I’ve heard from my readers that they’d like to know what a day actually looks like in my classroom, so I’m planning some posts that do just that with some lessons for the first week in school.
But first, a little background:
My seniors’ first major assessment will be a narrative essay, so most of the lessons and activities in my first week of school will be designed to scaffold them on their way to writing this essay. We will dive head first into effective word choice and sentence construction, as well as the elements of a good story.
For the first half of my semester, I run reading, writing, and speaking workshop in my classroom, so every seventy-five minute class contains a mini-lesson as well as time to read, write, share, and confer. On Fridays, we devote half the class to speaking skills (You can check out my blog post that explains this process here).
That brings me to my first lesson. After we do our getting to know you exercises, I use a spoken word poem by Matthew Foley called What You Will Need in Class Today. I don’t begin with a mini-lesson because my goal is to see how much these seniors know about using a mentor text and about word choice. Therefore, we’ll just dive into the poem while I take mental note about how much my new crop of students knows about these things.
I give each of them a copy of the poem and ask them to note the moves the poet makes – what techniques he uses – to make his point. Then, we will watch Foley perform the poem on this youtube video:
After, I give students a few minutes to make notes on their copy, followed by a turn-and-talk where they will discuss the following question: What is Foley’s purpose, and how does he achieve it? Once I hear the discussion waning, I’ll bring them back and ask for volunteers to report on their findings. There are so many great examples of deliberate word choice and use of figurative language, ones that are pretty obvious to the students, that we usually have a pretty good discussion about the poet’s technique and purpose.
Finally, I will bring their attention to these lines:
We discuss what it means to be truly present – in life, not just school – and then, I’ll ask my students to do an entry in their notebooks that focuses on this prompt: How will you be present during your senior year? This always leads to a great discussion, one that is important to have in the first week of school (Grab the lesson here).
After the prompt, we will start to talk about the logistics of our reading workshop. I’ll talk to them about setting reading goals each week and give them the form that they will use to track them. Then, students will start to explore the titles on my shelves by doing some speed dating with books.
In my next lesson, we will explore opening lines of our novels and will continue to work with the ideas they recorded in today’s writing prompt and begin to create a baseline assignment that they will use during their final assessment. Stay tuned for more lessons for the first week of school.
If you’re interested in the lessons I mentioned in this post, you can get more information by clicking the following:
Writing the Personal Narrative
Speaking and Listening Workshop
👉🏻 Would you like to read about more back to school lesson planning in Room 213? Click here for lesson two.