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Adventures of 6th

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Posted 12-30-2010 at 01:48 PM by imalith

Before our break my students were working on identifying and understanding cause and effect elements in their reading. They really struggled with events. Then I realized that I had not yet taught summary. Normally, I teach summary at the beginning of the year as a seperate unit, but this year I intentionally planned to teach it later. Now I realize my mistake.

So, I busted out my summary folder and after looking at our new statewide assessment examples, I knew I had to make some major revisions to my assessments. My original rubric and instruction really centered on the topic sentence and writing short answer responses only. Our statewide assessment tests the kids on this skill in two ways.

The assessment example shows a graphic organizer that may show the topic sentence in a box with 3 smaller boxes below for the events. The model shown indicated that one of the boxes for detail may be blank and the kids fill it in. I need to create some of these organizers with a variety of boxes left incomplete. Sometimes the first event, sometimes, middle and maybe leaving out the topic sentence.

The second way this skill may be tested is by having kids write a summary of a passage. This counts as a 2 point short answer response. The anchor papers show that no topic sentence is required, but three events must be main events and contain keywords from the text. Since the topic sentence is not part of the assessment, I'm going to have them start with the events and focus on having strong transitions to make the writing clear.

After I've completed summary for literary passages, I'm going to start with nonfiction. This will tie in well with our research report writing that is coming up in about a month. I really noticed that my students this year are really struggling with notetaking. This indicates to me that they may be struggling with comprehending and breaking apart information. I would suspect that summary will benefit in this area.

I tweaked my instructional sequence to include the graphic organizer. So my plan is:

1. Define summary.
2. Show the students the expectations, including the rubric.
3. Teach how to find the main idea and write a topic sentence.
3. Start with the graphic organizer. Use a variety of ways to assess with different parts that are blank. (woo-hoo, this will be easy to grade). I need to focus on using keywords in their events and making sure they find main events, not some random part of the story.
4. Use the graphic organizers to write short answer responses.
5. Have students independently write complete short answer summaries.

On another note, I've been reading student papers about their most memorable grade. It was a good prompt that really motivated kids to write. As varied as my students are, their essays reflected that, too. The focus of the assignment was layered detail. Some were wonderful, but I noticed two problems. First, as always, many are still listing details rather than layering their details. Reteach! I'll print off examples and show them again the difference between a layered detail and a list.

The other problem was anecdotes that got off track. Memorable grade, reason: met best friend in that grade, then the anecdote turned into a story about something that happened at home, but not school. Just a little out of focus. Sigh! I did not address that prior to the assignment. Reteach! I'll do the same reteach by showing examples of staying on track vs. going a little away from the topic.
Posted in Teaching Related , Reading , Writing
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