My recent post over at Middleweb is a collaborative writing piece with two teachers at an urban middle school. The article captures a year-long professional development facilitated by the Western Massachusetts Writing Project that centered around classroom inquiry projects, and what we all learned.
My latest blog post over at MiddleWeb explains how I asked my students to assess me as their teacher. I used Google Forms and collected responses, trying to get a handle on how their school year has gone from their perspective.
My latest post over at Middleweb is about a poetry project in which my students not only write digital poems, but learned about the use of image and citation, and the underlying structure of the Internet itself: the hyperlink.
Speaking of technology and writing, spend a few minutes watching this video. Brad Wilson gave a short Ignite talk at MRA (Michigan Reading Association) on how to shift away from talking about technology itself and instead, to talk about writing. He lays the blame for students not fully engaging in writing in a digital age to teachers, and then shows a potential path forward.
My latest blog post over at Middleweb explores how to talk about race, and how difficult it can be with sixth graders. It was all sparked by a unexpected question by a student, who asked why some people can use the “n word” but others can’t.
I wrote a review about The Next Digital Scholar collection over at Middleweb. It’s a book that has a lot of information packed tight into it, with lots of great chapters designed to help teachers think about the intersections of learning and technology.
My latest post at my blog over at Middleweb is a look at a wonderful collection of graphic stories, with connections across science, history, media and more. The collection is called Reading with Pictures and is curated for classrooms.
(This is a Slice of Life post, as facilitated by Two Writing Teachers. Lots of educators are writing about the small moments of their days. You write, too.)
I recently wrote a piece for my Working Draft blog over at Middleweb about using a fun, new way to get my students to write stories. Storyteller Cards. They’re pretty nifty and strange, and perfect for sparking interest from my young writers. At the time, I had just introduced the cards to some students, and asked them for suggestions.
Each card has information: a character in a setting, with an object, doing something. Other bits of information along the edges of the cards include a mood, a season, a letter and a playing card suit/number.
This is an image from the Storyteller Card site: An Anatomy of a Card.
Yesterday, I pulled out the deck of cards for all four of my classes and we created a story-writing game of sorts that engaged my sixth graders so much, they were leaving the class asking when we could write again.
This is how we played:
Everyone gets two cards, face down. No looking.
We all flip one card together, spend a few minutes examining it (lots of excitement when this happened), and begin a short story with that character and some information from the card.
We write for 7 to 10 minutes. Keep writing.
Then, we flip the second card and add a new surprise character into the story underway (this flip kicks in the giggles and sharing with friends and “what is this?” comments all over the room)
Write for another 10 minutes.
Share out stories.
Ideally, the third step of this “game” would have been to trade your card with someone next to you, but we never got there. This activity engaged my students and also provided a nice creative break from our Parts of Speech unit and open response prep work that we are doing as we eye our state tests on the horizon.
My co-teacher, seeing the engagement of our writers, made the astute observation:
What if the state test was all about this kind of writing?