Friday, October 30, 2015

Happy Halloween!


Assignment Turn-In  Happy Halloween! Let's begin the day by making sure that, if you haven't already you turn in the assignment 'Any Small Goodness' Theme Analysis Paragraph, which is due today. 

100 Word Challenge: Finishing Touches  Before we publish this week's 100 Word Challenge, take another moment to carefully review your writing. Did you skillfully integrate the words "She just wouldn't stop crying" from this week's prompt? Does your story flow naturally from beginning to end? Did you use descriptive words and sensory details? Did you carefully review your spelling, capitalization, punctuation, and grammar? Did you make sure your verb tenses are consistent and that you have employed correct and varied sentence structures? Please make sure your piece of writing is good as it can be.

100 Word Challenge: Publishing Time  The moment has arrived: It's publishing time! Copy your story from your Google Doc and then login to Kidblog. Make a new post. Give your story a fitting title and paste your story in the space provided. Finally, click "Publish".  

If you choose, you may also publish your story at the 100 Word Challenge/Night Zookeeper website.  Login, click on the '100' icon, and then click on the yellow "write" button where it asks if you accept this week's challenge. Title and paste your story. When you are satisfied with the quality of your story, click 'save.' Let me know that you are ready to publish and I will open it up for others to read. 

Congratulations! You have published yet another story. I can't wait to hear about the feedback you receive. 

Commenting on Blog Posts  If time permits, I'm going to encourage you to comment on at least one blog post by another student. Remember your comments should be respectful, specific, and helpful. 

You may comment on stories within Kidblog or the 100 Word Challenge/Night Zookeeper website. Make sure you represent yourself, our class, our school, and our country in a respectful and professional manner. Have fun! 

Sacred Reading Time  For too many of us independent reading time has become a chore that we either dismiss or do reluctantly. I want you to start considering your reading time sacred and special, and something to look forward to. Today I offer you uninterrupted class time to simply read and commune with your books. Some of you will invited to read outside, others in a cozy corner of the room, while most of you will hopefully become enraptured by the words on your pages right at your desks. Enjoy this time! 

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Introducing a New Writing Rubric


Introducing a New Writing Rubric for the 100 Word Challenge  As we continue to improve and refine our writing this year, I thought it important for us to revisit the way we assess our writing. A rubric can be a powerful tool that defines expectations, informs us about how we are doing, and makes clear our areas of strength and areas that we need to improve upon. I have created a 100 Word Challenge Rubric that provides more specific feedback about various areas related to your writing and more clearly defines what "proficiency" is. Today let's examine the rubric together, clarify its components, and practice using it. Note: a copy of the the new rubric has also been placed in your Language Arts Google Classroom.

As you can see, for your writing piece to be considered "Proficient" it needs to meet five clearly defined criteria. Let's briefly review these five criteria, as well as some student samples that showcase them.

1. Demonstrates command of the conventions of the standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling. Does your piece of writing, for the most part, include proper capitalization, punctuation, and spelling? If so, you will receive a point for meeting this criteria. Check out the skillful use of capitalization, punctuation, and spelling in the writing sample below. 



2. Uses correct and varied sentence structures.  To earn a point here, not only most you form proper sentences, for example, by avoiding fragments and run-ons, but you must also vary the types and lengths of your sentences. No one wants to read one short, choppy simple sentence after the other. Skillful writers vary the sentence structures they use, which makes their writing much more interesting and improves the way it flows. Take note of the variety of different sentence structures in the writing selection below. 
3. Uses precise words and phrases, relevant descriptive details, and sensory language. Do you carefully choose descriptive words and phrases and incorporate sensory details that allow your reader to visualize what you are writing about? If you consistently try to paint a picture with your words, you should have no trouble earning a point in this category. Marvel at the exquisite use of precise words, descriptive details, and sensory language in the writing piece featured below.
4. Uses consistent verb tenses and correct verb forms. Not only do we want to make sure we are using the grammatically correct form of a verb, but we also want to make sure we are using a particular verb tense consistently. One of the most common pieces of feedback we receive from our 100 Word Challenge commenters is that we need to be more careful in staying in one particular tense. What are they referring to? Too many of us, for example, float from the past tense to the present tense and back to the past tense, sometimes without rhyme or reason. Our verb tense usage is often inconsistent, which can be jarring for the reader. Notice how the writer below skillfully and consistently writes in the past tense. 
5. Organizes a clear event sequence that unfolds logically and naturally. Even though in the 100 Word Challenge you are limited to a set number of words, you are still generally supposed to be telling a story that has a beginning, a middle, and an end, albeit a short one. Do the sequence of events in your narrative unfold naturally and in a way that makes sense to the reader? Do you sometimes employ transitions and transitional phrases to help move the action along? Do you have a somewhat established beginning, middle, and end? If so, the point for this criteria is yours for the taking. Check out the clear event sequence and storytelling wizardry of the narrative below.  
6. (Optional) Skillfully incorporates dialogue. Looking to take your narrative to the next level? Try incorporating some dialogue. Dialogue can add a level of authenticity and intimacy to your story, while further enabling your readers to immerse themselves into the world you are creating. Even including just a few select quotes from your characters can transform a good story into a great one. Check out how skillfully, but sparingly, the student below included dialogue in their piece of writing.       
Practicing Using the Rubric  Now that you better understand the different components of the new rubric and what represents proficiency, let's practice using it to assess student writing. Below you will find two examples of 100 Word Challenge stories written by two different students (not from our classes). Read each student's story, and then with a partner determine which of the proficiency criteria were met by the student and how many points were earned. Did either earn an extra point for incorporating dialogue? Based on the rubric, would you consider their writing to be Advanced, Proficient, Close to Proficient, Progressing, or Needing Practice?

Story Example #1
Story Example #2
Now try using the rubric to assess your own writing. Review one of your previously published stories or the one you are currently working on. Self-assess your chosen piece using the new rubric. According to the rubric, how did you do? What are your strengths and areas you need to focus on? 

Writing Time  If time permits, you may use the rest of the period to work on this week's 100 Word Challenge: 'She just wouldn't stop crying' story. Please think about the new rubric criteria as you write and make sure you are doing your best to work towards a level of proficiency.

Homework  (1.) Tomorrow is the last day of the school week, which means that there are a couple of assignments that must be completed and 'turned in' or published tomorrow, including: 'Any Small Goodness' Theme Analysis Paragraph and 100 Word Challenge: 'She just wouldn't stop crying'. (2.) Read your A.R. book at home for at least 30 minutes and, if you choose, make a reading log entry using the Digital Reading Log. (Remember you must have made at least two by the end of the day tomorrow.)

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The District Benchmark Assessment


Grammar Warm-Up Video: Pronouns by School House Rock  Since understanding the use of personal pronouns has been a 'priority' learning focus as part of our grammar studies this past quarter, and will probably show up on today's District Benchmark Assessment, I figured you might benefit from a brief reminder of how they work via the video below from School House Rock.


The District Benchmark Assessment  Today you will be taking the online District Benchmark Assessment in an attempt to measure some of what you have learned so far this school year. This is a very important test and I expect you to try your best. Directions on how to log in the Illuminate Student Portal and get started with your test can be found below. 

Step 1: Go to www.pvusd.net. Click on Students, then scroll down to Illuminate Home Portal.   
Step 2: Students must select the Student tab on the Illuminate Home Connection screen.

Step 3: Login protocol.
                     Username: student ID#
                     Password: student birthdate:
                                 Ex.: January 7, 2000 is entered Ja072000
                                 (the first letter only is capped). 


Step 4: Students select Assessments from under the list located under "What Would You Like to See." 

Step 5: Students click on the link for 2015-2016_PVUSD_ELA_Gr 6_Benchmark #1 under "Pending Online Assessment" to select your exam. 

Step 6: Students click Begin Test to start the exam. 



Step 7: You may 'Pause' the test at anytime by clicking the 'pause' button if you need to stop the test and then resume it later. When you are ready to finish the test once and for all, click Review/Finish and review your responses one final time before submitting your exam to be scored. 

Note: If you don't finish the test today, you will have an opportunity to complete it tomorrow.  If you finish early, you may silent read or work on either your 100 Word Challenge: 'She just wouldn't stop crying' story or the 'Any Small Goodness' Theme Analysis Paragraph.

Homework  (1.) Continue working on your 100 Word Challenge: 'She just wouldn't stop crying', which we will publish on Friday, October 30. (2.) Read your A.R. book at home for at least 30 minutes and, if you choose, make a reading log entry using the Digital Reading Log. (Remember you must have made at least two entries by the end of the day Friday.)   

Monday, October 26, 2015

Language Arts Mini-Lessons, 100 Word Challenge, and Library Visit

"Be the change you want to see in the world" - Mahatma Gandhi

Video of the Day  "Remember this thing - any small goodness is of value," said Papi to Arturo in the novel Any Small Goodness. Those were important and powerful words for both Arturo and for all of us. What can you do to add a little kindness and goodness to our school, our community, our world? Check out the video below for a little inspiration.

 
Punctuation: Commas, Dashes, and Parenthesis  How do we use commas, dashes, and parenthesis within our sentences? Watch the video below for a few pointers.


Author's Purpose, Audience, and Formal Language  When we write it is very important to consider who is our audience and what is the purpose of our writing. The audience or purpose will certainly affect the style, tone, and the formality of the language we use. Read the two passages below and decide which uses appropriate style, tone, and formal language considering the specified purpose audience. 


A New 100 Word Challenge  This week's 100 Word Challenge is going to require you to get connected to your understanding of emotions. The prompt is below: 


Who is 'she' and what could have happened to maker her cry? Once you are ready to write locate the document 100 Word Challenge: 'She just wouldn't stop crying' in your Language Arts Google Classroom.

Library Visit  Today we head to the library. Make sure you bring your books to either return or renew and your student ID card if you want to check out books. You may look for new books, read quietly, or take AR tests. Please take advantage of this opportunity and use your library time well. 

Homework (1.) Complete the assignment 100 Word Challenge: 'She just wouldn't stop crying', which is due Friday, October 30. (2.) Read your A.R. book at home for at least 30 minutes and, if you choose, make a reading log entry using the Digital Reading Log. (Remember you must have made at least two entries by the end of the week.)

Friday, October 23, 2015

Publishing, Commenting, and Reading



Video of the Day  Kid President believes the things we say can help make the world more awesome. Here he shares a special list of 20 things we should say more often. What would you add to it?



100 Word Challenge: Finishing Touches  Before we publish this week's 100 Word Challenge, take another moment to carefully review your writing. At the very least, make sure your spelling, capitalization, and punctuation are as good as they can be. My mom, Irene McGinty, who was also used to be a classroom teacher, also has this piece of advice:
100 Word Challenge: Publishing Time  The moment has arrived: It's publishing time! Copy your story from your Google Doc and then login to Kidblog. Make a new post. Give your story a fitting title and paste your story in the space provided. Finally, click "Publish".  

If you choose, you may also publish your story at the 100 Word Challenge/Night Zookeeper website.  Login, click on the '100' icon, and then click on the yellow "write" button where it asks if you accept this week's challenge. Title and paste your story. When you are satisfied with the quality of your story, click 'save.' Let me know that you are ready to publish and I will open it up for others to read. 

Congratulations! You have published yet another story. I can't wait to hear about the feedback you receive.  

Commenting on Blog Posts  If time permits, I'm going to encourage you to comment on at least one blog post by another student. Remember your comments should be respectful, specific, and helpful. 

You may comment on stories within Kidblog or the 100 Word Challenge/Night Zookeeper website. Make sure you represent yourself, our class, our school, and our country in a respectful and professional manner. Have fun!  

Author's Chair  I would like to invite those of you who are interested to read your stories to the class today. You may want to practice a few read-throughs before you read aloud from the front of the room. Please pay attention to intonation (by making sure your tone changes to match what is being read), phrasing (by reading smoothly and using punctuation to tell you when to stop, pause or emphasize), and expression (by using your voice to express the feeling of what is being read).  

It takes a lot of courage to get in front of a group of people. During a reading, the audience should remain attentive and respectful, and afterwards should try to offer positive and constructive feedback. (Some "response stems" for feedback can be found below.) 


Thursday, October 22, 2015

Writing with Transition Words and Analyzing Theme

Can you incorporate some of these transition words into your writing?

Writing: Using Transition Words  As you write your expository paragraphs in which you analyze the theme of Any Small Goodness, you may be struggling to connect the ideas of your paragraph. Transition words can help you bridge your ideas and add a sense of 'flow' to your writing. Watch the video below to learn how. 


A great list of transition words can also be found below and have been placed in your Language Arts Google Classroom. Don't be afraid to try using a few of these in your own writing so your ideas can flow.


Writing a Theme Analysis of Any Small Goodness  Today you will continue to write your theme analysis using the document 'Any Small Goodness' Theme Analysis Paragraph, which you can still find in your Language Arts Google Classroom. Make sure to use your Any Small Goodness - Theme Analysis Pre-Writing, other related Any Small Goodness documents, and of course the Any Small Goodness book itself, to support you in the writing of your paragraph. Remember that this assignment will be due Friday, October 30.

Homework  (1.) Tomorrow is the last day of the school week, which means that there are a couple of assignments that must be completed and 'turned in' or published tomorrow, including: Any Small Goodness - Theme Analysis Pre-Writing and 100 Word Challenge: '... it felt like ...'. (2.) Continue working on your 'Any Small Goodness' Theme Analysis Paragraph, which is due next Friday, October 30. (3.) Read your A.R. book at home for at least 30 minutes and, if you choose, make a reading log entry using the Digital Reading Log. (Remember you must have made at least two by the end of the day tomorrow.) 

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Writing a Theme Analysis of 'Any Small Goodness'


Writing a Theme Analysis of Any Small Goodness  We have finished the novel, chosen a theme statement, and gathered evidence that supports our selected theme. Now it's time to write a paragraph in which we analyze theme. 

Here are a few guidelines for the paragraph: 

You will write your theme analysis using the document 'Any Small Goodness' Theme Analysis Paragraph, which you can find in your Language Arts Google Classroom. Make sure to use your Any Small Goodness - Theme Analysis Pre-Writing, other related Any Small Goodness documents, and of course the Any Small Goodness book itself, to support you in the writing of your paragraph. This assignment will be due Friday, October 30

Homework (1.) Continue working on your 'Any Small Goodness' Theme Analysis Paragraph. (2.) Continue working on your 100 Word Challenge: '... it felt like ...' story, which we will publish on Friday, October 23. (3.) Read your A.R. book at home for at least 30 minutes and, if you choose, make a reading log entry using the Digital Reading Log. (Remember you must have made at least two entries by the end of the week.)

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Analyzing Theme in 'Any Small Goodness'

Today you will analyze the theme of Any Small Goodness.







Analyzing Theme in Any Small Goodness  We may have finished reading the novel Any Small Goodness, but our work with the text is not yet done. Today we will begin analyzing the theme of the novel, which will prepare us to write a final paragraph in which we identify its theme and provide evidence and analysis to support our understanding. 

As you know the theme of a story is its big idea. It’s a message, lesson, or universal truth that goes beyond the literal events of the story. In other words, it’s an idea that applies to people in general—not just the characters in the story. An author doesn’t usually come right out and tell you what the theme is; as a reader, you need to infer it. A story can have more than one theme.

Last week we brainstormed together some possible themes for Any Small Goodness. I have consolidated the best of those ideas into a menu of themes that you will be able to choose from. Your first task is to examine the list of potential themes for Any Small Goodness below and select the one that you would like to write about. 

Once you have identified your chosen theme, you will begin to find and analyze evidence from the text that provides support for that theme. Specifically, I would like you to identify one character from the beginning, the middle, and the end of the novel, who through their actions and/or words best reveals your selected theme. Next, I want you to go deeper and explain why the evidence you found is important to understanding the theme. 

Today you will use the document Any Small Goodness - Theme Analysis Pre-Writing, which can be found in your Language Arts Google Classroom to organize your evidence and analysis. Over the next several days, you will use this pre-writing work to craft an organized paragraph in which you formally analyze one of the themes of Any Small Goodness

Homework (1.) Continue working on your Any Small Goodness - Theme Analysis Pre-Writing. (2.) Continue working on your 100 Word Challenge: '... it felt like ...' story, which we will publish on Friday, October 23. (3.) Read your A.R. book at home for at least 30 minutes and, if you choose, make a reading log entry using the Digital Reading Log. (Remember you must have made at least two entries by the end of the week.)

Monday, October 19, 2015

A New 100 Word Challenge

This Week's Prompt: ... it felt like ...


A New 100 Word Challenge  This week's 100 Word Challenge is going to require you to get connected to your sense of touch. The prompt is below  


What exactly are you touching or feeling? What does it feel like? Are you literally touching something or experiencing a feeling? How will this moment, this sensation, fit in the whole of your narrative? 

To help some of you get started I'm providing you with lists below of touching and feeling words that may help you describe and your reader picture what is being felt? 

















You can find the assignment 100 Word Challenge: '... it felt like ...' in your Language Arts Google Classroom. We will publish our stories on Friday, October 23. On Friday, you will publish to your Kidblog and will also have the choice of publishing to the Night Zookeeper/100 Word Challenge website. 

Sacred Reading Time  Today, if time and Ms. Wise permits, I offer you uninterrupted class time to simply read and commune with your books at your desks. Enjoy this time! 

Homework (1.) Complete the assignment 100 Word Challenge: '... it felt like ...', which is due Friday, October 23. (2.) Read your A.R. book at home for at least 30 minutes and, if you choose, make a reading log entry using the Digital Reading Log. (Remember you must have made at least two entries by the end of the week.)

Friday, October 16, 2015

A New Day, A New Quarter



















Second Quarter Begins Today  Today is the start of a new day and a new quarter! It's also an opportunity for fresh start. Let's make this our best quarter of middle school yet! Good luck!

Where in the World Is Mr. McGinty?  I'm sorry I couldn't be with you today. I'm currently traveling with my family to Washington state to attend the memorial service of my beloved grandmother Mildred who recently passed away. I plan on returning to the classroom on Tuesday. In the meantime, you are in the very capable hands of my friend and colleague Ms. Wise. Please treat her with the respect she deserves. I look forward to hearing a great report upon my return. 

With my grandmother and my sister.

Turn-In Assignment Friday  It's Friday and that means it's time to turn in our assignments from the past week. In addition to completing at least two Digital Reading Log entries, you should have also finished and 'turned in' the following: Any Small Goodness - The Band (Ch. 6), Any Small Goodness - The Lunch Box (Ch. 7), Any Small Goodness - The Green Needle Gang (Ch. 8), and Any Small Goodness - Christmas Presents (Ch. 9). Please make sure if you completed these assignments you turn them in through Google Classroom, so you can receive credit.   

Grammar Practice: Pronouns  Let's learn about pronouns today. Please begin by logging into BrainPOP. First, within your Google Drive click on the 'Google Apps' link. Click on 'More' and then locate and click on the 'BrainPOP' icon.







Search for "Personal Pronouns" and find and click the appropriate link. Watch the video carefully.


Following the BrainPop video click on the link to "Play a Related Game." Select the "Princess and the Turtle" and practice fixing misused pronouns. 

Next, continue to practice using pronouns by clicking on the link for Grammar Blast, where you get to play another game that puts your understanding of pronouns to the test.  

Sacred Reading Time  Today, if time and Ms. Wise permits, I offer you uninterrupted class time to simply read and commune with your books at your desks. Enjoy this time!