Monday, October 29, 2012

Creating Coversations that are Meaningful

Our first unit is called Meeting Challenges. We have been reading articles and stories about people who face different challenges. Last week, we read an article from Schalastic Action called "Homeless to Harvard" by Laura Lin from the October 8th issue. I had the students read it silently first. This was difficult becasue they all had something to say. The article was about a boy who had his home shot up by gang members becasue he refused to join a gang. David goes on to deal with being homeless by setting high standards for his life. Eventually, making it to Harvard. By making them keep their comments to themselves until discussion time, just about everyone had something to say. They were proud of David's accomplishments, angry with the gang members that shot up his home and furious with David's mom. I think that they had "ahha moments" when I explained to them how much money it costs to get a new apartment. It was a great lesson with outstanding converstion.

Use current article.
Use non-fiction information about teens.
Have students collect their thought and write down what they think instead of sharing right away.
Try to bring in real world information whenever possible.
Be real with the students.

What conversations are you planning for this week?

Thursday, October 18, 2012

MMSS Blog (Part 2)

This is the second installment of my new motivational techniques that I am trying this year.  I have already covered the personal conferencing in my last post, however, I thought I would share something that the kids came up with. When I call them up to meet with me they say " Oh No, it must be "Book Therapy" time!" It cracks me up every time they say it. I wish I had thought of it. LOL Anyway.

Motivation #4: The Wall of Fame. When my students finish reading a book and have done a letter to me about the novel, I give them a simple star. They place the star on the "Wall of Fame." Believe it or not, I have about 15 stars already. The kids (8th Graders) ask for the stars, want to put them up on the wall and let me know when I forget to give it to them. It amazes me that these students are so into this. At first, I thought that this would flop with middle school students, they are definitely motivated.Sometimes, I love being wrong!

Motivation #5:Calls home. I am making a point to call home with positive comment to parents. Parents hear so much negative. I want my students to know that  calls can be positive to their parents as well. Praise, praise, praise!

Motivation #6: I began using Whole Brain Teaching techniques this year. One of the techniques is called Scoreboard. Students earn point toward playing a game. I tally the points for following directions, working quietly and  sharing excellent answers. Then on Friday (if they have enough) we play Basketball Trivia. Which is a game, I semi-created. The link to my free directions will be posted at the bottom of this post. During the week I keep a log of questions about the information they have learned throughout the week.
Free Directions to Basketball Trivia


What things have you tried this year to motivate your students? Were they sucessful or a complete flop?