Friday, July 24, 2015

Narrative Writing Mat & a Poetry Writing Activity

These days I sit and struggle with the addition of narrative writing to our state standardized writing tests. It is befuddling to consider creative narrative writing as something that is standards-based, as it relies heavily on the ingenuity and individuality of voice of the author. Not to even mention the history of authors not having formal education or being kicked out of schools! In the end, my students must become better writers and hopefully, their development of voice will show the results in their scores. While working on the Narrative Writing Mat (posted below), I reviewed previous lessons that worked over the years that students reported as impacting their writing and engaging them in school.

For this particular lesson, I remove many of the desks from the room and have some of them line the walls of the room. Students take the notebook and a cheatsheet of literary terms. Students compose as many poems as possible during the course of the period. Students take a spot around the objects placed in the middle of the room. These objects are just random objects found in the house or a junk drawer. Students begin the period writing in any form, type, or voice they want to write in. They students' main directive is to use the objects as a muse for their writing and if they become stuck, focus on using vivid details and sensory language to describe the objects. Without notification, I buzzer goes off (I usually set this for about 2-3 minutes) and students move two spots to the right. While this doesn't seem like a lot, students quickly notice how a slight shift in perspective greatly alters what can and cannot be seen. Students start the process over again, but I often begin with a list and call them  out or write them on the projected screen. Perhaps during this writing students have to use two metaphors and one allusion or the lines must go ABBA BCCB and so on. This forces students up in Bloom's Taxonomy, where they now have to apply their mastered knowledge and skills. Also, students must be prepared as they don't have a lot of time to relearn the terminology.Students continue to move around the circle, moving two spots until back at the beginning. During their writing, I have time to walk around and provide individualized instruction as I read over student's shoulders.

Now that I've found my folder of narrative writings, I'll be posting them along the way. As promised, here is the Narrative Writing Mat to put on students' desks while their writing.

Narrative Writing Mat Front

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Technology Shock & Awe

As many teachers prepare to leave that sand and sun behind, we prepare to be more organized and more transparent for the upcoming year.The first few days, especially for high school students, is a reintegration to the resources and protocols of the new classroom. This year, I decided to place the major technology pieces used in the classroom. This front-back document is not a list of every technology used throughout our English II class, but rather the links that we use the most often. When compiling the list, I also chose to place an asterisk near those that I "strongly" suggest for students to signup and begin playing around with on their own. Self-exploration is a powerful tool and one I hope that many students will utilize in mastering 21st Century learning skills. 
The list is segmented into categories for easier reference and includes a brief description of the technology. I'm also placing this on the Class Procedures section of my course websites and LMS so students can easily click the links to navigate as well.

When it comes to technology, these resources are tried and tested in the 10th English Classroom. Feel free to download, modify, and use this list as needed at the bottom of this posting. I would strongly recommend, especially if you do not them, checking out iXL/noredink for engaging and standards-based grammar and composition practice. My classes love playing Kahoot! as well; it become a class favorite after the first time we use it. For research in any class, I strongly recommend integrating Diigo as a social-researching tool. It provides the traditional skills needed in researching, while modernizing it to fit the 21st Century college academia and career paths. Finally, Kaizena is a teacher's best friend for grading and giving timely feedback for writing. If you're struggling with grading stacks of paper in the traditional form or are just looking for an engaging new way to become efficient, I strongly encourage this Google Add-on.

Enjoy the remaining weeks of summer as we organize for the upcoming year!

Monday, July 20, 2015

CCSS/TNCore Writing Mats

Argumentative Writing Mat Front

Writing is becoming even more important  with the shift to CCSS/TNCore Standards. Students must be able to write at a higher level more often in all classes. In addition to all these demands, most of these writings derive from the student's reading and analysis of a more rigorous text. With this in mind, I took to creating and constructing Writing Mats.

Argumentative Writing Mat Back
Writing Mats are constructed from $5.00/50 sheets of scrapbooking sheets from Walmart. The information is simply printed and glued using a gluestick. During the opening days of school, I will laminate a class set for the three modes of writing in our curriculum. While some of the information is original, the majority of it is purchased on TechersPayTeachers. The bundles of Argumentative Writing and Informative Writing, from Tracee Orman, should be purchased by all secondary teachers. The supplemental material is easily manipulated to differentiate for multiple levels.

I will have these on students' desks on writing days to allow them to prepare mentally before we begin the writing task or assignment. Students can keep these, like a place-mat, under their writing and the rest of their work. Throughout their writing time, they can reference each of the sections as needed. Also, the laminated aspect is important as it will permit me to use a dry erase marker to circle or put marks on an individual student's Writing Mat. For instance, if one student is struggling with the rebuttal, I can flip to the back and circle that section with a red dry erase marker.

Argumentative Writing Mat Parts