Saturday, June 13, 2009

Building a Writing Life

One of the goals of the summer institute it build your own capacities as a writer so you will then be a greater resource for your students and their writing. I couldn't agree with that idea more, but that doesn't mean it's easy. I love writing, but it's difficult to make myself write in my notebook everyday.

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Heart of Texas Writing Project-Day 1

Today was my first day in the summer institute. It exceeded my expectations. We wrote, read and talked - it was great!

Tomorrow we're supposed to bring a special usual I don't know what to bring. It's so hard to choose just one thing. Clint said I should bring some knitting needles; I guess I should - it is my latest obsession.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Random Notes from Random Post-it Notes

TAG Multi-Genre Research

The following were notes I took while I read and assessed the students note cards. This was after the initial research phase but before they began writing their papers.
  • Research is looking decent, but sometimes it is too basic to support a strong thesis.
  • Next time, I should require the citation on the source cards, most kids did it without being directed to.
  • Next time I would like to switch to a PP note method (Chris K.) but how to prevent copying/pasting/plagairism?!?!?
  • It would have been helpful while reading note cards to have their proposal (duh).
  • Should we have written the thesis statement before the research (hindsight = yes = duh!).

Reading Logs: where do I stand this year?

Since I started teaching seven years ago, I have gone back and forth on my opinion of reading logs. In the past, I have created logs and then set page amounts and due dates. I have also tried setting tiered goals and having kids choose the level they want to try to attain. Some years, I haven't done reading logs at all. Most recently we have let the kids choose their own goals (we set a minimum each six weeks). I would say of all of the ways I have tried, I'm pleased with this way, but I'm still not satisfied.

When we first introduced the log this year and the idea of selecting goals, we discussed different types of goals that were available, including (but not limited to): page numbers, minutes, award-winners, genres, author studies, etc. I had one girl who was a stand out at picking interesting, original goals. Some of her goals were:
  • books with one-word titles
  • books with food on the cover
  • books with covers that seemed mysterious and to not fit the book before reading
  • books she bought at the book fair
  • Lone Star Award winners

There was one other girl who surprised me by choosing: books where characters have lost a home and then found one in the end. I don't know if she picked this goal initially or if she went back at the end and noticed the commonality and felt obligated to write it, but either way - I don't think it matters. I'm proud of her for noticing that.

But sadly, no one else came close to her at choosing original goals. Is it a developmental thing? Do they just not have ideas for "original" goals? I found when we introduce the minimum expectations each six weeks, the majority of students pick that, which I guess should be a lesson in setting expectations.

Interestingly, for this last six weeks, I did not set a minimum and I was fascinated to see the high goals the kids continued with, despite the lack of expectation. Lots of them had joked that they would write a goal of one chapter or two pages (haha), but nobody actually did.