Monthly Archives: April 2013

Course Reflection.

I would say I’ve found more resources in this class than all of my other education classes combined.

Here are some of my favorites:

*I chose this second grade class blog because of the ideas it gave me. They pose challenges and communicate with other classes through their blogs. I thought it’d be really cool to find a “sister class” and share our work and projects with them. I’d love for students to do peer-review with a sister class and maybe learn a little something about students who may be a world away from you. It would also be helpful to the teachers of these classes as they could share resources and lesson ideas while their students communicate about assignments.

I don’t think I’ll ever stop trying to find resources for my students. I have three huge binders filled with activities, handouts, worksheets, writing guides, and other stuff that I’ve saved and collected since high school. Even with all of that, I’m always on the hunt for something new or a variant of an activity that I could modify for older or younger students, for disabled or handicapped students, for different disciplines, and a million other ways. You never know when you’ll end up with a difficult class or child that you need to find a different way of reaching them; the more you have to work with, the better!

I would like to continue this blog, for sure. Even if it’s just a place for me to store my ideas and resources, I’ll definitely keep using it. I don’t think I’d share this particular blog with students but I would definitely share it with teachers or even might be able to use it as a networking tool. I do, however, like the idea of my students using blogs. It can be an easy, always accessible, way for students to keep in touch with me and their classmates, find resources for their assignments, keep up with the course calendar, find copies of assignment sheets that I know they’ll be constantly losing, or just a place to ask questions. Blogs can also be a good way for students to keep up with their work. If they have a digital copy of something, they can put it on their blog and know it’ll always be there, even if their computer gets fried or the file is corrupted, they have a back-up on their blog.


Composing a Playlist for a Character

Composing a Playlist for a Character

Grade Level:  7-12
Content Area: Filed under English, but could certainly be used for a variety of other subjects. For example, students could make a playlist for a historical character (Social Studies/History) or a famous artist (Art), or even about a natural disaster or weather event (science).
Theme/Topic:  Critically analyzing both music and a text and putting them together; students must first understand the song and text separately and be able to apply their understanding of each to the other.

Common Core Standards: There is at least 20+ standards for this lesson, so I’ve picked out a few that I think are most important.

  • 9-10.RL.3: Analyze how complex characters (e.g., those with multiple or conflicting motivations) develop over the course of a text, interact with other characters, and advance the plot or develop the theme.
  • 9-10.RI.1: Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text
  • 9-10.W.2: Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas, concepts, and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.

I really liked this lesson because I think it’s really interesting and would be fun for students but is also a meaningful activity. I like having fun in the classroom but I think there needs to be a purpose other than just because something is enjoyable. I love the idea of incorporating music into my lesson plans. I constantly listen to music and get ideas, clarifications, and advice from music, so why not apply it to something else I love: literature. I think this gives students an opportunity to show a little of their personality in an assignment, which I don’t think they get to do very often. Besides picking out songs, they have to validate their choices with some sort of rationale from the text, which is always a good skill to work on.

Students should be able to:  Put their selves in the mind of the character, think about music in relation to a text, rationalize their song choices, and cite situations from the text that relate to their songs. I believe the requirement that students use textual evidence in their rationales is a “long-term learning” skill because they will be doing it throughout high school and college, just in different contexts.

Students are actively engaged by choosing songs that they know, by having the opportunity to choose from their repertoire and explain their thinking. I think students like to share their taste and music choices with their peers, so I think they’ll be really into this activity.

I would probably not change this activity much at all. I would take out the letter to the character because I don’t think it’s necessary along with the rationale for each song.  I also think it’s necessary to add something about how the songs should be school appropriate, or at least censored to make them so. One thing you need to ensure with this lesson is enough library or lab time, seeing as every student may not have internet or computer access at home.

A Professional Development Initiative for Developing Approaches to Vocabulary Instruction with Secondary Mathematics, Visual Arts, Science, and English Teachers


I’ve always been an advocate for all subject areas teaching vocabulary, not just the English department, so I agreed with a lot of the main ideas of this article. I especially enjoyed the sample activities that were included with all the research; I despise reading articles about educational stuff and them having nothing included from students or teachers. I also like looking at samples of student work, which this article also had. I Vocabulary instruction always seems to end up on the shoulders of the English teachers and it’s nice to see ways in which students can learn useful reading and decoding skills in other disciplines as well. By working on vocabulary in a lot of classes, students start to pick up on the patterns to be found within our language (adverbs usually end in –ly, how words change forms, etc). Learning about prefixes, suffixes, roots, and patters is a really useful skill. Even if you’re only thinking about the scope of EOC testing;  a student could easily come across a word they don’t know but could break down by using their knowledge of words.

  • ” The studies…suggest that the most effective methods for instruction ’emphasized multimedia aspects of learning, richness of context in which words are to be learned, active student participation, and the number of exposures to words that learners will receive.’ “
  • Highlighting cross-curricular connections is very important; it helps students to make meanings of experiences and with different examples. They learn about the flexibility of words and how they can mean different things in different contexts, situations, and disciplines.
  • Allowing students to learn about words and their meanings in a variety of ways is more likely to work. Give them opportunities to work with written, oral, and visual representations of words.
  • Being activity/socially based is a good thing. It builds social skills, ability to work with others, and gives students perspective from somewhere else they may not have seen or heard about otherwise.
  • Most importantly: students need to see the connection and relationships between words in order to make a “rich meaning” of language and be able to manipulate or use it in their favor.

Multigenre Research Paper: Increasing Interest, Motivation, and Functionality in Research

Summary Points:

  • Teachers AND students hate research papers; they’re dull, uninspiring, boring, and are usually unrelated to students lives
  • Changing the format can increase student interest and effort. Things like having students research unsolved murder cases, adding graphs and visuals to papers, writing news articles about the topic are a few options to change up the regular style of research writing.
  • Multigenre Project = students research a topic but instead of the traditional paper they write about the subject through a variety of different genres including birth certificates, news articles, poems, letters, wanted ads, and journal entries.
  • This format doesn’t necessarily provide a smooth flow of information or lead to the proving of a thesis; it does require that students think about the topic and interpret it from the subject’s point of view or from their time period.
  • This type of project requires students to be creative and use knowledge about many types of writing, organization, and formats
  • It includes a bibliography but no in-text citations.
  • End notes provide an explanation of each genre, the source for materials, and how/why the genre was inspired or chosen.
  • Most of the endnotes showed more knowledge than the actual genre writing.
  • Students were able to explain how and why they wrote what they did; most research projects do not allow room for students to discuss their thought processes and inspirations.

Thinking Questions:

  1. How will students react to this assignment? Will they view it as more work or an opportunity to learn something and present knowledge in a new, hopefully more interesting, way.
  2. How will this type of project be graded? What’s the most important thing? How will I quantify the knowledge they gained?
  3. Will this actually prepare students for researching and research writing they will be required to do in their college work or future?

“I” Poems Main Points & Thinking Questions

  • Having students write in first person allows them to find their own voice and express themselves and also deepen their understanding of literature. 
  • The narrator becomes a person, place, or object that speaks directly to the audience. When writing these poems, students are put in place of their object, thinking about their feelings and thoughts and how they’d be expressed.
  • Composing allows students to go back and rethink things they may have missed the first time. Students will (hopefully) think about things in a deeper way when they think about events/characters/themes from the perspective of something other than the original presenter in the text. 
  • “Students understand and remember ideas better when they have to transform those ideas from one form to another.” (Pg 519) 
  • Pre-Reading: Get students thinking about setting or background of the text by writing from those perspectives. In the author’s case study, students saw Sarah’s (From Sarah, Plain and Tall)  sense of dislocation (she moves from the coast of Maine to the plains of Kentucky)  more clearly by writing the “I” poems.
  • Post Reading: Students responded to a novel written entirely in poems by writing the same type of “I poems” found in Out of the Dust.  They learned how to express things about themselves in the way that the narrator does in her poems. 
  • Students can write from the perspective of objects witnessing important events or hearing the thoughts of a character. They can put together perspectives or ideas that wouldn’t usually interact because they’re from the mind of a character. 


Thinking Questions

  • How can students use this strategy during reading a text instead of just before and after?
  • How will students respond or learn from each others’ work? Would they benefit from peer reviewing/editing if the aim is simply for each student to explore the text more deeply and discover their own “voice” for writing?
  • How could students use this strategy to make predictions during pre-reading or about the events that follow the end of the text (what happens to the characters/situation after the author closes the book?)


Teaching for Understanding

What does it mean to be literate in your discipline?