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Unit 8: Fantasy Writing

May 13, 2020: Today we begin our eighth and final unit of the year. It’s been a long year and it feels like yesterday when I had the idea to record every mini-lesson for the entire year. I’ve recorded 144 lessons so far and there are less than 10 left. It’s hard for me to believe that we covered this much material AND that I was tech-error-free for the most part (knock, knock, knock).

In this unit we hope to capitalize on the fantasy reading from Unit 7. Students are coming into the unit with ideas about what they want to accomplish as readers and writers. A challenge last year was helping students to write short fantasy stories – many of our strongest writers wrote page after page and in some cases their message was lost. We are beginning with student exemplars this year in hopes that students can use them as models and write stories that have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Here we go…

Unit 7: Fantasy Book Clubs

We’ve moved on into our seventh unit this year and we’re doing it virtually. While we’re all excited to begin a new unit – a reading unit – there is a lot to consider. You’ll notice there are two playlists below. The class begins with a live reading of The Thief of Always, and then students immediately begin watching the mini-lesson video. My thought here is that students hear a part of the story and then see me model a reading technique or strategy with the same story. Reading aloud is not my favorite thing to do, especially when I get to stare at my face, but I will try to make the best of the situation and become better at reading aloud. As luck would have it, Heinemann is giving away audiobooks through the month of April, and of them is called The Artful Read-Aloud by Rebecca Bellingham.

Unit 6: The Literary Essay

One of my favorite units of the year will be much different this year due the Corvid-19 virus that has affected Korea and many other parts of the world. Fortunately, Jeju Island, where we live, hasn’t had too many cases. Coincidentally, virtual school begins on the same day as our new writing unit. As a result, all of the lessons have become virtual. The plan for us in grade six is to maintain as much of the workshop as possible, virtually. The lessons will consist of a minilesson video, followed by independent work and conferencing through Google Hangouts, then a share (done in hangouts/FlipGrid). These lessons will continue for at least the next two weeks.

**Update: We’re continuing for another two weeks (3/32-4/6). It’s looking like the entire unit may be virtual.

Unit 5: Social Issues Book Clubs

We started the new year and semester with Social Issues Book Clubs, a grade 6-8 reading unit from TCRWP. Our goal in the unit is to help students develop a stronger sense of empathy through an analysis of character and group relationships. Building on ‘A Deep Study of Character’, we use issues between characters, groups, and power imbalances to grow our understanding of characters and themes.

Unit 4: Research-Based Information Writing

Following right up on the non-fiction reading unit, we begin non-fiction writing. A goal of ours this year was to constantly remind students to read like writers in the previous unit. I feel I was able to do that this year and the kids are primed to produce good work in this unit. We’ll cover two bends before the holiday break and then create e-books in January.

Unit 3: Tapping the Power of Non-fiction

It’s November and we are just beginning our third unit of the year. We started the year with five days of reading before getting in to units one and two. In the next two months, we’ll do bends one and two of the reading and writing non-fiction units.

Unit 2: A Deep Study of Character

It’s our first time through this reading unit and I am excited to start this journey with the kids. If you’d like to follow along, follow me on twitter @tesolwar or subscribe to the Youtube channel.

Unit 1: Personal Narrative

Here is the playlist for Unit 1: Personal Narratives – Crafting Powerful Personal Narratives. The units come from the Teacher’s College Reading and Writing Project Grade 6 Units of Study in Argument, Information, and Narrative Writing.

Here is my first playlist to go public. This is the first week of school for grade 6. Our goal was to establish some reading norms before moving on to the first unit on writing personal narratives.

Unit 0.5: Setting Up Reading Norms

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