(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?
What if? As if.
Peace (in the cards),
My latest post at Middleweb comes on the heels of completing a course on ELL Immersion. Our state now requires the sheltered immersion course as a requirement for re-certification. It was a bear of a course, and I share out Nine Lessons Learned.
Head to Middleweb to read the post
Peace (for all students),
My latest blog post over at Middleweb is about the feeling that there is always so much more to learn about the teaching of writing, and how I am inspired by an urban school where I am facilitating a year-long professional development inquiry around writing in the content areas.
Check out Teachers of Writing Are Always Learning
Peace (in the share),
My latest post at my Working Draft blog at MiddleWeb is a look at play, with Kevin Cordi’s new book as my guide. Come check out the post and think about how you play with stories in your classroom.
Read Classroom Storytelling: Time to Play Again
Peace (in the share),
For everyone who is in all of my various online networks and communities and adventures, I thank you. Here is a song, with some animated words, as my humble thanks for all the inspiration and support you give me throughout the year as I write and explore and learn.
Peace (with words on the wall),
Over at by Working Draft blog at Middleweb, I wrote about a project called The Peaceful Imaginary Land Brochure Project as part of a way to talk to my students about our school’s Peacebuilder’s Pledge in a different way (beyond mouthing the words as a school every morning.)
I did not share the above graphic there, but I had worked on this image as I was thinking through all of the literacy points with the project as a way to document the student learning. As I added more and more elements, I realized just how expansive this one project can be, and on how many points of writing, reading, listening and speaking it hits.
Peace (in the lands),
At my Working Draft blog over at MiddleWeb, my latest post is about our whitewater rafting trip and the idea of seeing our students in a very different environment (literally/figuratively) when we take them outside of our traditional classroom setting.
Check out Experiential Learning: Take Us to the River
Peace (in the current),
My recent blog post over at Middleweb is about having students make Six Word Memoirs, using comics as the art element. It was one of those extension activities that took on a life of its own.
Read my piece over at Middleweb.
Peace (in the words),
My latest blog post over at MiddleWeb is about joining a group of reading intervention teachers for a new learning community, and how much I realized their teaching world and my teaching world come together, and don’t, and how appreciative I am of the work they do.
Check out The Outsider, Looking in at MiddleWeb
Peace (in the reading),
While I was away from my blog, I had some pieces published in other spaces that I wanted to share with you.
First, my MiddleWeb column as we end summer is about reflecting on my digital sites and doing a bit of housekeeping as school is about to start. It’s a nice time to reflect on what we project to our families and students before they come into the classroom for a year of writing and learning.
Second, I wrote a piece for the National Writing Project’s 40for40 blog, as NWP celebrated its 40 years with 40 posts from NWP teacher/writers. My piece reflected on a time when I traveled to Chico, California, to take part in a week-long technology retreat, where the people I met continue to be partners in online endeavors across the Internet. The piece is entitled “That Week in Chico” and it was a great way for me to ground myself in a time when so many doors opened up for me.
Finally, I took a break from blogging but still dabbled in Twitter while on break and found myself working on a regular diet of #25wordstory stories, which I then collected and shared out for Slice of Life via Storify. I love these stories for brevity and inference and revision, although it can be a struggle to find just the right words and leave just the right amount of story “out” of the story. You decide if it worked or not.
Peace (in the writing mode),