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Follow the EvidenceSeptember 2017
We will be starting the new year in English Language Arts, with a unit called Follow the Evidence. This unit will focus on building listening and speaking skills and using reading comprehension strategies to solve a mystery while discovering the answer to our focus question: What role do humans and science play in solving crime? The anchor of this unit is a book entitled Roll Call by Malcolm Rose (book 3 of the Traces series). Since this is a listening unit there is only one copy of the book (however I have discovered that electronic copies of the book are available for purchase through Amazon for Kindle). We will also be researching how science and the scientific method is used to solve crimes. What do you think the role of humans and science is in solving crime? In the future will there be a need of humans to solve crime or can this be done using AI (Artificial Intelligence - think robots and computers).
This unit is a perfect opportunity for students to develop and practice reading comprehension strategies (predict, visualize, ask questions, determine importance, summarize, identify literary devices and elements), build vocabulary (and word choice for writing), and dig deeper into a topic that interests them.Stay tuned for more information.


Being Readers | Being Writers

Being Readers

True reading is understanding the message the writer is trying to communicate (comprehension). You do this by using various reading strategies, thinking about what you are reading, making connections, and by asking questions. Some questions to ask yourself include: what am I being told? How does this relate to my life or the life of someone I know? How would I react if a similar thing happened to me or those around me? How can I use the information I have just read?.
When reading narrative writing (ex. a novel), it is interesting to note that although the setting of a story may be fictional (and in fantasy novels settings are usually beyond what we would expect to experience), the things characters experience and how they react to them (the plot) are not so different from things we may deal with ourselves or see those around us going through.
Once you have figured out what the author is trying to tell you (main idea/message/theme) the next step is to consider how you can apply what you have learned. Will what you have read change how to do things? how about what you think about a certain topic? How about using the ideas you have learned to change the world around you or impact someone's life in a positive way?. Don't forget to read critically, always think about what you read!
Like everything in life, practice is important. Effective readers and writers continually train and practice the important skills.


How to pick a novel

  • Pick a novel that interests you. If you haven't met a book you like yet, start with a shorter book (approx. 100 - 125 pages).
  • Select only "just right" novels ~ not too easy or difficult to read, not too long or short, interesting (use the 5 Five Finger Rule).
  • Ask friends for recommendations - they may have read a book you would enjoy.

As we get ready for a new school year it is time to start thinking about gathering some books to read throughout the school year.

Some Popular Fiction Titles & Series
  • The Hunger Games Trilogy by Susan Collins (Titles: The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, Mockingjay)
  • The Ranger's Apprentice (Series) by John Flanagan (10 books currently in the series)
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid (Series) by Jeff Kinney
  • Juvie Three by Gordon Korman
  • 39 Clues (Series) Various Authors
  • Harry Potter (Series) by JK Rowlings
  • Percy Jackson and the Olympians (Series) by Rick Riordan
  • Heroes of Olympus (Series) by Rick Riordan (The Lost Hero, Son of Neptune)
  • Kane Chronicles (Series) by Rick Riordan (Red Pyramid, Throne of Fire, Serpent's Shadow)
  • The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel (Series) by Michael Scott (Titles: The Alchemist, The Magician, The Sorceress, The Necromancer, The Warlock)
  • Gravesavers by Sherry Fitch
  • Empty by Suzanne Weyn
  • The Invention of Hugo Cabret: A Novel in Words and Pictures by Selznick
  • I Am Canada (Fictional Journal series for boys)
  • Conspiracy 365 (Series by various authors)
  • Traces (Futuristic Mystery Series) by Malcolm Rose
  • Fablehaven (Fantasy Series) by Brandon Mull
  • Maximum Ride (Series) by James Patterson
  • Virals (series) by Kathy Reichs (Fantasy Mystery Series about 4 teens who after being infected with a virus start to develop super powers)
  • Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III (Series including How to Train Your Dragon) by Cressida Cowell
  • Magic Tree House (Series ~ great for struggling readers and for EAL students with some understanding of English)
  • Theodore Boone-Kid Lawyer (Mystery Series for boys) by John Grisham

Some Popular Authors
  • Susan Collins
  • Cressida Cowell
  • Roald Dahl
  • Jeanne DuPrau
  • John Flanagan
  • John Grisham
  • Anthony Horowitz
  • Jeff Kinney
  • Gordon Korman
  • Jean Little
  • Cynthia Lord
  • Mike Lupica
  • Brandon Mull
  • Garth Nix
  • James Patterson
  • Kathy Reichs
  • Malcolm Rose
  • JK Rowlings
  • Rick Riordan
  • Michael Scott
  • David Skuy
  • Eric Walters
  • Suzanne Weyn



Being Writers

Tip 1
When writing, it is important that you keep in mind your own experiences and use these to help you as we write, especially when you're using the narrative format (story telling). To grab the reader's attention use a balance of telling and showing the story. When youtake time to "show" what is happening you invite your audience (the reader) to "walk beside you". Using our senses is a great way to invite the reader to be part of your story. Effectively using Word Choice allows the reader to "see" what you see, "hear" what you hear - even your thoughts, "feel" what you feel. When Ideas, Organization, and Word Choice are blended together effectively the reader feels like they are there and they want to know more - you have now "hooked" your audience.

Prewriting
So far we have completed several prewriting activities.
Brainstorming
  • Memoir Worthy Ideas
  • Heart Map
  • Writing Bingo
Graphic Organizer - Students use one of two different graphic organizers to get their personal memoir ideas down on paper.

Drafting

Using one of the two different graphic organizers, students have created a draft of their memoir.

Revising and Responding

We have begun the Revision process. Early in this process a few students identified a few serious problems with their drafts. The most critical - they discovered there really wasn't a "So What?" for a memoir - they have a great idea for a story but it was not a life changing experience or a significant event. These individuals should have already completed a new graphic organizer, discussed the change with the teacher and either be finished or almost finished a draft. And the revising continues ...

A Little More About the Revising Process
During Revision we read our draft to a Responder (a peer, parent, and/or teacher). The Responder's job is brings our attention to the things we could do to make what we have written stronger and clearer to our audience. In class we talked about how being told everything at once just makes us feel bad about our draft so we have a special way to conference (Author and Responder time).
First we look for at least one good thing to compliment the writer on. For example - recently a student read me their draft and although there were a number of things that needed to improve on they had done a great job using figurative language, so I started our conference time with how much I liked the fact that they were using this technique to create the picture in my head.
Next we discuss the one thing that is stopping us, the audience, from making the picture in our mind. The author can then go back and work on this area and when ready have another conference.
We repeat this process until we are finish revising.

Editing

Students then take their Revised piece of writing and edit it - this is where we look at spelling, punctuation, and grammar. Once the student feels they have caught all the errors they call a conference with a peer from our Editing Panel to double check their work. (they can even go for a second opinion)

Good Copy

Once all the Revisions and Edits have been completed it is time for the good copy. Students will select a good copy to hand in to the teacher for formal evaluation. In most situations, this piece of writing will be evaluated using the NB Grade 7 Writing Standards. The only exceptions will be student who have Personal Learning Plans that state otherwise.

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