October 6, 2014

Global Read Aloud 2014 has arrived!

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Why the Global Read Aloud?

Global collaboration is necessary to show students that they are part of something bigger than them. That the world needs to be protected and that we need to care for all people. You can show them pictures of kids in other countries but why not have them speak to each other? Then the caring can begin. –from GlobalReadAloud.com
The grade 9s at Wasse-Abin will be exploring the novel The Fault in our Stars with a few other schools this fall via GoodReads.com and The Fault in Our Stars Tackk.
Stay tuned for updates!
September 1, 2014

Welcome to Room 121!

Classroom Rules2.jpg-largeI am terrifically excited to be teaching and learning with and from you! I do not mean this lightly. Learning, at its best, is a collaborative activity–that’s right! When we learn together, we will always learn more. At first, this learning together business is tough to figure out. What does it mean? What does it look like? Sound like? How is learning together different than me teaching and you learning? 

Here is a list for our consideration. Learning together is….

  • participatory
  • sharing our expertise
  • listening closely to each other
  • having our voice heard
  • communicating with each other beyond “class time”
  • providing feedback to each other on the work that we are creating
  • moving past the idea that the teacher ‘knows all’

If we can focus on learning, truly learning by taking risks, thinking big, putting forward effort, and never giving up, together, we will be ready for whatever the future holds for us. We will be “learning ready”.

May 20, 2014

Feedback. Beyond the Mark.

Much of what we do in English class is about process: reading deeply and creating analytic notes, planning, organizing, drafting, editing, and publishing writing, viewing various texts and thinking through the stories they are telling. Before, during, and after the processes, we support our learning with feedback strategies. We develop success criteria, conference together, talk to one another, share our work, and provide written comments. We don’t often fail outright.

But last week, you wrote a test.

It wasn’t a test of memorization, of regurgitating names and dates. Rather, it was a test of skills and problem solving. Show  how well you can read and annotate a text. Show how you support your thinking with evidence. Show how you apply MLA rules. Show how you can apply the rules of grammar in editing. And because you could use any resource in the room to help you (other than a person…no phone a friend in this test, although that is a great strategy) –your binder, your hanging folder, the literacy tool kit, dictionaries, and Chromebooks — this test was also about demonstrating how you are able to solve challenges and overcome obstacles in your learning.

Tests can be failed.

What does that test result tell you about your learning? What feedback is it providing to you?

More than anything else this semester, we are learning to be learners. We have been learning about and practicing growth mindset all semester. We have set long-term goals and created a plan to help us reach those goals.

When you get your test back, take some time to think about what the feedback is. Remember that feedback is not about praise or blame, approval or disapproval. Feedback is neutral. It describes what you did and did not do (Wiggins). Then post your thoughts to your blog about that feedback.

April 1, 2014

Are you kidding? National Poetry Month? There’s such a thing?

Oh ya.

There is such a thing, and it has begun.

 

Refrigerator Door Poem Stonehenge
Photo Credit: Jackie via Compfight

Unbeknownst to you, National Poetry Month started April 1st! Our remixing of poetry today was right on schedule. And what fun we are having creating ‘new’ poems from existing poetry and then extending the meaning of the poems through illustrations, fonts, spacing, and paper and colour choices.

We are not done with making poetry…not yet.

In the meantime, you might want to check out some pretty cool poetry sites. First up is actually a how-to on formatting your poetry in your blog. I love these pointers.

Another great site to check out is The Teen Writers and Artists Project. The first poem posted is a really poignant, and to the point.

Check it out and leave your thoughts in the comment section below.

MAKE GOOD ART!

 

March 25, 2014

Reflection #2

March 16, 2014

The Transformative Power of Reading and Talking Literature

031/365 - The Reader
Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Antoine Robiez via Compfight

Why stories?

If we ever need to be reminded about the importance of stories in our lives, the month of March does the job with World Read Aloud Day on the 5th, World Storytelling Day on the 20th, and Canada Reads 2014 from March 3 – 6.

And we do need reminding.

Take Stephen Lewis, Canadian philanthropist and activist, who acknowledges during Canada Reads 2014 that he has not been a reader of fiction, but through his participation in Canada Reads he claims “I am determined to start serious reading…[the conversation about books] engages you in the literature.” (7:00 mark)

I needed reminding too.

For too long, I have been reading professional education texts by the likes of Dweck, Hattie, Katz, Kittle, Boushey and Moser, Routman, Allington-you get the idea.  As a new literacy coach, the gaps in my knowledge about K-6 literacy, in particular, were unavoidable; I was after all a high school English teacher. But one needs to respond to challenges, right? One way I cope with the queasiness that high levels of risk creates in me is to work really hard.

Head down and go.

The thing about learning is that it is all-absorbing. It’s not  that I didn’t have time for literature (both fiction and creative non-fiction); it’s that I only had time for reading that supported my learning. It’s a matter of perceived value.

Don’t get me wrong, I did read–there were all the incredible primary stories that reminded me of the absolute joy that illustrators offer, Giraffe and Bird  (what attitude expressed on the page!!) being one of my favourites . And the middle school stories that grab your heart and punch & hug & hold onto you like Wonder does.  And the YA stories that push the dark corners of possibility closer to the centre of our consciousness-magic, fantasy, science fiction, crime, war, and love-there’s wonder here, but there’s pain too: The Fault in Our Stars, The  Hunger Games, Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour, The Maze Runner, Little Brother, For the Win, Into the Wild. And lastly, I did read the odd adult story like State of Wonder and Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life. 

But, with my return to the classroom and to reading with and along side my students, I am once again immersed in those conversations about life that emerge from the perspective of literature. This is so satisfying. Stories, after all, are the lens through which I have grappled with all of life’s complexities, and helping my students create that lens for themselves is a goal to be sure. So, the students of Room 121 have begun thinking about stories or ways of knowing. We are reading biographies or autobiographies of one sort or another at the moment. Our list of titles includes The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, A Beautiful Mind, Metallica, J.K. Rowling, Into Thin Air, Amelia Earhart, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, Steve Jobs: The Man who Thought Different, Her Last Death: A Memoir, Six Months in Sudan, Steven Tyler,  A Long Way Gone.

I love the diversity of these titles and I love that in each case the reader can think about the story as a legitimate way to understand his or her life.

But, but, but…..what titles can you suggest for us?

And, and, and…..check back to see what we are thinking about our reading.

Thanks.

February 8, 2014

Thinking about our thinking.

November 30, 2013

Mystery Skype. A truly collaborative event.

Last week, the ENG3C class participated in a Mystery Skpye. What an adventure!

A Mystery Skype is an online event held through Skype in which neither group knows where the other group is in the world. Through a series of closed questions (yes/no), participants piece together where they are calling from until one group guesses the correct location of the other group.

Minds On

This opening exercise was certainly a fun and engaging way to set the stage for the real purpose of the call: a conversation between teens about their lives. As the conversation about First Nations people grows in the public domain, more and more people are realizing that they do not know very much about First Nations people or the issues emerging from their communities. What interferes with the general public’s understanding of First Nations’ issues is the ongoing use of First Nations’ stereotypes, and this is a topic that some educator’s meet head on in their classrooms. Sarah Le from Orangeville District Secondary School is one such teacher. Through a variety of texts, Mrs. Lee, pushes her students to understand the multiple perspectives that must co-exist in our society, including that of First Nations, Inuit, and Metis peoples.

Our camera person listening intently for the next question.

Action

The Skype went off…with a couple of hitches. We were met with the challenge of acquiring the right gear (external webcam and tripod), finding an Internet signal that would give us enough bandwidth to enable the video to work, and overcoming our shyness and nervousness to both be on camera and to think on the spot! But we did it. We had coaches scrounging up the gear for us and teaching me how to get the technology ready, we had students problem solving how we might solve our weak Internet issue, and we had students who stepped up to the plate at the last second to take on larger roles than they had originally prepared for. What’s the definition of collaboration? To create something together that we could not create individually. We certainly nailed collaboration in this event!

Consolidation

When the Skype call ended, the first question we had was, “When do we do this again?” We were energized and engaged, and we wanted more. Our reflections about this event are ongoing. Students are / will be posting to their own blogs using the “What? So What? Now What?” reflective model.

from Commons Wikimedia.org

What?

What happened?
What did you observe?

So What?

Did you learn a new skill or clarify an interest?
How is your experience different from what you expected?
What impacts the way you view the situation/experience? (What lens are you viewing from?)
What did you like/dislike about the experience?
How did the experience relate to your coursework?

Now What?

What learning occurred for you in this experience?
How can you apply this learning?
What can be done to improve this type of work?

November 3, 2013

Blogging in ENG3C

And finally, ENG3C begins to blog!

We know that writing is a way to sort out our thinking on big ideas. Blogging gets us writing in a slightly more informal manner than say essays and definitely more frequently.

And yet, some of you may be unconvinced by my thinking. “Really? Do I have to blog?”

Here are a couple of posts that might help you reconsider your initial resistance:

5 Reasons Your Students Should Blog

Go Teen Writers and the comments are really good too!

Here is the plan:

1. Write one blog every week. Class time for this writing will be scheduled for Friday. If you are not in class on Fridays, then you will have assigned yourself blogging homework. Of course, you are encouraged to blog outside of school too! You will write 10 posts in total this semester.

2. Comment on your classmates posts frequently. We all enjoy receiving feedback on our thinking, and the feedback is what helps grow our thinking. You will write a minimum of 10 comments.

3. Rubrics for both posting and commenting are linked below. Please read them.

Happy Blogging!!!