My 8th graders are energetic young teens who seek to be stimulated and challenged at school! Each day we begin class with a "Do Now" question to bring students into the lesson. Group work and academic discussion are frequent, to boost communication skills. However, there is also time for students to learn and think deeply on their own - an important factor in learning!
My school is a K-8 Chinese immersion school, meaning all students learn Cantonese starting in Kindergarten, and add Mandarin starting in 6th grade.
Classes are taught in both Chinese and English. Our school is a rich, welcoming community of devoted teachers, talented leaders, and strong families. We have a diverse student population in terms of ethnicity, socioeconomics, and academic strengths. In my classroom, the 8th graders are highly differentiated in their academic ability and offer a vast array of interests, from basketball to cooking to politics; however, one thing they all have in common is a desire grow their minds in a way that will prepare them for success!
In addition to our class texts like Lord of the Flies and Life of Pi, my students are assigned independent reading. Six student groups each read a different novel, and every other Friday the groups come together and engage in a discussion, like a book club. Each student is assigned a particular role in the discussion, such as Word Wizard or Theme Thinker. They come prepared with a worksheet done for their particular role, so that they are equipped with discussion material. After the books are finished, each group makes a presentation to the class, sharing what they found valuable in the book.
We have successfully completed two 6-week rounds of literature circles in the first semester, and are hoping to incorporate Gladwell's bestselling nonfiction text Outliers into the next round!
This book will suit our many advanced readers who relish the opportunity to think critically about our society.
Donations to this project will improve student learning by allowing students to increase their breadth of reading this year. So often in ELA classrooms it is difficult to move through enough text to support reading growth among students, but the combination of class-wide texts and literature circle texts in my class increases the amount of words each student reads. Since the books are chosen based on their appeal to teens, this activity also seeks to develop a love for reading among adolescents!
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