I have encountered two significant challenges with my 6th, 7th, and 8th grade writers this spring:
1. I have a tremendous range in learning styles and abilities in each of my six writing courses. Consequently, I have learners who always finish early, and I needed to find a way for them to use their extra time in a meaningful way and AVOID “busy” work.
2. Spring has sprung early in Georgia (as in 6 weeks ago), and students have struggled to stay focused yet energetic with their work as writers and learners.
My secret weapon for this March Madness? Enrichment stations. I have created a learning menu of nine different learning choices for students:
3. Creative Writing with Reader’s Theatre Scripts (may be done alone or with a partner)
4. Creative Writing with Tableaux (groups of 3)
5. Revising and Editing with Task Cards + QR Codes
6. Revising Task with QR Codes: Combining Sentences
7. Persona Poem (write a poem from the perspective of the topic or some aspect of the topic for our current unit of inquiry)
8. NewsELA Reading and Writing Club: Women’s History Month
9. NewsELA Evidence Detectives Club
I tried to craft a menu that had something for everyone: individual work and collaborative work; creative endeavors that could tie into our inquiry units; review and practice activities for those who enjoy that kind of activity.
These activities are designed for students to work on when they finish work early; in addition, I’m setting aside one “enrichment day” a week to let them go more deeply into their selected activity. After doing an initial “test” soft launch with a few students, I took a day last week to do a brief presentation with all classes to help them think about their options and how our enrichment activities would enhance our learner experience. You can learn a little more about each activity here:
Here is how I have launched the my “center” for students:
- I have a “menu” placeholder with a brief description of the menu learning choice on back of my 2nd classroom door (see below).
- Students then can get an informational handout on the selected activity to help them get started and move forward. I bought a colorful cascading/hanging file folder organizer for $9 on Amazon to house the handouts.
- Students let me know of their selection; if they need any help from me getting started, I provide it.
- I have posted handouts with the QR code so that students can view the slideshow above at any time; it is also posted in our Canvas course.
Today was our first full “enrichment” day in my 8th grade writing classes (6th and 7th will have their day tomorrow). We even had our first tableaux performance today on driverless cars which was an absolute HOMERUN! I did not film it, but they students have agreed to do the performance again this week so I can video and share with all of you as well as my other students. As you can see from the photos below, students are engaged with their selected learning activity.
We wrapped up with a virtual Ticket out the Door through our Canvas course.
Here are some take-aways from my two 8th grade classes:
- I’m learning to write complete sentences and more complex sentences; I am feeling more confident about sentence writing.
- I’ve learned that acting out scenes is harder than I thought! It is fun, though.
- I *LOVE* tableaux! It is so much fun!
- I’m learning all kinds of new words! I never knew learning vocabulary could be fun.
- I like getting to work with other people and talking about our topic as we do our tableaux script and scenes—this has caused me to be understand our topic of driverless cars.
- I was not expecting I’d need to go back so much into the text set of articles we’ve read, but it has been fun and helped me understand our topic better (this feedback was from the persona poem, tableaux, and Reader’s Theatre script projects)
- Clauses are pretty interesting!
- I like the mastery learning we do in NoRedInk.
So far I am thrilled with the feedback and the excitement I’ve seen from students about their selected project or learning choice. What kinds of activities would you add to the menu for a writing class? My plan is to continue to do enrichment for the rest of the year at least one day a week to supplement our current units of study and to give students something meaningful to do if they finish early. I will refresh and add to the menu as we move forward through the last nine weeks of our school year.