Wednesday, October 19, 2016

8 pARTS and Creative Writing with Research

Before I share today's 9th grade writing lesson with you all, I have to give a big, huge, ginormous SHOUT OUT to my edifying edu-buddy Cheryl Morris and the indomitable Jon Corippo. The evolution of this lesson and writing task begins with Corippo's 8 pARTS and Cheryl's sharing of her versions of said resources.

Here is a quick tour of Corippo's 8 pARTS: using imagery in art to teach grammar skills.

Great stuff, right?!  
I think so too!

But, I'm a bit of a stickler for visual design and the layout of paper (dare I say the dreaded word) worksheets, I adapted Corippo's design and created my own template that included a space for the picture and grouped the parts of speech to designate relationships visually.

Click here to access the Google Doc. Go to FILE, MAKE A COPY, to create an editable version.

The talented Cheryl Morris created a rubric for the writing task, and I snagged this too, tweaking it for my class.

Click HERE to access the Google Doc version. Go to FILE, MAKE A COPY to create an editable version. 

For our first repetition of this assignment a week ago, students focused on a picture that could relate to our reading of Richard Connell's "The Most Dangerous Game." The students wrote their paragraph on paper and I conferenced with each individual student, going over the worksheet and rubric and providing narrative feedback on the paragraph. Notice the rubric focuses on the application of grammar concepts, not necessarily the creativity of the writing. Don't worry, that will get added in later. At the end of each conference, students were told to write down a list of ideas for revision based on our conversation-- don't actually start revising (yet), just down a plan to revise.

After all conferences were complete (this took a few days), students were directed to revise and type their scene based on the picture, relying on their revision list. I told them at this point to stop thinking like students and to start thinking like authors: the picture was a starting point, now go in any direction that makes sense, as long as dialogue and description was included in the writing. Some wrote a continuation scene of "The Most Dangerous Game," others capitalized on the theme of the story and wrote a fanfiction piece using characters from the Hunger Games. To "publish" their work, students added the link to their Digital Writing Portfolio (more on that in another post!).

For our second repetition of the 8pARTS task, which took place today, I added a bit of a twist. See if you can spot it in today's agenda posted to our Edmodo class group:

We started the task same as before: close read the image and jot down a list of examples of each part of speech in the picture -- a picture which was also a connection to our reading of James Thurber's "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty."

After our list was generated, I told the students this is a picture taken from real life, not a film, tv show, or one of Walter's daydreams, and I asked them what questions they had. Shouts of "How old is that plane?" "What kind of plane is that?"  "Did that come from the Bermuda Triangle?" "Is that Amelia Earhart's plane?" reverberated through the room.  

I replied, "I don't know. How about we try and find out?"

(Ok, so I really did know some things about this plane, but I learned so much MORE during the next step.)

Students grabbed their phones or borrowed a Chromebook. They started typing in keywords to search; I showed a few how to do a reverse Google Image search.

And an amazing thing started to happen: around the room, I heard exclamations of "I found it!"

Students visited the sites and started shouting out information: the plane is a FM-2 Wildcat; it was in Lake Michigan; it crashed during a training mission.

AND THEN they started digging deeper: they found the name of the pilot, the name of the ship the plane took off from, the story of the crash, how long it was underwater, what happened to the pilot, how many other planes are in Lake Michigan, how this plane was found and recovered, and where the plane is now.

As they found the information, the students were directed to keep a running list of notes in their composition book.

By the way, this whole research phase took less than 10 minutes. I didn't hammer them on sources and citations (yet) of their information. For now, I wanted them excited about what they found. Don't worry, we will cite our sources later.

Calling the class back together, we compiled our quick research and created a plot diagram of the story of this plane: The FM-2 Wildcat flown by Ensign William Forbes from the deck of the USS Sable that had engine trouble during a training mission and crashed into Lake Michigan. Forbes was rescued, and after 70 years, the plane was recovered where it was later transported to an aviation museum in Florida.

Students got a kick out of my puns, because there was literally rising action as the plane takes off, and literally falling action as the plane crashes.

And now comes the final (almost) step to this task.  I told my students to pick one event on this plot diagram and write the scene of this event. As if ripped from the pages of a larger novel, write the scene with characters, setting, dialogue, description pulled from the research, and (oh yeah, can't forget these) underlined and labeled examples of the 8 parts of speech.

Tomorrow, as I walk around the room quickly scoring their worksheet and draft completion using the same rubric above, I'll offer some narrative feedback, and they will type up their handwritten draft in Google Docs, publishing it by adding the link to their doc to their Digital Writing Portfolio (more on that in another post!). 

But seriously, I can't wait to read what they've written!

From one photograph, students practiced visual analysis, critical thinking, grammar, 8 parts of speech, research, and creative writing skills.

That in itself is a work of art.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Blending Active Reading & Conversations with EDpuzzle

As I integrate technology into my classroom, I want to make sure that my students do not have their faces in a screen all the time. Also, I want to capitalize on creating opportunities for my students to practice listening and self-pacing skills. Blending paper with digital media and face to face interactions with digital learning, I created checkpoints in an EDpuzzle video lesson that would encourage students to close read a text and "Turn and Talk" to answer text-based questions accurately.

Building on previous teacher-centered lessons from our reading of Richard Peck's “Priscilla and the Wimps” and Richard Connell's “The Most Dangerous Game” in which we actively read texts together, students encountered a text for the first time in such as a way as to practice self-pacing skills during an in-class flipped lesson. In an effort to flip my reading instruction and to encourage students to actively read, I edited a preexisting audiobook video on YouTube to include the text of "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" by James Thurber. I then uploaded the new version to EDpuzzle and embedded the checkpoint questions, tagging each with a NJ Learning Standard for ELA 9th grade (formerly known as Common Core Curriculum Standards).

Each student logged in to EDpuzzle on his/her class Chromebook, and then synchronizing with a partner, hit play and listened with personal headphones to the audiobook while reading along with a paper copy of the story.

As you can see from the EDpuzzle lesson below (go ahead, try!), at various points in the story, the video would pause and students were directed to mark up their paper copy of the text so that they could better understand the narrative structure, as well as answer comprehension questions. Students would turn and talk to their partner to discuss the directions and questions. I navigated around the room, listening to the partner conversations and seeing what students marked on their paper copy. It was immediately apparent if a student recognized the ellipsis or not, and I was able to quickly confirm or redirect as needed.

After marking up the paper text, students submitted their answers to the questions in EDpuzzle and were given immediate feedback on their accuracy, including an explanation as to why each answer was correct or wrong. I also tracked student progress in EDpuzzle and mark typed-in responses as correct/incorrect while students work through the video.

Despite the video being under 12 minutes, student conversations extended the lesson time. Those who talked too long or got off topic soon realized the consequence of not staying on task: Students who did not finish the lesson in class were instructed to complete the lesson prior to the next class meeting.

Even though the visual design of EDpuzzle’s site is different from PARCC or other online tests, the digital literacy skills students are using to answer standards-based questions will help prepare students for future digital standardized assessments. And by having students work synchronously with a partner, they are able to practice interpersonal, conversational skills.