SOL17 DoodleaDay 14 Inspire Word Art

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Inspire

Involvement

Necessary;

Sprout

Partial

Ideas–

Render

Excellence

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Classrooms of inspiration live by student involvement, sprouting partial ideas, and working together to render excellence for projects that help make the world better — or maybe just make the classroom better.

That climate is rendered by a teacher willing to give students agency — the belief in student abilities to work out their own solutions. It’s a climate filled with creation rather than compliance.

Project-based, inquiry learning allows students to take control of the curriculum in ways that the standards and targets are met in different ways by different students, depending on how the students choose their path to solutions.  Good sources for project-based learning are found at the Buck Institute for Education [BIE]. For projects based on immigration: see here.

Another way to think about classroom curriculum is to create the environment for students to experience the learning targets and discuss their learning in a constructivist way. Seymour Papert explains this here. A simple way to say this is:

“The good way to learn is to use it now.” Seymour Papert

A basic example in the language arts class can occur for teaching simile. Read this book to students of any age: Quick as a Cricket by Audrey Woods. After enjoying the book, reread the text and discuss how the author uses word choice to create meaning. And discuss the format of the sentences using that word choice to create meaning. Students soon can write their own, explaining their comparison, meaning, word choice, and grammar [like/as] to create their vivid descriptions. Students use the book to use their own language to learn by doing, and then learn the name for this figurative language: simile.

Another way to inspire classroom climate and learning is to use music. I just discovered this from Amy Cody Clancy today which provides suggested music for different content and context: Songs To Use For History / Literature.

Another way to include music is to find music related to students’ lives. My teaching career lived in a Native American community, and we were lucky enough to have our own celebrity, the late Jim Boyd, Colville Tribal Chairman and role model for our students. He is so missed for his leadership, his community actions, and his music.

Here is one of my favorite songs [I think I have all of his music] — which can inspire many discussions and help build relationships.

My Heart Drops, But I’m Proud by the late Jim Boyd, Colville Tribal Chairman and musician

 

What inspires your life and work?

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Part of Slice of Life 2017 by The Two Writing Teachers

Part of DoodleaDay by Royan Lee— today – Word Art

Doodling Song: My Heart Drops, But I’m Proud by the late Jim Boyd

Slice of Life

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Rushing in with barely a ‘hello,’ but with scraps of paper in hand, students rushed across the room from their previous class and logged onto their computers in Google Apps.

“I’m ready for Slice of Life.”

“I’m writing about the fish I caught.”

“I’m writing about my brother’s birthday party.”

“I’m writing about the game last night.”

For most, I needed only to offer support and feedback when students asked. They popped over to read each other’s stories. They helped each other edit. The discussed what image would best fit. And most important, the students used their writing vocabulary: elaborate, dialogue, strong verbs, imagery, simile, sights, sounds, smells, paragraphing, netiquette.

And these students encouraged the hesitant ones.

The Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge is an exciting motivation to hook kids on writing. [How It Began and Slice of Life 2017]

I miss that.

So, I revised my menu for those students who did need some suggestions, and created it on my blog here, and will post below for anyone who would like to participate and may want some ideas for getting those hesitant writers.

Hesitant Writers

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Did you read the post today on The Pennsylvania Writing and Literature Project blog, Teacher to Teacher: Helping Students Write? It’s a great read with questions and suggestions to help writers who cry, “I don’t have anything to write about.”

I also read Karon LaBonte’s post “Composing vs “Digital Writing,” which explained her personal process of and struggles in writing with all the digital and analog possibilities. I commented on her personal process and we both agreed that it’s the “personal” part of writing that engages students, yet our classrooms may be so focused on the requirements of nonfiction writing and essays that we neglect this most important aspect.

Which is why I enjoyed the “Helping Students Write” post. Lynne Dorfman suggested questions and getting to know the student:

…what the student likes to read, who his favorite authors are, what he watches on television. I ask him about his interests and hobbies. I want to know who is important in his life. Sometimes, I will try to find out if he has written a story, poem, description, etc., that he felt really good about and would like to tell me about that piece.

I love how Lynne invites the writer to think about writing through questions that show how personal writing is– that it starts with what the writer knows, his or her interests and passions.

Especially important for hesitant writers (and those who do not regularly write at all) are the questions about writing outside of school, and the questions about their interests. I try to listen to these students in conversation with others to discover in their chatter the story of the shot s/he made at recess, or the planned trip to a basketball tournament, or the dog who chased away the cougar, or the new video game played. Anything that will allow me to ask a question so the student tells the story, which then can be written.

Once they are written, the feedback on what was written well is key to encouraging students to continue. The action, the strong verb, the precise noun, the dialogue. After a few successes, sharing with peers to offer the positive feedback to each other begins the journey of thinking like writers.

Once students begin identifying the good writing, the teacher starts suggesting using that good skill in more areas, or suggests a skill another writer has shared. After a few sessions of the “compliment sandwich” [compliment, suggestion, compliment], students can begin compliment sandwiches with each other. They become a community of writers.

Still, there are students whose only writing may be the texts in their chats. It’s true that I’ve found students with piles of composition notebooks filled with poetry, but who don’t write at school until that talent is tapped. But many times, I’ve students who just have never written as a choice.

Key to engaging those students is the process of writing about what they know. The relationship between teacher and student is key — the discovering of their interests is key. Listening to their stories from your discovered questions asked from learning about them is so important. Guiding them to write by jumping into their action with an event or dialogue also helps them start the writing. A person can have a story, have told a story, but starting the story can hold them back.

I ask them to freeze a portion of their story — take a snapshot. Whatever action is there becomes the focus — frozen, we begin describing the moment, get it down as if it is just happening using action verbs, second by second. Soon the moment is alive and the student has a first action memoir.

It is those few first stories, that show how writers write about what they know, that begin the development of confidence so that students can find their own story and voice in the days to come, and begin their journey as writer.

And I love when those at first hesitant writers become the models for others.

How do you engage the hesitant writers?

 

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#DigiLitSunday Motivation

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Motivation.

It’s pretty simple: we like to do want we want to do when we want to do it because we have a reason and we know we can do it.

If you have read any of Daniel Pink’s work, you will recognize his research shining through that statement:

“The secret to high performance and satisfaction—at work, at school, and at home—is the deeply human need to direct our own lives, to learn and create new things, and to do better by ourselves and our world.”

“the three elements of true motivation—autonomy, mastery, and purpose”

Mastery means that you know you can do the task; you might struggle, but you know how to get there.

In writing class, help students see they can master the aspects of writing that is required of them. Do this by providing feedback first for what they are doing well. Find the strong verb and let them know. Point out the transition word that helps the reader. Indicate the specific nouns that paint the precise image in the reader’s mind. Whenever a student writes, there is something they are doing well. Acknowledge that first.

The second part of mastery is knowing you can get to the expectation. Feedback includes that acknowledgement of what was done well, and then a nudge of one or two things that would improve the writing. Ask a question about “How…” to get at the hidden action that needs to be clear.  Ask a question about what the character was thinking or feeling so the writer can build his character.  Their answers let them know what to add; and they know they can then.

Autonomy means choice– choice of which to improve, choice of tool, choice of genre, choice of topic.

Much of school requires nonfiction and essay writing, yet good nonfiction writing often includes narratives. Since everybody likes to share their stories, use narrative as the first genre to acknowledge good writing and strategies to improve it.

Students are constantly telling stories. As students enter a classroom, they are buzzing with stories from the moment in the hall or from the game last night.Time to write those stories is not an extra–it’s the starting point that they know how to do so they know they can master whatever goals they need.

Give them choices. Entry tasks, blogging options,  free writing, power writing, choice time.

Create project choices: Tuesday +Slice of Life, DigiWriMo [all year], Writing Menus.

Provide language prompts: Language is a Virus Prompts  New York Times Learning Network

It’s the play to begin. Let them choose paper or typing. Play with words and phrases. Play collaboratively as students each write the story from their perspective, then collaborate to improve. But most importantly, it’s what they know and can do. Peer and teacher feedback then indicate what was done well and one or two areas of question to improve. Shared Google Docs or Slides allow peers and teacher to add those feedback comments.

If students draft on paper first, do a “Gallery Walk.” Leave writing on the desk with a lined paper beside it. Students walk around silently, commenting on the blank paper to identify what they liked as good writing with the example and a question about an area of the writing piece.

Depending on the needs of the students, the tool used to write could be a choice; the genre [script, story, lyrics, poetry] could be a choice.

Finally, purpose. Finalize stories by taking out the personal information, tweaking the content for public viewing, and make those narratives part of the school culture of learning and sharing with the world.

Have a category on student blogs as “Slices of Our Lives” which can be searched and linked to for sharing in a kiosk during any event, added to parent newsletters, sent out in Remind or other parent notification platform. Encourage parent comments.

Connect with quad-bloggers or connect with your own PLN classes to share, comment, and perhaps collaborate on stories. Or join in with Youth Voices Live for sharing and prompt ideas.

Let students know that their work betters the world; that sharing their stories helps others learn and grow.

Setting up a the writing classroom with time for narrative writing with the purpose of sharing short stories, anecdotes, lyrics, poetry to better the world provides students and teachers with the confidence to learn writing skills transferable to required essays and the choice to write about what matters. It develops a community of writers and that’s motivation with authenticity, purpose, and mastery. Celebrate that each week with live “Storytelling” from their own stories.

How have you found narrative writing as motivation?

Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

This post is part of #DigiLitSunday

A challenge by Margaret Simon

 

 

 

Slice of Life I Missed Venice

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I’m in class all day. But my granddaughter currently travels throughout Italy with a backpack and an adventurous attitude. Her blog says:

 A vacation is a break from everyday life that in the end leaves you to return to the same pattern.

This is a factory reset. The goal is to come back as someone completely new, refreshed, and open minded.

To rediscover what it is to be human, not to be an American.

~Allison Fischer

That’s quite a statement. “To rediscover what it is to be human, not an American.” Imagine understanding the world from a human perspective, rather than a national or personal perspective.  I’ve heard that some where; I believe that somewhere. Imagine.

Today, she enjoyed Venice, a city I would love to visit. I missed her travels there and any live feeds while I was teaching and at the dentist. I can hardly wait to learn about her visit. She always talks to the local residents and learns about each city and place she visits. Just think of a city whose roads are rivers, or rather canals fluctuating with the sea’s tide and connecting the tiny islands from which the city arose ten years before the birth of Jesus.

I would have loved to see this city as she floated through the canals, winding through the waterways. What would that be like?  The colors in the pictures of the houses and shops, the waves reflecting the lights of the sun, the moon, the city lights, or perhaps the fishy smell from the sea, or the constant sounds of boats bouncing on the waves and clanking on the docks.  What happens when the tide recedes? So many questions about such a different type of city.

As a child, the journeys and story of the Venetian Marco Polo intrigued me — how he needed to open his mind and be more than a Venetian; I’m sure that’s why Venice has always been interesting as well.

And Allison is my Marco Polo.

Sigh.

I missed it.

 


 

Writing Strategy:

Wonderment: asking questions

Links:  Venice, Marco Polo, Allison’s blog, Imagine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image Source: Venice by Dominic Sherony

Slice of Life Cobbles

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Her feet hurt.

For hours she walked upon volcanic basalt cubes, the cobblestone streets of ancient Rome. One foot carefully placed, then another. Step by step in shoes without support in the arch or ankle, she tread through the tiny alleyways winding in ancient patterns to the places most of us only dream or read about: the Colosseum and the Pantheon.

The cobblestones cover the streets in the ancient city of Rome. They are cubes of basalt, a hard volcanic rock. The basalt cubes lay spaced atop the earth below, fitting together loosely to allow them to form to the earth. Settling into the ground, the cubes are uneven in height, creating a difficult terrain, much less friendly than the soft earth on the mountains of home in Washington State, where the wet earth would cushion her step beneath the tall firs.

The well-worn cobbles, two-thousand years old, welcome travelers; their unevenness forces them to notice the rugged roadway, and to notice each step of their adventure through the winding streets. Just as the firs of home have beckoned her towards the next bend in the narrow path,  the rows of cobbles now seem to say, “You’re almost there. Look ahead– look around the corner; there’s more to see. You can do it.”

The adventure itself eases her pain as she stops for a chocolate frappe and chats with locals. She steps back onto the cobbles, joins the troupe of travelers, and turns the corner to discover a new destination ahead, which will be followed by more.

Her feet quicken.

South_east_view_of_the_Pantheon_from_Piazza_Minerva,_2006

Public Domain Image: South_east_view_of_the_Pantheon_from_Piazza_Minerva

Life in Italy: Sampietrini

About the Roman Cobbles BBC


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Writing Strategy:

Layering

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.7.2.B
Develop the topic with relevant facts, definitions, concrete details, quotations, or other information and examples.

Layer each idea one upon another.

Example:

For hours she walked upon volcanic basalt cubes, the cobblestone streets of ancient Rome. One foot carefully placed, then another. Step by step in shoes without support in the arch or ankle, she tread through the tiny alleyways winding in ancient patterns to the places most of us only dream or read about.

walk — ON cobblestone streets—  BY foot — EACH step –WILL tread — THROUGH alleyways —  TO places

Alliteration:  — repeated beginning consonant sounds –

s – Step by step in shoes without support

c – cobblestones cover

d- discover a new destination

Strong Verbs:  walk, tread, creating, welcomes, beckoned, steps, joins

Slice of Life Silence

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Morning flew by along as many students continued to finish arguments [like this one] and personalized book reports based on student reading notes shared over the month in Google Forms. Some students worked on Keynote videos based on their social justice issues. Others reviewed make-up assignments. Students helped each other and asked questions related to their current task: argument warrants or concession/rebuttal; how to download their Google Slides as images for Keynote; how to review resources for figurative language. I love the sounds of workshop time: soft whispers asking for help and getting advice from peers, keyboards clicking, the ahhhs from sharing successes and techniques, focused silence for those reading, and discussion in my small group reviewing argumentative strategies. There’s a quiet hum that fluctuates between the calm of concentration and the chatter of collaboration, a wave of sound and energy in an ebb and flow of student agency.

It was a good morning, I thought, as I considered our successes during the final five minutes of noon break. I glanced across the empty desks reflecting the sunshine softly glowing through the window’s blinds.  They seemed to say, “Are they back yet?”

Riiiiiiiiiiiinnnnnggggggg!

Yes.

I stood to greet them.

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Writing Strategies:

Strong Verbs:  flew by, continued, reviewed, worked, helped, download, fluctuates, considered, glanced

Personification:  The desks seemed to say, “Are they back yet?”

Onomatopoeia:  Riiiiiiiiiiiinnnnnggggggg!