3 Rules and Guidelines for the Writer’s Notebook

The centerpiece of writing instruction in my classroom is the Writer’s Notebook. And that begins with the students getting a composition book at the store at the start of the school year.

More specifically, I make them get a 100 page composition book. Not 70, not 80. 100. Since I have the students do a lot of writing, and a fairly decent amount of writing about writing, they need quite a bit of space for their words. I also want them to feel comfortable with all of the composing they will be doing, so I make sure to tell them to get wide-ruled–college-ruled is too tight, and doesn’t allow room for students to take notes in planning their revisions.

I also make sure that the Writer’s Notebook stays simple. One of the key features of the the notebook is that the writing is low-stakes. I will never put pressure on my students to write according to a rubric or scoring guide. They just need to write. Thus, I only give them 3 rules and guidelines. Continue reading “3 Rules and Guidelines for the Writer’s Notebook”

Public Speaking: 10 Video Presentation Don’ts

These days, tech is cheap, and getting cheaper. Things we couldn’t do just a few years ago are not only possible today, but we have gone even farther. For instance, sending a video message to a friend. Now, with the tap of a screen, we can create a short video, then tap the screen again and it is off to its destination.

Technology has enhanced my instruction, especially when it comes to public speaking. I am fortunate enough to teach in a school where just about every student has access to mobile technology that can shoot, store, and ship video through the internet. I have turned more and more to the use of video for instruction, practice, and evaluation of public speaking. If a student gives speech, and no one is around to record it, then your evaluation of what happened is can be questioned. But when it’s recorded, the student can see for him- or herself what was good and what needs improvement.

As I have asked students to submit more video presentations, I have developed a list of don’ts. These are elements of filming that students unintentionally let into their videos. They distract the audience from the message the student is intending to deliver.  Continue reading “Public Speaking: 10 Video Presentation Don’ts”

Whatever It Takes – Give Me A Break!

If you have been reading through the week, we have been exploring a quote I read in a book for educators. It goes, “Whatever it takes–that’s the job of the teacher.” At the start of the week, we accepted that challenge. But now that we’re at the end of the week, I have to say that these kind of statements just make me mad.

I challenged the students with this on Thursday. Now I have a challenge for those educators who have moved on from the classroom because in my experience, they are the ones delivering these calls to action.

I know your intentions are good, and you are there for student success. I just want you to know that it has the potential to come across as critical and sometimes undeserved. All I really want to say is that it is very difficult to sit in a seminar, or a faculty meeting, and hear a former classroom teacher challenge all those who are still in the classroom with, “Are you doing whatever it takes?”  Continue reading “Whatever It Takes – Give Me A Break!”