Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Ice Breaker Idea

Over at Two Writing Teachers there is a post about a new book called Artists, Writers, Thinkers, Dreamers: Portraits of 50 Famous Folks & All Their Weird Stuff. TWT thought it would be a great way for students to introduce themselves, and I have to agree. It would be an excellent way to value all the cultural capital that the students bring with them into our classroom.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Helping Students Learn From Mistakes

Subscribing to Edutopia on Facebook is probably the most helpful thing I've done lately -- they often have articles that make me think and help direct my teaching. Often I already know the information, and they just remind me about good pedagogy. That was the case with this recent article about "Teaching Students to Embrace Mistakes." Check it out!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Vocabulary Book Review

As an ELD teacher, I am teaching way more vocabulary than I ever have before. I have found this book to be an invaluable resource. It combines vocabulary with writing skills, creativity and presentation -- a win, win, win for any ELD classroom. I can't recommend it enough!!

So far I have tried the selling a word (persuasion) strategy and the news story strategy (who, when, what, where, why), and both of them worked very well. Remember that these are students who don't like to write -- but they were able to do this and do it well enough to teach their classmates. Their retention was very good based on a quick assessment the next class period. The nice thing about it is that I let their peers assess how they've done -- if they know what the word is, they pass, but if the students can't tell me what the word meant, the authors go back and make their definition better -- real world instant feedback.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

The Amazing Human Body

I used this video as the hook to my unit on the amazing human body. I had to preface it with the catch phrase do NOT try any of this at home.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Sentence Combining

I think I will use this with my level 4 ELD class tomorrow:

Why Do We Need To Know This?

I love the ideas this blog post had about answering this question (the post is about math, but I also hear this from my ELD students on a pretty much daily basis). I think the answers and logic posted here would work for any subject.

I especially like how the author gives suggestions for having students take some of the responsibility for connecting knowledge to what they may or may not do in the future. Below is a quote from the blog:
Upon hearing the "When will I ever use this?" refrain, a high school teacher I work with tells her students, "I'm not sure because I don't know what you want to be in your life. But if you give me a list of everything you plan to do and accomplish, I'll do my best to let you know when we cover something that I think you might use." When kids say, "I don't know what I'm going to do,” her response is, "Exactly. You might need it next week, next year or never. But it is going to be on Friday's test, not because I want to make you miserable, but because at the end of the year, it is going to be on the state test, and if you want to pass, you need to know it.”

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Utah Beehive Book Awards 2013-2014

As far as the YAL category goes, I've read the following and here is my input:

Shadow and Bone: Felt like I'd been there, done that. I am very tired of whiny teenagers taking leadership over a group of adults or other teenagers just because they have some super power and not for any particle of leadership ability. I didn't like this well enough to seek out the sequels.

The Lions of Little Rock: I loved this book. I particularly liked the relationship between the mother and the daughter; because I could really relate. Readers who enjoy historical fiction should eat this up.

The Fault in Our Stars: Dare I say that I've had this on my Kindle for months (along with Code Name Verity) but I've yet to read it? I know both of them are good, it's just that I tend to give all my attention to the books I have out from the library.

Cinder: I liked this one well enough to check out the sequel, Scarlett, and I actually liked that one the best. This one was pretty good even if it felt a little formulaic. I'm a sucker for Byronic heroes, and the main squeeze from number two is definitely a Byronic kind of guy...

Code Name Verity: See above.

Legend: I found this one to be fairly interesting. I thought the author's comments that she based this on Les Miserables and the scenes with Marius and Eponine were telling. What would happen if the detective and the fugitive hooked up? Hmmm.... I liked this one well enough to pick up the next in the series, Prodigy, but I just got it on hold from the library yesterday, so I haven't had a chance to read it yet.

The Scorpio Races: I thought that the characterization was very interesting in this book, but I couldn't really get into the whole water horse thing. The author didn't sell me on why in the world anyone would do such a thing. If you are a fan of great character writing, you'll like this. I also liked the double perspective between Kate and Sean. I'm not sure why I don't rate this book higher than I do -- I think it's because as stated above, I just didn't buy into the mythology.

Ungifted: I haven't read this one yet because it's never in the stacks, which means it's probably a pretty good read.

The False Prince: Ditto Ungifted. I just started working my way through these last month, so this one will be next on my list.

Welcome Caller, This is Chloe: Honestly, I may or may not get to this one as it is not really my cup of tea. I'm just judging from the cover on this, which tells you how important a cover really is.

Rot & Ruin: I liked this one well enough to read all the sequels that are available. It may be my current craze with The Walking Dead, but I liked it. It's more about relationships (and good versus evil) than Zombies, really.

Wrapped: Although this book was completely unbelievable, I did like it enough to read it all the way to the end. I won't be picking up any sequels, as the characters were just slightly off kilter for me.

How was I able to read this many books in about three weeks? Well, my new teaching assignment leads to a lot less time spent at home grading. I used to spend tons of time creating and tweaking curriculum and then added a ton of grading on top. With ELD the curriculum is set, so I just spend time tweaking. Most of my feedback is instant right there in the classroom, so the grading load is very light. If it wasn't for most of my students hating to read and write, this would be a perfect job.

Science is for Those Who Learn; Poetry for Those Who Know

2013 was a rich year for novels in verse. Here is one list.
It's great to see some appreciation for the beauty of language! I generally appreciate the effort an author takes to write in a different style.