Day 27 – The Beginning of the End

Here’s what we did in preparation for and on Tuesday (11/22):

-If you didn’t ask for an extension on your video, that needs to have been uploaded to the YouTube channel, and your reflection, materials, and cover sheet need to be turned in to Dr. Benko (this was after we talked about the final).
-In class, we went through the assignment sheet for the final, and here are some of the highlights:

-Benko’s holding on to our print midterms so she can lay them side by side with the revised midterm to see that you actually revised.
-Your final has to be a new genre than what you did for the midterm.
-The only right way to do your reflection is to cite widely and make things super clear.
-Maybe set time over Thanksgiving break to get your midterm revisions DONE.
-There’s a suggested work schedule on that assignment sheet as well, as our entire final is due on December 13th. Dr. Benko and I will be conferencing throughout, though!
-Watch out and make sure you’re specific about your grade standard – don’t just grab the anchor standard!

-The rest of classtime was spent on giving our midterm feedback a really good read through, ask questions, etc. – ask yourself, “Do I know what to do? Do I know what Dr. Benko wants me to do?”

-Alyssa’s asked Dr. Benko a question that was good for the group – be careful in writing not front loading too much, make sure to give students opportunities to practice things they’re learning as they’re learning

-When are students writing? You can integrate teaching and writing, writing doesn’t have to be its own special thing, as integration is a good opportunity for formative assessments (conferences!). NCTE has the following to say on conferences:
In reading and writing conferences, teachers invite students to share specific information about their intentions, processes, and/or products in order to help both teacher and student better understand the student’s learning and identify next steps. Teachers often talk with students about the processes they use to select a topic for a writing piece, or the writing strategies they learned in a recent writing project. Through reading conferences, teachers learn why a student chose to abandon a particular book or what a student is working to understand in a current reading selection.
Thinking ahead:

-Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Catch up on sleep!
-If you’re struggling with your midterm and/or final, maybe reread your Smagorinsky chapter.
-We’ll be having a work day on Tuesday, but if you asked for that video extension, make sure you upload your video and bring all of your printed components to class!


Day 26 – Oh, We’re Off to See iCare!

Here’s what we did in preparation for and on Thursday (11/17):

-We needed to come prepared to work on our videos in iCare! I was at NCTE on this day, so if any discussions were had about the videos, please let me know and I’ll update this post!

-Until then, if you ever need a refresher on QuickTime Player (if you used that to record), here are Apple’s instructions on how to do so.

Thinking ahead:

-Videos are due on Tuesday (11/22), unless you’ve asked for an extension, in which case they are due on 11/29 (the following Tuesday) to the YouTube channel!

-Along with the video, you’ll need to turn in your your reflection, any copies of things that are going over to Julie, and some sort of cover sheet for Julie (all in a folder).

-Here are some highlights from NCTE for those who couldn’t attend:


Day 25 – D-Day (Draft Day)

Here’s what we did in preparation for and on Tuesday (11/15):

-We came to class with our drafts of our videos prepared in the Google folder! We need to have the following there:

a. Your definition of your concept/topic – make sure you have what it is and why it’s important clearly laid out
b. Your mentor sentences/texts and how you’re going to use them (annotate these!)
c. Your visual scaffold
d. Your practice sheet/examples

-Every person had eight minutes to go through their drafts, and each person in the group was to focus on a particular part of the draft (i.e., one person looking at visual scaffolds, one person looking at the mentor texts, etc.), whereas Dr. Benko and I were looking at everything. In the last four minutes of this time, we had dibs on verbal feedback, and other feedback should have gone in the respective Google document.

-If you’re curious about a really easy summary about the positives of peer review like this, check out this Edutopia article! Also think back to how this might compare to Elbow and Straub.

Thinking ahead:

-Meet in iCare on Thursday to work on videos and learn all about recording them!

-For everyone going to NCTE (myself included) – have fun and stay safe!


Day 24 – It’s All Grammar to Me

Here’s what we did in preparation for and on Thursday (11/10):
-We came to class with our list of preferred topics for our videos, as well as whether we were working with a partner or not.
-As this was our first class day post-election, we talked briefly about our duty as teachers in times like this.
-Dr. Benko then took our lists of preferred topics and sorted them, sitting on the floor to do so (and Brittany won tweet of the week for this!), and grouped people together with similar ideas for feedback.
-Before we got into these groups, we discussed some of the pieces of our videos, such as the definition of our concept — we also have to communicate why the thing matters, and Dr. Benko said not to use an Internet definition (looking at Anderson’s “In Plain English” examples will be good for this, but Dr. Benko really wants the definitions to be ours) — and mentor texts.
-We also laid out a time breakdown for our video and the practice we’re going to give to Julie for her students (the practice should also be our ideas, not the Internet’s):
Video time <15
Practice time 3-10
Debrief 5-7
-We spent the rest of class working on our videos, and I sent out a Drive folder for our work for Thursday. Dr. Benko also reminded us that for her, the most important thing about visual scaffolds is students can understand them and remember the concept; they do not have to be super high concept, but unfortunately, we’re not making these with the students. On visual scaffolds, there’s a section on this page that describes why visual scaffolds can be especially important for ENL students.

Thinking ahead:
-In the Google folder, you need the following for Thursday:
Your definition of your concept/topic – make sure you have what it is and why it’s important clearly laid out
Your mentor sentences/texts and how you’re going to use them (annotate these!)
Your visual scaffold
Your practice sheet/examples
-iCare will be coming next Thursday, so this is our main priority — there won’t be a lot of readings going forward.


Day 23 – All Hail the Mighty Butcher Paper

Here’s what did in preparation for and on Tuesday (11/8):
-We read ch. 4 of Anderson, as well as the section called “The Sentence.”
-Before we started talking about Anderson, Dr. Benko briefly went through her universal feedback on midterms (see the lesson plan for specifics!), and one of the main things she commented on was needing to cite more widely in reflections. Because of this feedback, Dr. Benko let people who wanted to revise their Northside reflections turn those in on Thursday (suggestions from Benko on connecting sources to our Northside work: tensions in Smagorinsky, understanding that the readings can contradict what you saw or what you saw can contradict the readings, etc.).
-We started class by briefly going over what we thought of these sections of Anderson before diving into the questions on the lesson plan – Kaleb liked seeing the errors and the description of the errors, although it took Beth and Liv awhile to read because of the more technical language. Dr. Benko admitted as well that sometimes it’s hard to read lesson plans about teaching, but it’s helpful for us to think about the thinking behind the error and how we can support it in a visual way, but it can also make the process seem kind of tedious.

-Getting into the meat of the chapter, we divided into groups to discuss the questions in the lesson plan.
-For ch. 4, we went over why visual scaffolds are so important (because mechanics are a visual skill), how these kinds of scaffolds relate to other literature we’ve read (think of the arrow of gradual release of responsibility from Benko’s article – eventually, students won’t need the teacher or the wall chart), and the difference between these scaffolds and pre-generated posters (students are actually adding to these scaffolds and have a sense of ownership over them, and they act as living organisms that breathe life into the classroom).
-For “The Sentence,” Anderson’s primary concepts (pseudo concepts, mentor sentences, visual scaffolds) are clearly laid out in this section, and his concepts about teaching grammar fit in with our readings so far through a continuous process of assessment, through giving feedback, and through mentor texts (i.e., mentor sentences for Anderson). For some sentences that might work as mentor sentences, here’s a Huffington Post article with first lines from lots of YA novels – that our students would actually read!
-Liv also wondered how these lessons could be differentiated, and Dr. Benko explained that students who aren’t struggling might only need brief refreshers, whereas students who are struggling would benefit from a full lesson/activity.
-We also discussed what kinds of grammatical concepts we might want to teach to our Northside students, and came up with the following list to add to Julie’s list of concepts (also listed):
Our list:
-commas – when, where, why, splices
     -agreement within sentence
     -tense shifts within paragraph
-descriptive writing
-audience + choice
     -also knowing when voice is okay
Julie’s list:
-using commas

-effective prewriting
-organizing ideas into paragraphs
-effective introductions and conclusions
-avoiding fragments
-avoiding run-ons
-“matching” verb tense
-code-switching – formal vs. informal voice
-focused writing/addressing the prompt/staying on topic
-effective hooks/getting started
-using correct support for a claim
-integrating quoted information into their own words

Thinking ahead:

-Don’t worry about the Hicks readings on the schedule!
-Come to class Thursday with whether or not you’re working in groups and with your topic preferences chosen.


Day 21/22 -A Nonrestri-What?

Here’s what did in preparation for and on Tuesday and Thursday (11/1 and 11/3):

-We needed to read Chs. 1-3 of Anderson if we were in our little old room in RB – if you were at Northside, you needed to have your questions ready to go to ask your student!

-Our Google Doc for the week was essentially the quiz that Benko didn’t give (at least the first table that we got through).

-Benko said that Anderson makes grammar rigorous and intellectual, but approachable and safe, so if grammar isn’t necessarily your thing, don’t be afraid!

-Perhaps one of the most important concepts from the non-quiz is the idea of pseudoconcepts, which we all pretty much defined (thanks to Anderson for being super specific about this, and if the person who owned your book before you highlighted it, great! To this, Erin had the following to say: “Anybody’s who’s read Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince has to buy their books used.”) as budding concepts based on initial impressions that are often misapplied. Schema theory can also be applied to the idea of pseudo-concepts!

-Benko didn’t ask this in the non-quiz, but think about this: how is Anderson’s idea of context similar to the idea of mentor texts?

This article from The Atlantic does a good job of talking about teaching grammar in context, and it ends with a great quote that Anderson would agree with: “If 30 years later, you or your child is still being taught grammar independent of actually writing, it is well past time to demand writing instruction that is grounded in research rather than nostalgia.” 


-Dr. Benko and I tagteamed to describe nonrestrictive and restrictive elements, as we were deciding which errors from the list we knew and didn’t know. This website helped me understand the difference, or you can think back to my picture of the man stealing the windchimes, if you were there for that! (“The man who stole our windchimes walked by our house everyday” vs. “The man, who stole our windchimes, walked by our house everyday.”)

-Benko also said that her favorite thing about Anderson is that students have reasons for making the errors that they’re making; we can can apply the idea of pseudo-concepts to other ideas, too, if we have concepts in mind that we misapply (e.g., misapplying mentor texts).

-We came back as a large group briefly on each day, and on Tuesday, Emily pulled from Anderson, talking about how looking at specific sentences works as context for grammar. Essentially, we should aim for authentic context when possible – avoid worksheets  and try to pull sentences from things our students are actually reading.

-And should we ever mark all errors? NO! Students can only hold on to so much, so we should look for patterns when thinking about what to address.

-We then looked at the sample essay from Dr. Benko’s nephew, specifically at how commas were used so we could identify pseudo-concepts. With this real example, it really became apparent to us that students KNOW things – pseudo-concepts are not a matter of deficits, but the mistakes start to make sense when we know what the student may have been thinking.

-Often grammar is taught as rules, but don’t forget the WHY? Why does it not make sense? Why is it confusing to the reader when the comma is used in the middle like in the sample essay?

-While we had time on Tuesday to discuss other details from Anderson, we didn’t on Thursday, so for Thursday people, we also discussed whether or not we need to burden students with technical terms. Can’t we just say interrupter instead of nonrestrictive element? Anderson would say we can use interrupter, especially because this book is geared towards middle grades, because it serves as a way to remember the function, but people like the magnficient Dr. Vercellotti might argue otherwise. With technical terms, we have to remember the term and the meaning, which can make grammar more difficult for students sometimes, so Emily agreed with Anderson and said that the technical terms can come later. Thursday people also smartly pointed out that, for us, “When you’re a good reader, you naturally pick things up,” but you don’t always have the grammar language to label things.

-Finally, on writer’s notebooks – Alyssa (on Tuesday) loved the idea of it as a playground, you can TRY THINGS; playfulness works as a place to practice without risk. On Thursday, we wondered whether we could have writer’s notebooks that have two parts – parts that are Gallagheronian and Andersonian.

Thinking ahead:
-Read ch. 4 of Anderson, as well as section 1 called “The Sentence” (all of it)!
-Northside reflections are due on Tuesday – CITE WIDELY!


Day 20 – After Hell Broke Loose

Here’s what in did in preparation for and on Thursday (10/27):

-We read Ch. 4 of Atwell, as well as the Appendix, which Dr. Benko emailed to us!

-Dr. Benko explained that there was no lesson plan for today because all hell broke loose in her life (Catherine’s school had a two hour delay, oh no!).

-There was also LOTS of sass today (Erin, we’re looking at you and we love you).

-A large part of what we did today can be found in the Google Doc, as I tried to format this to suit our needs – eventually, we formatted it so that our questions were divided as about reading/writing and about our students as actual human beings.

-We also debated the pros and cons of specific questions that we would all ask, and eventually decided upon what we thought were the most essential questions to ask them, and also decided on setting aside 7 minutes to write with our students. Here‘s an Edutopia article about writing and reading with your students, a concept we’ve already discussed in class before!

-Our four common questions that we would all ask were as follows:
  1. What do you think good writing is?

  2. Do you read or write on your own/for your own purposes?

  3. How do you decide what you’ll write about? Where do your ideas come from?

  4. What is the hardest part about writing for you?

-As well, here was our time break down:

5 minutes for icebreaking
13 minutes for common questions
15 minutes for “you decide”/get to know them questions (turn in hard copy of the questions you ask in order you think you might ask them!)
7 minutes for writing – you choose the prompt

-We ended class with some reminders about going into the school – MAKE SURE YOU’RE PREPARED! This was the most important take away, and to be the most polite versions of ourselves when we walk in the door (Dr. Benko has zero tolerance for students who walk into schools and act like what we think of when we think of college students); if you don’t have a Ball State ID, wear a visitor’s badge.

Thinking ahead:
-We’ll be divided into two groups for going to Northside! The remaining group will be talking about Chs. 1-3 of Anderson with Dr. Benko and me.