Posts tagged writing

It’s one of those weeks… Lord give me patience!

It’s one of those weeks… Lord give me patience!

Lauren isn’t afraid of hipsters.

Lauren isn’t afraid of hipsters.

Seriously. How many times must we go over this?!

Seriously. How many times must we go over this?!

Last year I went with the classic “look up vocabulary and write it down” format. I got classic results: memorizers did well. The rest of the class probably doesn’t even remember learning vocabulary. Students who picked up a few new words struggled to use them in different tenses or in creative contexts.
This year I’m trying something new. It’s a combination of visual, auditory, and kinesthetic elements that will hopefully keep more students engaged. The key here is that vocabulary is conversational. We learn one word a day through discussion. Depending on the word, I include the following cues:
Latin/Greek origins (these help us learn roots, prefixes, and suffixes, that can be used to decode other words too)
Cartoons and symbols that involve higher level connections
Personal anecdotes involving the word to give it context
The different tenses and plural form of the word
Different ways that the same word is used (literal vs. figurative, etc.) 
Synonyms
Sentences suggested by students
Hand gestures or interpretive dance (it’s easy to learn “caper” when you are forced to caper!) 
These discussions usually take 10-12 minutes. I have sacrificed the volume of words my students are learning to hopefully increase the artistry of their use.

Last year I went with the classic “look up vocabulary and write it down” format. I got classic results: memorizers did well. The rest of the class probably doesn’t even remember learning vocabulary. Students who picked up a few new words struggled to use them in different tenses or in creative contexts.

This year I’m trying something new. It’s a combination of visual, auditory, and kinesthetic elements that will hopefully keep more students engaged. The key here is that vocabulary is conversational. We learn one word a day through discussion. Depending on the word, I include the following cues:

  • Latin/Greek origins (these help us learn roots, prefixes, and suffixes, that can be used to decode other words too)
  • Cartoons and symbols that involve higher level connections
  • Personal anecdotes involving the word to give it context
  • The different tenses and plural form of the word
  • Different ways that the same word is used (literal vs. figurative, etc.)
  • Synonyms
  • Sentences suggested by students
  • Hand gestures or interpretive dance (it’s easy to learn “caper” when you are forced to caper!)

These discussions usually take 10-12 minutes. I have sacrificed the volume of words my students are learning to hopefully increase the artistry of their use.

Yes, I needed an arsenal of journals.

I’m going to journal with my students. It’s such a wonderful: focusing/venting/reflection/review/connecting/engaging activity. At the beginning of each class. Sometimes we will reflect on what we’ve been learning. Sometimes we’ll be random. These three journals were gems that I couldn’t leave on the shelf.

Q&A A Day (5 Year Journal)
Each page has a question. You answer it five different times for five years.


"What sound effect are you most like today?"

"Write the first sentence of your autobiography. "

Listography: Your Life in Lists
A journal in lists that you can just keep adding to. List the:


"Things you wish you had a second chance to do."

"People from history that you’d like to have a conversation with."

642 Things To Write About
Okay, not a journal but a great free-flow writing exercise. Each page gives you a scenario to write about. These are great for developing writing skills, imagery, character, voice, tone, and plot!


"Describe an image that is embedded in your brain in detail and why it remains there."


"Your character is swimming in a lake, without her glasses. She squints at a shape coming toward her in the water. What does she think she sees?"

Writing alongside my students is one of my personal development goals this year. Another goal is free reading with them… more about that later.

You can’t forget about the process. Language Arts are about the process as much as the product, we know this, but you forget the process if you don’t immerse yourself in it.

I gave my Grade 7’s the task of creating collages that express the concept of “innovation”. Irony: I was barraged by 21 students wanting approval for each clipping they found. “Is this innovative?” they wanted to know.

I stayed after school tonight and made my own collage. I probably hadn’t made one since I was in high school. Tomorrow I’ll describe my process to them instead of describing the final product. Process-driven teaching leaves room for innovation.

You can’t forget about the process. Language Arts are about the process as much as the product, we know this, but you forget the process if you don’t immerse yourself in it.

I gave my Grade 7’s the task of creating collages that express the concept of “innovation”. Irony: I was barraged by 21 students wanting approval for each clipping they found. “Is this innovative?” they wanted to know.

I stayed after school tonight and made my own collage. I probably hadn’t made one since I was in high school. Tomorrow I’ll describe my process to them instead of describing the final product. Process-driven teaching leaves room for innovation.

Destiny’s Gift (A True Story)

The story I’m sharing with you is not about fate. I am not suggesting that anything happens for a reason or that there is a divine force in the universe. Some of us believe in those things and some of us don’t but my Grade 12 Language Arts students and I have come to a common understanding: regardless of faith or creed, we are participants in the same story. We describe this narrative as “the human condition”.

The idea of a human condition, a universal consciousness, is an enormous jump for Grade 12 students and we fell on our faces at first. I was marking papers that described the condition as a neat little package: “the human condition can be found when you look closely at your life”or “the human condition pushes us to survive”. When asked exactly what they thought this condition was, the Twelves were at a loss for words (bad news in a Language Arts class). We read classic novels and post-modern poetry, studied pop songs and movies, even braved Shakespeare, but when it finally came together (this human condition) it was through the story of a little girl named Destiny.

Destiny is an ironic name for a child whose mother was paralyzed and wheelchair bound before she was even born. Because she narrowly survived, Destiny must have seemed like a miracle. However, when six years later she lost her mother in an unexpected tragedy, Destiny became an irony. Destiny is a real child and real irony. Though this reads like a story, it is the truth.

In small communities like ours, a loss like Destiny’s is magnified, is felt, is known, by all. I also teach Grade 7 and 8 Language Arts and one of my students knew Destiny’s mother. My Sevens and Eights didn’t need a hint to take action. In spite of the holiday crunch, and many other fundraisers, they started bringing in pocket change, and small donations from home- $138.41 added up without posters, promotions, or bake sales. My Grade 10 CALM class scrapbooked a card for Destiny during one of their option periods. The cashier happily gave me an extra discount when I purchased the easel, paints, brushes, paper and all the other supplies that we hope will encourage Destiny during hard times ahead.

This brings me back the Twelves and what we have learned about the human condition. Last week’s vocabulary word was introspection which means “to look inward”. As we assembled the easel for Destiny today we looked inward and felt loss. We shared grief with a child that we have never met over a woman that we will never know. An invisible connection. A condition. Something uniquely human.

We cannot write evil out of this world nor can we predict or stop the hands of those who want to do harm. However, my students and I will not cower either. We have accepted the double duty of being authors and protagonists in the same story. Destiny’s story is ours and our story is yours. Our ability to write “good” into the story makes each of us deeply important and truly responsible. This is the human condition.

Verbs, Adjectives, Nouns & Awesome!

I compiled this word bank using key words and phrases taken from mission statements, teaching philosophies, job descriptions, school websites, and other education publications. It’s a great resource for teachers and other educators that want to create powerfully targeted resumes. Including verbs and adjectives for teaching and nouns for:

  • Lesson Planning & Assessment
  • Instruction & Classroom Management
  • Student Demographics
  • Professional Development
  • Colleagues & Parents
  • Technology

Not sure how to format your resume? Here’s a template I created specifically for teachers:

RESUME TEMPLATE FOR TEACHERS

Any feedback on these resources is very welcome!

RESUME TEMPLATE- A CV FOR NEW TEACHERS
I have been working in employment development for the past year and a half. I created this resume template using industry research including reviews from 3 Superintendants, numerous experienced teachers, and my colleagues at Bredin Institute. The result is a Curiculum Vitae that addresses the most common concerns of new teachers:
Clean visual formatting with distinct sections
A Highlights of Qualifications section 
Formatting for Education, Employment, Practicum, Volunteer, and Professional Development Sections
Sections for unique content including a Blog Address, Published Works, and Personal Interests
Good Luck with your job search and remember that one resume will never appeal to the specific tastes of every employer. I create my templates based on what works best most of the time and the rest is out of our control!

RESUME TEMPLATE- A CV FOR NEW TEACHERS

I have been working in employment development for the past year and a half. I created this resume template using industry research including reviews from 3 Superintendants, numerous experienced teachers, and my colleagues at Bredin Institute. The result is a Curiculum Vitae that addresses the most common concerns of new teachers:

  • Clean visual formatting with distinct sections
  • A Highlights of Qualifications section
  • Formatting for Education, Employment, Practicum, Volunteer, and Professional Development Sections
  • Sections for unique content including a Blog Address, Published Works, and Personal Interests

Good Luck with your job search and remember that one resume will never appeal to the specific tastes of every employer. I create my templates based on what works best most of the time and the rest is out of our control!