8th Grade Reading/Language Arts

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Activities, strategies, lessons, and planning pertaining to my eighth grade Reading/Language Arts classes.

The Goodbye Is The Hardest Part - Yesterday marked the first full week without my middle schoolers. It's crazy how you get so attached to the little guys in such a short time. 🙂 😦
“Tongues,” Latina Culture, and A Beautiful Connection Between Writers - A beautiful story of how meeting a young and talented Latina writer at an undergraduate writing conference connected to my classroom, my House on Mango Street teaching unit, and my eighth graders at Forest City Middle School.
House on Mango Street Final Vignette-Writing Project - This is my last week in the middle school, which is extremely bittersweet. To finish things out with my eighth graders, I created a final project--vignette-writing!
Esperanza Character Chart - Esperanza, the main character of House on Mango Street is a dynamic character that undergoes much change from the first vignette to the last. She is the main figure in the coming of age story, and it's essential that students understand who she is and how she changes through the course of the story.
You Are the Teacher for the Day - I love switching up the way I teach lessons. Last night, I had this great idea of changing how I teach the vignettes in House on Mango Street. What if I made my students and I switch roles? What if they were the teachers for the day? What would they teach me about the given vignettes?
Themes in House on Mango Street - Themes are so important in House on Mango Street. From identity, home, and family to growing up, friendship, and culture, the book is filled with themes and it's essential that students understand them. Thus I created a notes sheet and lesson designed to help students grasp the main ideas of each vignette.
A Complete 6-Week Unit for House on Mango Street - Am I joking? No. This is not a joke! Here is a 6-week plan for House on Mango Street that you can easily view and download here: Complete 6 Week House on Mango Street Unit.
Theme of Growing Up – Notes - One of the major themes in House on Mango Street is growing up. As Esperanza grows up, she starts to realize things about herself and the adult world--hence why this is called a 'coming of age' novel!
Dear Sixth Grade Self - As my eighth graders discussed the theme of growing up in the novel House on Mango Street, I had them connect the idea to their own lives---How had they grown up? Especially in the transition from sixth to eighth grade?
Figurative Language Challenge - What's better to middle and high school students than a game/competition/individual challenge? (The answer is nothing). That's why I wanted to create an extension activity and figurative language activity that would engage my eighth graders and let them have a little fun.
“Us & Them” Comic - Students need a break from the same-ole-same-ole. That's why I wanted to create a comic activity to spice things up! My students were reading "Those Who Don't," one of the shortest vignettes in House on Mango Street.
“Darius & the Clouds” Activity - My students finish assessments at different points--this is a given--but it makes it essential to create extension activities and keep them busy and focused on the classroom curriculum.
I Am ___. - I'm excited for today's activity! For the past two weeks I've worked with my eighth grade students on understanding figurative language. They did Notes, the My Figurative Language Family assignment for practice, and now this will be their actual assessment--but a fun one!
Role of Women - The role of women is a huge theme in House on Mango Street, even in the early vignettes. Today's lesson focused on "Marin" and "Alicia Who Is Afraid of Mice" and my eighth graders compared/contrasted the two girls and related their stories to the already existing theme of the degradation of Mexican women.
“Louie, His Cousin and His Other Cousin” – Report Writing - Today my eighth graders read "Louie, His Cousin, and His Other Cousin." In this vignette, we're introduced to a family of cousins that live on Esperanza's block (one of which is Marin, the oldest, who we will talk about tomorrow!) and one of them is the unnamed cousin who one day shows up with a brand new, shiny, yellow car.
My Grading Process - Standards-Based Grading can be crazy, but it's something been completely thrown into and have to accept 🙂 It's not so bad on the teacher end once you get started with it. It's just very individualized. And can be quite a lot of work.
What Does Friendship Mean to Me? - Today I had my eighth graders focus on the idea of friendship--What is friendship? What does friendship mean to us? What defines a solid friendship?--I had my students write their ideas all over the white board in a silent-discussion format and then we talked through them.
“My Name/My Family Crest” - How can I connect students and their home lives to House on Mango Street? The answer is a family crest, giving students the opportunity to learn more about their unique cultures and connecting their lives to the life of the main character, Esperanza.
My Figurative Language Family - To go along with teaching my students about figurative language with their Types of Figurative Language Notes, I had them relate what they learned to their own lives and work on generating original examples!
Teaching Figurative Language! - Figurative language is so complicated, yet so much fun! I created this AMAZING (okay, I might be bragging just a little, but I'm super excited!) resource to teach students. It is a scaffolded set of notes that include examples, pictures, and even song clips for learning figurative language in more ways than one!
A House, A Home - After reading "House on Mango Street," the first section in the book, this is a great way to help students visualize the Mango Street house and compare/contrast it to their own.
Perseverance Unit Reflection - A powerful skill for students to be able to master, especially by eighth grade, is the ability to reflect and synthesize information. As students finished out their units on perseverance (Hunger Games for my section) my co-teachers and I wanted to create a final reflection to see how they connected their novels, people they researched, and collaborative discussions.
Boys vs. Girls - I wanted to do something fun with my eighth graders today--a discussion/debate between girls and guys--that related to House on Mango Street.
What the Heck is a Vignette? - To introduce my students to House on Mango Street, I knew I had to teach them about the book's format: vignettes.
Intro to House on Mango Street – WebQuest - As my eighth graders were finishing up their collaborative discussions on people who have persevered, I wanted to transition into the next unit--House on Mango Street--so I created a WebQuest that they could work on when they weren't discussing with their groups! A great time-saver and way to have them learn independently and still be productive towards finishing their previous unit.
CRAP Test - My eighth graders are working on a perseverance project to tie into Hunger Games. To connect main character Katniss' life with other lives, the students are researching a person in their field of interest and finding evidence as to how that individual persevered through difficult times and challenges. To do this, they need to use the internet---thus the CRAP Test--finding reliable sources.
Pre-Planning House on Mango Street - Next week I will completely take over the eighth grade classes and teach House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros. Since I will become, in my cooperating teacher's place, one of the two eighth grade English/Reading teachers, I needed to plan and collaborate ahead of time to prepare for teaching the book.
Assessing Character Symbols - Okay, Marisa. You can do this. I coach myself as I begin my first Standards-Based Grading. Just be honest. Be consistent. And be smart. 
Integrating Hunger Games Movie Clips - My eighth graders finished the Hunger Games today. Boy, did I forget how heart-wrenching the ending of the first book was! In addition to the Character Symbol activity I had them working on, I also wanted to integrate the movie in some way, so I used YouTube clips and a discussion post on Google Classroom to enhance and deepen student understanding of the end of the book.
Character Symbols - Today I am completely taking over the 8th grade classes! They are almost finished reading the Hunger Games and since the standard that we are assessing is the ability to cite textual evidence and make an inference, I created a Character Symbols worksheet to help them work on inferences in a different (and hopefully fun) way!
Hunger Games – Scaffolded Notes - I stepped into this placement at Forest City Middle School while my eighth grade students were in the middle/end of reading Hunger Games. This was a difficult spot to enter, but I squeezed myself into the lessons by reading aloud to the students and helping with scaffolded notes.