Oregon Writing Project (Hood River July 2012) Reflection Blog

WHAT ARE YOU THINKING ABOUT? During the week we will be reflecting in our composition books, in pairs, in large group and in grade level groups. We will also have the opportunity to reflect& interact digitally. This is just one way to do that.  Others are Edmodo, Collaborize Classroom, Celly, Facebook, Twitter.  Or even just a Google Form/Survey or a Google Document. To get to our resources, calendar, and lessons go to the Hood River OWP Resources Page. To see our pictures click HERE

Day 1 Homework — Post a reply that includes 1 thing that stood out for you today, 1 thing you want to explore and 1 question you have. Please include your first name, last initial, and grade level/content area you teach within the body of the text. You are required to include your email but your email will not be posted.

Day 3 Homework–Read through posts and reply to one of your colleagues–asking questions, making suggestions or connections.  Please include your first name, last initial, and grade level/content area.

29 Responses to Oregon Writing Project (Hood River July 2012) Reflection Blog

  1. Joan H says:

    May aha moment yesterday was that I could use elements of literature in expository writing, that was just what I was looking for to help emerging writers and accomplished writers make thier pieces better. I now know what to look for or what is not present. I might not be very good at writing them myself, but I can pick them out or suggest. Now I need to really learn (figure out) how to teach these skills in a very concrete way!

  2. Phil Brady says:

    Phil B. – Juvenile Detention

    A big discovery for me today was the realization that I could organize my class to do a cooperative research project in one day, okay, maybe two days. I am often doing integrated units and a research project would not be out of context with the flow of my curriculum. I like this idea because it would decrease the overwhelming prospect of a research project into something is accomplished before the class knew what was happening. It will also give everyone the learning experience of walking through the steps.

    Another new idea has to do with displaying example of my students’ work for others to see. At the time the district took over the jail contract from the ESD, the state budget for juvenile detention was well endowed. So I requested a set of laptop computers that I have networked and can monitor from my teacher laptop. This gives me the ability to have the students write something and underline one part they would share. I can see all of their screens from my computer and could quickly copy their selected text onto my computer and then project it in front of the class. This is an instance in which being able to make an event happen without requiring them to make extra steps can make the difference between continuing a learning experience and a transition that looses their attention.

    Some remaining questions that I have to do with adapting the writing analysis techniques we have practiced for video. I’m thinking about using news stories as models for telling stories from their own lives.

    Finally, have teachers had success reading a heavy-duty piece like Macbeth and simultaneously watch a movie of the same?

  3. Mary Jo Commerford says:

    Well my head is truly swimming today–we are certainly packing in the ideas. I really appreciate the plethora of teacher resources we have been given.
    I was struck by several things:
    1. I really appreciate the approach to the Hero unit, both as personal narrative and as a research piece. I know I will use it and I need to massage it out more to see which pieces will make the most sense for my students.
    2. Although it was a whirlwind at the end of the day, I was very impressed with the lesson using notecards for research. On the one hand I am trying to become more high tech but I can see how the use of handwritten notecards could really help with the authenticity of the research. Esp. if we break down the pieces of research and teach it to our students. I have more questions about this and would like to discuss it more.
    3. The other part that I really appreciated about today was the use of 3 different introductory styles for the beginning of the essay on our hero. I ended up using all three and it has made my piece quite a bit richer. I also really liked going back inside our essays and checking for stronger and more active verbs, figurative language and lists. Imagine if I did this on a regular basis with my students—their writing would become so much stronger.

    Questions, Questions:
    A. I would really like more information on teaching kids about citing resources, esp. online resources. (The part about using the online bibliography format was interesting but I need to understand it better.)
    B. I would like help with resources/lessons for teaching my students to do research on current issues. I want them to be able to write critically about current issues.
    C. I would appreciate more lesson ideas on teaching a unit on writing persuasive essays on current social justice issues.

    Thanks, this week has been a wonderful booster shot!

  4. Teal Everts says:

    One of my biggest goals with this course was to help my students be better writers. Experiencing the craft myself this week has been a good opportunity to be the student. Now I need to know what suggestions to make as I am conferencing with students–where they need to go next with their piece. Discovering where and how they are struggling as writers, in addition to possible fixes is what I am needing. I am really looking forward to our topic tomorrow. Thank you!
    🙂 Teal (4th g)

    • Amy S. says:

      Teal, I think that that is something that we all have learned, and I wish there were others that learned this too. THe key to producing good writers is modeling, modeling, modeling! I really liked the way that we are learning how to look for all the elements in writing that makes a piece of writing a fun and captivating for a reader to read. I think that we need to remember that when we are introducing the different elements to our students, they have to have opportunities to witness, discuss, and find these elements in what they read, and then in their own work, as well as their peers work.
      I really like the idea of only focusing on a couple of these elements a year for the younger grades. Wouldn’t it be great if we could scaffold these elements between the grades so that each grade levels were on the same track to make it easier on the upper grades? If each of the first, second, and third grades just took two or three different elements to really focus on introducing, just think what you could have your fourth graders working on, and where they would be with their writing! I know, each grade would have to review the ones before, but the majority of the kids would remember (hopefully) and be ready to learn and apply more. Ahhh, the perfect world…:)

  5. Megan says:

    Something that stood out for me: I liked the opportunity to explore our own senses of home, and what that means. It’s interesting to see both the universality and uniqueness of our experiences. It makes me realize how important it is to get kids to write about their lives. Yes, maybe they’re super interested in zombies or Mario, but pushing them to explore and write about their own lives gets them not only to think, but to respect and honor their home experience, whether or not it is pleasant.

    I’m interested in exploring more about the home theme. Working with third graders, it’s important to keep things pretty grounded in their immediate reality. I loved the mapping activity, and it would tie in perfectly with the geography unit I use with my students in the Fall, as well as a great jumping off point for community building.

    A question I have is similar to Amy’s: how do I realistically do these projects with 8-year-olds? What does that look like? I know we talked about it briefly in class, but it’s definitely something I will need more time with, and bouncing ideas off other elementary teachers will probably be very helpful.

    • franklintools says:

      Loved your suggestions in class today. And with your age group getting them outside to explore home is a great opportunity. Assign them picture taking!

      • Phil Brady says:

        Picture taking with cell phones! The average age for getting a first cell phone is 8 years old.

  6. Teal Everts says:

    My favorite parts of the day were drawing the map and thinking of the stories surrounding my home. I think I could use it in my classroom but I would have the kids make a list of the stories before selecting one to write about. That way if the one they chose didn’t work out for them they could refer back to their list and choose another story or have it ready to go for another writing time. I also thought it would make a neat book to have several stories put together with some art pieces. I see a unit developing here….The big question I have is how can I teach writing effectively in my large classroom?

    🙂 Teal E. 4th grade

    • franklintools says:

      Large classrooms is what we are all struggling with. The same structures work. Especially if you have them write more and grade less.

    • Megan says:

      Teal, I know I’m going to have a smaller class size than you, but it’s still a question of – how can we manage within a reasonable period of time? I’m pretty interested in having a life outside of my job. What I’m thinking is that I’d like to set up a system of going through revision with the students, no matter the level they’re at, and also to have some editing checklists. I’d like to find some great peer editors to help others with their punctuation, etc. And then to form a portfolio where they do a self assessment and I do a parallel assessment, seeing all their writing but only doing final evaluation on the published pieces. This all needs to be fine tuned, but that’s the thinking in my brain right now…

      • Amy S. says:

        Thanks Phil:) I think my students would love using the puppets, and what a great visual for them to be able to see the characters with the actual speech bubbles. I thnk they could totally understand this using these. We do discuss speech bubbles, so they would be familiar with that.
        Thanks again!

  7. Phil Brady says:

    From Phil B. teaching in juvenile detention

    Speaking as a high school teacher, I want to convey my admiration to the primary school teachers in our class. Amy’s pondering about interior dialogue is a good example of how you do the incredibly delicate work of teaching basic skills without any previous skills to start with.
    I also want to throw out a possible strategy to address Amy’s question. Consider using puppets to bridge from external to internal dialogue. Step one would be a puppet of something or someone else speaking out loud. Step two would be a puppet of the student speaking out loud. The student puppet could be a simple as a drawing of oneself on a stick. Step three would be the puppet of the student speaking to itself or to itself in a mirror. The final product could be a paper with the puppet glued on the page and printed thoughts written like a cartoon thought bubble.

    By the way, the current viral video is all about interior dialogue. Here is the link:

    Now for my stand out idea; the use of model text will solve a problem I have been having in that the grammar, reading, and literary elements lessons I have been using have been completely isolated and disjointed. I can see using Hip Hop poetry as a model for students to write their own poetry and stories about street life as models for their own stories. Analyzing text for the sake of learning technical terminology is boring but analyzing and creating one’s one text is empowering.

    Exploring connotes adventure and adventure connotes danger. For my classroom, the danger zone in this will be the risk that my students will take in reading their words out loud. So I’m interested in more techniques to structure the sharing, more ways to help kids identify what would be safe to share and ways to manage the temptation to intimidate others in order to protect myself.

    And a question I will need to address is what happens when my students write about a negative topic such as their drug addiction in a negative way such as saying that drugs are great. I can anticipate that the guards who sit in my classroom and have been in the business of suppressing criminal thoughts for decades will consider the honest sentiments of my students to be counterproductive. I have dealt with related issues before by consulting the professional counselors that serve the jail and will take this route again this week.

    In closing, let me allude back to Amy’s interior dialogue proposition and make my own proposal of asking my students to write an interior dialogue about their drug experiences. It would be a safe way for them to explore both sides of their thinking. Anyone got any model texts that I could start with? Perhaps something from Poe?

  8. Jenni B says:

    I am so grateful to be able to take this class right now and learn about the framework for teaching students about good writing, what good writers do, and how to become a good writer. Teaching writing within the context of a literature study and integrating it with other content and student interests would be so powerful. I am excited about the prospects! As I reflected on the day I really liked breaking down the different literary elements from a short essay or story. It really helped me to see modeling how to find the elements in a writers work, and then thinking about using the elements in my own writing could help student writers.
    I do want to explore authentic text to use with students on literature themes – short stories, picture books (for visualization and building background), essays, novels, etc. So lists of great text to use with 6 – 9th grade level readers would be wonderful.
    I do question how to ‘grade’ so many of these writing works. I like the idea of portfolio writing, where there is time to really develop one or many pieces of writing, depending on what the style of writing is (narrative, imaginative, informative, expository) and have students choose the best examples for their graded portfolio. How is this typically done? What are the experiences and suggestions of others? And how are things graded with room for improvement and continued growth for all students?

    • franklintools says:

      I have some great 6-9 titles I like and would be happy to share them with you. Let’s do lunch this week? We can add some to the Resource List too. I will also upload my Using Picture Books List. One great source of titles is School Library Journal and Voya. Do you have a library media specialist? I encourage you to use her/him if you still do. Also, your youth librarian at the public library can be a great resource.

    • franklintools says:

      I would love to hear from others about this too. But I usually have students do one final creative (poetry or narrative) and one final essay per text/unit- not always literary. Adds up to about 4-6 per year. Everyday they are writing and within any unit they may generate several pieces and then choose which to revise. You should read Linda Christensen’s DIRTY LITTLE SECRET and the POLITICS OF CORRECTION in READING WRITING AND RISING UP.

    • Rosietw says:

      Though I don’t assign grades, I have also been wondering about the management of work and timelines. During a discussion about student stamina, a teacher friend commented to me that if we want this, then we have to allow students time to work on open-ended projects. Not being in a “regular” classroom, is this something that would be practical with writing? Could students maintain a folder of works in progress? Though at some points in the year, you’d have to have something to grade. I am loving the concept of nothing ever being finished unless you wan it to be. It lightens the burden when you turn something in knowing that you can change it again if you want to!

  9. Joan H says:

    One thing that stood out for me today is how easy writing can be if scaffolded and modeled the right way. I would like to explore more pieces of literature that have the various elements of good writing or help model a piece of writing that would lend itself to narrative writing. Question: Did we do guided visualization? Could you remind me I don’t remember it.

  10. Amy S. says:

    I’m not sure this part went through, so I’ll redo the first about what stood out for me. I think what really stood out for me was the use of refering back to the poem/written piece of work to see how the author used the many different elements in their writing, and then discussing and brainstorming them together, not just while you are reading it, but also as you write, and after you write your own piece. It is a great tool to have handy for kids to refer to and to add to each time they are writing or reviewing a piece to help them be more aware of what good writers do, and to see if they are using these methods/elements in their own writing.

  11. Amy S. says:

    I cut out the last one before I was done. So one area that I would like to also explore is how to effectively teach first graders the craft of using interior monologue in their writing. Is this a realistic thing to expect first graders to do?
    Some questions I have are how long do you spend on these types of lessons with first graders? How do we get them to do this thinking on their own from the beginning of the year when they barely know how to write? Does it start off with me doing the writing for them using thier ideas? Probably, since this would be the modeling part, but the Common Core Standards expect them to do so much more writing on their own. I’m afraid that they will not be able to meet all the expectations by the end of the year.

    Amy S.
    First grade/self-contained classroom

    • franklintools says:

      I have two suggestions– 1 is to blend your insect unit with interior mono or autobio activity– DIARY OF A WORM Or DIARY OF A SPIDER is a great start. But you can also ask the class together to imagine the interior thoughts of a _______. And then use starters I am thinking about_____________. I am afraid of____________. I get excited when____________.

  12. mazabrady says:

    1. One thing that stood out: How energized I get about teaching within the framework of what I have learned through the Oregon Writing Project. It is good to be back and getting a refresher.
    2. I want to continue to explore resources for rich texts to use in my classes to support writing. I am especially in need of texts that have a high interest level for high school students who do little reading on their own outside of school.
    3. Questions–just suggestions for great texts to model good writing.
    Thanks, Mary Jo C/ High School English

    • franklintools says:

      I would love to do a text consult with any of you. If you want to bring sack lunch –we can just sit and talk about that. I am thinking more and more about shorter non fiction. I also think using a blog format can get kids sharing titles. http://jmslibrary.wordpress.com/picks/

    • Megan says:

      Mary Jo, I’m curious if you’ve read Shabanu Daughter of the Wind by Suzanne Fisher Staples. It’s been many years since I read it, but I found it to be very powerful when I was in middle and high school. It’s the story of a young, Muslim, female teen nomad in the desert of Pakistan. I don’t know if young men would respond to it very well (it does talk about female rights of passage 🙂 but it’s fascinating to learn about another culture, and I think the text is rich with opportunities for mentor writing.

  13. Rosietw says:

    I really liked the opportunityt to delve into the craft of another writer and the chance to think about why that writer made the choices they made. This is what I’m hoping we explore more. I did find myself looking at ny last piece today trying to find some of those elements. One question I have from the article we were sent via email is what is an adverbial lead?
    Rosietw ESL K-5

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