Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Are we teaching writing wrong?

Dean Shareski shares his thoughts on writing recently and in particular, questions the use of things such as 6 Traits and writing benchmarks.

The post and embedded links, as well as the comments that follow, are a lot to digest. I think that writing digitally is very different than writing on paper - but for lots of different reasons.  And I am pondering the pieces of his post about drafts and revisions.

And I can't help think about the districts I work with - where teachers are struggling to teach writing because they were never taught how to do that themselves.  And now we are asking them to teach writing in uncharted territory...digitally.  Not an excuse - just thinking about the change process, especially in education.

I'm pondering a lot of what he has to say - and wonder what you think.  Post your comments on this blog or that - but weigh in!

Monday, September 13, 2010

I See What You Mean!

"Write your answer and if you have time left over, you can draw a picture."

This all-too-familiar instruction to children sends the unfortunate message that writing has content and value and will be graded, but drawing is optional and will be ignored.
Yet these assumptions are not true of real-world information texts, whether they are reference books or CD-ROM resources. Information can come in pictures as well as in words, and more usually in the kind of text that combines images with words. Teachers across the curriculum, therefore, have an obligation to teach students how to read and write these visual texts.

That is the book description for Steve Moline's book I See What You Mean. Powerful stuff!!

And if you have been working with your students on visual learning - Steve and his publisher Stenhouse are looking for samples of student work to include in a new edition.  You can submit your work at this Ning or just check out the fabulous resources they have there on visual literacy.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Get them organized!!

It's that time of the year when organization (or lack thereof) raises it's ugly head as you meet your new students.  Marrying technology with the need to be organized there are some great tools out there that you might want to share with your students (or your Response to Intervention team):

Soshiku is designed for middle and high school students and has a great feature that allows you to receive a text when an assignment is due!! I really like the long range view that the site gives - showing overdue assignments, things due that day as well as the next and a monthly calendar.  Time management is a big factor in disorganization and this site could help with planning.

Remember the Milk has been around a while and is one that I use on my iTouch.  This application is nice because it allows you to organize your tasks in a way that makes sense to you - list format, tagging, making notes, etc. As someone who travels, I can also use the map feature to make sure that I don't book things too close in time when there is a lot of driving involved.

TrackClass looks interesting as in addition to keeping track of tasks and sending reminders, it allows you to keep notes and assignments (like essays and presentations) together in one place.

If you are more of a "lister" than long-term tracker, Ta-Da Lists might be the site for you! And if you are more of a post-it kind of person, try Square-Leaf!

Of course, at the end of the day - there is always the good old stand-by: the back of a napkin!!

Thanks to Free Technology for Teachers for some new links!!

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Words to Write By

Over at Two Writing Teachers, they shared some inspirational quotes to share with students and paste on the inside of writer's notebooks.

And if you are looking for ways to launch your notebooks - you should check out this great idea they got from a conference.

My resources for writer's notebooks are over on my wiki - including my favorite Unlucky Writer's handout that can be shared with parents and students.

And I leave you with some of my favorite quotes to inspire writing:

  • The art of writing is the art of discovering what you believe. Gustav Flaubert
  • Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart. William Wordsworth
  • If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead, either write things worth reading or do things worth writing. Benjamin Franklin
  • You can't wait for inspiration, you have to go after it with a club. Jack London
  • Convince yourself that you are working in clay, not marble, on paper not eternal bronze: Let that first sentence be as stupid as it wishes. Jacques Barzun

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

The Manual of Style

Style manuals for writing always crack me up - they are pretty dense and have lots and lots of writing rules.  Most of which, I am not sure I follow.  I guess that is why I am a writer not a Writer!

The 16th edition of the Chicago Manual of Style is out and has some interesting new, "state of the art" style conventions I found interesting and thought I would share:

  • The title of a work that ends in a question mark or exclamation point should now be followed by a comma if the grammar of the sentence would normally call for one or, in source citations or in an index, if a comma would normally follow the title. 6.119, 8.164, 14.105, 14.178, 16.54.
  • Brand names that begin with a lowercase letter followed by a capital letter now retain the lowercase letter even at the beginning of a sentence or a heading. 8.153.

And in case you are interested, you can go here and download a free electronic copy of the first edition (1906) to see how things have changed.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Get up and READ!!!

I know that it is Labor Day weekend - a federal holiday in America that is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers but all to often marks the end of summer and beginning of the school year.  Barbecues - last minute school shopping and the like generally are the hallmarks of the extended weekend.

But while you are out - consider the fact that September is Library Card Sign-Up month!! Encourage your students to get out and get a card and use their local library!!

Why? Well - here are 52 reasons why.

And it's not your grandmother's library anymore - check out this recent article in my hometown newspaper to see how times they are a'changing!!

And while you are out - be nice to those people who are working this holiday!

Friday, September 03, 2010

FREE e-book: Critical Thinking and Web Research Skills

It seems like the common answer to "What is.....?" these days is "Google it!"

Not an entirely incorrect answer given the wealth of digital devices at our disposal lately - but it does make me wonder if everyone really knows HOW to Google it!?!?!

This free classroom guide from Microsoft geared toward middle and high school students covers the following:

Read it - you might just learn a tip or two as well!!

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Back to School - Back to Blogging!!

Here it is - the start of a new school year in Western New York!

About half of our districts start this week - with another half starting next.  I know my own family is split - with the eldest two nieces starting today and the youngest niece and nephew starting next week.

So - like me, now is the time to get into blogging!!

Whether you have been neglecting your class blog or just been too hesitant to jump write in - the Edublogger Student Blogging Challenge will begin soon!!

What is it?
  • 10 weekly tasks designed to improve blogging and commenting skills
  • Connecting with a global audience!
  • Open to class blogs and individual student blogs
  • NOT limited to blogs hosted by Edublogger
  • FREE!!
Click here to see more and most importantly, to register!!  And then share the links of your class/student blogs so we can see the fun and development!