New to 7th/8th Grade... NEED ADVICE PLEASE!!

Discussion in 'Middle School / Junior High' started by New2JrHigh, Jun 29, 2010.

  1. New2JrHigh

    New2JrHigh New Member

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    Jun 29, 2010

    Hi everyone!! I will be teaching 7th grade language arts and 7th/8th grade history. I've never taught higher than 4th. Could anyone offer ideas/tips/suggestions/advice...anything?? I'm at a loss. I've never taught from a novel before and really need to make a great impression on administration this year. They're breathing heavily down my back. This past year was awful.

    Any and all suggestions/tips/advice are welcome!

    Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!!!!
     
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  3. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Jun 29, 2010

    I taught grade 7/8 English (Reading, Writing, etc) for the first time this past year and absolutely adored it! We finish school tomorrow, and I'm still in the midst of the end-of-the-year craze, so am not very coherent right now. I'll answer in detail in the next couple of days.
     
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2010
  4. mrsf70

    mrsf70 Companion

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    Jul 1, 2010

    Read Nancy Atwell for great info. on language arts. I incorporated ideas from The Reading Zone with awesome results a few years ago. In the Middle is also good. Literature circles are good in middle school.

    For social studies, I used interactive notebooks, trying to have the students use their knowledge as much as possible. The more they "do" with social studies, the less dry history seems to them.

    You are teaching two of my favorite things-Good Luck!
     
  5. KWLme

    KWLme Rookie

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    Jul 1, 2010

    Intriguing

    Interactive notebooks sound intriguing. Will you please tell me more about what they are and how you use them? Thanks
     
  6. teachin4ever

    teachin4ever Cohort

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    I second the suggestion you got for Nancie Atwell. This past year, I started a reading/writing workshop for my LA classes and her book, Lessons That Change Writers, was a huge help.

    I did literature circles this year for the first time also, and they went very well. If you want any info on how I set them up, let me know and I can email you all the stuff I have.

    You're gonna have a great time teaching seventh and eighth grade! They can be difficult at times, but stick to your guns, be fair and respectful and they'll be putty in your hands!
     
  7. LMT

    LMT Rookie

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    Jul 5, 2010

    I agree! Please share! :)
     
  8. Hoot Owl

    Hoot Owl Aficionado

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    Jul 5, 2010

    New2JrHi, Welcome! I have no new suggestions except to be consistent. Good luck, I'm glad you're here.
     
  9. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Okay, I’m finally back...
    Here are some of the things that worked well for me this past year with my grade 7/8 English class:

    -I introduced Writer’s Notebooks and gave very open-ended prompts based on mentor texts (Jeff Anderson’s Mechanically Inclined gave me tons of ideas for mini-lessons. The students decorated the covers of their notebooks and kept them for the entire year. All of their writing, revision, etc. was done in the notebook. At the end of the year it was interesting for them to see their progress.
    -We studied sections of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens by Sean Covey during September and October. The kids really enjoyed it and were able to apply many of the principles to themselves as students, friends and children.
    -I only did one “round” of Literature Circles—I want to do 2 next year. I chose texts that I knew my students would love and made the assignments meaningful.
    -I used Reading Response Journals combined with Independent Reading (a la Fountas and Pinnell). The feedback that I was able to provide the students, and the improvements in their insights about their reading, made the time spend responding well worth it.
    -I read aloud almost every day—from a novel, a picture book, etc.
    -I read what they were reading for pleasure so that I could discuss it with them.
    -I did one “read aloud” novel study and one “movie study”.
    -We had an author come in to work with the students on the writing process (through the Arts’ Council). Those 5 days taught them that they were far better students than they every thought they were.
    -I had a class blog which they posted on every week—I acknowledged their need to write electronically.

    I'm sure I'll think of more...but there's a start.
     
  10. IowaLA

    IowaLA Rookie

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    Jul 7, 2010

    I also do Literature Circles, but instead of the traditional way the students do all of their book discussion through wikis/forums. Many students love this as it is a format they are familiar with and lots of great discussion took place.

    Writer's Workshop works well for my students. Students learn to give and take constructive criticism to/from their peers as well as allowing me time for one on one conversations with the students and provide specific feedback.
     
  11. KLily21

    KLily21 Companion

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    Jul 28, 2010

    I have been wanting to start a class blog for my science class, but I admit, I don't really know how to go about doing that. Any tips?? How did you get started?
     
  12. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Last year, I used TeacherWeb for my class website and there is a blog feature (I know that there are probably better ways, but this is what I was using). Each week (or so) I posted a question and the students were required to post a response during one of our weekly periods in the computer lab. Sometimes, the questions were general--tell about the best thing you did this summer, describe your ideal Halloween costume--and sometimes they related to what we were studying in class--how did you feel when Johnny (in The Outsiders) died? I always responded first and occasionally responded to what the kids wrote. I set guidelines--if they used a nickname, they needed to reveal their true identity to me, be appropriate, no negative comments about what others had written, etc--and there were only 2 occasions when someone didn't follow them. The blog was also password protected so that only they could read it.

    I'm going to make a few changes this year, but will definitely have a class blog.
     
  13. scooter503

    scooter503 Comrade

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    Jul 28, 2010

    I've been wanting to start a class blog as well, but didn't know how to set it up. I am also moving up to middle school this year, so I'm loving all these responses.
    Could anyone explain further how they do their Writer's Workshop in middle school? Also, does this work in 45 minute periods?
     
  14. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    Jul 28, 2010

    My 7th history curriculum is all on my website at www.mrroughton.com if you want to see it. It is very much of the "do" variety.

    I did a couple novels this year for the first time as I taught GATE Enrichment. I found that having the audio book helped quite a bit. Some days I'd read to them, some days they'd read silenty, sometimes the CD would read, etc. Keeping it varied helped quite a bit. Granted my kids were all advanced but we read some heavy stuff (Ayn Rand's Anthem for example) and they did great.
     
  15. Brendan

    Brendan Fanatic

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    Jul 28, 2010


    This system sounds great, Mrs. C., but how do you assess and grade your students with this type of system?
     
  16. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    We use leveled rubrics almost exclusively in language. I record the students level (4, 3, 2, 1) for each section of the rubric for each assignment. The rubrics are task specific; I usually have 4 or 5 criteria that I focus on for each one.

    Here are a few examples of what I did (I'll try not to get too wordy!):
    Reading Response Journals: Students are required to give me one entry/week. They are evaluated on the same rubric all year. I look at: Knowledge (do they demonstrate that they understand what they have read), Communication (do they communicate their thinking clearly), Thinking (do they demonstrate higher level thinking), Application (do they apply reading strategies).
    For our book studies (either fiction or non-fiction) students completed a variety of small and large assessment pieces--formal essay, short written responses, oral presentations, demonstrations, media productions, etc.
    The author visit provided them with a framework for creating a historical fiction narrative--graded on a rubric in which the focus was on development of a cohesive storyline, complexity of ideas, use of rich, figurative language, and conventions.
    Writers' Notebooks: I didn't grade every piece they did--each month, one entry was selected, polished and submitted for grading--I was looking for their ability to incorporate the concepts from our mini-lessons in grammar, etc. into their writing.

    Does this give a clearer picture?
     
  17. Brendan

    Brendan Fanatic

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    Jul 28, 2010

    Yes, very, thanks!
     
  18. Strategies

    Strategies New Member

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    Jul 28, 2010

    7&8 ELA/Rdg... excited about all the questions and answers... "WOW"
     
  19. SingBlueSilver

    SingBlueSilver Companion

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    Aug 3, 2010

    Something impressive would be if you could do cross-curricular activities...Ex: Historical background in History class, read a novel/story dealing with that time period, have cross-over activities or assignments.
     

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