the idea of having students create a Back to School newspaper activity. It sounds like such a creative and fun project!

    Stephanie

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  9. Can I be in your classroom? I'd LOVE to do that back to school newspaper activity! Seriously...do you have a desk of me?

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  10. I, too, was (and have to admit I still am) a reluctant reader. I think our students can really appreciate this when we share this with them. You seem to have a unique grasp of what students need, and that gives you such a great advantage. Love your ideas...keep them coming! Good luck on the start of the new year :) - Kristen @ Simply Novel

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  11. A student actually recommended "A Fault in Our Stars" to me too! Loved it and I think there is so much students can learn about compassion from it.

    Brynn Allison
    The Literary Maven

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  12. My kids can't get enough of "The Fault in Our Stars" - it flies off the library shelves! Love that you got to teach it as a class novel! Have an awesome year!

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  13. Your students must love you! It sounds like you really manage to engage them from the very first lesson of the year, and what a great activity. I will have to pack that in my toolkit for when I return to the classroom. Thank you. I have never read "The Fault in Our Starts", but I did buy it last year. It is sitting in a pile of as-yet unread books on my bedside table. I may just have to move it to the top!

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  14. Not only your contents but also the way you present the issue is awesome. Particularly this one is articulating the sense of the discussion. Your word power is awesome. Keep it up.

    - Jessica Writer

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