February 19

Revamping my Summary Assignments

I am Shaking up the way I have my scholars summarize information. 

This MONTH’S #BLOGAMONTH TOPIC is a challenge to ‘do things differently.’

“Change a constant.”

Whether this is taking your class outside, putting music on, removing desks, unplugging your tech lesson, going paperless…etc, lets break the routine and reflect.

I decided to shake things up and do away with requiring summaries from my Scholars. I will instead be focusing on Gist statements, Blackout Poems, and Student Generated Questions. We do need to check on their understanding but as you read your 30th rendition of

  • First, this happened
  • Then, this happened
  • So then, this happened

It gets old and hard to deal with. They hated writing it and after picking up the 31st paper, I am apt to declare, “Nope not interested at all. No thanks. Don’t want to read anymore.” But what I can deal with is a quick check that requires my Scholars to summarize the text in 25 words. Okay yes, I know I used the dirty s@@#$%^ word but the number of required words in the summary gives it an interesting twist.

“Whoa! Wait!?!? What?!?! 25 words?!?!” – their response.

“Yes, 25 words. No more. No less. Exactly 25 words.” – my response.

Not only have I just decreased the number of words that I have to read but I have drastically increased the rigor. It takes some serious critical thinking to reduce a passage into a prescribed number of words. Gist Statements are just one way to rid your Scholars of the dreaded, boring, standard summary assignment.

Gist Statements

  • Objective:  Accurately paraphrase sentences, keeping original meaning, and changing the structure of the sentence if necessary
  • Learning experience: Learners will read and locate/synthesize information and create a summary of 20-25 words.
  • Student product:  Brief summary passage
  • Rationale: This strategy helps students identify the most important ideas in a text, put those ideas into their own words, and then make connections between among these important ideas.

BlackOut poem

  • Objective: Read closely to determine the main idea or purpose of a text and eliminating all other words. Blackout poetry is a page of text that has been partially blacked out – colored over with a permanent marker so that the only visible text provides insight into the text as a whole.
  • Learning experience: Learners will read, locate information of interest and highlight sections of a chosen text.
  • Student product: Text based poem that can be shared and displayed.
  • Rationale: Creating BlackOut Poetry is an effective strategy to promote active and critical reading skills by requiring students to read the text and identify points of interest. These points of interest can either be teacher directed or student driven.

Student Generated Questions

  • Objective: analyze and synthesize a text and compose possible test questions.
  • Learning experience: Learners will read and locate/synthesize information to create questions.
  • Student product:  Discussion and/or multiple choice questions.to be used for a test, Kahoot game or a round of Quiz-Quiz-Trade.
  • Rationale:  Creating questions help students gain a deeper understanding of the text. It requires students to find textual evidence to support their question/answer choices. This activity requires students to explore concepts from the assigned text.

Can you revamp your summary game by using Gist statements, Blackout Poems, and Student Generated Questions? Try these activities out and I guarantee you that your Scholars will thank you.

(That’s not really true.) 

Condensing text drives many of them crazy and the responsibility of creating possible test questions scares many but at least it is not the same, boring assignment and you can get the necessary feedback that you need.

February 17

“I Can” Statements

I have gone back and forth and up and down creating different formats of a participation sheet that helps students track their work.  I was browsing blog sites the other day (something you should start doing if you do not already do so) and came across a series of I Can statements listed in the widget of an English Teacher’s Class Blog.

I like the idea of having the student make/write/check off Affirmation Statements that say what they can do in our class with the English content.

We are working on nonfiction and persuasive writing so I would like to use the following statements for them.

I Can statements

I can examine how the author chooses to structure the text.
I can determine how the structure contributes to the meaning of the text.
I can evaluate the style of the text and how it adds to the meaning of the text.
I can determine two or more central ideas of a text.
I can examine the central ideas of the text and how they interact together to provide meaning.
I can summarize the text.
I can write an argument using valid reasoning with relevant and sufficient evidence.
I can identify significant and opposing arguments.
I can use syntax (sentence fluency) to clarify the relationships among my claims, reasons, and counterclaims.
I can use appropriate style and tone to create a written product.
I can use correct and appropriate conventions in my writing.
I can provide a concluding statement that supports my argument.
I can present the information and supporting evidence to convey a clear point of view.
I can present information so that listeners can follow my line of reasoning.
I can use appropriate organization, development, substance, and style to establish a purpose and audience.
I can understand how language functions in different contexts.
I can make choices in language to understand reading or listening.
I can use a variety of references to understand syntax (sentence fluency) when reading complex texts.

image source: http://forums.electronicarts.co.uk/battlefield

November 27

See TIME's pictures of the week

@TIME: See TIME’s pictures of the week | http://su.pr/6a2U92

Which one is the most interesting to you? Why?  Put a link to one of the interesting pictures within your blog and then tell me about it.  What do you notice?  Who? is doing what? when? where? why? and how?
November 27

Blogging in response to a quote

How do you create a blog post about a quote?

  • First you read the quote.
  • Then you read the quote again.
  • Then you read the quote and ask yourself what did they mean by this?
    • <Describe where the speech, panel discussion, presentation, or assembly took place>. < Explain who was in the audience and what the event was about. Why did they come?>. <Then, describe who the speaker(s) were, in general.> <End this paragraph by introducing one of the speaker’s specific quotations>

      “<Put quote here>.”

      Hearing this quote just made me realize that < finish this sentence>. <Add two or three more sentences explaining what the quotation means to you.>

      Another quote that stuck out to me from <describe the event> was <explain who said this and when it was said.>:

      “<Second quote goes here>.”

      Seeing this quote again, I see how <Explain why this quote has power for you.>. It opens my eyes because this quote is saying that <Finish this sentence, then write three or four more explaining what this quote means to you.> Now keeping this in mind, <Ask your reader if they agree with you and/or your speaker>.

      Another quote that surprised me was something <describe the speaker> said. This surprised me because <explain what was remarkable about these words when you heard them.> It really shows <explain why this quote is important to life in general>:

      “<Put a quote that goes on for more than one sentence here.>”

      <Add more of your own thoughts about this topic.>

      November 27

      Confidential 9/11 Pager Messages

      Confidential 9/11 Pager Messages Disclosed: http://bit.ly/5me1Fa


      What is your opinion?

      Should they be kept private or made public?

      Don’t forget to use the blogging to agree or disagree tips

      Give your response a title.

      Explain what you think the cartoon, picture, video, quote is saying/showing.

      • What point is the is the creator making?
      • What is the issue, theme or big idea?
      • Can you connect this to a film, book or experience?
      • What is your opinion?

      Your response should be a thoughtful relection about the prompt.

      November 27

      CBSNews: Food Banks Report Surge

      RT @CBSNews: Food Banks Report Surge in First Timers

      Many Were Middle Class Who Lost Jobs or Wages http://bit.ly/7Y5gFk

      How does this affect you?  What do you think that you can do?

      November 10

      Booker T. Washington podcasts

      Your next assignment will be to create a Podcast of your interview as Booker T. Washington.  You must: have a partner be your Interviewer and you must answer at least 10 questions in character.  Remember that you are Booker T. Washington and therefore you must answer as though you were him.  For example, as Booker T. Washington you cannot list a car as a mode of transportation.



      To blog is to share and to share is to grow =D

      October 20

      A Lady in a Machine-Shop



      Read “A Lady in a  Machine-Shop.”

      Then write an essay explaining what skills and qualities Margaret Knight possessed that led to her success as an inventor.

      • Be sure to include specific information from the article to support your ideas.
      • Do not merely summarize the article.
      • Remember that your response will be evaluated in two ways–on your understanding of the article and on the quality of your writing.
      October 20

      Teen Drivers

      Read “Teen Drivers,” and think about the ideas the author presents.

      Then write to explain some ways that your views on teenage driving have been confirmed or changed as a result of reading the article, teen drivers

      • Be sure to include specific information from the article to support your explanation.
      • Do not merely summarize the article.
      • Remember that your response will be evaluated in two ways—on your understanding of the article and on the quality of your writing.
      October 20

      But I’m Not Tired by Alice Park

      Read “But I’m Not Tired!”   Think about the ideas the author presents in this article.  What changes should schools make to adjust to students’ sleep patterns?

      Write a letter to the principal recommending changes that could be made at your school to adjust to students’ sleep patterns.

      1. Be sure to include specific information from the article to support your recommendations.
      2. Do not merely summarize the article.
      3. Remember that your response will be evaluated in two ways–on your understanding of the article and on the quality of your writing.

      October 19

      What words of wisdom do you have?

      by Oscar Wilde

      by Oscar Wilde

      What advice do you have for a younger sibling or cousin

      who seems to be having a hard time fitting in

      at a new school with new friends?