Saturday, May 7, 2016

Third Quarter Review

Mrs. Marr's English classes balanced assessment practice with outside reading projects, creative writing, public speaking, and poetry activities this quarter. As the English Language Arts Assessment is April 5th, 6th and 7th, 2016, 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.

The Crossover by Kwame Alexander inspired this quarter's outside reading project. The Crossover 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. 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 the books in persuasive book reviews. Students competed in a March Madness public speaking activity to determine the best sports fiction and nonfiction books for middle school readers. I hope that listening to their classmates' presentations about books will inspire students to read, read, read! 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. If your child enjoys public speaking, please encourage him or her to join the debate club or to seek leadership positions in Student Government or other clubs and activities in the eighth grade.

As the quarter ends, students will be 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 at South Middle's Poetry Cocoa House on April 14th after school or on “Poem In Your Pocket Day." 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 based on their digital portfolio. Maintaining a digital portfolio helps students stay organized, encourages reflection and fosters pride in their work.  Students will be receiving information about the Self-Select Honors Program in English and about the summer reading assignment.

In English and social studies Flex classes, students have been preparing video research projects within their groups. They have spent weeks researching a topic using online periodicals. They used their notes in Google Docs to gather research notes, prepare argument essays and 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 video 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 documentary using iMovie. Their video research projects will be on display at the Akidemy Awards Celebration at 6:30 pm on May 10, 2016. Save the date as it promises to be a wonderful celebration of our students' hard work!