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 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.


Day 19 – You Would Make a Pretty Good Couch Potato

Here’s a summary of what we did in preparation for and on Tuesday (10/25):

-We finished up our midterms for today and turned those in, but otherwise no readings because Julie came today!
-Julie teaches at Northside, has been involved with the Indiana Writing Project, has hosted student teachers before and will actually be hosting Joel next semester! She teaches 7th and 8th grade English and is also an RTI coach (RTI is a catchall for kids who do not have special ed resources but are falling short of the standards for some reason, who need small group and individual instruction. Here‘s more information on that.
-This assignment essentially has two parts – going to Northside with our surveys that we’ll be developing soon and writing a reflection on that, and then our video mini-lessons that should, most importantly, be helpful for Julie’s kiddos.
-Our list of assigned kiddos is in the assignment sheet, but Julie has assured us that these kids will be eager to participate, as Julie has tried to pick kids that would be receptive.
-One trick Dr. Benko gave us for interacting with these kids is saying things like, “Can you help me with my thing? I have to do this for my class and I’m learning to try and be a teacher, want to learn from you” Position the kid as an expert – they know a lot about school.
-This is not a tutoring session, as we’re just going to get to know some kids. We’ll be designing lessons for Julie’s kids, but they’re not only going to be the kids we’re talking to.
-Videos will be easier to make when we have actual 7th and 8th graders for frames of references for what middle schools understand/think as funny/etc.
-Julie does a great job of talking about student strengths, working with what they have and what they need.
-We used the document camera then to look at student examples, but we also came up with a list of what we think about middle school writers – our list included: fiction, drill and kill grammar, persuasion, formulaic – 5P essay, writing??? (more reading), not much creative work — opportunity (go back to formulaic), no modeling?.
-Here is what we noticed about the first student example –  it was a letter rather than an essay, it used evidence, had topic sentences, punctuation was good, we discussed the difference between organized and formulaic, there were paragraphs, it fit the genre that was asked of the student, it used lots of second person, they included themselves as part of the teen group, there was still creativity, they provided evidence from the article, and we could hear his voice (had a great hook – “We all love our technology, right?”) and said that it felt like he was invested in the topic.
-In the not so great student example with more red marks, we noticed the following – lots of spelling errors and grammar errors (there are patterns, making same mistakes “Mabie”), just writing everything that comes to her mind kind of feel/stream of consciousness/writing to figure out what you’re saying, feels like a social media post ahahaha, feels conversational, judgmental (“If you did that, you would make a pretty good couch potato”)/not part of the problem, clear progression, anecdotal, no quotes from the article, generic intro
-Afterwards, we realized that we should go for structure/organization before going for spelling when giving feedback; no one would want to get writing back if we circled every grammar/spelling mistake. Liv suggested pre-writing strategies, planning for organization.
 -Benko’s preference would be to teach “test writing” as its own genre, as these writings were on-demand.
-We should think about rhetoric triangle/writing as problem solving instead of as a template (scaffold takes away the thinking and makes it less engaging).
 -We will absolutely get feedback about our video lessons before we send them out into the world, too! (Not only grammar, but also craft/organization/etc.)

Thinking ahead:
-For our next class, Benko is emailing us the Atwell reading, and we’ll be creating our writing survey before we go into Northside!
-Can anyone think of ways that we can share these videos if YouTube is blocked?