Week 2: What REALLY Happened

Between absences, delayed schedules, extended pacing, and surprise assemblies, class plans seem to always go astray.  So, here’s the way Week 2 really worked:

Monday went on as planned. Multiple choice Monday appears to be a great idea.  I used questions 15-24 on the 2007 released practice test.  I gave the students 15 minutes, but I secretly paused the timer to give 20 minutes.  Each question was worth 5 points, and they had the option of selecting only one answer for a shot at the full 5 or giving two answers for a shot at 3 points.  Students then were to reflect on how they decided to answer the questions and what scores they gained.  This strategy worked well because students do not lose points for incorrect answers, and narrowing it to two means they have tried and increased their odds.  They were told to use the “Letter of the Day” strategy for the final two minutes, but I noticed students didn’t do that.  Next week we are going to readdress “Letter of the Day” and focus on doing a preview of the questions to help provide a purpose for reading and annotating the passage.


Tuesday went decently well.  We used BAT the prompt, and students seemed to understand that if I’m scoring it and I am telling you to do this, then maybe you should do what I suggest.  Thesis statements and identifying the correct response or even what to write about was a struggle, and I’m going to need to focus on that moving forward.


Wednesday it went astray. Big time. If you don’t know your subject and verb, a sentence pattern is nearly impossible to get.  I ended up having to complete an impromptu lesson on subjects and verbs, scaling back to focus only on the base of pattern 1.  This took much more time than anticipated, and when student frustration ran high, I swapped to a very short focus on diction  in Lincoln’s address.  Analysis of diction went over much better than sentence patterns. First, students read and annotated for understanding. Next, they were to look over their notes and identify words or groups of words that stood out.  From here, they identified the words/phrases as positive, negative, or neutral.  Finally, they have to identify the overall perspective based on the diction they identified.


Thursday during tutorials, I had students take a quiz to match the figurative language term to the examples. I knew they had not studied the vocabulary from last week, so I prepared task cards giving the definition of the term in a complex manner.  This will appear in the TPT store as a growing bundle soon. Hopefully this weekend, but I have two kids and my (eegads!) Christmas stuff MUST come down now.


During class, I decided to bring sentence patterns back.  I wanted to do it through some other skill we needed to work on, so I scrapped my plans and did something completely different.  Thursday because the less-than-alliterative Visual Rhetoric Sentence Pattern Practice.  I found a few cartoons and had students apply guided questions to analyze them.  The answers were written, and then a final response had to be written to one of the four sentence patterns.  We repeated this with a total of five, one for a model and then a we do before independent practice.  Students were told to mark the subject and verb, including vertical bars between the sentence parts.  Mastery was much higher this time around, and I created a plan for tomorrow to make sure they have it.  For the last bit of class, we revisited Lincoln’s speech and identified and justified overall tone from looking at the diction that was chosen. This created a perfect opportunity to look at a shift in the passage and how that might affect the audience.


For Friday, I noticed I didn’t update the objective on the weekly plan, but that was okay because our day went astray again.  It was one of those days where something happened and the students were really struggling, so I had to scale back and revise. For pattern practice, I gave the students five sentences and instructed them to mark the sentence parts and then identify the pattern.  Once they did this, they were to create their own sentence of the given pattern.  This worked very well, and mastery of the creation was much higher than before. In reviewing student work, however, this is because they used the same sentence and changed names or simple details. In my mind, this is cheating, but I didn’t give any kind of direction that they could not do this.  Who knew that would be the result?  Next we moved into a discussion of an article they will be using for a guest lecture next week.  The students were to read and annotate the article.  Next, they got with a partner to discuss the article. For homework, they were to create the Toulmin Model of the text, identify specific examples of diction and overall tone, and then respond to, “Is this right?”


Not sticking to the intended plan was rather unavoidable this week, but I hope next week will be better. It is a short week as a result of the holiday, they will have the diagnostic placement testing for the semester, and we have the guest professor lecture of an overview of ethics.  This should give me time to post some of my resources on TPT.


Any suggestions to help me push students toward a higher level of academic achievement? I welcome your feedback.

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