Friday, October 18, 2013
Language Arts...Fitting It All In!
Mr. Hughes here of Created by MrHughes. I love my monthly slot here on ATUE! It is fun to share with you and learn from you. Today, I am going to address how I attempt to fulfill all the language arts requirements that are put on 4th, 5th, and 6th grade students.
Each year I get the opportunity to work with at least 60 students and open their eyes to the wonderful world of grammar, spelling, punctuation, and all the goodies that go with it. I LOVE teaching this subject. The students enjoy writing (well...okay, not at first, but by the end of the first week they are begging to share!) and learning.
So, if I could just let them write all day, I would totally have it made. But, dang it, I have to fit in that study of pronouns somewhere... or wait, what about correct tense verbs, or... oh yeah, expository formatting! I thought I was a total ninja at teaching this "stuff" and had no fear of my students testing. Yeah... THAT didn't pan out.
I knew when I saw my students test scores last year that something had to change, that I couldn't keep teaching the way I was teaching. I truly had felt that my kiddos were going to rock the test. After all, we had studied, written, studied, practiced, and more. But, then I saw the format for last year's test and realized, that while my kiddos KNEW A LOT ABOUT WRITING AND THE NEEDED SKILLS TO BE GOOD WRITER'S, I had failed them in the test application department. You know, the super nitty-gritty items. (We never get to see the test unless we peer over our students shoulders and try to see what is on them!)
This really bothered me. I pondered and thought, sketched, and stressed. What came about the realization that I needed to focus on 8 key components each day AND do my regular writing. I set to work and ended up with my Language Arts Daily Dose. I am only making a 6th grade set right now. (Side note: Even though they say 6th grade, they are perfect for 5th and 7th grades as well!) Even though they are crazy to make, I am seeing growth in my students! They are remembering more of the basics and what they mean- such as adverbs and test taking tips.
The eight key components that I work on Monday-Thursday with my 6th graders are:
2- Punctuation/ Sentence Correction
3- Literary Terms
4- Quick Write
5- Cursive Reading and Writing
6- Parts of Speech
7- Testing Tip
8- Media Awareness/ Reference Materials Use
Fab Vocab: One new word per day. (These words cover Reading, Science, Math, and Affixes. This cross curricular connection makes this an even more valuable resource.)
Here is an example page:
On Friday, I work on reviewing the skills of webbing, reading for meaning, supporting answers with text, and/or rough drafting.
It has been eyeopening to see how little my students know about media use and vocabulary words I would have guessed they had mastered! I am thrilled at how well they can talk about how to tell if a website is trust-worthy and about print and digital resources that are available to them.
I won't lie and say these only take 10 minutes. These take up to 15-20 minutes for the students to complete and then another 10 or so minutes to correct. Because I was running out of time each day, I switched how I was using them.
Now, I correct the previous day and assign the current day. So I correct Monday's on Tuesday and then assign Tuesday which we will correct on Wednesday. I let them work for 10 minutes in class on the current day. This lets them ask questions on problems that are confusing, etc. Then, what is not done, is assigned as homework. This has cut the time needed from 35-40 minutes to 15-20 minutes, and I can totally "sacrifice" 15 minutes to cover so many topics with my students.
So, now I don't worry as much about if I am getting it all in. I still teach grammar mini-lessons to really go indepth on some topics or to cover a topic that didn't seem to be as well received on the Daily Dose pages. I also have the pages in a spiral review so that they can't just learn it for the day and forget it.
So... what about YOU? How do YOU fit in all your language arts topics?
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