Mrs. Amy Finley

7th Grade Lions Language Arts


January 2014

Friday, January 31, 2014

Happy Friday!

Today in class I tried to clear up the differences between predictions and inferences as I mentioned yesterday. I showed the students several video clips without words and made them make inferences by looking at the facial expressions, body language, etc. One of my favorite videos to share is “Defective Detective” where the detective actually makes the wrong inferences. The students need to understand that inferences can be wrong–good writers and movie makers will try to trick us and give us bad clues so we can’t figure out what is going to happen next. The better they get at reading the more likely they are to not fall for these tricks.

Some ways we make inferences:

  • Reading body language
  • Reading facial expressions
  • Hearing a tone of voice and knowing that someone is mad, happy, sad, etc.
  • Determining if the character in our book is rich, poor, etc. based on the clothing they wear, their living conditions, etc.
  • Determining our character’s job (when not told explicitly)
  • Determining if someone/character is ill based on our “clues”
  • In movies, we also make inferences by listening to the “sound effects”



Read at least 20 minutes to prepare for the book talk on Monday!

Start looking for a historical fiction book for February.


~Mrs. Finley


Thursday, January 30, 2014

Today in class we practiced the cause/effect/infer activity from yesterday. Many strudents are still struggling with inferences and are not sure the difference between an inference and a prediction. A lot of good are making inferences but are just unaware that that is what they are called. An inference is an educated guess based on the clues in the book. Many times we make inferences about a character’s personality based on what they say or do, but we are unaware that that is what we are doing. I’m trying to slow some of the students down so that they are aware of what inferences are. I think based on my discussions today with students we are going to practice inferencing some more tomorrow.



Cause/effect/infer graphic organizer if students did not turn it in in class.

Read at least 20 minutes to prepare for the book talk on Monday!

5th Hour: Study for the prefixes quiz tommorrow!


~Mrs. Finley

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Today in class we discussed cause and effect. Based on the cause and effect in the passage we did together we were then able to infer an unstated meaning about a character, setting, problem, character’s actions, words, decisions, relationships or interactions.

I modeled this today using a story about how dog’s can be heroes and we filled out the graphic organizer together. I asked the students to do one for today and they turned them into me at the end of class or else they were homework.

Tomorrow they will practice this skill on their own during class.



Read at least 20 minutes to prepare for the book talk on Monday, February 3.

5th hour: Memorize your prefixes for your quiz on Friday.

If you did not finish the cause/effect/infer worksheet it was homework.


~Mrs. Finley

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Happy Tuesday! Hope everyone is staying warm today.

Today in class I gave the students some time to read in their books to prepare for their book talk. They often request not to have to do an activity while they read in their books. Today I let them have one of those free reading days. As long as they are reading they do not have to do an activity. If they decide not to read then I give them an activity to do as they read.

5th Hour has started looking at prefixes, suffixes and root words and will begin a weekly quiz beginning on Friday. For the other classes, I have decided to hold off and start this on Monday of next week. I saw a lot of students scores dropping on MAP because of their vocabulary score. A lot of this goes back to knowing how to dissect a word and knowing what some of the most common prefixes, suffixes and root words mean. We are going to start having weekly quizzes on Friday’s. So, in addition to the nightly reading, they may need to review their vocabulary nightly for 10 minutes. I will be giving them the word list on Monday and then a matching game on Tuesdays. We will also spend about 10 minutes in class reviewing every day. 🙂



All classes: Read at least 20 minutes to prepare for the book talk on MONDAY, February 3.

5th hour: Review vocabulary on ped to prepare for quiz this Friday!

~Mrs. Finley

Monday, January 27, 2014

Happy Monday! It is great to be back on a school schedule today after so many snow days. 

Today in class we discussed flight, fight or freeze and the way that characters react to conflicts that they face. This is a paper that we will be working on in the next month so we really just discussed the terms and what they mean. I tried to get the kids to start brainstorming and thinking of examples from books, such as The Hunger Games and how Katniss responded to any problems that she faced, such as the ball of fire falling from the sky.

We discussed the book talks today in class. The students know that they should have been continuing to read on their biography/autobiography or memoir even though there were 4 snow days. Originally I had said that we would do the book talks on January 30, however I am willing to give them the weekend to finish preparing. Therefore, the book talks will be on Monday, February 3.

Fingers crossed we don’t have any more snow days so we can get out of school on June 5! 🙂



Read at least 20 minutes to prepare for the book talk on Monday, February 3.


~Mrs. Finley

Thursday, January 16, 2014

It’s hard to believe we have almost completed our first 5 day week of school in 2014! The kids have been troopers this week with MAP testing and adjusting back to school after all of the snow day fun.

Today in class we finished up our reading and writing activity from yesterday. I also had some of the students complete their MAP testing on the computer. I am really blown away by their results! As of right now, I have only 10 students who dropped MAP points and only 5 that stayed the same. Some of these students already had extremely high scores, so I think it is really exposing them to more complex texts that are going to expand their vocabulary. I have noticed a pattern that most of the advanced students are needing to continue to read more informational texts to continue to grow. Unfortunately, this is what the majority of their tests are actually testing on, including the ACT in high school. For the general classes, vocabulary seems to be the bigger issue, with an emphasis on Latin prefixes, suffixes and root words.



Finish the problem/actions taken/outcomes worksheet if you did not finish and turn it in in class.

Read at least 20 minutes to prepare for your book talk presentation on January 30.


~Mrs. Finley

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Today I wanted to give the kids a chance to dig into their books since we had not really had a chance yet due to the snow days and MAP testing. We practiced identifying the conflicts in the books and looking at how the character responds to the conflict and then the outcome of their response. I am sure that as they read they will learn lots of valuable life lessons through their characters and how they handled their problems.

Tomorrow we will wrap up this activity in class, therefore students need to make sure to bring their book to class. I hate to see them having the class period to read their book and not using that same book on their book talk. I’m trying to give them lots of class time to ensure that they are able to complete their presentations on time.

We have also discussed that the grading of the book talk presentations will get harder this month. Now that they are comfortable with their peers (since they have been together since August) I am looking for more eye contact as they talk to the class. Their body language should be more formal, not slouching against the board, but look relaxed and confident. Hopefully they have had enough practice doing this in class, but I encourage them to practice at home in front of family, friends, etc. The more you practice the more it will help with the public speaking. The rubric is posted under “Book Talks” on the blog website. You can click on any of the class periods and scroll down to see it. 


Read at least 20 minutes to prepare for the book talk presentation on January 30. 

~Mrs. Finley

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Sorry for not updating yesterday…ugh! I realized I hadn’t blogged after 11pm.

For the past two days we have been taking the MAP Reading test. Overall, I am over the moon with the scores that show their improvement! I have had a couple of students stay the same and even a couple fall by a point or two, but mostly what I am seeing is the scores are sky roketing. I have multiple students making double digit gains and some moving by “as little” as three points. I say “as little” because that is really a huge amount of growth. Afterall, the norm says that most students are at a 217 when they enter 7th grade and a 220 when they exit. 3 points in one whole school year, but many of the kids are making this gain and more in just 3 months!

The test gives me a lot of information on how to continue the progression so that students can continue to grow. The test is based on three different subcategories: literature, informational text and vocabulary. Vocabulary is the one item over and over that I am seeing is the lowest score. Not just defining what a word means, but being able to pick the word apart by the prefixes, suffixes and root words. Understanding what those prefixes mean and how they change the meaning of the word.

We are going to start looking more at vocabulary in the classroom…starting with prefixes.

I also have a few students that had lower literature or informational text scores. This means that I will probably meet with them more often right now and help them choose books for their book talks that they are interested in and are challenging.


Prepare for your biography, autobiography or memoir book talk on January 30. 


~Mrs. Finley

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Today we discussed more books in class.

2nd hour got to watch the book trailers and were able to check out library books from me (since MAP testing is ongoing in the library) for their January book talk. Most students were able to find a book during class. A few told me that they already had a book.

3rd hour was a bit messed up today. Up until 1st hour this morning I was told that they would be MAP testing. Unfortunately, due to the snow days things got shifted and so they did not get to MAP test today. I preferrred this anyway since I didn’t have a chance to really even share this with the kids yet. So in class I passed out the Scholastic Book orders and we discussed the next couple of month’s book genres…

February is Historical Fiction

March is Fantasy

April was supposed to be Poetry. Unfortunately, our school library does not have enough books that fall into these categories. After some debate I decided that this can be another FREE choice month–any genre. I will incorporate poetry into some mini lessons with the students so that we don’t miss out on learning this other form of writing. 🙂

May is free choice. Any genre.

Bearing that in mind, I encouraged the kids to go ahead and start thinking about books they want to read that are on their TBR lists. If they choose to, they can go ahead and even order from Scholastic and set the books aside for the upcoming months. I may be a little biased here because the books that are ordered do help me get more classroom books for our classroom library use, however the deals are some of the best! For example, Scarlet & Cinder can be bought together for just $10. These are brand new paperbacks. I think I paid $8 just for Cinder from Half Price Books. Scarlet just came out this past year. Many of the girls who enjoyed Matched are also loving this new series.

In 5th hour and 7th hour we began discussing prefixes, suffixes and roots. This is something that I will be ramping up with 2nd and 3rd hour as well next week. Learning these will really help them to figure out words that they may not know.


ALL CLASSES are taking the reading MAP test with me on Monday, January 13th and Tuesday, 14th.




Read at least 20 minutes to prepare for the January book talk on January 30th.

Remind students to please bring their book to class tomorrow so that they can use classroom time to read and to help prepare them for their January book talk.


~Mrs. Finley

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