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 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 26 – Grammar Grammys

Hey everyone! Here is the post for 4/19.

Today was our Grammar Grammys- our video care and share of our video lessons.

Before I dive into what we did, here is the agenda for the rest of the semester. Things are winding down. There aren’t any more readings (although you will probably have to reread some things for your final), but you will need to be working on your final project.

  • Thursday 4/21 – draft of task, start of rubric
  • Tuesday 4/26 – finish rubric, draft of outline
  • Thursday 4/28 – finish outline, notes for reflection
  • Tuesday 5/3 – finals are due.

We also had a discussion at the beginning of class about our final Twitter reflection. Since we aren’t tweeting that much, we are looking at alternatives. Benko is looking for a reflective piece, a snapshot of learning, that isn’t too extensive (you are probably really busy with your final already). Here are the ideas we thought about.

  • Essay about being digitally present
  • Word cloud of tweets
  • Course evaluation
  • Creative interpretation of something learned
  • TIB podcast
  • Commitment to teaching based on what we learned
  • Blog post

Next was our Grammar Grammys. After MUCH deliberation, the results are in!


The award for “Awesome and Engaging Context” goes to AAAWWUBBIS.  By using a news story for the basis of their video, the students can see grammar in the real world!


The award for “Magnificent Tech”  goes to Non-restrictive Elements.  The combination of pronunciation, intonation, visual design, and cuts between video and screen made the video easy to follow.


The award for “Great Focus on Craft” goes to Tense Shift. They outlined the ways authors purposefully use tense shifts. This allows students to see how and why this grammar is important rather than feel like they have to memorize it.


The award for “Cool and Creative Interactive Elements” goes to Compound Sentences. Having students click through the options allows them to see grammar as a set of tools and choices rather than arbitrary rules.


The award for “Super Duper Visual Scaffold” goes to Commas in Intro Elements. That metaphor about appetizers and main course were used repeatedly, which Anderson argues is a good way to reinforce concepts for students.


The award for “Amazing Mentor Texts” goes to Vague Pronouns. Their use of YA novels showcases Anderson’s call for sentences that students will want to learn.

Great job guys! I truly enjoyed all your videos.

Looking ahead, you will need to keep working on your final projects.

If you stuck on what to do, I suggest checking out this blog:

It contains a bunch of writing prompts. Some are argumentative, some narrative, and some research based (hey, those are all the genres!). It might be worth scrolling through in order to find inspiration.




Day 24

Hey, ya’ll,

It’s Christian and Troi!

What is coming up?dont-panic-everything

  • iCare on Thursday, 4/14
  • Grammar videos are due Tuesday, 4/19
  • Only three more classes left after this grammar video is due

What happened today?

Today we broke off into two groups to present our grammar video concepts. To keep things short and sweet, we’re just going to lay out the feedback we heard Dr. Benko and Emilie give our prospective groups.


Helpful Texts:

Chapters 4 and 6 in Hicks and pretty much all of Anderson.


Constructive criticism in Dr. Benko’s group:

  • If your presentation takes longer than 12 minutes, start looking at what you can cut.
  • Define your topic clearly; Cate and Maverick are covering vague pronouns, so they defined vague and pronoun separately and then put them together to make a meaningful definition for vague pronouns.
  • Pay spec9bcd07b02975021484d101464f360a25e89efdf66747d692d5ded3c8a1748f34_1ial attention to the accuracy of all of your content; it needs to be one hundred percent accurate. We can’t teach these kids the wrong thing!
  • Make sure your visual scaffold actually scaffolds understanding of the concept; visual aids are not the same thing as a visual scaffold. Make sure you carefully explain your visual scaffold, then use it throughout your remaining examples.
  • If you are incorporating activities in your video (i.e. those opportunities to practice that Troi mentions below), make sure the directions are clear.
  • If you are using young adult fiction mentor texts, include a picture of the book!
  • Pictures, memes, gifs, short videos, and/or clip art–use them!

    I was totally guilty of this!
  • On a related note, make sure your slides aren’t text heavy. Any text on the slide should just be a visual aid to keep students focused on the topic. The rest can be audio.



Care ‘N Share/Constructive Criticism in Emilie’s group:

  • Make sure your video is fun and something that students will want to watch
  • Don’t get caught up on making it fun though, it still needs to be completely accurate. f91973590229d428a6efdfb3fe0773ce10560be4113ddcb93c5ced538bfe3258What is the point of us teaching a grammar concept if we don’t understand it ourselves? (Hint, there isn’t one)
  • Your visual scaffold needs to make sense, and it needs to be present throughout your video. Don’t mention it once then never bring it up again. Repetition is key for students to remember concepts, and your visual scaffold is no different!
  • Make sure students have opportunities to practice during the video, do not just talk at them
  • Use interesting mentor texts as examples

Troi’s wise words

Wise_CatIf we incorporate all of these things into one cohesive video, we will help students better their grammar skills. It is ESSENTIAL that ALL of your information is right, and that it is taught in a way that makes sense. Remember, talk at their level (but don’t dumb it down), if you are going to bring up a concept and aren’t sure if they know what it means, give a little definition and explanation. It’s better to be safe than sorry! Imagine you are making this for your future students for a tech day, also, don’t be afraid to go back and look at the models we watched in class, they are great examples of what we should be trying to achieve with our videos.


Additional Resources!

If you want to learn more about online teaching, (because tech days are becoming more and more popular) here are some actual teachers who use technology daily!

Also, Zaption is a great online tool to use to incorporate video into online lesson plans. You can upload a video from YouTube or you can upload one of your own, and you can place questions that stop the video and allow for students to practice. Cat shared it with us for an assignment we had for another class and I love it, it’s so easy to use as well!

TedEd is a website that is similar to Zaption. I personally found Zaption to work easier, but it’s totally personal preference. Both sites are excellent examples of what we as teachers can do to keep students engaged while watching videos, which is typically seen as “filler” work. If you all know of any more, feel free to tweet them! Using of course the #BSU350 hashtag!


Final Words

As Dr. Benko stumblr_mzsn1kDZD21tq4of6o1_250aid in class and Christian mentioned it here, we only have 3 more regular class periods after the video project is due until the final is due and our time in ENG 350 comes to a close. I know we are all in panic mode and it does no good to act like we are not. But please do not forget that you are human, and you need to eat and sleep. We’re all in this together, and we will pull through. Our future students are counting on us!

Day 23 – Grammar

Hey team!

So, in class today, our friend Emilie taught our lesson about grammar videos. A few of the past readings that you may want to review that were applicable to this lesson include:

While reviewing these readings, keep in mind what the goals of the videos in this lesson are. Also, keep in mind what the goals for our own videos will be. These videos are examples of what you can do on your project or to gain inspiration. When looking at these videos it is helpful to reflect back on the rubric and what we discussed about the difference between categories. Another thing to keep in mind is the fact that none of these videos were made for this class.

IMG_1693.JPGRemember, in class we discussed the differences in between each section of the rubric and what elements were absolutely necessary to include in our videos. In the image above, you can see the necessary elements underlined in green and the elements that distinguish between sections underlined in black.

After going over the rubric, we were given 5 videos to watch and grade based on the rubric. Below are the grades that each of our groups gave the 5 videos. Click on the “VIDEO #” to watch each video again.

VIDEO 1 Group 1 Group 2 Group 3 Group 4 Group 5
Presentation of information P P Dis Basic Pro
Use of mentor texts P P Dis Basic Basic
Use of Visual scaffold B U Dis Basic Pro


VIDEO 2 Group 1 Group 2 Group 3 Group 4 Group 5
Presentation of information B+ B Pro Basic Basic
Use of mentor texts D D Dis Pro Pro
Use of Visual scaffold P- P Pro Basic Basic


VIDEO 3 Group 1 Group 2 Group 3 Group 4 Group 5
Presentation of information P P Bas Pro Dis
Use of mentor texts D B Dis Pro Dis
Use of Visual scaffold P U Bas Pro Dis


VIDEO 4 Group 1 Group 2 Group 3 Group 4 Group 5
Presentation of information P D Pro Basic Dis
Use of mentor texts B+ P Dis Basic Pro
Use of Visual scaffold P P Dis Dis Dis


VIDEO 5 Group 1 Group 2 Group 3 Group 4 Group 5
Presentation of information P B Pro Basic Basic
Use of mentor texts P B Pro Pro Basic
Use of Visual scaffold B- U Pro Basic Un

In groups, we discussed the full subjectivity that occurs in grading and perceptions. This should be used as a reminder of what to keep in mind when you are grading student work. The main issue that led us to this idea of subjectivity was the differences of opinion that we saw in the rubrics and the graphs above. This subjectivity means that we need to take care when it comes to creating our own videos. We must create videos that are as objectively educational as possible. Also, we learned that as teachers, we need to build an understanding and develop a means of grading fairly and equally when evaluating grading criteria.

For the future, remember to keep looking ahead and working on your finals and keep up with the work. Dr. Benko emphasizes that for the last bit of the semester to keep track and work a little bit at a time.


Some upcoming due dates:

Complete video lesson and reflection due Tuesday, April 19th

Final is on Tuesday, May 3rd from 12-2pm


Looking ahead links:

One teacher’s ideas on how to create white board video lessons.

Another teacher lays out some resources for creating videos.

Finally, a quick tutorial on adding interactive elements to YouTube videos.