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Write-It-Right Wednesday

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Anything, and I mean anything, can be a writing prompt. While waiting for a friend the other day, this Pokestop popped up on my screen. What other amazing things/places are out there in the world I never saw before?

We are writers.

Writing serves my creative mania. In my classroom, historically, we write more than we read. Do I love books? Of course! Am I passionate and excited about passages, excerpts, themes, patterns, characters, and juicy plots? Naturally! But in my experience, if you truly want to a student, a person– to engage, spill their guts, bare their soul and express themselves, writing is it.

Write-It-Right Wednesdays are mini-lesson moments and writing workshop days. Mini lessons are those quick, here is a “thing you need to know” thing. Writing Workshop is a very different animal, and all I’ve learned is from my mentors Holly Stein and Kim Norton through the PSWP (part of the National Writing Project). The Puget Sound Writing Project is no longer, unfortunately, but Holly and Kim began a new venture, PSW Consortium.

Here is Writing Workshop:

  1. You write.
  2. Your students write.
  3. What do you write about? Whatever is on folks’ minds, part of the content, etc. Or what my friend Holly calls “Rule #10: write what you want.”
  4. Use images, news stories, personal anecdotes, objects, postcards, whatever.
  5. Writing is sacred time.
  6. If someone comes in the room to observe during this, they are asked to write, too.
  7. In small groups, each person takes a turn to read their writing. Nothing is in the listeners’ hands. Nothing.
  8. Second read: the listeners give feedback. Never, ever hand your writing over to someone else to read. Yes, it can get noisy. This is not about spelling or editing.
  9. The listeners take a few minutes to verbally give feedback, and hand over the feedback slips to the writer.
  10. The writer says “thank you.” That’s it. They can choose to take the listeners’ advice or not. This is important to teach in terms of preparing writers for criticism and to understand their own craft.

 

This is Holly’s Power Point. I hope she doesn’t mind me sharing it.

Writing Partner Feedback Sheet I have a format in Publisher where I put these two up on a page, and double-side photocopy. This document contains the essential information.

Two Writing Teachers

WriteAbout

For the grammar lessons, I may try to use Grammarly in the classroom.

Here is an example from a student from a memoir unit:

7 feedback
This was from a modeling portion where I wrote the story, and students acted as my writing partner for feedback.

And for heaven’s sake, start a writing blog for your students: http://poetryclub.edublogs.org/

Update: Two Writing Teachers wrote a great piece on Writing Workshop. Read and keep.

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Source material.

We have had a firehose of information provided us for the SBA writing tasks. I am doing my best to make sense of it.

This is the near-final version of the Prezi: but I’m at the point where I can’t edit any further. Its intended audience is the staff right before school starts, to help all staff members to feel supported with writing across the curriculum.

If you see something wonky, needs fixing, big ‘ol “huh?” please let me know. Thank you!

The link for resources is here:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0ByKyQvl3l_F5cEF5ckpPb2VzOG8/view?usp=sharing

 

 

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Myth of the Month Club: Krampus

Brom's Krampus
Brom’s Krampus

Krampus is the dark companion of St. Nicholas, the traditional European winter gift-bringer who rewards good children each year on December 6. The kindly old Saint leaves the task of punishing bad children to a hell-bound counterpart known by many names across the continent — Knecht Ruprecht, Certa, Perchten, Black Peter, Schmutzli, Pelznickel, Klaubauf, and Krampus. Usually seen as a classic devil with horns, cloven hooves and monstrous tongue, but can also be spotted as a sinister gentleman dressed in black, or a hairy man-beast. Krampus punishes the naughty children, swatting them with switches and rusty chains before dragging them, in baskets, to a fiery place below.

 

Just when you thought stuff couldn’t get any weirder: ‘t round out the week before Winter Break, prevent the need to scrape kids off the ceiling, and harmlessly, innocently, integrate some technology skills I created this prompt:

There are a lot of strange and wonderful ways to celebrate in December around the world. Now’s it’s time for you to come up with your own! This is a group project contest for the best, new, weirdest plausible holiday!”

And they were off! They were given a list of items they might include:

  • Food served
  • Special clothes or costumes
  • Mascot or Character
  • Tradition/ritual
  • Activities

And while none came up with a variation on Festivus, we did have a “Wishing Day” and a “Squidmas.” The students worked with Power Point on-line through their Office 365 software, and had a ball. They only had one block class to consider, create, and design their presentations.  They were all winners in my book! This proved to be a great way to introduce Power Point on line, collaborative creativity, and a low-risk activity that was accessible and funny. The ones who didn’t quite get it at first were those who thought this was a simple regurgitation of researched holidays: once they saw others with their original ideas it helped to model. The truth is, as much as a teacher can model something, middle school students look to their peers to see what else is happening in a creative crunch.

 

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The Write Stuff

Cosmin-Munteanu-In-doubt

Writing to visual prompts is one of students’ favorite and most engaging things to do. It generates fruitful opportunities for a variety of perspectives, questions, mode (genre)  and forms (delivery system)  of writing.

To that end, I’ve been collecting visual prompts for years, and have fallen in love with Pinterest (late to the party, I know) as a means of collecting ideas:

https://www.pinterest.com/kellyclove/writing-image-prompts/

If you’re looking for a student interactive site, check out Write About and Writing Prompts. And I still add prompts connected to CCSS on my other writing blog, too: Up From the Gutter.

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Writers Reading Writing Week.

No, I do not have hero-worship of Neil Gaiman. (Liar.)

Ever have one of those units of study that just globs along in the back of your mind? Well, after reading aloud this week* this thought inspired me: Why not create a mini-unit of writers reading their reading? I am constantly stressing to my students that writing is talking: and they can all do that. We are just beginning to really dig into the writer’s workshop protocols. I was asked two days’ ago what “writer’s workshop” model I use – I didn’t have a prescribed answer. I use the one from the Puget Sound Writing Project, part of the National Writing Project. It’s designed to create, first and foremost, a safe place for writers. I am so comfortable with it, I supposed, because of my fine art’s background. Throwing a painting in progress or sketch up on the wall for your peers to see is risky: I developed my diplomatic critiquing style from these days.

So: I need to throw this idea up on the wall and see if it sticks: Each day for two weeks (yes, there’s an assembly on Friday, earthquake drill, [not taken lightly – we do live in a dangerous geographical area] I will continue to read out loud, and have students listen to other writers reading out loud. We will continue to work on annotating text, and the text will be in conjunction with author’s voices. How would you approach this? Would you have them read the text cold, as a pre-assessment of comprehension, and check for their understanding after they hear the writer? I’m thinking Neil Gaiman reading Instructions would be especially good. (Wonder if I can find a version of him reading Chivalry, one of my favorite short stories? Or should I just put on black T-shirt and speak in a British accent?)

Ultimately, I want them to find their own voices. And since that is the big questions: “What are you trying to say, in your own words?”, they will write and then — speak.

Not quite sure what that rubric should matrix*, though.

What we say and feel doesn’t always fit in a box.

*Comments from students the past few weeks: This class is easy, it’s fun, do we have to go to our next class? I’m not trying to cause divisiveness; I just love reading and writing–dang, I love my job.

*Did I just make matrix into a verb? I am so confused.

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