Monthly Archives: August, 2014

Editing Sticks


ImageTuesday is the day to share a “Slice of Life” with Two Writing Teachers. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.  Thanks to Stacey, Anna, Beth, Tara, Dana and Betsey for creating that place for us to work collaboratively.

What is the purpose of punctuation?

Many believe that punctuation is most important in writing because it signifies both the beginning and ending of sentences as well as indirect (paraphrased) or direct reporting of speech.  Students in kindergarten are exposed to end punctuation marks (. ? !) as well as these marks associated with speaking (,  “  “).  But is the bigger purpose of punctuation to give the reader the necessary clues to understand exactly what the author has written?  If yes, then the reader also needs those punctuation marks.  Why? Punctuation marks are very important when considering phrasing and smoothness of reading as a part of prosody for fluent readers.  A review of the CCR Anchor Standards found these six as possible considerations when thinking about the value of punctuation for both authors and readers.

CCRR Anchor Standards Considered:

Reading

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.1

Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.3

Analyze how and why individuals, events, or ideas develop and interact over the course of a text.

Writing

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.4

Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.5

Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach.

Language

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.L.2

Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.L.3

Apply knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts, to make effective choices for meaning or style, and to comprehend more fully when reading or listening.

My Version of Editing Sticks

2014-08-22 15.01.39

My tools for this work are editing sticks that I created after seeing some that looked more like clear acrylic chopsticks on Twitter.  The size of the sticks that resembled chopsticks does make them more accessible to working “inside text” but the main feature is that they must be clear.

(Clear disks with a variety of punctuation including:     .   !   ?   ,  “  “ )

 

Inquiry Mini-Lesson for Professional Development with Teachers

Connection:

Remember that we are working with narratives and one way that we “show” instead of “tell” is to add dialogue to our small moments story.  Sometimes as a reader, it is hard to know exactly what a character says because when a speech bubble is not used, the writing does not clearly say or show who is talking.

Name the Inquiry Question:

How do I decide what punctuation to use in my dialogue?  How can partners move the editing sticks around to show exactly what a character says in a story?

Inquiry Set-Up:

With a partner, decide which editing sticks you will use, where you will put them and why.  Jot a note to record your thinking and any questions that develop.

 

   The   principal   said   the   teacher   is   a   great   leader.

 

Active Engagement:

Listen for conversations and watch for jottings that show there is more than one possibility for this statement. (Who is talking? The principal?  Or the teacher?)  Chart some of the jottings to help remember the lesson later. (Possibilities – The principal said, “The teacher is a great leader.”  “The principal,” said the teacher, “Is a great leader.”)

Link:

Authors have to be very careful when they write dialogue in order to make sure that the reader clearly understands who is talking.  Changing the punctuation can change the speaker and/or the speaker’s words.  Continue to study conversations / dialogue as you read to find more examples from mentor texts.  Take time to double check the dialogue in your stories with the editing sticks to make sure that the reader can clearly tell both who is talking and what they are saying.

What kinds of mini-lessons are you using for punctuation, specifically quotation marks for dialogue?  How is this lesson different from Daily Oral Language editing?  How do you combine the “editing” from writing and the “language” conventions for meaningful practice with text that transfers to student learning? 

After all, is the goal “perfect punctuation” or “increased understanding”?  What are your thoughts?

10.26.16 Tweet from Elise Whitehouse (@OAS_Whitehouse):

punctuation sticks.JPG

The Power of a PLN!


ImageTuesday is the day to share a “Slice of Life” with Two Writing Teachers. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.  Thanks to Stacey, Anna, Beth, Tara, Dana and Betsey for creating that place for us to work collaboratively.

Last week as I finished a PD session for some of my teachers, I was asked by the principal to compile separate lists of Informational Books for grades 3, 4, and 5 so they could be purchased for the staff.  So a a “resource-full” individual, I put my question out  on Twitter to see exactly which informational titles the members of my PLN would say that they could not live without.  And they did not disappoint!

Here are the five books that I shared as a result of Alexis Czeterko’s (@AlexisCzeterko ) Closing Workshop “Five Mentor Texts for Information Writing  – and Ways to Use Them with Power”.  The variety is incredible and seems to renew teachers’ interest in quality informational texts as well.  And then the opportunities for using mentor text to explore writing techniques and goals will quickly expand for all writers who study craft moves while reading!

1.  National Geographic – Great Migrations:  Amazing Animal Journeys

2. Surprising Sharks  by  Nicola Davies and illustrated by James Croft

 3. No Monkeys, No Chocolate by Melissa Stewart and Allen Young

4. The Split History of the American Revolution 

5. Elephants  by Steve Bloom

Responses to my request for HELP!

Melissa Stewart provided a great list, but I loved the fact that she said these two books were necessities if only two books could be ordered.  Do you know Melissa Stewart? If not, STOP, reading and just click on this link NOW!

Boy Who Loved Math – Heiligman

The Animal Book:  A Collection of the Fastest, Fiercest, Toughest, Cleverest, Shyest –and Most Surprising Animals on Earth – Steve Jenkins

Melissa stressed that the actual books for a grade level would depend on the content standards currently in place.  So keep that flexibility in mind as the goal is NOT to create a perfect list.  Instead the goal is to put valuable mentor texts into the hands of the student authors!  Check to see which ones you already own and which ones fill gaps in your current collection!  (So unless your room is completely empty, you would need to check your current booklist and your standards before blindly purchasing all of these!)

Grade 3
Vulture View – April Sayre and Steve Jenkins
An Egg is Quiet – Dianna Hutts Aston
If You Find a Rock – Peggy Christian
Plant Secrets – Emily Goodman
Feathers Not Just for Flying – Melissa Stewart
Grade 4
No Monkeys, No Chocolate – Melissa Stewart
The Sun, the Wind, and the Rain – Lisa Westberg Peters
Song of Water Boatman and Other Pond Poems – Joyce Sidman
Neo Leo: The Ageless Ideas of Leonardo da Vinci – Gene Barretta
Planting the Wild Garden – Kathy O. Galbraith
Grade 5
A Place for Bats – Melissa Stewart
Winter’s Tail – Craig Hatkoff
Who Lives in an Alligator Hole? – Anne Rockwell
Living Sunlight – Molly Bang
Boy Who Harnessed the Wind – William Kamkwamba

Allison Jackson (@Azajacks), avid reader who also reviews books for the Nerdy Book Club, and teacher of third grade students submitted this list also on Twitter.

No Monkeys, No Chocolate – Melissa Stewart
Locomotive – Brian Floca
Balloons over Broadway – Melissa Sweet
UnBEElievables – Douglas Florian
What to Do About Alice? How Alice Roosevelt Broke the Rules, Charmed the World, and Drove Her Father Crazy! – Barbara Kerley
Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers’ Strike of 1909 – Michelle Markel
A Splash of Red:   The Life and Art of Horace Pippin – Jen Bryant
Step Gently Out – Helen Frost
Brothers at BatL The True Story of an Amazing All-Brother Baseball Team – Audrey Vemick

Allison also included any books from National Geographic Kids and any books by Nic Bishop.  Additional books for older students included:

Island by Jason Chin

books by John Hendrix

What FIVE informational books would you recommend for students in grade 3, grade 4 and grade 5?
How has your PLN helped you lately?  And more importantly, how have YOU helped others in your PLN?

Special thanks Melissa and Allison!

SOL 14: Back to School


ImageTuesday is the day to share a “Slice of Life” with Two Writing Teachers. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.  Thanks to Stacey, Anna, Beth, Tara, Dana and Betsey for creating that place for us to work collaboratively.

 

It’s back to school time for many teachers this week in Iowa.

What does that mean?

Well, lots of meetings and professional development for one thing.  But also the culmination of lots of planning for teachers.  Many teachers have been reviewing and polishing their lessons from last year.  Others have attended professional development locally or even in such far away places as New York City for the #TCRWP Writing Institute.

What blogs would be good to review now?

The Blog-a-Thon at Two Writing Teachers for the last week focused on building classroom routines for both reading and writing workshops.  That link was for Tara’s first post about Writing Notebooks.  And here is the recap for the week if you want to pick and choose your topics. What routines do you establish with your students to move them to the “independent” stage?  What new routines do you plan to add this year?

 

What quotes are you going to hold on to as the year begins?

Lucy Calkins:  June and August Reading Institute 2014

“To lift the level of reading you are teaching, you must work on your own reading. Outgrow yourself as a reader. Start today.”

“ We are no longer teaching information, but teaching students to sort, understand and make something out of the information that is at their fingertips.”

From Brooke Geller and the July TCRWP Reading Institute:

Richard Allington:  “Many of our readers are over taught and under practiced.”

From Mr. Minor at the August TCRWP Reading Institute:

“Don’t slow down for struggling readers. Projects disrespect. Keep pace high with repetitions.”

(All of these tweets were also found n Twitter.  Just one more reason for you to check out #TCRWP this week during the August Reading Institute!) 🙂

 

What do those quotations have in common?
What is different about them?
Which two would you choose to compare and contrast?

 

What are you planning for/ holding onto as you begin this new school year?

 

Back to School

New room

New students

New teacher

Excited to learn!

 

Pencils

Pens

Paper

Stapler.

 

Books on shelves

Books in tubs

Books on spinners

Books everywhere.

 

The bell rings.

Students race in.

Excited voices

Eager to tell their stories.

Newspapers: Are they biased / unbiased?


You may have an answer for that question in the title.  But do you know for sure?  Definitely?  Unequivocally?  How did you research this issue?

The possibilities for bias in text are endless because text is all around us.  Literally and loosely, text is the scenery around us whether it is print or not.  The texts that comprise our daily lives may include a variety of print or non-print sources including electronic emails, blogs, newspapers, magazines and books.  I want to focus on one of those – the writing found in news sources, typically in newspapers and how we can help students examine that question as they continue to build their reading skills for life.

Standards Addressed:

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.6  –  Assess how point of view or purpose shapes the content and style of a text.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.9  –  Analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.L.5  –  Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.
One event. Three articles. Three different stories.  

How do you know whether the news is being reported or if the news is being shaped by the authors and publishers?  Let’s investigate further!

To begin, we will just look at the pictures from the three stories:

la-afp-getty-obama-meets-with-leaders-of-honduras-20140725

U.S. President Obama disembarks from Air Force One as he arrives at Los Angeles International Airportfox pic

What do you know?  What do you wonder?  

(Questions from What Readers Really Do:  Teaching the Process of Meaning Making by Dorothy Barnhouse and Vicki Vinton)

Hold onto those thoughts as you look at the titles.  (And the titles are NOT listed in the same order as the pictures!)

Titles

“Obama tells Central American leaders most children will go home”

“GOP lawmakers fight plan to bring more illegal immigrant children to military bases”

“White House pursuing plan to expand immigrant rights”

What do you know?  What do you wonder?

What theories are you now ready to begin building?

The sources in alphabetical order are:  Fox News, LA Times, and Reuters

Which sources go with which pictures and article titles?  Are you already considering revising your theory?  That process of continually questioning and researching based on what you know and wonder allows a reader to demonstrate flexible thinking.  Thinking really is one essential by-product of the “act of reading and understanding printed messages.”

What words/phrases do you notice in the opening paragraphs of the article covering the same event – news about immigrant children on this date?  Read and jot notes about those words.

Opening paragraphs in the LA Times:

 “Even as President Obama grapples with the crisis of immigrant children arriving at the Southwest border, White House officials are laying the groundwork for a large-scale expansion of immigrant rights that would come by executive action within weeks.

Officials signaled strongly Friday that Obama’s move would shield from deportation large numbers of immigrants living in the country illegally, as advocacy groups have demanded.” (LA Times, 7/26/14)

 

The same story from Reuters begins this way:

“President Barack Obama urged the leaders of three Central American countries on Friday to work with him to stem the flow of child migrants who have surged across the U.S. border and warned that most of them would not be allowed to stay.

In a White House meeting with the leaders of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, Obama had a tough-love message: his administration had compassion for the children, but not many would qualify for humanitarian relief or refugee status. Many of the migrants have fled poverty and crime at home.” (Reuters, 7/26/14)

 

And the third story from Fox News begins with:

“Republican lawmakers are challenging the Obama administration over a newly announced plan to expand the use of U.S. military bases to house illegal immigrant children, warning that it will put a strain on troops and threaten military readiness.

The Pentagon confirmed this week that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has approved a request from the Department of Health and Human Services to house an additional 5,000 minors at DOD facilities.”

 

Do you notice any patterns?  What are you wondering about at this time?

There are many ways to continue reading these articles.  The length is conducive to having each student read all three, but a student may only be an “expert” on the actual writing techniques used in one or two of the articles.  Do remember that it is sometimes easier to analyze two articles through simultaneous comparing and contrasting rather than just one article by itself.

 

I was wondering about the “experts” and the sources of quotes within the articles.  Who does each author use?

LA Times:

“Obama said last month that because Congress had failed to act on comprehensive immigration reform, he would take executive action to ‘fix as much of our immigration system as I can on my own.'”

“When the decision is announced, it will ‘increase the angry reactions from Republicans,’ Peiffer said.” (White House senior advisor – two other quotes as well)

 

Reuters:

“‘There may be some narrow circumstances in which there is a humanitarian or refugee status that a family might be eligible for,’ Obama said after talks with the leaders. ‘But I think it’s important to recognize that that would not necessarily accommodate a large number.'” (plus two more quotes by President Obama

President Juan Orland Hernandez of Honduras,  “’They have rights, and we want them to be respected,’ he said.”

“‘The idea here is that in order to deter them from making that dangerous journey, we’d set up a system in coordination with these host countries to allow those claims to be filed in that country without them having to make that dangerous journey,’ said White House spokesman Josh Earnest.”

 

Fox News:

paraphrased information (no quotes in article)”The Pentagon confirmed that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel . . . request from Dept. of Health and Human Services. . . ”

Direct quote – “Donelle Harder, a spokeswoman for Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., told FoxNews.com.”

“Alabama lawmakers . . . ‘ongoing talks’ . . .  . . . “Alabama GOP Reps. Martha Roby and Mike Rogers ” . . . . ‘The housing, feeding and caring of immigration detainees would severely compromise the critical mission at Maxwell-Gunter,’ they wrote.” (also a second quote)

“Rep. Jim Bridenstine, R-Okla., said the request poses a very real threat to U.S. military readiness,’ noting the base is the ‘primary artillery training center for troops before deployment.'” (second quote also)

 

What might instruction/inquiry look like at this point?  

I might begin to model comparing specific words and phrases that were used in the articles and also begin to discuss the sources. Which words/phrases seem to be the most simple form of reporting (without opinions/emotions) in comparison to words or phrases that seem to have been chosen for their emotional nuances?  What could those comparisons look like?

Paint chips, a visual way to show the progression of vocabulary words, could be used.  Students in 1:1 districts could simply create these using a chart and add color gradations to the boxes.  Or students could consider how to use “shapes” to show the different layers of word meanings / nuances or  phrases and words that explicitly provide evidence of the biases and or point of view of the reporters/publishers. Words could then be added as text boxes inside each color.

Screenshot 2014-08-03 07.20.46

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For additional discussion or to see an explanation of this vocabulary activity, see Sarah Brown Wessling, 2010 Teacher of the Year, at the Teaching Channel here.

 

If you have not yet googled the articles, here is the link to each one where all advertisements have been stripped courtesy of the readability app (with more information here):

Fox News

LA Times 

Reuters

 

So what are some other choices?

If you are a devotee of “Falling in Love with Close Reading” by Chris Lehman and Kate Roberts, you may have been thinking of all the connections between the lenses of text evidence, vocabulary and point of view!  That would be another way to conduct a close reading of these articles in order to see how they were “reported differently”.

Or, if you are interested in adding in some writing, you might have partner groups of students “summarize” their article in two or three sentences while asking them to include evidence that will help them “defend” their summary as “The Best Summary”.

OR you might consider this question – Can you predict how additional topics will be “covered/handled” by Fox News, LA Times and Reuters?  After making your prediction (and writing it down), pick a topic, pull up the three different articles and see if your predictions are accurate!

Or consider where your own local newspaper fits within this “range” or reporting!

 

Does every text that you read contain some bias?  What do you think?  What would you need to do to unequivocally answer that?

 

ImageTuesday is the day to share a “Slice of Life” with Two Writing Teachers. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.  Thanks to Stacey, Anna, Beth, Tara, Dana and Betsey for creating that place for us to work collaboratively.

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