23 June 2016

Starting With the Basics!

I haven't been out of school a week yet, but I'm already thinking of the first week back!  (Do teachers EVER really take a break from planning??)

I'm not certain yet, but it looks like I'll be teaching 8th and 6th grade this year.  I've taught both in the past, so I know what to expect.  Here's what I expect week one: a BIG need to review the basics!

As soon as I've spent a few days going over classroom procedures and getting-to-know-you activities like this ELA Interest Inventory Interview, it will be time to get down to the nitty-gritty basics of ELA.  What I've experienced in the past few years is that students "forget" the most basic of concepts over the summer...or they just say "we never learned that!".  So before I dive into the current grade-level curriculum, I find it super important to spend a few days to a week reviewing the things they should already have mastered.

The first thing I review with my kids is the eight parts of speech.  Even though I KNOW they learn this stuff in elementary school, they seem to come to me with no idea of what nouns and verbs are! So, last year, I developed a product that helped me immensely with such review: a Parts of Speech Mentor Sentences and Proof of Mastery Set.  This is a quick way to review all eight parts of speech, and gives kids a chance to "show what they know". I like to create a packet of all the pages, then glue the entire packet into an Interactive Student Notebook.  (I LOVE using ISNs in my class...it becomes my students #1 resource throughout the year!  If you haven't tried using ISNs DO IT!  Erin at Lovin Lit has some great tutorials!) Here's what a sample sheet looks like:
Here's one with the answers (included in the product)

Here's how I use these sheets to review:
1. I copy all the pages and make a packet with a staple in the top left corner.  (Don't copy back-to-back unless you don't plan to collect the bottom half of the page!)
2. I spend about 10 minutes reviewing one part of speech (I may show a video...I love the Shmoop! series on You Tube or a classic Schoolhouse Rock.  Sometimes, it's just a quick discussion/notetaking lesson)
3. After the mini-lesson, I do the top part of the page WITH my students, preferably on a projector.
4. Now it is the students' turn to show mastery of the part of speech by writing a sentence on the bottom half using the part of the speech of the day.  (I like to have the kids color code what I'm looking for to make for easy grading)
5. Students cut off the bottom portion and turn in for a quick 5 point grade.  

This makes for a super easy review AND a super easy formative assessment for me to see what my kids know, and what gaps they may have.

Click here for a FREE sample of this product. You can try out the pages that review nouns for free!  The entire set looks like this: 
Click the picture to go to my store!
Over the next few weeks, I'll share with you some of the other ways I review with my students at the beginning of the year.  I really believe that (at least) a week of review is necessary to make sure all kids are starting off from a solid foundation.  So much of ELA, especially grammar, builds upon previous knowledge!  You may think you need to dive right into your curriculum, but you will save time later if your students are secure in their basic skills right from the start!

This blog post is linked up with other great ideas based on teacher experiences!  Click the picture below to read more from other fantastic teachers!

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