November 30, 2021

What I'm Reading & Teaching in December

We're kicking off a new unit "Facing Fear," with short stories and poetry before moving into nonfiction. Choice reading and writing routines continue.

My predictions about November being over in the blink of an eye were correct and now we're into December! Perhaps because October was a nightmare of a month for me (my entire household had Covid and I missed nearly 3 weeks of school), November seemed easy breezy in comparison. I also feel incredibly fortunate that my school has invested in building substitutes so my colleagues and I are not constantly covering classes the way I know so many other educators are right now. 

The biggest positive change for me though was a more relaxed approach to our 3 feet apart rule to allow for temporary student groupings. Students can't sit in groups permanently, but I am now allowed to have a group of students move their desks together while I work with them and then move their desks apart when we're finished. This was especially helpful during the essay writing we just finished up. Prior to this change, all of my teaching was either whole class or one on one, and I am a small group kind of gal. My preferred method of instruction is the station rotation model.

Reading in December
I keep surprising myself with the amount of reading I've been able to do this school year; this month it was a total of 12 books! I read four books on my Kindle (all middle grade) and listened to eight audiobooks (six middle grade and two young adult). Since our independent reading routine is back in action in my classroom, a few of the books I read physical copies of when in the classroom and then listened to or read on my Kindle at home.

We're kicking off a new unit "Facing Fear," with short stories and poetry before moving into nonfiction. Choice reading and writing routines continue.

Here's what I read in November:
1. Booked by Kwame Alexander (middle grade verse novel)
2. Rules by Cynthia Lord (middle grade fiction)
3. House Arrest by K.A. Holt (middle grade verse novel)
4. The Pants Project by Cat Clarke (middle grade fiction)
5. How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff (young adult fiction)
6. Amina's Voice by Hena Khan (middle grade fiction)
7. The Running Dream by Weddelin Van Draanen (middle grade fiction)
8. Allies by Alan Gratz (middle grade historical fiction)
9. Prisoner B-3087 by Alan Gratz (middle grade historical fiction)
10. Never Caught, the Story of Ona Judge: George and Martha Washington's Courageous Slave Who Dared to Run Away; Young Readers Edition by Erica Armstrong Dunbar and Kathleen Van Cleve (middle grade nonfiction)
11. Free Lunch by Rex Ogle (middle grade nonfiction)
12. Punching the Air by Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam (young adult verse novel)

I'm cruising toward my revised goal of 125 books and I've got a list of middle grade titles lined up to finish out the year.

Here's what I'm hoping to read in December:
1. Supergifted by Gordon Korman (middle grade fiction)
2. Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga (middle grade verse novel)
3. Bearwalker by Joseph Bruchac (middle grade fiction)
4. The Best at It by Maulik Pancholy (middle grade fiction)
5. Efren Divided by Ernesto Cisneros (middle grade fiction)
6. King and the Dragonflies by Kacen Callender (middle grade fiction)
7. Small Spaces by Katherine Arden (middle grade thriller)
8. Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky by Kwame Mbalia (middle grade fantasy)

We're kicking off a new unit "Facing Fear," with short stories and poetry before moving into nonfiction. Choice reading and writing routines continue.

Teaching in December
With the start of a new trimester, we're also starting a new unit, "Facing Fear." For all of my units I like to start off with shorter pieces in the first half of the unit and then move into a novel unit in the second half of the unit.

In this unit, we'll start off with two short stories: "The Ravine" by Graham Salisbury and "The Jumping Tree" by Rene Saldana. The two stories feature young men who are afraid of heights, but handle their fear in very different ways. As we read we focus on character traits, development and motivation as well as types of conflict and making inferences. By this point last year, we had shifted to 4 days of learning, so I do have a little more room in my lesson plans for extras and I'm still thinking about a creative activity to engage in along with the less exciting text dependent analysis writing and quiz I have planned.

Following the two short stories, we'll read Maya Angelou's poem, "Life Doesn't Frighten Me" and I'll introduce terms like repetition, alliteration, speaker, rhyme, and rhyme scheme. When we read poetry, I like to have students work through close reading stations to annotate the poem. I don't have the space to have students move around the room this year and if it was warmer we could do it outside, so for right now the stations will end up just being close reading steps. After reading and annotating Angelou's poem, students will independently read "Whatif" by Shel Silverstein and "The Honest Poem" Rudy Francisco. Students will then have option to write an original poem about fear or imitate one of the three we've read using one of the templates I provide. Whether they choose to be original or imitate, I set line requirements as well as ask them to include several of the poetic elements we've studied. Many of the poems students wrote last year were silly, but there were also some really deep ones.

Our last read before winter break will be an informational piece about fears and phobias, which we'll build upon with other related nonfiction readings after the break. Eventually, students will write an essay that is part informational and part research by synthesizing the nonfiction readings and researching a phobia of choice. By next year, I'm hoping to add one more two more readings before break so that all of the nonfiction readings can be done together after winter break.

Just before Thanksgiving break students began a "What I Love" writing assignment inspired by a piece in Linda Christensen's book, Teaching for Joy and Justice. We've done a few quickwrites already and will do a few more this week after looking at some mentor texts so we can try out some of the "moves" the authors in the mentor texts use. I worked with students on simple sentences and compound sentences and with this piece we're starting to look at more complex sentences, or to use Jeff Anderson's terminology, sentences with openers, interrupters, and closers. With other writing we tried earlier in the year, I taught the rules and then we wrote, but this time I'm trying the opposite. We are writing and imitating rules before we formally name and define them. 

I haven't planned out the three day week leading up to winter break, but I'm hoping to make those days as fun and relaxing as the days leading up to Thanksgiving break were. We'll definitely be dedicating time to independent reading (we're back into the routine of reading at least 10 minutes at the start of each class) and I'm thinking about celebrating the number of books we've read so far this year by making paper chains, which can double as festive decorations without centering any holidays. I have an idea about snow globes bouncing around in my head as something wintery and creative, but not holiday related either. I also have a set of ELA winter themed games that I put together last year that will be perfect for the very last day before break. We'll see how it all comes together.

We're kicking off a new unit "Facing Fear," with short stories and poetry before moving into nonfiction. Choice reading and writing routines continue.

2 yorum:

  1. I love your reading list. You’ve reminded me about a few books to get on my TBR list!

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