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Power Lesson: “This I Believe” Essays

…and were shocked by their classmates’ writing. A few said they wished they had written this essay sooner. Sample Student Work I was floored by some of the essays I received. Some made me laugh, some made me gasp, some made me cry. Compared to the typical papers I usually assign, this essay allowed my students to not just think about what they were writing but to care about their writing and to be intentional in the language they were using, both in word choice and rhetorical strategies, because it was about what they believe. It is some of the…

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Back to Basics: A Review of Mike Schmoker’s “Focus”

…attempt to solve problems.” Handle the paper load: Don’t collect or grade everything; focus feedback on specific issues rather than everything in a piece of writing. Students should be involved in discussions at least three times per week, with established criteria to guide them; write at least one formal essay per month (or a minimum number agreed up on by PLCs); and give one or two presentations per semester based on their formal writing.     Social Studies Reading and writing must be at the core: Too many teachers are falling for “faddish” activities like skits and posters. Build the…

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Episode 21: Make It Stick Author Peter Brown

…myself to my writing projects. So it fit our schedules better. So I would—Then we went around and hunted for an editor and we ended up happily with Harvard University Press. And the editor came out to visit with us in St. Louis to talk through our proposal and we—with her brilliant advice—we got it whittled down to eight chapters. She helped us very much think through how it should be organized. Then we were off and running and writing. Then the writing process was, I knew—we knew what each chapter was about, generally. I would then go on about…

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Episode 57: Nine Simple Solutions for Common Teaching Problems

…continue being tech gurus throughout their school lives. GONZALEZ: Right, right. It might help them find their calling. And they help other kids, and they help the teachers. Yeah. It really helps, especially solving a lot of low-level problems. 2. Inspiration Boards GONZALEZ: OK. Second book is “Make Writing,” which is the only book in the series that does not have the hacking title. So tell me a little bit, this one’s a little bit of an outlier in this series. Tell me about “Make Writing” as a book. BARNES: Yeah. This is by Angela Stockman, and Angela’s a good…

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Nothing Says Over 40 Like Two Spaces after a Period!

…We should not support or encourage this anymore than we have to especially when it comes to teaching writing/grammar. If you’re texting, fine. But if you’re writing a letter or some print for publication, or an email at work, or really most things…follow the grammatical rules. Second, clarity. While single spaces separate words, I think double spaces should separate sentences, it reinforces that the thought (sentence) is complete. It helps it stand out and I think it reinforces clearer writing, clearer reading and clearer sentence construction. Also, carriage returns (breaks, new lines, line feeds, ) or whatever should separate paragraphs,…

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A Few Creative Ways to Use Student Blogs

…students a real-world writing situation where they understand the “why” of writing and are not simply writing for the teacher or peers. As I listened to your ideas, I couldn’t help but apply them to the English classroom specifically. I think blogs, in addition and in connection to what you have already said, can be used to gather background information about a novel, function as a writer’s notebook, or post book reviews about choice/class novels. In addition, the “how-to” blog could work as a formative assessment for students to explain grammatical principles or literary devices in their own words before…

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Episode 50: Using Playlists to Differentiate Instruction

…ESL kids, and I’ve got some various levels of different special education students with me. So I knew that I needed to do things differently for them. And also, just … writing is a very, in my opinion, writing is a very personal process for anybody, so it’s always been hard for me, as a teacher, to say, “OK, students. Your graphic organizer is going to look like this. We’re going to this activity today, then we’re going to do the next one.” So I really wanted to … I saw the writing workshop as a way to truly make…

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Power Lesson: Poetry Gallery Walk

…also motivated by giving students freedom to write about what they felt comfortable writing about, and probably more importantly to not write about something they did not want to share. Particularly in an exercise that would end with sharing their writing with peers, this was a way to increase flexibility. It also offered more creativity in terms of chronology and structure, which many utilized in awesome ways. Finally, what I do with most writing assignments for my classes but always with creative/narrative exercises: I created my own exemplars to share with them. I am a huge advocate of leaning into…

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The Price of Snark: What I Learned About Teaching from a Viral Post

…using the monospaced fonts. I choose to take the more conservative route as it works in all scenarios. J T JENR, if your partner is an expert in the writing field and you are not, then why is there even a disagreement over this? Listen to the knowledge person! It should be noted that doctors and random professionals are not experts in writing, either. What they do or do not do is irrelevant. Do NOT go to them for writing advice. In fact, run the other way: doctors have a reputation for being absolutely horrible at this topic. Also, doctors…

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