Thursday, April 12, 2007


Bad News:

I asked another group of kids if they'd heard of Indiana Jones. One girl earnestly asked, "She's a

I ask you, how in the world am I SO OLD and out of touch at merely 27??

Good News:

I think I actually taught well today!

We began working on re-writing today, by using the level 4s of a rubric of the six traits of good writing, although we only got through the first three today.

Between classes, I quickly wrote a semi-lame essay from the vacation four-square I modeled yesterday. Once I quickly introduced each trait, I went back to my essay and led them through finding and asking for more information.

So when it was time for 'interesting details,' I read them the first two paragraphs. (I had purposefully written them choppy and repetitive, leaving out the good stuff) I asked them, is this an interesting paragraph? They wrinkled their noses, No way. I was like, Right! So what do you think I should add here to make it more interesting, what did I leave out?

And they did so well! They caught all the glaring detail gaps, like why do I want to buy a shop in London? And where in London? And what kind of books will I have in my shop? The second paragraph was about the car I'll buy. It says 'I will buy a hybrid car.' but doesn't elaborate. So the kids were like, 'What does that mean? And why do you want that kind?' The last sentence of the paragraph said, 'I would not buy an SUV or truck.' The kids accutely noticed that, and were like, 'You need to say why you don't want to get one of those.' Very good! They didn't really notice that it doesn't necessarily belong there or really at all, but hey, they got the big stuff.

One girl even noticed that all my sentences began with "I" and it was repetitive! I was very impressed.

The other thing I showed them was the introduction. I told them that intros were the hardest part for me, but what I do is start with a thesis--even if it sucks--and then go back later to improve it, once I have a better idea of what my essay is doing. (This is all actually true of what I do as a writer, so I feel good about helping them feel better about not always knowing what to do, or do things well) I reminded them about the triangle image of the essay (a down-pointing triangle on the top, three rectangles below that, and a right-side-up triangle below those), and how the triangle helps us remember the structure for an introduction. Then I showed them a few sentences that I came up with: I introduced the general topic of vacations for a couple sentences, then brought up money and dreaming about more exotic activities, and they were right there with me to see how that was a great way to bring the reader to the specific thesis about an ideal vacation. They were like, wow, yeah!

Naturally, after these pieces, them helping me make notes and seeing me mark up my draft, it was time for them to do the same. I did see some excellent work, but there was also a lot of off-task talking. Argh.

Oh, and a couple kids were like, "Oh, miss, not to tell you what to do, but you should have us switch papers and make notes!" I smiled and was like, "We're doing that tomorrow!" How cool that they know what should come next?

Overall, I feel good about the day, because I felt like I was actually an effective teacher of writing. Tomorrow we'll do the next three traits, they'll keep marking up the new draft, and do peer review, and hopefully we'll get through all of that so they can produce a very good final essay. Phew, wish us all luck and perseverance!

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