Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Workshop, Days Two and Three

To start, suffice to say, they've not been nearly as wonderful as Monday. I suppose I should have expected as much. There is much repetition and reviewing of super-basic things. If you don't know what a read-aloud is, for pete's sake, you must be...stupid? unaware? not a New York City teacher? I don't know. I just know that with the balanced literacy push of the last ten years, and this city's obsession with test scores and the workshop model and all that, I would find it utterly impossible to NOT know something like a freaking read-aloud.

Yesterday we began with an interesting activity. It was called Give One, Get One. Each person has paper with areas to fill in. This one has nine squares, but you could alter it to be four squares, or three sides, or whatever. Anyway, so for this, we were to fill in three of our nine squares with important things we took away from Ralph Fletcher the day before. Then we got up and moved around the room, trading. Soon you fill up your squares, then go back to your tables and sit and share.

Here is my completed sheet:

The facilitators led us in thinking about ways to use an activity like this: as a review of the previous day's lesson, as part of a pre-unit assessment, as a lesson summary, or as a unit summary/assessment.

You'd obviously have to be careful about the movement of the students. I don't know that I would do this at the beginning of the year (you know, for a Bingo icebreaker or some such nonsense [remember, I hate icebreakers for adults and as a teacher, I really don't have time]), because I'd want to set routines and expectations. If a class is rowdy, I might not ever do an activity like this. Or if I did, I would make them stay at their tables and give/get that way.

The rest of yesterday was rather pointless. They talked about the writing process. Oh, one guy read a piece and then we had to talk about persuasive writing, what it is and where you find it. I suppose that it was supposed to be a model lesson or something, but I thought it went too long. Since we ARE adults and have a high-level of education, and have all been in the classroom in some capacity, all the detaily stuff could have been skimmed faster.

PS, I get bored and judgy when I'm bored.

During the read-aloud, Oregon was mentioned a couple times. The male facilitator is a hard-core New Yorker with a very strong accent. He pronounced Oregon as "Are-a-gahn". Excuse me, but there is an O at the beginning of the word! Your mouth should make an O when you say a word that starts with one! 'Oregon' is a homophone of 'organ'! Sheesh! Holy crap! That really bugged.

Again, because I'm shallow and judgy, the rest of the accent just grated a lot. This kind of New Yorker talks WAY too loud, practically shouting most of the time. When he moves around the room, a couple times he's stood behind me. I physically wince when he talks near me; it's so damn loud and forceful! He aspirates ALL his consontants.

Put your hand an inch or two in front of your mouth, and say the word "pit." Did you feel the puff of air when you said the P sound? That's an aspirated consonant. Now try to aspirate ALL the consonants in any given word. It's ANNOYING! Shut up, strong-accented New Yorkers!

See? Judgmental. I'm a terrible person.

Ahem. Trying to recover.

Oh, wait. There's more of the judging. A woman at my table is an incessant talker. Not saying anything of worth necessarily, often repeating, just to hear herself talk. That bugs. the. crap. out of me. I want to shriek, Just stop talking, you harpy! Let us listen to the real speakers or at least let someone get a word in edgewise if you're having a 'discussion.' Sheesh.

Okay, really done now.

With the writing process stuff, we took a piece of paper with a T-chart on it; one side said, "I Say" and the other said, "They Say." Under "I Say," we were to write five statements about topics we felt strongly about.

Here are my statements (I'm not very creative; I tend to fall back on the same issues, in case you haven't noticed. Snerk.):

--Travel is a must.

--Reading is a must.

--Reality TV must die.

--The West Coast is better than the East Coast.

--Cats are better than dogs.

Some of my tablemates had things like, "iPods are destroying society"; "Everyone should get free health care"; "Cell phones are a danger to civilization."

We had to do a quick write about one of our topics. I chose the West Coast one, because I'm just that predictable. Yes, I realize that I'm always nattering on about Seattle and the West Coast, and yes, I'm aware that that is irritating and silly. I'm trying to be better. In fact, I've privately assigned myself to write an opposition to the piece. So there. Shut up.

How about this--I'll save my quick write and draft on pro-West until I can do a draft on pro-East, for a separate post. Happy? Then you can just ignore that one.

So today, day two of the workshop proper...

What did we do? Hm. We looked at some more editorials and read a sample lesson from the genre writing book we got yesterday. It talked about the structure of an editorial: position, support, counterargument as the basics. Then we did a jigsaw activity to practice identifying the elements of persuasive writing/editorials.

Jigsaw is an activity where information is split up among groups, and then the groups teach each other. You can do it at least two ways. One way, like some of my colleagues, have each group in their class study, say, a genre of poetry. Then they come up with a full lesson plan and homework, and actually get up to teach the class. At the end, they've all learned at least six types of poetry. The other way is what we did today: count off around the room by fives. Then all the numbers met at different tables. In our number groups ("Expert Groups"), we read one editorial and discussed it and found the persuasive elements. After some time, we returned to our "Home Tables" and each of us took turns briefly explaining about our articles. So that at each table we learned about five different articles and their persuasive elements.

We were told to work on our drafts, and revise them for structure. Oh yeah, we'd had time to examine our drafts and label or identify the structural elements in them. Mine had each argument in a discrete paragraph, and each included both a counterargument and support of my own position. Interesting.

At the end, we received another book, Ralph Fletcher's memoir, Marshfield Dreams. Hurrah for books!

The persuasive stuff and the genre-writing book inspired me to make notes about a persuasive unit with a real debate first and then an editorial. We didn't get to do persuasive writing at all this year; we hardly did anything. I bet, with the right topics, the kids would love and do well on an actual debate. Ideas on topics?

One more day, and I think we may get another book tomorrow. I hope that I can try to make myself enjoy things a little more on the last day!


Schoolgal said...

Darn it! I was under the impression Fletcher was doing the whole week the way they do it at Columbia.

Now you know the parts of UFT/TC workshops I hate...their famous icebreakers and reviewing things that we already know.

Hope they're providing breakfast or lunch!

Cute cut, especially for summer. Did you get layers?

Today I saw the movie WATER. If you like foreign films with historical themes, I highly recommend it.

Oh, coming from Brooklyn, are you sure he had an accent? :)

Real Live Woman said...

I'm in the middle of four-week class for my teacher certification program and felt guilty after I got home last night about being so judgemental and snarky. It's a technology class that's completely unbearable. We spent two hours Tuesday night and another hour last night on Word. I don't think you should even be in this class if you don't have some more-than-basis computer skills. It's been very frustrating, especially since I'm paying for it, but it's required!