Today is the second day of school.We are just coming together as a community of readers and writers. Today we read model texts from Handler's Why We Broke Up and Walls' Half Broke Horses and began to write narrative.
Yesterday I gave students a quick, sentence survey to complete when they walked into the classroom. Music was playing. The surveys were on the tables. I greeted students at the door and told them where to sit (assigned seats at the start helps me learn students' names). Students sat right down and started in on the survey. Amazing how that works on the first day of school.
I responded to the surveys, just quickly, yesterday. It's the first chance I get to connect with students, so I keep comments short and positive. It is important for me to turn around that first set of surveys in twenty-four hours. It helps me establish community.
Before I returned the surveys to students a student asked, "was this graded?"
I smiled and said, "Yes, indeed, it was a test. I believe as John Green does; everything is a test." I do not grade the sentence completions. I make sure students understand that, but I also make sure that they know that I am assessing what they know and are able to do. The more accurate my assessment, the better able I am to plan instruction that meets their needs.
I show them Green's comment (it's less than a minute in length). Many confess to being fans and have read his work (bonus!).
Some students "failed" the sentence completion test. They jotted single words on each line and forgot all about end punctuation. Other students were able to demonstrate fluency with sentence structure. Some surprised me with variety. One student stood outside the box.
Students are grateful for the feedback. I often hear whispers of "she read it" and see smiles.
One of my students is friends with students I had last year. He stopped by my classroom during pre-planning week and said hello. He's enthusiastic, but even I did not expect the sort of answers he jotted down on his survey. The focus of every sentence: me. I couldn't help but laugh out loud.
Aside from his ability to maintain a singular focus, this writer tells me a lot about himself. He is able to control introductory elements in a sentence, use gerund phrases, correctly punctuate a subordinate clause -- he can do a variety of things as a writer (even if it the joke gets repetitive and his phrasing redundant). He must be gifted.
|The Slice of Life Story Challenge is hosted by Stacey Shubbitz and Ruth Ayres of Two Writing Teachers.|
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