Quip is a new online word processing tool that is free to non-business users, adapts its look to the kind of device you’re using (tablet, desktop, smartphone), and lets you collaborate with others on your document. You can read more about it at TechCrunch.
It’s not unusual for me students to tell me that they don’t have to worry about reading and writing well because they are planning on being a professional basketball player, skateboarder, etc.
I’ve got responses to that (though am happy to hear what readers say to it), but I think having students hear directly from athletes themselves saying how reading and writing well has helped their sports career.
I’ve only got a couple of resources, and hope that readers will suggest more.
Here’s what I have so far:
Here’s a video about LeBron James and why and what he’s reading, and an ESPN article about it — LeBron James, open book.
What do you think writer Jon Henley is suggesting should be a higher priority — helping people who need assistance or not letting that get in the way of achieving your goals? To what extent do you agree with what he is saying? To support your opinion, be sure to include specific examples drawn from your own experience, your observations of others, or any of your reading (including Henley’s article).
There’s a fair amount of research, which I describe in some of my books, which shows that leaving lots of teacher comments on student papers is pretty much a waste of time — many, if not most, students don’t pay much attention to them. And doing that with our many students who are struggling writers can be very damaging and deflating (one of the many reasons I don’t like the idea of computer grading of essays). Instead, what my colleagues and I try to do is generally focus on one major positive area and one area that needs improvement (usually via post-it note and quick private conference) and teacher short class lessons on what we see as common problems — sometimes through the concept attainment method.
However, for our International Baccalaureate classes (in particular, for the Theory of Knowledge course I teach), we have some very self-motivated students that have to develop essays that are submitted to IB, who can be pretty particular. Even though we are constrained by IB rules about the number of times we can provide critical feedback on outlines and essays, we need to be pretty complete during the times allowed.
For those classes, I can see the 121Writing site as fairly useful. Students log-on to your class site, copy and paste their assignment onto it, and teachers can provide audio feedback on it. It could save a teacher time, and provide a way to give more detailed feedback to students who need it, and can “take” it.
I learned about it from Richard Byrne’s blog, and I’d encourage you to visit his post to read more about it. His post focuses on schools using Google Drive. However, you can use it even without using Google Drive by registering at the site here.
What does the movie Hotel Rwanda say about courage? To what extent do you agree with the movie’s message? To support your opinion, be sure to include specific examples drawn from your own experience, your observations of others, anything you have read, and scenes from the movie.
The Beginning students aren’t responding to it, but the Intermediates are working hard on it — with the support of peer tutors.
They’ll be posting their final essays at our class blog soon, so you’ll be able to see the results….
My only reservation about the site is that they ask for your birthdate when you register, and that seems a bit odd. I certainly wouldn’t recommend that students put their correct one. I took a quick look at their terms of service and didn’t see anything about an age requirement, but could have missed it. I just don’t see why that information is needed….
Two new studies have now shown that it can be equally effective with Latino students.
My previous blog post and the new studies (along with my lesson plan) do a good job explaining the process but, simply put, the idea is to have students write briefly about values that are important to them.
Here’s how one of the researchers behind the new studies describes why it’s effective:
“When you look at what the students write, you see that they are generally not boosting their egos or self-aggrandizing. What they do is remind themselves about who they are, and what is important to them. They are reaffirming a narrative about themselves that they are okay people who have core values that will be with them through the ups and downs of school. And this helps the students see threatening events from a broader perspective, and these threats become less of a stressor and less disruptive of their academic motivation and efficacy.”
I’ve written about the value of “mimic writing” in some of my books, and today read a post by Daniel Coyle that put the value of mimicry much more succinctly and and accurately than I have ever described it.
But first, let me share a little bit more about what it is and what I’ve shared about it….
Simply put, it’s just showing students models of writing and challenging them to write their own versions sticking pretty close to the models’ styles.
Mimic writing. Students can examine multiple examples of certain writing features through strategies like concept attainment, text data sets, and teacher modeling. Then students can mimic these writing features by creating their own examples. For example, students can examine several Yes and No examples of topic sentences and identify the features of a good topic sentence. Then students can write their own topic sentences and evaluate them according to these features.
We then share a “data set” of effective openers or “hooks” that students can use for mimicking (you can see an example of what we mean by a “data set” at this article).
Here’s what I wrote about mimic writing as part of a chapter on “Gratitude” in my new book, Self-Driven Learning:
there may be times in lesson plans where “mimic writing” a gratitude “letter” to someone could also be used to refine writing skills. For example, students could write such a letter to someone important in their life using the speech Nelson Mandela gave upon his release from prison as a model. The first portion of that speech is all about the idea of gratitude.
Now, back to Daniel Coyle’s post….
He shares a couple of excellent videos. One is a famous Bruno Mars skit from Saturday Night Live where he brilliantly mimics several famous singers:
Here’s Coyle’s key reflection:
Apparently Mars has been doing these impressions for years, starting with Elvis when he was a little kid. Think of what the repetitions of these imitations have done for Mars’s vocal technique, his range, and his ability to create certain vocal effects. Thanks to mimicry, he has a whole menu of sounds and moves to choose from and use.
I can testify that writers do this too. At various times in my notebooks I’ve mimicked Hemingway, Tom Wolfe, Frank DeFord, Gary Smith, and Kurt Vonnegut, and I know many others who did the same.
What experiences have you had with mimic writing in your classes?
You can see an example of this kind of prompt (which requires students to read an essay and respond to it) at a previous post where I shared one my colleague and I developed for an article on Carol Dweck and the idea of a growth mindset.
Here’s an AWPE-style prompt based on a Bob Marley quote (we’re studying a unit on Jamaica) that my colleague Katie Hull Sypnieski and I developed (well, really, it was mostly her ). You can download it here as a student hand-out, but I’ll also share it here:
“If she’s amazing, she won’t be easy. If she’s easy, she won’t be amazing. If she’s worth it, you won’t give up. If you give up, you’re not worthy . . . Truth is, everybody is going to hurt you; you just gotta find the ones worth suffering for.”Bob Marley
Writing Prompt: In the above quotation, what is Bob Marley saying about love and relationships? To what extent do you agree with what Marley is saying? To support your opinion, be sure to include specific examples drawn from your own experience, your observations of others, or any of your reading.
Again, it’s very abbreviated — not the prompt itself, but what they are reading prior to their response. Typically, it’s an actual essay. But even a short quote like this can be good practice.
Do you have similar examples of prompts (& the essays that the prompts refer to) that have worked well with your students? If so, leave examples in the comments and I’ll write a future post sharing them all.
I’ve often written in this blog (and in my books) about one of my favorite lessons — ESL students compare our school’s neighborhood with the most wealthy one in Sacramento, and write a persuasive essay about which one they like the best. Students first identify what qualities are most important to them in a community, and do lots of other activities.
We just finished this year’s lesson and all the students chose our neighborhood as the better one (usually, about 80% choose our neighborhood). You can see their essays here, and a slideshow about our field trip, too.
Actually, we’re not quite done yet. Students will finish up by designing their ideal neighborhood….
According to Carol Dweck, what is a “growth mindset” and why is it important? Do you agree with what Dweck is saying? To support your opinion you may use examples from your own experiences, your observations of others, and any of your reading (including this article and the other articles on the brain, self-control, and grit that are in your notebook).
Even though I had concluded that Check This was the easiest tool for my students to use for creating/writing reports (they could be creative and no registration was required), we couldn’t get it through our filter.
Loose Leaves became my second choice, though it wasn’t nearly as attractive or engaging to students.
For now, though, I’ve decided on Glogster Edu. You have to pay a few bucks if you want more than ten student accounts, but I think it’s worth it. I have some concerns that it provides so many creative opportunities that students can focus more on looks than content, but, considering the limitations of our content filter, for now it’s the best choice.
I only quickly reviewed it, and it seems to have some nice materials and activities. They say it’s for an intermediate ELL level middle school class. It seems fairly high level in terms of the language and intellectual requirements, so I’d suggest it would work well if you had a class composed entirely of high intermediates. If you had a wide range of language levels, though, I’d question how realistic it would be to realistically differentiate the lesson elements language-wise.
That’s one of the reasons our school uses, as do many others, units from The Write Institute — they’re engaging and easier to differentiate in the kind of ELL classes that I think you’ll find in many schools, ones that have a wide-range of language levels.
That said, though, I’ll still certainly including and adapting part of the Understanding Language unit into my lessons.