Monday, July 22, 2013

My Epic Nonfiction Project

One of my goals this summer was to completely align my lessons and activities with the Common Core Standards. It's been quite an undertaking, and I don't think I'll get everything done I wanted to.

As part of that, I made the orgnizational tool I posted about earlier.

I've been busy adding in lessons and activities and slowly but surely becoming overwhelmed with the amount of standards I'm going to have to be responsible for this year.

As a result, I'm going to try to get my teammates on board helping with some of the nonfiction instruction. That was certainly the intent when the standards were written, but I think in practice - it's not quite happening yet.

To make this a little less scary (and work) for them, I'm making template like worksheets that can be used with almost any nonfiction article. My hope is that they'll actually use them, and the students will get exposure to the nonfiction standards outside of my language arts classroom.

My goal is to have something for each of the standards, but I'm not realizing that that is going to take quite some time to produce. I was going to create a bundle, but I'm just going to release them one standard at a time.

So, here's the sheet for CC RI 8.1.

My idea with this lesson is that you would come up with two or three articles about the same topic. The articles would need to present different viewpoints or just contain different facts. You could easily modify this by using one article or make the articles longer or more difficult.

So, as an example - I went to to look for a current event. Just for fun, I selected the one about the giant tuna that capsized a boat.

I then went to my friend Google and entered "nonfiction article about tuna".

I found this article from Scholastic Scope magazine. The article is really about dolphins, but does contain a section about tuna. Something like this would be good to show how to decide what information is really important to your argument.

I also found this article from Discovery News  about over-fishing of tuna.

If I were doing this activity in my class, I would also use one of the databases my library has access to like EBSCO or NetTrekker to find another article. I would probably look for something to present the other side of the dolphin story, rather than focus on tuna.

There is a short interview at the end of the article with the marine park association. I would look for a longer article to present the benefits of the dolphin interactive programs.

I would then pose a question like "Using information presented in the articles for support, do you think interactive dolphin programs are a good idea?" or "Using information presented for support, would you participate in an interactive dolphin program?" It's important to make sure that there is adequate information to support either side of the argument before you ask the question.

Students can then be guided through the activity using the Text Support worksheet.

After they come up with three examples of textual evidence and explain them, I would probably create a mini-debate situation. I would have students pair up with someone who is on the same side of the argument as then. I would put those pairs with pairs from the other side. They would then take turns reading their text examples and explanations.

After everyone has shared, I would have the pairs go back to find a fourth piece of evidence to counter one of the arguments presented by the other side. Their explanation should have a direct reference to how this counters the argument.

At the conclusion of this activity, students would have met the standard for sure, as well as several others in the reading and speaking/listening standards.

I'm looking forward to using this activity this year! Or at least helping my teammates make use of it!

If you'd like to purchase the text support worksheet - please check out my Teachers Pay Teachers store.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

8th Grade ELA Common Core Planning

So, one of my major undertakings this summer has been to prepare myself to teach the Common Core standards. I don't want to completely re-invent the wheel, but I also want to make sure that I'm teaching everything I'm supposed to.

As a result, I've created this planning document!

One of my goals for the upcoming year is to post a stated objective using the "I can" format given by the Common Core. So, what I've done here is pretty simple (but was sort of time consuming to set up).

I just listed out each 'I Can' statement with space underneath to list out what lessons and activities I plan to use to meet each area. I hoping that I can create a balanced curriculum devoting as even as time as possible across the standards.

I just want to make sure that I teach everything at least once!

Check out the document at my TpT store!


After about a year and ten different blog names, I think I've finally settled on Pensive Chatter! In this blog I'm just planning to share whatever moves me at that moment. I think it'll be heavily focused on education ideas geared towards 8th grade language arts and plant-based recipes and thoughts. We'll see where this goes!