After a week of hard work, revising, re-evaluating, and researching the students published their work onto KidBlog.org.
First, they landed on the homepage of KidBlog.org and clicked either on the “Students” button or the “Login” button beneath the words “Create a Class.” If they chose this option, they then had to type in my email address to pull up the directory of all of my KidBlog classes.
Next, they selected their class, either 3rd, 4th, 5th, or 6th period. The “Orange Class” is my demo class to show them the ins and outs of how to use the KidBlog platform.
The link of their specific class would then take them to the homepage of that class with a listing of all of the most recent posts. From here, each student had to once again click “login” located at the top, right-hand corner of the page.
That link leads to this page where each student then had to choose his or her name from the drop down menu and enter their password.
The final logon page then shows the same master screen with all of the posts published for that class, but shows the student’s name in the top, right-hand corner.
By clicking on “Control Panel,” each can access the dashboard from which they can create and submit their final drafts to begin the portfolio process.
Once the students finished inputting their essays, they then had the opportunity to comment on one another’s work using the “ABC” method:
- Acknowledge something the author said
- Build upon the author’s points with some interesting insight or thought
- Conclude with a critical thinking question or one that arose while reading the essay.
Class-Specific Direct Blog Links:
- 3rd Period: http://kidblog.org/MsWilliamsGreenClass/
- 4th Period: http://kidblog.org/MsWilliamsYellowClass/
- 5th Period: http://kidblog.org/MsWilliamsBlueClass/
- 6th Period: http://kidblog.org/MsWilliamsPurpleClass/
- Read for 30 minutes
- Finish any work not completed in class. Assignments not submitted by 8:30 a.m. Thursday morning will lose 10 points.
Today was one of the most self-differentiated of days. In essence, everyone was supposed to workshop and revise their essays through a process called a “Charette.” This miniature version we did in class was limited to pairs of students reading each other’s work, answering any questions that the author had about his or her work, and then finally offering any observations or suggestions for improvement. I felt that providing a more intimate version of this protocol would help the students become more comfortable with sharing their work as we will work our way up to small group and full-class writing workshops.
Once the students finished with this process, they were directed to revise and edit their papers according to their own observations and that of their classmates. With all necessary changes made, the students were directed to start entering their papers into their KidBlog.org online portfolios. I provided all classes with the example below:
- Finish the Final Draft of the Argumentative Essay (essays typed at home must either be brought on a Flash Drive or typed directly into KidBlog).
- Read for 30 minutes.
- Study Lesson 5 Vocabulary words
- Access KidBlog and choose a template.
Today the students had a work-on-your-own day where they had the majority of class time to work on their argumentative essay rough drafts. Once the students finished, they were instructed to generate three questions they had about their work. I also provided the following examples to assist them:
- Is my essay clearly written?
- Is my essay engaging?
- Is my essay persuasive enough?
- How can I make my essay more ____________?
If time allowed, the students were permitted to work quietly in pairs to conduct a Mini-Charette where they swapped paper with their partner, read their partner’s work silently, drafted any thoughts or questions that arose while reading their partner’s work, and finally they discussed these questions plus the questions generated by the paper’s author. This workshopping technique provided the students with another perspective on their work. The students who did not finish early will be doing a more in-depth version of this in class tomorrow.
Before class came to an end, we debriefed on the writing process and I addressed any questions, comments, or concerns that arose. We then took a moment to recognize those who had taken the time this weekend to log onto KidBlog.org. As stated Friday, those students will receive an additional 10 points onto their lowest quiz grade.
- Read for 30 minutes.
- Study the lesson 5 vocabulary words (quiz on Friday, October 10th)
- Log onto KidBlog.org before Wednesday’s class (information on the PowerPoint or in Friday’s blog post)
- Wednesday will be a BYOD day.
After taking a brief moment to go into some discussion about the vocabulary from lessons 1-4, the students then followed me through the process I would take in writing an argumentative essay. I added onto yesterday’s lesson where I did the same thing, but with the brainstorming process. The students learned about the applications for argumentative writing in the real world. For example, we see argumentative writing in:
- Read for 30 minutes
- Study for the “Vocabulary from Classical Roots” Unit 1 test (lessons 1-4)
We welcomed this new month of October with a quick review and quiz over “Vocabulary from Classical Roots” Book C, lesson 4. Thereafter, we discussed any issues arising from the writing of each student’s introductions for their argumentative essays. Most students were concerned about the format, how to address both sides of an argument, and how to decide which side of an argument to support while writing. I offered some personalized advice and examples depending on each student’s individual situation. In each class I also took a moment to re-hash how I would go about the writing process as a guide for students who may be feeling a little stuck.
- Read for 30 minutes.
- Study for the Vocabulary Roots Unit Test (lessons 1-4)
PowerPoint: 10.1.14 Vocabulary Roots Review and Quiz
Though we had taken a few moments during last week’s lessons to briefly discuss argumentative writing and the characteristics of quality writing, today we delved headlong into it. First, the students had the opportunity to share what they remembered of the characteristics of quality writing from last week. Then, I shared with them the six general writing traits we tend to focus upon when writing:
- Word Choice
- Sentence Fluency
The students were then shown a couple more examples of argumentative writing in action. The students listened to the first two minutes of the most recent podcast from the Freakonomics blog entitled “Fitness Apartheid.” Should residents of an apartment building who pay a discounted rate be able to partake in more luxurious amenities? We took a moment to have a brief discussion on both sides of the issue presented within “FItness Apartheid.” Next, the students read a written example of argumentative writing at work (text can be found in the PowerPoint below).
We ended class today with the students choosing 3-5 of the topics they found the most interesting. They then narrowed those down to two with which they will create a Circle Map to brainstorm. These will become the foundation of the argumentative essays they will be writing in class this week.
Here are two more links to even more argumentative writing topics:
- New York Times: 200 Prompts for Argumentative Writing
- Each topic is linked to resources to help formulate your arguments or even brainstorm.
- About.com Education: 50 Argumentative Essay Topics
- Some of the topics featured here have external links to more resources.
- Read for 30 minutes.
- Complete the Circle Map of two topics (except 3rd period)
- Study for Wednesday’s lesson 4 vocabulary quiz
After taking a moment to consider five questions the students would want to ask their progenitors or their future progeny during the warm up (both of those words are some of their current vocabulary words), the students presented the last of their Alternative Book Reports.
The students and I then explored the origin of the expression “playing Devil’s Advocate” which was the colloquial name given to a person within the Roman Catholic Church, officially called the promoter of the faith, whose job it is to find any information, particularly upon papal candidates, that could disqualify them from such a post. We talked about how “advocate” has the same roots as the words “abogado” (“lawyer” in Spanish) and “avocat” (“lawyer” in French) as they are all Latin-based. Before starting an activity where the students had the opportunity to stand on either side of a variety of “hot button” or controversial topics and voice their reasons for such. In some instances, some students were chosen at random to try to play “Devil’s Advocate” themselves. Before embarking upon this activity, all of the students were shown the following disclaimer:
Disclaimer: This activity is one geared only toward seeing different perspectives and is in no way intended to be offensive to or question your own personal beliefs or morals. This activity will serve only as a segue into the argumentative writing unit for which differing perspectives is paramount to writing most effectively.
The students really gravitated toward this activity as they shared their knowledge and opinions on a variety of topics ranging from school uniforms, to Ray Rice and Hope Solo, to whether the U.S. should step in and assist in resolving conflicts around the world.
- Read for 30 minutes
- Study for tomorrow’s quiz over “Vocabulary from Classical Roots” lessons 2 and 3
The warm 3-day weekend wrapped up with the historic inauguration of our President on the same day as we celebrate the achievements and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, jr. In fact, I found out that President Obama is one of only 17 presidents to give an inaugural address to jump start his second term. Did you know that his second inauguration is not the first Presidential Inauguration to coincide with MLK Day? Interestingly enough, President Bill Clinton‘s second inauguration was also on MLK Day. How fascinating!
On our first day back (and the day before the Georgia Middle Grades Writing Assessment) we played an ELA version of Family Feud for the activator (the 10 minutes prior to the main lesson) and played Writing Assessment Review Jeopardy. The students seemed to have a wonderful time.
This afternoon was the last of the Pre-Writing Assessment after-school tutoring sessions. I want to thank all of the students who stayed after school or came during connections for additional help. That level of initiative is what will surely be the foundation of success. I am so proud to teach such students!
HOMEWORK: Get a good night of sleep! Read for 30 minutes and work on the Guided Book Review which is due in 1 week (on Tuesday, January, 29th, 2013).
In preparation for tomorrow’s Writing Assesement, last week was devoted to review of all of the writing strategies that had been addressed in class. I held two tutoring sessions during and after school to assist those who felt they needed to practice some skills, ask additional questions, or receive extra teaching. It was an absolute blast! As a result, I will be holding weekly after-school tutoring sessions starting within the next couple of weeks. Finally, on Friday, we wrapped up the week with a timed writing to simulate part of what the students will encounter tomorrow.
HOMEWORK: Read for 30 minutes and work on the Guided Book Review (Due Tuesday, January 29th, 2013)
Ahh, the end of the week. Friday was our usual assessment day where the students took an open-note quiz on sentence trees, dependent clause types, and independent versus dependent clauses. The students then created a 1-page essay during the remainder of class to the topic below:
Topic: A lot of schools hand out “Participation Awards” or “Perfect Attendance” certificates at award ceremonies. However, there are those who think that this encourages people to not try their hardest. Therefore, at an award ceremony, is it better to recognize everyone for trying or should only the people who did the best be recognized? Write an essay to convince Mr. Bivens to agree with you. Be sure to include specific details to support your claim.
For the students who finished the 1-Pager essay, they were directed to begin working on creating sentences for the Sentence Auction taking place on Monday.
HOMEWORK: No homework. Have a wonderful weekend!