Monthly Archives: February 2013

Inductive and Deductive Reasoning

Well, we did it. I’m not sure if it will stick, but I just saw the best results ever with teaching Inductive and Deductive Reasoning. How? Aren’t you just dying to know!
First, I started out with presenting the students with two arguments from the same conversation. I asked students to tell me the difference between the two, and they easily recognized one as “from personal experience” and the other as “a scientific principle”. Nice start.
Next, I presented a situation in which someone was robbed and the police detective came in to gather evidence. This was presented in a paragraph narrative, and then we broke down the argument in terms of the conclusion and the evidence leading to the conclusion. One amazing student connected to the previous lesson and pointed out the text structure as chronological.
From here, I stopped the discussion and transitioned into student notes on inductive and deductive reasoning. We recapped each reasoning with a fill-in-the-blank paragraph summary of the logic before looking at examples.
Here comes the newbie of the instruction. At a training over the summer, a wonderful lady (I’m so bad with names) who works for the state said, “Lots of teachers say they struggle with inductive and deductive and can’t teach it. But I think they miss the key step pf having students create the arguments first.” So that’s what we did. Students created the arguments and we then evaluated an argument. They knew what type it was, but they had to justify why it was that type and identify the conclusions and premises. After doing this with both inductive and deductive, I modeled looking at an argument, identifying the conclusion and the premises, and then determining whether it was inductive or deductive.

inductive 1

1. Teaching Bundle with PPT and Exit Ticket with EOC-Swag can be found at
2. Room Display Word Wall is available at
3. Trading Card Logic Strand Review Game is located at

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Text Structures – Minimal Teaching Involved

text 1Why is it that four day weeks can seem so long???

This week we had tons to do to prepare for the Writing Basics Unit Exam. Considering the content, this means mostly review with a slight zone in on Inductive and Deductive Reasoning.

Text structures is something which students have been expected to learn all throughout middle school, and I think I have readdressing it about down to a science. Or, at the least, doable in a 100 minute block with focus on the more troublesome aspects for the students.

Based on my teaching experience and student conversation over the years, I lumped the testable structures into categories. I gave notes on each structure and modeling analysis of a sample text. Then, they had a task to complete on their own. Yep, it’s that gradual release thing again.

Anyway, I think the lesson worked because the class average score on this assignment was 92%, above the goal of 85%.

How was it lumped?
Students tend to think chronological and sequential structures are the same thing, but by pairing them together you help students see their differences. We have been looking at roots, and one of the students remembered chrono- as time. From there we linked sequence as steps. Students recognized that the two may have the same key words, but they are actually quite different and serve different purposes.

Next, we looked at compare-contrast because students typically can easily recognize that as well. We went over key words and looked at text samples. Students were solid, and it was a good thing I was experienced enough to expect to be able to skip a few slides in that area.

Finally, we got to cause-effect and problem-solution structures. By putting these together, it has the same effect as having the students look at sequential and chronological together. We reviewed cause-effect first and talked about key terms and that the key strategy is to look for two questions: “What happened?” and “Why did it happen?” I modeled and had them identify key terms and we moved over to problem-solution. Here, I gave the simple strategy of seeing if the students could track the problem and find the proposed solution, or call to action, to address the problem. For this structure especially, students need to be able to pick up implied information as sometime the problem is not directly stated. Again, I modeled and had them find the key words. Then they had to look at text samples and identify which of the two structures the text met. Again, pretty successful for the students who identified the key terms first.

When I think back on the lesson, I think I would try more to include grouping – maybe a carousel in which I have model texts on the wall for students to identify. Maybe try a teaching section where students have different passages and have to identify the key terms and structure and then teach it to a partner. And most definitely, we will hit this skill again when we are looking at thesis statements and topic sentences.

Ideas? Suggestions? I’d love your feedback.

~ Text Structures PPT and Student Tasks – Find it online at

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Logic Continued: The Rhetorical Situation

This week is for teaching the rhetorical situation including the rhetorical triangle and the rhetorical devices of parallelism, repetition, hyperbole, simile, analogy, and metaphor. We close the week with the next installment of Common Core Writing Assessments and immediately close out Writing and Communication the following week with Inductive and Deductive Logic and the unit exam.

First, students are going to take notes over the rhetorical triangle, create a foldable, and then sort text examples into categories of ethos, logos, and pathos. We did this using Obama’s address announcing the death of Osama bin Laden. This sounds incredibly depressing in reflection, but it worked well for our purposes. I will say that, to accommodate my need for test mode, we opened the article with previewing and annotating the text. Students then moved into looking at ethos, logos, and pathos within the text. For homework, students will review the test and create an overall summary of the message and the impact of the specific appeals on the message. Overall, I would say this was an effective lesson and served as a solid introduction since we are looking at the more specific rhetorical devices tomorrow.

Next, we looked specifically at rhetorical devices. For this steps I had the students take notes on the devices and provided an example of each device. To raise the level a bit, I required students to really think about the example and have them identify the part and explain its impact on message of the example. This was a challenge for them, but I think it helped. We ran out of time for the task (lovely drills and unexpected things a teacher has to do), but the next day I revised the PPT to include several examples and video clips of each device. We talked about the examples and discussed the video clips. Then, students were better prepared to explain the impact of the device on the message itself.

All in all, I would say the students are prepared for this strand… I think… Next week we will review text structures and inductive/deductive reasoning before taking our unit exam. Then I will be able to tell you for sure.

1. Introduction to Rhetoric – The entire bundle including the worksheets and PPT files is located at
2. Rhetorical Devices – I will get this loaded asap but I have tons to do to prepare for next week… including making revisions to the test.

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Unit: Liking the Logic

Every single person in the whole world likes to get what he or she wants. I’m using that as the bait for the logic unit.

We have started out this unit by a review of persuasive techniques. Students took notes and we viewed commercials (intentionally planned to happen after Super Bowl Sunday) to see the examples in the format. We also looked at sample magazine ads for students to have that experience. One fun thing to do was to have the class split in two groups and create to “Carousel” rotations around a circle of advertisements. I had a worksheet for students to use to track their thoughts on the devices used in the advertisements. Now, the class was grouped in two, but I went through rotation 1 as more of a teaching technique. We returned to whole class instruction and discussed what we learned or realized in the first phase of the task. The second step was intended to be to rotate through the second group as a quiz, but we ended up doing more practice instead.

Students were then given all terms from persuasive devices/propaganda and logical fallacy and asked to sort the words in some way. It was interesting because I did not give the extra category title because I wanted to see what they would come up with, and that was a struggle. With lose guidelines some students did alphabetical order, some did “I know” and “I don’t” piles. Only one group did the grouping of persuasive devices (learned) and logical fallacies (not yet taught at the time of the sort) that I was hoping to see. This served as a good introduction and transition into the logical fallacies, so I am glad we did it.

With a quick review of the persuasive devices, we transitioned into the logical fallacy notes with the same format where students take notes, we view and discuss a commercial, and we view and discuss an advertisement.

After looking at persuasive devices and logical fallacy, we went over the rhetorical situation in terms of the basics and the appeals. We talked about speaker, subject, and audience in detail and moved into ethos, logos, and pathos. For here, I wanted to stop to create a logical assessment for mastery of the persuasive devices and logical fallacies in text formatting as the material should be taught in the manner it is tested. Students were able to demonstrate mastery of the visual examples, so we needed to transition into the elements of text. By reviewing the rhetorical triangle first, students would be able to identify the appeal and help narrow down the choices of the rhetorical appeals in order to identify the most prevalent device in the test. So, we did a word sort and arranged the persuasive devices and logical fallacies into ethos, logos, and/or pathos.

We looked at text examples of all devices – persuasive and logical fallacies – and identified which were present and which were most prevalent. We also looked at the effect of the

Then, I gave the test. I preach that 85% is the “Proficiency Percent” we aim for as individuals and as a class. How was the success rate in the standards-based assessment after all of this effort? I’d address that but I better cut short so I can go make the cupcakes.

1. I have loaded the full lesson plan with all ppts, handouts, and assessments to Kirk’s Corner. Find it at
1a. If you have plans and only need an assessment for this section, you can find the test itself at
2. The walls for the room were changed to include terms from Logic and Connumication standards. Find the printable posters at
3. Students created trading cards for homework using the same formatting as with the Literature Review strand activity. Those materials are available at

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Test Mode

Okay, I admit. I’m in test mode. So here’s the deal…

When I first started teaching, I was in a district and school where the expectation was to gather data. I believe this is vital to the success of the student, and over the years at my current placement I have worked hard to identify elements to help students be successful on the test. I’ve been using RUNNERS for about eight years, and I feel it is a huge part of the success my students have seen in terms of reading comprehension. So, I’m teaching RUNNERS to my students. If you are interested, I have placed it where you can find it at I teach this slowly at first, but we use it on passages throughout the semester. Starting next Friday, we are going to be working on one RUNNERS Reading Comprehension Drill a week. I don’t have all the details worked out, but I’m looking at trying to find current events articles that thematically relate to what we are using in class. Common Core? You betcha.

Next, I think there are test questions which can be answered based on the question itself and the answer choices. All the students need to do is understand what they are being asked in order to answer it. When I interview students after not testing as well as they would like, I get to the specifics of questions. I would say 99% of the time, the student says they did not understand what the question was asking. I tried using what I called Poe (like Edgar), but really that was just fancy for “process of elimination.” I was not seeing what I was hoping, so I was relieved when visiting another school a science teacher was using RAMS. Now, I have not a clue where this came from, and I have visited so many schools that I can’t even be certain in which school I saw this. Never the less, I started using it two years ago and have seen great gains with it. So, we’re going to use it in conjunction with our Friday RUNNERS.

Other idea for test mode? Testing Tuesdays. Each Tuesday we are going to look at a sample stand-alone EOC question for the purposes of analyzing RAMS and, hopefully, improving student ability on those questions on the actual test. I will use the gradual release in looking at a model to show my thinking process, a we do for me to guide them, a we do take two for them to guide me, and then two questions for them to do alone. Hopefully this will help with teaching skills and test strategies at the same time.

I have testing ideas for the other days, but I am thinking I need to wait and roll out the newbies slowly so as to not rock the structure we have in place. I’ll give you more on those ideas as they come, but I’m thinking about one specific test-related task a day…

Our objectives also have this weird standard asking about foreign words and phrases, so I am going to create short films – one minute each – to teach an assigned foreign word or phrase each day. I envision this beings something like the old “The More You Know” commercials from my childhood. Creating the videos will take some effort, so I’m going to start with doing two a week. Since we do SSR three times a week, I can use the other two days on foreign words and phrases to help students master them.

I will post all of this stuff out there, but this is the start of test mode and the steps I am planning to take starting Monday. So, with 10 weeks to the EOC, I will keep you posted.

I’m working on this. I promise. My goal for the weekend is to get these files posted at Kirk’s Corner.

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Writing Basics – Finally Finished!

Alas, we come to the close of yet another essay! I think all teachers of high school students grow tired of the writing process just in time to get a pile of papers to take home and read over the weekend.
When I was in school, we graded using the Harbrace. This time, I will be getting to use PARCC rubric just as soon as I can find a printer-friendly version. Anyway, so how did the essay end?
When I left off with my last post, we had just blown up an essay only to put it back together in looking at the order of sentences within a paragraph.
Our next step was to complete a peer review process. I have played around with a few different things, and I find students tend to think the essay is “fine” and make few corrections or suggestions. This time, I created a worksheet to guide the process in which the students had to find the key parts of each paragraph, rate them 1-5, and complete the frame of “One thing I really liked about this paragraph was…” and “One suggestion I have is…” I explained that N/A, IDK, and nothing were not options for the task, and I found the students actually did decent on this. The writing was so much better it was amazing!
Another idea to consider for the peer review is a group of 4-5 students. One student focuses on the thesis statement with a specific color ink, one on topic sentences, one on citations, one on whatever other element the student was expected to complete. They then sit in a group and literally pass the paper around with a timer to see that each essay has been reviewed by a group of peers, each with a very specific task.
When we finished the peer review yesterday, I told students it was time for a dose of accountability and reality. See, any teacher who has ever assigned an essay and tried to make parts of it homework knows there are kids who know the next day they cannot move forward without the previous part so they drag it out as long as possible. Not this time. I explained the dreaded BLUE BOOK we all saw in college. I had them raise hands to show me who was not going to have the revised draft completed by the start of class today so I knew how many to purchase. Then, I stuck to me guns. Students without the entire outline and essay were not allowed to get on the computer. Additionally, they had to sit separated to encourage focus and drive.
Then, I made a deal with our amazing librarian so that I could use a conference room attached to the library computer lab and set it up like a break room. Students who finished the final copy were admitted to take a break in the break room with some celebratory cupcakes and beverages. I also created and presented “SWAG” awards to the students to take home and show their parents. They were so excited it was worth all of the work.
In the end, I received all but three essays. Successful end to Writing Basics? I think so.

Files/Resources used during this lesson plan:
1. Expository Writing Pack is available at This bundle includes adaptable .doc and .ppt files for use in working through an Expository Common Core Writing Task for mood in plot, but you could adapt it to any text you desire.
2. Peer Revision – I will post this as soon as possible. I have a few deadlines at work and several essays to read.
3. SWAG Awards – Students Working to Achieve Greatness. I posted the certificate at

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