My Favorite Anticipatory Activity for Literature

Happy Tuesday!

I was going to post this yesterday, but Monday marked the first day back to work after Spring Break, and I was more than exhausted.  I’ve been having trouble sleeping lately; my usual sleep schedule is one of “The Early Bird Gets the Worm,” but lately I haven’t been able to calm my brain down enough to allow for slumber to take over.  Hopefully tonight will be better.

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Despite being sleep-deprived, Monday also marked the day in which I introduced George Orwell’s 1984 and Oscar Wilde’s “The Importance of Being Earnest” to English IV and Pre AP English, respectively.  With a double-lit-introduction, it allowed me to utilize my favorite anticipatory activity with two classes.  I love this activity for many reasons:

1.  It allows students to voice their opinions in a non-threatening/aggressive format.

2.  It involves both interpersonal, verbal-linguistic, and bodily-kinesthetic learning styles.

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3.  It’s a controlled activity that allows students to get up and be out of their seats.

4.  They get to consider topics from several different points of view.

5.  They feel safe changing their mind and consider the factors that lead them to their decisions.

6.  It’s student-centric.

Steps to Lesson:

Teacher Prep:

1.  Before the lesson begins, the teacher will identify the key themes that they will have the class focus on for the unit.  If you’re a novice teacher, there are TONS of websites that provide the themes for you.  My favorites are SparkNotes and Shmoop.

In addition to themes, other key topics can be identified, such as expected behavior based on sex or age, choices characters make, philosophies held by characters, etc.

2.  Once themes and topics have been identified, an opinion-based statement that students will be able to respond to.  For example:

Theme: the dangers of totalitarianism

Opinion-based statement: The national government always acts on behalf of its citizens’ best interests.

Theme: Technology

Opinion-based statement: Without technology, the world would be a better place to live.

Ideally, 6-10 statements are ideal for this activity.

3.  Designate two opposing sections of the classroom, one for AGREE and one for DISAGREE.  It is up to the teacher’s discretion if they want a third, neutral location.  I tend to avoid this because it allows for some students to become disengaged, not truly acknowledging both sides of the argument, or physically becoming stagnant.

iStock_illustrated people with arrows in opposite direction

In-Class:

1.  Introduce the idea of the activity by informing the students of the purpose: to both identify the themes within the upcoming text, but to also discuss the various views of the themes within a safe environment.  It’s vital that the expectations are clearly identified to allow for an active discussion: respect for others’ opinions, not speaking over one another, and allowing for the opportunity to change your mind.

2.  Clearly identify and explain the steps of the process:  for each revealed statement, students will consider their initial opinions and then move to the “AGREE” or “DISAGREE” side of the room.  Opportunities to share opinions will be allowed for each, as well as the freedom and acceptance to change your opinion once you have “case your vote.”

3.  Reveal the first statement and once students have settled, allow for students to share their views.

4.  Continue until all statements have been revealed and discussed.

Post Activity:

There are multiple ways in which students can respond to this activity.  You can use this as an exit slip as well as a closing activity.  Students will respond to a question/questions in written form.  I highly recommend a written response so that the room is quiet, focused, and conducive for reflection.  Some suggested questions can be:

1.  Which topic did you feel the strongest response to and why?

2.  Which topic did you feel the most ambiguity and why?

3.   Which topic did you change your opinion about after you voted?  What influenced your decision?

4.  Which topic did you find to be the most divisive? Were you surprised, why or why not?

5.  Which topic were you surprised that most people agreed with and why?

6.  Which topic were you surprised that most peopled disagreed with and why?

Let me know if you utilize this style of anticipatory activity in your classroom and any alternatives you use!

Interactive Student Notebooks

Happy Saturday!

It’s been awhile since I have posted, and that’s nothing new to most of the readers of this blog.  I’ve learned to stop apologizing for taking much-needed breaks.  We are all human and need self-care.  The holidays are over, life has returned to “normal” and I’m ready to return to Within the Numbered Pages.

What’s New?

  • It’s 2015 and I’m keeping up on my goals of taking care of myself, listening to my body, and being more present.  I’ve also been writing in my gratitude journal on a daily basis, which I think has motivated me to stick with my 2015 goals.  I’ve gotten past the traditional family, friends, shelter, and health topics and learned to appreciate the smaller gifts.
  • I’m staying crafty and enjoying my time in my little haven.

Craft Room

In my professional life, I have become interested in learning more about Interactive Student Notebooks (ISN) and how they can support my students and their learning.

What is an Interactive Student Notebook?

The purpose of the interactive notebook is to enable students to be creative, independent thinkers and writers. Interactive notebooks are used for class notes as well as for other activities where the student will be asked to express his/her own ideas and process the information presented in class.  (interactive-notebooks)

Everybody is a Genius is another great resource for establishing an ISN.

What drew my attention to the ISN system were pins on my Pinterest dashboard that featured lessons or inserts that had been used in other content areas.  I know how important the role of connection to and hands-on interaction with manipulatives and content is to student learning, and what a clever, manageable method ISNs can be!

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Interactive Notebooks – English

Why use an ISN?

Interactive Student Notebooks is a research-based learning strategy that supports all student learning.  It incorporates:

  • High level of verbal communication between teacher and student, and among students
  • Integration of basic skills instruction with instruction in other subjects
  • Organization of instruction around themes
  • Use of collaborative learning groups

These strategies are impactful for all learners at all levels, including exceptional, gifted, those with IEPs, and ESOL/ESL students.

Additionally, ISN can be easily adapted to authentic assessments, which include:

  • Generally developed directly from classroom instruction, group work, and related classroom activities and provide an alternative to traditional assessments
  • Can be considered valid and reliable in that they genuinely and consistently assess a student’s classroom performance
  • Facilitate the student’s participating in the evaluation process
  • Include measurements and evaluations relevant to both the teacher and the student
  • Emphasize real-world problems, tasks, or applications that are relevant to the student and his or her community

ISN are one way to include peformance-based assessments:

  • Use meaningful, naturalistic, context-embedded tasks through hands-on collaborative activities
  • Show what students know and can do through a variety of assessment tasks
  • Support the language and cognitive needs of ELLs
  • Allow for flexibility in meeting individual needs
  • Use criterion-referenced assessment for judging student work
  • Provide feedback to students on strengths and weaknesses
  • Generate descriptive information that can guide instruction
  • Provide information for teaching and learning that results in improved student performance

Get Rid of It

Just when you were starting to expect me to be a real human and begin to take life seriously (see my resolution to start flossing daily), I am going to introduce you to one of my favorite Youtubers/Podcasters: Grace Helbig!

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Here is a link to her Youtube page: Grace Helbig

I am most consistent with listening/watching Grace via her podcast, Not too Deep.

not too deep

I first became familiar with Grace when she did a vlog for John Green while he was on his paternity leave for his 2nd child entitled, “50 Ways to Pretend to be Smarter.” She had me hooked and I’ve been trying to step up my cheese game ever since.

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While getting caught up on missed podcasts on one of my favorite Christmas gifts, the Creative Woof 2 bluetooth speaker, I became inspired for today’s posting from her interview with Mark Douglas of Barely Political, a Youtube show I have yet to see, but will mostly likely in the future.  Grace plays little games with her guests that are both thought-provoking and totally ridiculous #RunningThemeOfMyLife.  The game Mark played with Grace was called, “Get Rid of It” where she gave him a series of categories and he was required to get rid of one thing from said category.  I decided to play along and share my answers with you.

P.S. – Choose your own categories that correspond to a text or character, and have your students complete their own responses to help them demonstrate their understanding.

Get Rid of It…

  • A holiday
    • Columbus Day.  Sorry, Mark, but I am stealing your answer.
  • A state
    • North Dakota
  • A human being
    • If can I get rid of a group of people (keep reading, this isn’t going to be racist) I would get rid of hackers.  If I can only choose one person, I would get rid of James Eagan Holmes, the man responsible for the “Dark Knight Rises” 2012 Aurora shooting.
  • A song
    • “Simply Having a Wonderful Christmas Time” because I never do when I hear this song.
  • A color
    • I wanted a more specific name other than “Yellow Green” so I Googled it.  Even if you were a fan before, the suggested search terms provided should solidify why my answers is the correct answer:

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  • A TV show
    • I really shouldn’t be allowed to have an opinion on this topic because I am an avid Bravo/Real Housewives obsessed fan, but I would like to get rid of the show, “My _00 lbs Life.”
  • A historical event
    • All of World War II, just for the efficiency of saving lives.  If that’s too broad, then the Bubonic Plague.  If THAT’S not specific enough, 9/11.
  • A feeling
    • Misplaced Anxiety
  • A food
    • Raw onions
  • *A word
    • The “F” word that is the derogatory term for homosexuals
  • *A social norm
    • Shaking hands/fist bumping/hugging/air kissing when you greet someone.  It’s always awkward and I never choose the appropriate response.
  • *A body part
    • Under eyes.  I don’t understand why the skin is so different there as opposed to the skin that is adjacent to your eyes.  I also dislike how easily wrinkles and dark circles form there.

*My own categories