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 »
Lots of websites offer lessons to celebrate and commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his contributions to our nation and society as a whole. One key way to validate his legacy is to ensure our young people see the value in education. I’m so glad so many of you do just that. Need a few fresh ideas?
Here’s a link to a site to help you quickly review events in life of Martin Luther King, Jr. with a follow-up quiz in several versions. Can lead to discussions and connections to what you’re reading/studying right now.
Here’s a link toFloCabulary for lesson on finding literary devices in his “I Have a Dream Speech“.
Writing About the Holidays
The holiday season, for many, extends from November through February. Families will be celebrating Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanzaa and the New Year. Writing about holidays is a wonderful way to share cultures in words, pictures, and music. Yes, holidays also can be an emotionally difficult time for your students. So, being sensitive to these emotions, you can design lessons for which students can write about real or imagined celebrations. You know your students and can adapt the lesson to fit the setting in which you teach.
Now is a time to plan writing assignments that draw on their real or imagined experiences with family and friends. This is a great time to tap into their creativity in writing sensory images – literally and figuratively. The assignment can be published on your class website or shared with other classrooms across the nation. Remember, to confirm new sites with your administrator before launching a class site for your students.
I’d recommend beginning the assignment before the holiday breaks and picking it up when the students return. Starting prior to break will encourage them to be alert and maybe even journal while away school. Hey, I’m the eternal optimist. This linked assignment “Holiday Memory” can get you started.
Kick it up a notch and ask students to include x number of figurative images, too – metaphors, similes, personification, hyperbole, synesthesia, etc. How about onomatopoeia, assonance, and consonance too.
Adding, substituting figurative images usually works well during a revision step. You could ask students to circle the images already used, and then experiment with ways to substitute or expand with figurative images, more concrete nouns, or vivid verbs. When students have a goal, they usually meet it.
How Do I Make It Better?
” Students sometimes wonder how they can make a well written early draft even better. If you teach them specific steps they can take to improve their writing themselves, you will have taught a skill they can use for life. Consider using alliteration to help them recall the tasks that can be done in any order. During revision, encourage students to apply the Four E’s.
Expand – develop what is written to make ideas clearer and more interesting without being repetitive. Add more information to show rather than tell. Use carefully chosen examples from literature (any reading and viewing), life (personal experiences and observations), and lessons learned in other content area courses. This may require research to find credible sources and experts to add weight to their arguments.
Explain – clarify what is written by using various reasons based on experiences and observations and lessons learned in other courses. “This is important because…”
Exchange and rearrange – what words can be substituted that will make the writing clearer, more interesting, more precise? Consider using more active verbs instead of passive ones with forms of the verb “to be”; more concrete nouns, more words that have the positive or negative connotations to create the desired mood in your reader. Think about ways words, sentences, paragraphs can be rearranged to make the ideas unfold more smoothly, making the thoughts less unambiguous, more interesting, and more inviting to consider. What does audience need to know before making a decision? This is why skillful informative writing is important.
Expunge - get rid of distracting or weak words, phrases, and sentences that cloud writing that clouds and prevents ideas from shining through, glowing with authority as the writing informs, convinces, persuades, and even entertains.”
*Excerpt from TEACHING WRITING IN THE MIDDLE SCHOOL: Common Core and More (2013)
How do students use results of your assessments?
“Informative assessment isn’t an end it itself, but the beginning of better instruction” Carol Ann Tomlinson
Teachers can increase student learning by helping students understand ways to use results of formative assessments. Include in your instruction time for students to discuss what they are expected to know and be able to do by the end of an instructional unit.
Equally important is to let them know how you will measure their acquisition of knowledge and demonstration of skills. This, of course, will take some planning on your part. you will need to know what you expect to see as you measure their increased knowledge and skill.
Talk about levels and depth of thinking. Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy is accessible to most students, but you may need to help them understand the academic language. Share with them this chart with set of verbs to give students ideas on ways they can demonstrate their learning.
Discussing these issues puts teachers on the same side…learning together.
While I agree with Carol Ann Tomlinson’s quotation that informative assessments can be beginning of better instruction, I’d add that informative assessments can be the beginning of better learning for the students.
Once students understand what they are expected to know and be able to do as well as ways they can demonstrate their increased understanding, they are more likely to cooperate, collaborate and eagerly anticipate a range of assessment opportunities.
Introducing New Units of Study
We know that getting off to a good start makes all the difference in the world. Why not consider some of these ideas for kicking off your next unit of study or the next book you plan to teach. With careful planning, gathering resources, and scheduling use of technology, you and your students can have the time of your lives reading, writing, viewing and talking about fiction, non-fiction, print and digital media on topics that interest you all
and also meet those COMMON CORE STANDARDS or curriculum standards
required by your school, district or state.
Introducing New Units and New Books
at the 2014 National Conference of English Teachers annual convention.