Congratulations to Anna J. Small Roseboro, the California Association of Teachers of English 2009 Distinguished Service Award winner. In our profession, so much is required in order to be everything our students deserve. The demands are great; this is no career for the uncommitted. Teaching well takes diligence, knowledge, passion, energy, flexibility, and skill. More »
Speeches meet CCSS
By Spring of the school year, your students likely are comfortable enough with you and their classmates to give oral presentations with more confidence and competence than they could in the opening semester. Now is a good time to assign a formal informative or persuasive speech that will give your students another opportunity to hone their research, writing, and speaking skills for an authentic audience while meeting Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts in reading, writing, speaking, listening, , and language! Students may conduct research, collaborate, create digital media and more.
You can get them off to a good start by drawing their attention to the features of an effective oral presentation and the fact that speeches are both aural and visual. An attentive audience pays attention not only to what the speaker says and but also how s/he looks and uses the physical space and supportive or distracting gestures.
Choose and show a couple of the short TED talks on topics your class has been studying so far. This time, turn off the volume and ask the students to simply observe the speaker. How is s/he using the physical space? What gestures seem natural, without being distracting. Then, turn the volume up and ask students to pay attention to vocal qualities. How does the speaker pace his/her presentation? Use pauses? Modulate his/her voice? Articulate words?
Next, invite students to choose a topic on something that interests them or that they are studying in another class. This will reinforce or expand their thinking about this other topic and earn them credit for completing an assignment in your class. For some students, this will be an efficient way to spend the next couple of weeks.
If you decide to assign a persuasive speech, spend a little time talking about persuasive strategies and kinds of appeals to change, organizational patterns, and ways of determining what the audience thinks and believes before trying to convince them to change. See VALUES assignment and TALKS TO CONVINCE or PERSUADE. Be sure to include reminders of the ethics of public speaking and cautions to avoid resorting to fallacious arguments. Fallacies are easy for students to spot in commercial advertisments. See ANALYZING ADVERTISEMENTS Assignment.
Students can practice their arguments on controversial topics by SPARring. See procon.org for contemporary topics and arguments for both side of issues.a
In the United States, March is Women’s History Month.
2014 National Women’s History Month
Theme and Honorees:
Celebrating Women of Character, Courage, and Commitment
Honorees for 2014
What an opportune time to feature the writing of females and to encourage students who are doing research projects to choose women as their subjects. Consider making this an international project and invite students to look at the contributions of women in all fields of endeavor from all around the globe. How about recommending research projects on women in the career fields the students are considering, especially those in STEM careers that seem to be key to future employment.
One of my favorite ways to challenge students to explore and expand their poetry repetoire is to assign them to pattern a published poem or use a traditional structure like the sonnet, limerick, haiku, or pantoum.
After doing their research, your students could weave what they’ve learned into an ode or epic, a lyrical poem, or one of those biographical poems or “I Am From” poems they probably experimented with in elementary school.
If your students are ready or it fits your curriculum to teach journalistic writing, you could have them write newspaper columns about these women, or persuasive essays pleading the case for their featured women who may not yet have been inducted into the Hall of Fame!
Of course, each of these assignments can be designed to be multi-genre and small group projects give students an opportunity to practice the range of skills your teaching this school year.
What may be fun for some students is to use what they learn about a phenomenal woman and write three different kinds about poems about her: a limerick, a pantoum, and a ballad, or a combination of their choice. It would interesting to see what personality traits, incidents or memories about the women the students choose for each poetic structure.
Please think about posting your and your students’ poems and short bios about family members and friends in a folder called PHENOMENAL WOMEN?
Periodic Table of Storytelling
Periodic Table of Storytelling? What’s a TROPE?
Could be used at least two ways:
Valentine’s Day Activity
Refer to the most recent reading or topic you’ve studied with your class. Ask students to consider way(s) that love could have helped resolve the issues faced by the characters/people in that reading?
Then invite students to create a LOVE acrostic poem based on that reading/discussion. Copy and paste these these quickie poems in a Wordle, or Tagxedo Word Cloud Shapes print and project as poster. Or publish the poems as a Prezi or Powerpoint on class website. Exchange with other classes doing same assignment. Come back to the poems as review before test or exam.
What a propitious time to help students
expand their understanding
of connotation and denotation.
The class I was preparing for was reading Richard Wright’s autobiographical novel, Black Boy.
Here’s a LOVE acrostic about the relationships in that book.
Loving is stifled when folks don’t listen.
Obviously, they all soon suffer.
Very likely Richard would have succeeded sooner if
Everyone had listened and acted in love.
Introduce Students to Books Old and New
Responding to Rena’s posting “I would like to do book talks with my grade 8 class, but I’m not sure how to get started. Has anyone got any suggestions as to what the abest approach would be? Your suggestions are appreciated!”
One approach: Select three books that you can link to what interests your specific students. Create two-three slides for each book that include images from book covers or of a key event in the book. On each slide write a probing question, a summary sentence, something specific about book that links to interests of your students OR a recent or upcoming theme/topic for your course, and end with a challenge: a reason to read. See samples at this link.