Sunday, July 25, 2010

First Day, First Unit

I usually begin with a unit on poetry & short stories so that the lessons can be "one-shots." That way students who transfer in don't find the lesson we're on completely confusing in addition to needing to get caught up with the lessons they missed.

The very first day begins with a quickwrite on the board: Is it important for you to graduate? Why or why not? As they respond on notebook paper, I pass out a copy of the state standards (re-worded in human-friendly language) and the behavioral expectations. Both of these have blanks throughout them. We will start every day with time to write.

After ten or fifteen minutes have passed, or when I see that 2/3 to 3/4 of the class is looking over the syllabus rather than writing, I let them know that I'm going to read to them a bit. If they're still writing, they're welcome to continue, but if they're done, their pencils should be down and they should be watching as well as listening. I plan to start with the first chapter of Bloody Jack. It's an awesome story, and it's soooo much fun to play with the accents! I plan to use this as a transition every day; I'll flip-flop between reading from novels and reading a poem (on day 2 it'll be "Introduction to Poetry").

We then watch a PowerPoint that gives some of the rationale for the course and lists the standards and expectations so that they can fill in the blanks. They will have an open-notes quiz on it on day 2.

Finally, I have a list of fifteen or so literary terms. I'll have them number on notebook paper and write down what they know about each one, whether it's "no idea" or definitions or examples or guesses or just something they made up (as long as it's 'school-appropriate' and all).

Their homework will be to bring a composition book and ten sheets of notebook paper.

I also really like these ideas from the EC Ning.

Unit plan behind the cut.

The idea behind first unit is "little bits of challenging." I use "Jabberwocky" to study how we can make meaning out of nonsense by examining word-parts, context, and syntax. And also to reinforce phonics; we look at the words and think of words we know that are spelled similarly. Is "tove" pronounced to rhyme with "stove" or "dove"? What about the "g" on "brillig"? Is it soft or hard?

I use limericks to study meter in particular because they're (as far as I know) unique in their pattern - it depends only upon the accented beats. When we look at a group of limericks and we can "hear" the similarity in the meter but we know that they have different numbers of syllables per line, it really helps clarify the difference between accented and unaccented syllables.

A few days in I have them up in front of the class - solo! - with what I call the "index card speech." They answer a few 'about-me' questions on an index card, and all they have to do is read it out loud to the class. It is graded; I tell them I'm looking for eye contract, clarity, and appropriate volume. I do one as well and read mine first to model good and poor examples of each. Once everyone has gone, anyone who wants to try again can have a second go.

We're in the library picking out books for choice reading by the third day of class. After that point we'll end every class period with self-selected reading.

Image thanks to


Mardie said...

I am definitely stealing the 'index card speech' idea. What a great way to get students to warm up to oral presentation! It's soooo nonthreatening.

Clix said...

Thank you! I have a bunch of your posts about your workshopping bookmarked & plan to steal lots of ideas from you too. I am SO excited about the upcoming year!

Rachel said...

I love all of these ideas! Also brilliant to have whole lessons from day to day, with all the flux of the new year (although I sometimes got new kids after a week! But, c'est la vie, right?) I also like that it's "easy" start-up stuff but not fluff. It's relevant and a great way to warm them up for your class in general. I'm assuming these are 90 minute periods?

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