Slice of Life: Expert Advice from Students

Slice of Life 2011We’ve been working in class on paragraph writing in a slow, logical progression that began first with the Origins of Words, then shifted into Parts of Speech, and then on to the Structure of a Sentence, and now into Paragraphs, to be followed by a Research Essay.

Yesterday, my students shared out their expository paragraph on the theme of explaining how to do something. This is a pretty typical school assignment, but it does tap into student knowledge about a task, and puts it into explanatory writing.

I was thinking that I wish I had time for two more expository activities (maybe next year, when the Common Core starts to creep further in, as it shifts writing more into informational next and away from narrative): creating a video tutorial, using the writing as the script, with groups working on how to videos;  and moving into a Make Session around students in groups working on hands-on projects, and then learning aspects of technical writing. I’m not there yet, but I see the possibilities of extending informational writing.

While some of the topics of their writing sound familiar to anyone who has done this activity, (sports, baking cookies, etc.), there were a few paragraphs this year that were nicely off the beaten trail, a bit. As they were sharing them with the class, I jotted down some notes on topics they chose that seemed interesting:

  • How to create a movie with Pivot Stickfigure animation software (frame by frame, patience is key for a smooth movie);
  • How to read and play Drum Sheet Music (each line is a different drum or percussion instrument);
  • How to clean a fake beard (which she wore for her presentation and giggled a lot);
  • How to annoy your siblings (a crowd pleaser for the younger siblings in class — a warning shot for the older siblings);
  • How to build an arctic igloo out of ice cream (then, you get to eat it, so it’s win-win);
  • How to play the ukelele (which he demonstrated to the cheers of the class);
  • How to kickstart a dirt bike (in case you get stuck in the woods);
  • How to make a live action movie (start with a script, but then improvise. You’ll have more fun that way.);
  • How to fill out an NCAA Basketball Bracket for March Madness (go for top-seeded teams and hope for some luck);
  • How to use a ripstick (motion of your lower body makes the skateboard-like object move, and but don’t fall. You’ll get road rash.);
  • How to wear pointe shoes for dance (protect your toes. We all agreed the shoes looked uncomfortable.);
  • How to play power chords on the guitar (crank your amp for greatest effect).

Peace (in the expertise),

  1. Kevin, we should celebrate students work. I would love to see some of it. Perhaps you could film them next time and upload them to youtube. I know I could use something more than Expert Village at times, something from real students giving advice. It would be great for my EFL learners. Or perhaps you could post some of their work on line. It’s great that they were able to write about topics which interested them. Ellen

  2. Wow, this is a great unique list of different topics! Your students are so creative! My students really enjoy using the pivot stick figure animation. I like your idea of having your students make a tutorial video. I think that could be something I could have my fifth grade students try in the future. It would be a great way to incorporate expository writing.

  3. My friend and I write about our students’ work and often our posts take this form as well–it’s a way of letting each other know what we are doing, a way to remind ourselves of things students have done, and also a way to enjoy seeing all the creativity embodied in our students all laid out end to end to enjoy.

    I enjoyed this–reading over this list makes me wish I could have been in your classroom for a few of these presentations (I assume they were presentations) because they are so interesting! Terrific post–terrific day.

    P.S. Thanks for your comment on my blog post–much better day today, thanks!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *