October 18, 2008

Conventions in the ESL Classroom

At the end of each 6-traits online class I ask participants to revisit their weekly reflective journal and assemble a refection that covers the full span of the class. In this excerpt, Tim D. synthesizes his insights about Grammar and English. ~ Dennis

When I was teaching at a middle school in Asia the administration decided it would be a great idea to break up "English" into two categories: Grammar and English. While I was teaching short stories and poetry in my room the teacher next door had these thick text books full of sentence diagrams and editing worksheets. What really struck me about this is that the grammar portion was never utilized when the students wrote for my class. They knew how to do the diagrams and edit sentences but when it came to their own writing it was still full of errors.

I didn't handle this very well and took to marking up papers with red ink. The truth is most of these students had only been speaking English for a couple years. Their parents had pulled them out of the local school and plopped them into a sub standard "American" school. Not only were we dealing with middle school students, but we were dealing with second language learners as well. Honestly I think listening to American music and watching American movies was as helpful as anything. It allowed them to "hear" English.

Spandel offers a lot of very interesting ideas in this lesson. The ones that struck me were teaching the editing marks in the beginning and then having them use them on progressively more difficult work. Instead of using worksheets she suggests using others' work. This is brilliant. Especially if its done in front of the class because it allows students to see things that they might not have caught on their own. Finding errors in everyday samples like newspaper, ads, and mailings is also a great idea because it teaches them to look for those things. (I would suggest the Dunn County News as a great resource for this…)

Comments: This lesson really solidified in me that I need to combine teaching conventions with other material because it allows me to point out examples within good writing instead of using arbitrary examples that the students aren't familiar with. Actually, reading the posts by the other teachers was very enlightening on how they weave grammar into their programs.

October 17, 2008

Resources for Young Writers

This list of links was lifted from the always interesting WordSwimmer blog.

Claremont Review
Giggle Poetry
KidPub: Where Kids Write!
Lightening Bug
Merlyn's Pen
NaNoWriMo's Young Writers Program
New Moon Girls
Ralph Fletcher's Tips for Young Writers
Skipping Stones
Stone Soup
Teen Ink
Write It
Young Poets (Canada)
Young Writer (UK)
Young Writers Online
Young Writers Society

October 13, 2008

New 6-Traits / Writing Process poster available

New product from the NWREL: Help support their great work!

Get your poster here!

Here's a question for you all to ponder! Where do Web 2.0 concepts and tools like information fluency, blogs, wikis, and e-learning environments fit in the dynamic 6-Traits / Writing process landscape?

Information Fluency Skills (the ability to efficiently search, evaluate and ethically use digital information) certainly fit in the Ideas/Pre-writing area. This is particularly true for modes of writing like the expository, persuasive and research.

What about Blogs, WIKIS or Google Documents?

Where do you see these 21st Century tools fitting in the diagram above?

Anyone willing to take a stab at creating a poster with Web 2.0 integrated into it all?

Let us know?

October 3, 2008

National Poetry Week: October 9, 2008

National Poetry Day (October 9) (Resources from Annenberg Media/Learner.Org)

Watch beautiful hour-long documentaries about the lives and works of 13 American poets in Voices & Visions <http://www.learner.org/resources/series57.html>. Featured poets include T. S. Eliot, Robert Frost, Emily Dickinson, Langston Hughes, Walt Whitman, Sylvia Plath, and William Carlos Williams.

Literary Visions <http://www.learner.org/resources/series41.html> offers mini-lectures, dramatizations, and poet interviews to illustrate the most important elements and devices of poetry. See Programs 11 through 17 to explore the role of imagery, tropes, symbolism, theme, character, and much more.

Observe high school English teacher Chris Mazzino teaching about stereotypes by having students interpret and edit a poem in Teaching "The Children of Willesden Lane" Program 12, "Gaining Insight Through Poetry" <http://www.learner.org/series/cowl/ch13-19/>.

See how poetry teaches about American societal trends with "Rhythms in Poetry" <http://www.learner.org/amerpass/unit10/>. This program in American Passages: A Literary Survey features the poetry of Langston Hughes and William Carlos Williams.

The American Passages archive <http://www.learner.org/amerpass/slideshow/archive_search.php> contains artifacts related to poetry and poets such as Phillis Wheatley, Anne Bradstreet, Emily Dickinson, and Marianne Moore, as well as poetry related to specific eras and social movements. Search by keyword and/or era and/or ethnic group to explore the archive.

Consider different approaches to teaching poetry with Write in the Middle: A Workshop for Middle School Teachers, Workshop 3, "Teaching Poetry" <http://www.learner.org/channel/workshops/middlewriting/prog3.html>.

Teaching Reading K-2: A Library of Classroom Practices
<http://www.learner.org/channel/libraries/readingk2/> presents ways of working poetry into language arts lessons at the early elementary level.

In Engaging With Literature: A Video Library, Grades 3-5, watch a fourth grade poetry lesson based on poems from "Baseball, Snakes, and Summer Squash" by Donald H. Graves and "Hey You! C'Mere: A Poetry Slam" by Elizabeth Swados. See Program 3, "Starting Out" <http://www.learner.org/channel/libraries/engagingliterature/starting/>.