Elements of Hip Hop Unit (Literature+)

Unit Description: This unit will introduce students to various elements of Hip-Hop culture that include but is not limited to the following: art, fashion, emceeing, music appreciation, and politics. Enrichment will take place through various forms of discussion that will be facilitated via informational text, literature, poetry, music videos, video documentaries, etc.

Students will infuse social elements of Hip Hop that will give them a chance to work on mastery level academic skills that include but are not limited to listening + speaking, critical thinking, critical reading, and critical writing. I think it’d be an interesting concept to infuse Hip Hop music in with the following critical thinking activities:  Socratic SeminarsLevels of Questions, OPTIC Strategy, ECQs based on musical themes, and 5, 4, 3, 2 + 1 Discussion. 

Closed for the Summer ;)

Summer Time!

Summer Time!

In my Boys To Men voice, we have come to the end of the road. School is now officially out for the Summer. We’ve all said our goodbyes, and 8th Grade Graduation was yesterday. I will miss that group of students, but it is time for the next step in their academic journey. I wished them well, and told them to make good choices because this is the next step in their life and the choices they make will determine who they will become in the near future…

As for my 7th Graders, the majority of students will be returning for their 8th Grade year, but a few won’t. Those were the hardest goodbyes. I told them my door is always open for them to stop by and say hello. For those leaving the state, I let them know the blog is open to say hello as well.

This year has flown by, and I have enjoyed it tremendously. I know I have given my best effort to prepare this group of kids for 8th Grade academically as well as socially.  Soon it will be time to get ready for the next group of kids. Until the end of July rolls around, I will have a busy summer. My first child will turn 1, so I will have my hands full. I will also start my Master’s Degree in Education this summer, so I will stay pretty active. I will keep this blog updated periodically… Enjoy the Summer!

View & Respond – #LookUp

Language Arts/Writing classes will work on (7.SL.1) & (7.SL.5) common core speaking/listening standards today. I put together a view & respond about a viral video called, Look Up. As the year comes to an end and summer is almost upon us, I thought this video had the right kind of message. If you haven’t seen the video, below, the overall message is to get off social media and enjoy life. The students had a very deep discussion. The overall response was that this was a nice message for multiple reasons, but it won’t make a big difference. However, a good portion of students did say it would make them think before diving into social media and possibly miss out on the real world around them. I can accept that – small possible change is better than no changing at all…

Continue reading

Letter Writing Activity #Dreams

set goal, make plan, work, and stick to it...

set goal, make plan, work, and stick to it…

I decided to do an impromptu writing activity in Language Arts/Writing today. The students will participate in a letter writing activity about their future aspirations. Students will begin class with a bell work question, “Describe 3 realistic life goals that you want to reach by the age of 18.” Once they have completed that, they will be given the following instructions:


1) You will be writing a letter about your future dreams and aspirations.

2) Address the letter to yourself (future you)

3) List specific goals that you hope to attain by the age of 18 and beyond.

4) For every goal, give yourself advice on how to reach that goal.

5) Open the letter upon high school graduation or when you feel yourself getting off track later in life. Continue reading

Learning Signatures – Part II

ABC Worksheets

ABC Worksheets

We broached this problem once again during the 4th Quarter when I gave students a Roots Letter Writing Activity in letter format. As one of the assignment requirements, I stipulated that they must sign their name at the end of the letter. I found it puzzling that a good portion of the 7th Graders weren’t taught to write in cursive, or they had forgotten how. To their credit, they picked up on it in a matter of less than 30 minutes. Did I mention these kids are resoundingly awesome? I’ve read multiple articles on various news outlets saying there isn’t a need to emphasize cursive writing anymore. I’ve also had discussions with other educators about the matter. Personally, I see both points of view. I think we are in an information age where emphasis doesn’t necessarily need to be placed solely on penmanship. That being said, we are also in an age where everybody doesn’t have access to a computer inside the classroom or at home, so penmanship is still pretty important – print and cursive. The overall point of communicating your intelligence in as many formats as possible should always be valued whether it be on a computer, in print, in cursive, in pen, in pencil, or crayon;]

Continue reading

Martin Luther King Class Activities #TheDreamer

MLK #TheDreamer

MLK #TheDreamer

The Friday before we celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday, students will get familiar with who Dr. King was and what he stood for. My main objective is that students will be able to identify several key highlights of Dr. King’s life as well as his life’s work with civil rights. I will begin class with a two part bell work prompt: “Who was Dr. Martin Luther King? What are your dreams and how will you make them come true?” I will reach my objective via a reading comprehension worksheet(s) [here & here] as well as a mini biography via YouTube (below). A little about the mini biography via Bio: “A short biography of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He is widely considered the most influential leader of the American civil rights movement. He fought to overturn Jim Crow segregation laws and eliminate social and economic differences between blacks and whites. King’s speeches and famous quotes continue to inspire millions today.”

Students will finish the lesson with a fine arts activity where they will receive two handouts. One will be of a black and white picture [here], and the other one will be filled with famous quotes from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. [here]. Students will be asked to color in the black and white picture as well as insert their favorite quotes. We will post the finished product around the classroom… Continue reading

Re: Technology Overload – View & Respond #iForgotMyPhone

Technology Overload - View & Respond

Technology Overload – View & Respond

With the world now at our fingertips, how much technology is too much? Our Language Arts/Writing class will be exploring that question via Common Core speaking/listening standards, (7.SL.1) & (7.SL.5), with this viral video about how we forget how to unplug from time to time. I will begin the class with a bell work prompt, how many minutes and/or hours a day do you spend on your phone or other electronic gadgets? We will continue by viewing the viral video, I Forgot My Phone [here]. Students will then proceed to have initial discussion led by teacher guided questions. Once the discussion is complete, students will then move to a handout [here]. The handout is a newspaper article via the Washington Post: President Obama snaps a selfie at Mandela’s memorial service. The overall goal isn’t to be judgmental, but it’s to get students to understand a need, including myself, to unplug and reconnect to reality from time to time. Hopefully, this video along with other activities will spark a dialogue about whether they should unplug or not… Continue reading

The Tell-Tale Heart – Class Read

Edgar Allan Poe's The Tell-Tale Heart...

Edgar Allan Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart…

The class participated in a view & respond with a twist. I initially wanted the class to view Edgar Allan Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart and simply respond. However, I decided to have the class read the short story before they viewed via scholastic [here]. I have seen many versions/adaptations of this short story, but this particular version came in the form of a play. We assigned characters and proceeded to read the play aloud. Once the class completed reading, they were given a visual via an old animated clip courtesy of Columbia Pictures [here]. For those that are unfamiliar with Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart, here is a brief summary via Shmoop: The Tell-Tale Heart is a famous short story by American author Edgar Allan Poe. He first published the story in January 1843, in the short-lived Pioneer magazine. “Tell-Tale” is about a nameless man who kills an old man for a really strange reason, which we won’t give away here. The nameless man tells the story of the murder to prove he is not insane.”

The overall goal was to get them thinking about their impending assignment [here]. We have begun our third unit in Language Arts/Writing, The Art of Story Telling, and I thought this would be a good way to kick it off. Students are beginning to understand that a story doesn’t necessarily have to be long to be considered a good one. The adapted animated clip gave the students a good chuckle because by today’s standards, it wasn’t really that scary. That being said, fear wasn’t the objective. The main objective was for students to understand the elements of a story and be able to apply them. By the middle of next week, we hope to reach that objective…

Continue reading