Saturday, March 28, 2015

Third Quarter Review

As the English Language Arts Assessment is the second week of April, seventh grade students have been reviewing the format of the assessment and brushing up on their test-taking skills on standardized tests by practicing taking sample tests and analyzing their performance in order to improve.  Mrs. Marr and Mrs. Sidik’s English classes balanced assessment practice with outside reading projects and public speaking activities this quarter.  The Crossover by Kwame Alexander won the 2015 Newbery Honor Medal for excellence in young adult fiction.  It is a novel in verse featuring a family drama and the sport of basketball.  This book inspired this quarter’s outside reading project.  Students read fiction and nonfiction books about sports from our classroom library and from the school library.  In their writing and speaking about their reading, students considered writer’s craft and persuasive writing techniques, and evaluated novels in a persuasive book review.  Students competed in a March Madness public speaking activity to determine the best sports fiction and nonfiction books for middle school readers.  We hope that listening to their classmates’ presentations about books will inspire students to read other books about sports or other books that earned the Newbery medal or honor.  Please continue to encourage your child to read and write inside and outside of school.  Better reading and writing skills help academic performance across the disciplines.

As the third quarter progressed, we continued to use iPads to enhance literacy instruction, study skills and organizational skills inside the classroom.  Students used the Google Drive App, the Keynote App and Edmodo App to share their thinking and writing with their peers and teachers.  These digital tools encouraged thoughtful and lively conversations about what students read and how they write.  Students added argument and persuasive essays to their online digital portfolio.  Maintaining a digital portfolio helps students stay organized, encourages reflection and fosters pride in their work.  They used the Notability App to organize their notes for the unit.  Students also utilized digital study tools and online assessments.  As the quarter ends, they will continue to improve their vocabulary by using the Quizlet App to study words from the “Seventh Grade Essential Vocabulary” booklet.  The booklet is a fabulous resource of interdisciplinary academic vocabulary prepared by seventh grade teachers under the direction of Assistant Principal Gerald Cozine.  

Mrs. Marr and Mrs. Sidik’s English classes end the third quarter and begin the fourth quarter by analyzing, writing and sharing poetry.  Students are encouraged to submit their creative work to Rebel Pen, South Middle's art and literary magazine, and to read their poetry during Poem In Your Pocket Day on April 30th which coincides with South Middle’s Poetry Cocoa House at 4pm.   Students are also encouraged to write for Middleview, South Middle’s newspaper.  The remainder of the fourth quarter will be devoted to reading and writing science fiction, reading nonfiction works to understand the science behind science fiction, and completing a portfolio presentation.  Students will also be receiving information about the Self-Select Honors Program in English in the 8th grade and about the summer reading assignment.

In Flex, students have been preparing their group video research projects.  They have spent weeks researching a topic using online periodicals.  They used their notes in Notability and in Google Docs to prepare an argument essay and to plan their storyboard for their movie.  In the computer lab, students are using iMovie to edit and arrange raw footage on their topic.  Their task is to create a meaningful narrative to show both sides of an argument on their topic.  Students are in the process of videotaping interviews.  In the end, students will be using research gathered through online periodicals and the interviews to create a meaningful narrative using iMovie.  Their video research projects will be on display at the Akidemy Awards at 6pm on May 18, 2015.  Save the date as it promises to be a wonderful celebration of our students’ hard work!