Friday, December 27, 2013

Fabulous Discussion & Sentence Starters

There are amazing blogs and websites that deal with sentence frames, discussion starters, and academic language talk.
One of the best blogs in which a teacher walks one through the process of establishing accountable talk or academic language talk rules in class is Life in 4B. It is detailed with commentary and pictures. They have a lovely section on using peer conferences for students to be able to edit one another's writing. Scroll down to see the wonderful ideas about how to scaffold academic language or Socratic Seminar conversation in a classroom. The posters for the different types of discussion starters are wonderful and something to emulate.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Sentence Frames in All Subject Areas

I read a fascinating paper about ways to increase the use of academic language in the classroom. In the move towards instituting literacy across all subject areas, it may start out simply with teachers modeling how to respond, and then through using think-write-pair-share, having students use sentence frames as a structured way to record their thoughts and to respond to one another in class.

The paper (click here) is entitled "Procedures for Using Sentence Frames to Scaffold the use of Academic Vocabulary and Text Structures." 

In making recommendations to teachers as well as to inform my own practice, It will start with finding sentence frames and making them large enough so that they can be referenced in the classroom.  Samples of really neat links are on the school website under "The Tools" tab under Sentence Frames. Click here to see it. 

Another piece that I wish to encourage in my teachers and in my own instructional practice is to use Philosophical Chairs and Socratic Seminars. In order to encourage those types of structured discussions. Samples of links about discussion starters are on the school website under "The Tools" tab under Discussion Starters and Frames.
Click here to see it.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Adding A Little SOAP to our School Initiative

Here at McKee: 

                                         i.    We use Marking the Text for Reading
                                       ii.    We use Cornell Notes for Organization
                                      iii.    We will use SOAP for Writing. When you read a piece, you have to identify the SOAP. As the writer, you need to know your SOAP. SOAP is straightforward. Check it out à
The SOAP method is an extremely helpful tool to anyone needing to read and write. What the SOAP method does, is break down your reading and writing so that you can figure out what your thesis is, because every essay needs a thesis. Once you have your thesis, the essay can be formed easily.
Think about the subject you are writing about. For example, let's pretend I was writing about the benefits of ballroom dancing. My subject would be the benefits of ballroom dancing.
What is the occasion that you will be writing about? Why are you writing the essay in the first place? If I use my last example, I would say that the occasion of my essay is to inform readers the health benefits of ballroom dancing.
Who are you writing your essay to? Who do you want to read it? This plays a big part of your essay because if you don't know who you're writing to, it will be pretty hard to come up with what to write. In my example, my audience is anyone who is wondering how to lose weight, and also anyone who is interested in ballroom dancing. When you know who you are writing to, you can figure out what kind of tone to take with the essay.
What is the purpose of your essay? Are you trying to persuade someone, simply inform someone, or describing something? If you don't know the purpose of your essay, you can easily get confused and lost. In my example, I am trying to inform readers about the health benefits in dancing to lose weight. That is my purpose.
Once you have these 5 things filled out, you have effectively figured out your thesis. With your thesis, you can start writing your essay. In my example, using this, I could do my introduction, and in the body paragraphs I could explain the benefits of ballroom dancing and then write my conclusion. 

This technique can be used in ANY subject area. Throughout the remainder of the school year we will learn how we can reinforce what is happening in English Language Arts and Social Studies by using SOAP & selectively using the rubric from the NYC Performance Assessment for Writing. Click here to check out the NYC Performance Assessment ELA Rubric for the 11th-12th grade .

A Gold Star for Financial Literacy

Mr. App, on the left, teaches our seniors about financial literacy. In the spring the seniors take the financial literacy test sponsored by WISE. Mr. Tom Anderson, on the right, stopped by to present our school with the gold star for having 90% of the seniors who took the test receiving a high score.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Response Cards: Quick Formative Assessment Techniques

Turning Technologies Clicker

There are many ways to formatively assess what students understand about a topic. Acquiring Turning Technology Clickers is a hi-tech solution. A set of 32 clickers is approximately $1200. The software is plug in and play, user friendly and can provide a rich field of data. For example, one is able to find out the percent of students who marked each answer on a question. One can assign a specific clicker to a student. If one does not have the time to assign student names, put a number on a desk and the clicker number is matched to the number on the student's desk. Click here for more information about Turning Technologies clickers.

Yes / True / ABCD Response Cards

The flip side of the Response Cards

For a low-tech solution, try using response cards. When it is time to ask a survey question in class after 5 to 8 minutes of explicit instruction, tell students to hold up a YES or NO card. The YES card has NO on the other side. Get card stock paper. Use "Table" in Microsoft Word and make large 4 by 4 squares on the 8.5 x 11 inch paper. Use a paper cutter so that now one has a class set of cards. Encourage students to raise their hand high and in order to count the responses. One can easily select those students who said NO and use the arrow of recitation or "pass it on" for students to express their views.

The YES/NO card can easily be transformed into TRUE/FALSE.

Suppose you want to use regents level questions and want a quick way to see how many students are able to select the answer. Use 200 point font to create A-B-C-D on one side of the 8.5 x 11 inch paper and E-F-G-H on the opposite side of the paper. Use "Table" in Microsoft Word to make large 4 by 4 squares. Copy the letters onto cardstock. Use the paper cutter. Since a student is now dealing with four letters on each side, one needs to go to the 99 cent store or Costco to get the ziploc baggies in which the letters are placed at the end of class or after the end of that section of the lesson. 

Click here to check out the three different response card templates.

What a stunner - MSIT 70 - Curtis 69

I am constantly amazed by the drive and perseverance of students. Last night I went to my first basketball game as I finally managed to wade through the pile of digital paperwork to actually manage to see the dapper gentlemen of MSIT play. 

What a fascinating result. The final score at the basketball game on 12/6/13 is quite surreal. I have copied the link to let you, dear reader see the results: MSIT Stuns Curtis

Apture Multimedia