Recapping and Review the Literature Strand

Academically, the mission for this week has been two fold: recap literature objectives and review typical EOC-styled testing stems. What did we do and how did we pull it off? Here’s a summary of the bundle. While this plan originally was to take three days, I felt I needed a fourth day to make sure the students had a very thorough understanding of the skills and the text itself in order to write the essay.

We started out by completion of the Common Core Story Preview. As I learn more about Common Core and compare that to the more specific objective we currently use, I feel like I need to stick with some combination of both. I also feel like I need to continue to try to find additional information and resources on implementing CC in terms of meshing the skills and developing the content to hit as much information as possible.

The lesson started with a Common Core Story Preview activity. By using this, I did not tell them what to expect or what would happen. Instead, I used a guiding worksheet and timer to have students preview the text and text features for characters, setting, conflict, and any other story information. I also provided some words from the text for students to use in making a 25-word GIST statement of their story prediction. Students then shared their predictions.

Next, I gave an introduction to Richard Connell. First, we looked at a photo of him with the dates he lived. I planned to have students judge him and tell me about his life based on his picture and the story preview in order to work on life skills, but given the time constraints I decided that would be too much of a side bar to entertain. Instead, I gave a bulleted list of facts and included the tidbit about use of the same set to film the original “MDG” and “King Kong” in studios in order to save money. I connected this information by showing a video clip of the island in the more recent “King Kong” to get students to visualize the text.

Our data shows we really need to work on vocabulary, so I have come up with a vocabulary strategy to try to help students see how to use context clues. I’ve noticed they know words when they hear them, but they may not be able figure them out just by looking at them. Basically, they look at the word and I have them raise hands if they know it. Someone says the word and we see who knows the right definition to the term. Next, we look at the sentences and make a prediction about the meaning. I have students give evidence and justify their thoughts using the sentence. Some sentences are not helpful, and I modeled using the previous or following sentence in those cases. Then, I show the real definition. While this takes a lot of time, I hope it will help the students be able to do this on their own on other texts as well as the EOC test.

Finally, we read the text and use a reading guide. I always have students track the story with a story guide which requires the page number on which the answer can be found or inferred. This helps hold them accountable for using the text to provide evidence from the text as well as acts as a resource for gathering information in the event we are going to write an essay on the text later. At first, they hated this. When the first essay rolls around, I know they will appreciate having those pages to go back and get quotes for the paper.

After reading, we discussed the story in terms of the plot. I had two versions of the story analysis form for the students. In an inclusion class, I had guiding questions through the plot map itself and we talked through each component of plot as we can to it in the text. At some parts, we would talk through it and I used questioning to help the students come to the correct answers. This was challenging because my goal was not to give them a single answer. All in all, I think I did much better than normal at this. One of the students called me out and said he was frustrated because other teachers will just give them the answers if they ask enough and I would not give in and give it to them. He said he hated me for this, but when I called his mother for a positive call that afternoon, she told me he told her about the situation and she respected my position on not giving answers.
In a standard class, I gave graphic organizers to guide the analysis of the Focus Five (plot, character, conflict, setting, and theme). I planned to have students complete this in stations with me rotating around to help the students, but they were incredibly confused over the vocabulary and style in which the text was written. This made analysis of the plot difficult for them. Instead, I redrafted the plan and took the plot component out of the stations. I modeled the expectations by completing one step for the character and setting sections. Students completed that much more successfully, and then we came together as a class to review those parts and work through the plot together. Then, students completed SWBS and Theme Statements individually as homework.

We did not have time to assess the story on Friday, so we will review the story, share our SWBS and Theme Statements, and then move into assessing the reading with an EOC-Style Reading Quiz next week. I designed the quiz using possible EOC-stem multiple choice questions. I will update this entry after giving the test, but I anticipate a much higher level of mastery of plot after this plan for reviewing the elements of plot the students were expected to have mastered in eighth grade. Of course, I will have lessons to recap these skills, but at least I now know where the students stand in these skills. Also, to get a writing diagnosis, I have created a CC writing assignment for the students to complete.

UPDATE UPON COMPLETION: Students did decently with analyzing the plot, setting, conflict, and characters of this text. I think all five key elements are sort of “in your face” with this example. I am interested to see what students know when looking at another text because the data from the testing was not as great as I had hoped. I have come to a few conclusions which will greatly affect my future testing: 1. students do not seem to know simple vocabulary; 2. students do not appear to be able to break down complex test questions. As we move on to the writing assessment, stick with our journey to academic excellence.

Now that I have updated what I did with this one, I will get back to planning for the rest of the story. Any suggestions?

Files/Resources from this entry:
1. MDG Bundle – Now available is the MDG Bundle at This is a huge file, but you can see what I did with it over the course of a week. Plus, the way it is set up, teachers can pick and choose which parts of the packet to use.

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