Tag Archives: Do Nows

Hook ’em First: Best Suggestions for Walk-In or Do Now Activities

I recently sat down with Larry Ferlazzo, Nancy Sulla, and Matthew Homrich-Knieling to discuss the best suggestions for walk in and do-now activities. We are talking about the academic work before the bell rings and the teacher’s mini-lesson.

You can listen to our conversation from Larry’s podcast Classroom Q & A on BAM Radio here.

There is no one do now or hook that works for all teachers and students. Nancy spoke about offering choice activities in the learner active classroom. And choices for teachers and students are important to personalize learning for the diverse students in our classrooms. I tend to change up the hooks in my classroom so no one activity is the same. I also like the idea of putting do-nows on task cards so students can choose to complete or a teacher can have students choose a new task card each day from a set. There is no one correct way to start the class, teachers need to connect with their content and consider the learners in their classroom.

Here are ways that I have my students working before the bell rings:

Poem A Day – Everyday begin with a poem. It can be based on current events, content material, or beautiful language. The teacher can read aloud the poem, post on the SMARTboard, share a paper or digital copy, or show a video of performance poetry for students to read and respond.

Gallery Walk with Text or QR Code Links – During a dystopian unit we look at rebellion, revolt, and revolution. I begin the class with QR Codes around the room linking to videos from the news and popular movies like Hunger Games as well as images throughout history for students to identify as rebellions, revolts, or revolutions. Some of the pictures include Arab Spring, the Boston Tea Party, and the dismantling of the Berlin Wall. Viewing these images help students to create a definition of the three terms and help lead us to a discussion of these concepts and how they play out in the dystopian texts students are reading. You can also do this activity with excerpts from passages of a book students are reading or key quotes that students read and respond to.

Quick Writes and Journaling – Begin with a question or practice what Julia Cameron titled in her book, The Art’s Way (2016), morning pages. “Morning Pages are three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness writing, done first thing in the morning. – There is no wrong way to do Morning Pages – they are not high art. They are not even “writing.” They are about anything and everything that crosses your mind– and they are for your eyes only. Morning Pages provoke, clarify, comfort, cajole, prioritize and synchronize the day at hand. Do not over-think Morning Pages: just put three pages of anything on the page.

Sentence Work – For more formal writing practice I reference these sentence activities in the podcast with Larry Ferlazzo. This is not something my students do everyday, but are grounded in the the reading students engaged in. You can read more about sentence work strategies in my blog post Building Better Sentences. When students were reading the short story Most Dangerous Game, students completed this sentence frame:

Internal & External Conflict

Lastly, Do Nows and Walk in are Hooks. That means they are meant to hook the students into the lesson and excite them about learning in your classroom today. Engagement is key. Taking inspiration from Dave Burgess and his book Teach Like a Pirate, hooks can be  based on music, art, movement, games, play, involve the students, student choice, sensory. So, when thinking about your next lesson, how might you get your students thinking, engaged, and excited for today’s lesson?

Draw – A storyboard, a picture, sketch notes.

Taste – When we are reading about Scout and Jem finding Wrigley’s Spearmint Gum in To Kill a Mockingbird, I gave every student a piece of Wrigley’s Gum as they entered the classroom and we did some detective work in the text who might have left the gum in the Tree Knot.

Games – Take it digital or old school and have students answer questions, play Guess Who? or even design a quick review from yesterday’s lesson with Quizlet Live, QuizZ, or Kahoot.

Get Dramatic – Give small groups of students a scenario or props and they have to create a tableau (a frozen picture) or act out a key scene or potential scenarios presented in a text. Before reading Midsummer Night’s Dream and to introduce the play I give small groups of students different scenarios that take place in the play and students have to improvise a short scene how the situation plays out.

Music and Mozart – Bring in music, teach a song or play a song for students to listen to and make connections with. Have your students write a song or stanza to convey an idea or concept.

Get Crafty – Use legos, play dough, or any craft materials for students to create a 3-D image or representation of a concept, idea, or scene in a book.

 

 

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Powerful Writing Starts with Strong Sentences: 8 Sentence Activities to Use Across the Content Areas

“It does not do well to dwell on dreams and forget to live, remember that.” —J.K. Rowling,

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

“One must be careful of books, and what is inside them, for words have the power to change us.” 

—Cassandra Clare, The Infernal Devices

 

How do we get our students to write well?

How can teachers help students to string words together with poetry, grace, and meaning?

I recently attended a workshop on The Writing Revolution: The Hochman Method, an instructional approach to teaching writing and communication skills. Dr. Judith C. Hochman is the creator of the Hochman Method and founder of The Writing Revolution. Dr. Hochman was the Head of Windward School an independent school focused on teaching students with learning disabilities.  

We began with sentences and sentence activities. The idea is to start small in order to help students to write better. Focusing on sentences improves the substance of writing to raise the level of linguistic complexity and clarity, enhance revision and editing skills, and improve reading comprehension.

The following 8 sentence activities were presented to help student take command of their sentence writing and become better writers.

Sentence Fragments – A group of words that is not a grammatically complete sentence. Usually a fragment lacks a subject, verb or both or is a dependent clause that is not attached to an independent clause.  Teachers can post sentence fragments for students to repair. The aim is to address what is necessary to write complete sentences. For example, as a bell ringer have students identify the sentence fragments and change the fragments into complete sentences adding necessary words, capitalization, and punctuation.

the town of Macomb

does not remember her mother well

atticus finch is a lawyer

Scrambled Sentences – Another five minute do now is to have 7-9 words maximum for students to put together to make a complete sentence. One way to help students with this activity is to bold the first word of the sentence to help them unscramble the sentence.

Sentence Types – We use four different kinds of sentences when speaking and writing: Statements or Declaratives, Questions or Interrogatives, Exclamations, and Commands or Imperatives. Give students a topic or an image for them to write a sentence, question, exclamation, and command for. This strategy encourages students to think about the text and encourage precise language. To differentiate this activity  you can offer an answer and have students create a question that shows synthesis, comparison, and frames their academic vocabulary.

Q: _____________________________________

A: direction and magnitude

Possible question: What are the two defining characteristics of a vector?

Because, But, So – Because tells why, But changes direction, and So shows cause and effect. If we want students to think critically and not regurgitate information we can have students extend a sentence with but, because, and so. Each of these conjunctions help to change the meaning of the sentence.

Hammurabi created a written code of laws . . . .

Students can complete the sentence based on what they know and understand.

Hammurabi created a written code of laws because ________________________________________________

Hammurabi created a written code of laws, but ___________________________________________________

Hammurabi created a written code of laws, so ____________________________________________________

These three conjunctions can help students learn linguistically complex language and change of direction language that can help writing counterclaims. Additional transition words for but includes:  although, while, even though, however, on the other hand.

Subordinating Conjunctions – After, Before, If, While, Although, Even though, Unless, Since, When, Whenever. Rather than asking students questions about the text or material, use subordinating conjunction  sentence stems to evaluate comprehension and knowledge. For example,

Since Lennie has a mild mental disability in Of Mice and Men, ________________________________________

After Lennie meet’s Curley’s wife, _________________________________________________________________

Although Lennie promised to keep the farm a secret, ________________________________________________

Students can use a given subordinating conjunction to write a sentence about a character.

Although __________________________________________________________

Even though ________________________________________________________

If I was using the above activity with To Kill a Mockingbird, I might anticipate a student to write,

Although Tom Robinson was innocent and defended himself well, he was found guilty.

Even though Tom Robinson’s case seemed doomed from the start, Atticus agreed to defend him.

Appositives are a noun or noun phrase placed next to another noun to rename, or explain it more fully. Teachers can have students practice writing topic sentences with appositives. Another activity is to have student match appositives or fill in the appositives. Introducing appositives provides students a strategy to vary writing and help the reader provide more information. In addition, it improves reading comprehension. Another strategy is to give students an appositive and have students write a sentence around it.

Sentence Combining helps to teach grammar and usage because it requires students to gain syntactic control.

This strategy is from The Teacher’s Guide to Effective Sentence Writing by Bruce Saddler.

Let’s take the following five sentences:

People are innocent.

People are innocent according to a principle.

The principle is American.

The principle is legal.

They are proven guilty.

 

What did you come up with?

According to an American legal principle, people are innocent until proven guilty.

To scaffold this sentence activity you can give hints for students to use a conjunction or appositive. Additionally, you can differentiate the activity by giving the high fliers a challenge, the middle level students a hint, and for struggling or ELLs offer them a sentence starter.

Kernel Sentences – A simple, active, declarative sentence with only one verb and containing no modifiers or connectives. This activity is helpful for note taking because it gets at the who, what, when, where why, and how.

Snow fell.

Cells divide.

Pyramids were built.

Students state the when, where, and why.  Think of this like a puzzle, students need to complete every piece of information to write an expanded sentence.

In ancient times, pyramids were built in Egypt to protect the body of the deceased pharaoh.
Whether you try all the sentence activities or just a few, activities should be embedded in the content. Teacher demonstration and modelling is beneficial. Sentence strategies can be practiced in do nows and warm ups, stop and jots, exit slips or even test items.

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