7th Grade ELA

Mrs. Long's English Language Arts Class

February/March 2015

Standardized testing is in full swing here at DW and I could not be more proud of all the students! Not only am I proud of their academic growth, they have learned quite a bit since September, but I am proud of the character and maturity they have shown surrounding PARCC testing.

Leading up to the test students asked well thought out questions about the implementation of this new test, they inquired about the changes and we discussed the pros and cons. Today, at the start of the official first day of testing for 7th grade I saw students who took the test seriously, put forth their absolute best effort, used strategies to refocus themselves, and were flexible when things went awry. Regardless of your personal opinion regarding the PARCC tests, you should be very proud of your son or daughter's academic growth and their behavior throughout the testing process.

Have you had a chance yet to check out our Haiku page? This is where you will find all of our class notes, presentations, handouts, videos and more! It is the students virtual classroom. Stay up to date with exactly what we are learning in class.


During the month of February, I was excited to have the opportunity to personally put the writing process into action by publishing an article through EdWeek Teacher. This experience reminded me how important it is for students to receive feedback and understand why I scored them in a certain category, or why I wrote a certain comment. Let's just say the editor made some changes that I didn't quite understand at first...

Our classroom strives to use technology in a way that enhances student learning and develops 21st century learning skills. Recently, I attend the Illinois Computing Educators conference and attended workshops on Google add-ons, blogging, creativity, formative assessment, and differentiation. At the conference, I also learned about new inventions. After several conversations, tweets, and the crossing of my fingers, I am excited to announce that our class WON a Kapp board from SMART technologies! It will be up and running within our classroom hopefully soon!

What is our PARCC schedule?

Click here to see our daily schedule during PARCC testing. Time for testing, time for brain breaks, and time for guest speakers!

Reading Highlights

The science fiction short stories unit was completed with an author analysis of the famed Ray Bradbury. Throughout this unit, students focused on mood, tone, recognizing connections to our world, and the application of close reading to help improve comprehension.

Our current unit on analyzing theme and symbols is coming to a close. This particular unit was structured as a whole novel unit which required students to read the entire book, non-stop, on their own before we even started the unit. Students read the novel The Giver by Lois Lowry on their own and recorded their ideas via post it notes. The notes included inferences, reactions, analysis, and reflections on the plot, characters, and theme. Analyzing theme and symbolism is no easy task and students often left class mentally drained. However, together as a class we "embraced the struggle" as the students would say and dove into the content to reach a more complex level of understanding. Through a variety of activities including metaphor creations, group work, and visual representations, students demonstrated their ability to think and comprehend at a very high level of thinking.

Language Arts Musings

During last few weeks, our class has been working through a unit focused on the structure and organization of analytical and explanatory essays. By focusing our skill development upon this, students were able to merge their deep analysis of literary concepts with their growing understanding of writing expectations for analytical papers. During this unit, students wrote several essays, and all were graded with the same rubric. This rubric was shared with the students who in turn recorded their scores on a blue handout titled "Recognize Your Learning". This allowed students to see what skills they were improving, areas they need to focus on or ask questions on, and it allowed me to see students individual reflections where their perspective might differ from my own opinion, thus generating an important one on one conversation.

Students who showed mastery early on in the unit were given the opportunity to work on an independent writing project. These students applied their understanding of the same standards and skills into a project that disseminated information in an alternative method to the traditional analytical essay. Students were able to select their own topic and created an essential question that drove their research and writing. This differentiated opportunity will be offered again to students as we move into fourth quarter and begin focusing on different standards and skills.

READ Student's "Golden Lines"

Check out samples of students writing here. Read student's favorite sentences constructed during our Friday sentence structure lessons, and from students' submissions of their final written assignments.

Don't Procrastinate

  1. Quarter 3 Book Report - Students will book report is due Friday, March 27th. If a student is absent, it is their responsibility to get their work to school. We have discussed problem-solving this situation: turn it in early, email a photo of the paperwork, share the notes in a google doc, or have a parent/friend bring it to school.
  2. Giver Choice Board - Students will turn in their final project on Thursday, March 19th and participate in a gallery walk involving our class, Mrs. Toomey's and Mrs. Nasenbeny's class.
  3. Vocabulary Test - There will be a unit vocabulary test on Friday, March 20th over The Giver novel covering vocabulary from chapters 1-23.

Coming Up Next

Poetry - This will be our very next unit after spring break. Students will focus on analyzing poetry and understanding how the different poetic elements are developed throughout the poem.

Outsiders - After poetry our next unit will be centered around the novel The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton. Students will engage in not only analyzing the novel, but in 4 Socratic discussions that will prepare them to verbally analyze content and universal ideas. as they prepare for 8th grade and Stevenson High School.

Extra Credit Opportunity: Neuroscience Research & Digital Speaking

This extra credit opportunity, that was highlighted in the previous newsletter, had to be pushed back to 4th quarter given the students schedule and pacing of The Giver unit we are currently wrapping up. Students will receive information about this activity after spring break.

Mrs. Kimberly Long

I teach 7th Grade English Language Arts, ELA. You can find me supervising Early Morning Study Hall daily from 7-7:40am, and PASS on Mondays and Tuesdays from 2:45-4:00pm. These are great times for students to meet with me, or they can schedule an appointment to meet during lunch. Additionally, I supervise the Daniel Wright Student Newspaper. The club meets every Thursday after school in my room.