Archives for posts with tag: Education

EdExpo Collage
During the last week of February, some of the most dedicated and friendly members of the education community descended on EDexpo in Atlanta, Georgia.

Teachers, store owners, and vendors from around the world attend this annual event to learn about the latest teaching trends and to preview the newest educational products.

I was there to host an information session on “How to Speak Common Core” for sellers who carry Common Core products, and to create a Top Products Pinterest Board showcasing some of the toys, tools, and resources from the show.

The English Language Arts Products I Loved

#1 Exploring Nonfiction Cards by Edupress

Common-Core-Exploring-Nonfiction-HSL_i_EP3681A

These cards are not only visually stunning, but they are chock full of engaging content. The 24 grade-level, core-aligned readings (which include all 5 nonfiction structures) are followed by discussion-worthy comprehension questions, text-dependent writing prompts, and academic vocabulary activities. These cards are currently available for grades 2-6. I plan to use them in K-12 workshops since the content is universally appealing. I hope Edupress considers creating similar sets for primary and secondary grades.
Note: The Exploring Nonfiction Cards also received an Eddy Award – a distinction reserved for the top three products of the year.

#2 Stella Writes Series by SDE Resources

Stella_Writes_Series

The Stella Writes Series, written by Janiel Wagstaff, is a set of K-2 picture books which entertain students while teaching the fundamentals of opinion, informative, and narrative writing. The half literature and half writing manual format equals a whole lot of fun for young readers and writers. Each writing genre is presented through the eyes of an enthusiastic second grader named Stella.
Note: One of my favorite parts of the opinion book is the hand-written rough draft that is included at the end of the story followed by another draft which is labeled “I made a few changes. Can you find them?” Brilliant.

#3 High-Interest Mini Mysteries by RP Publications

mystery

I don’t know about you, but I have always been a sucker for a good mystery. I used to schedule Solve-A-Crime Fridays to sharpen my students’ abilities to make inferences. My middle schoolers couldn’t get enough of them! But the materials in this High-Interest Mini-Mystery Binder take inferring to the next level. Each mystery is paired with an informational text, designed to build students’ knowledge (e.g. a map and image of the story’s setting is included in the nonfiction text). What I love about the format is that these are the kind of paired texts that hook struggling readers and challenge proficient ones.
Note: The reading levels of the 28 units range from 2nd to 6th grades, but the interest levels range from 2nd through high school.

Visit my Pinterest site to view more amazing products from the show here:

pin bd

Bloggers’ Choice Products

For the second year in a row, 50 teacher bloggers were recruited and flown in for the event. Their job was to compile a master list of 10 Best-in-Show products after visiting the new product pavilion, examining hundreds of educational resources, and talking to product designers. Angie Olson – the owner of the Lucky Little Learners blog – posted the final list here.

If you ever get a chance to attend an EDexpo event, be sure to do it. It is one of the classiest venues I’ve ever experienced.

Signature

Share Point: Okay, now here are two questions for you:
1.Which new product would have been your #1 choice for top product of the year? and/or
2. Give us a link to a product that is your #1 favorite (e.g.Shop Bell: http://amzn.to/18GAOaM).

Local Teacher Stores: Find Edmarket Dealers near you here: http://www.edmarketdealer.com/search/local/

Until next time…stay committed…teach with passion…and inspire students with who you are.

About the author: Janice Malone is a teacher and owner of ELA Seminars. Website: http://www.ELAseminars.com.

Advertisements

Students Writing

Students who consistently earn advanced proficient writing scores have one thing in common: They know how to add the kind of details to their stories that satisfy readers.

Fortunately, most of the techniques they use are easy to teach.

Here are eight elaboration strategies I share with students to help them add effective details to narrative pieces:

#1 Add action verbs.
Action verbs—such as gripped, slumped, trudged, glared, and perched—bring boring sentences to life. Too often, young writers are content using weaker versions of these verbs (i.e. held, sat, walked, looked, and stood). Find practice prompts (with standards included) that require students to use strong verbs here.

#2 Use transitions.
Transitional words—such as because, eventually, when, before, and after—belong in all writing genres. They are signposts designed to guide readers into a deeper understanding of the text. Download a list of narrative transitions here.

#3 Add unexpected numbers.
Precise numbers—such as 10:03 PM, 96 degrees, or 81mph—add authenticity to writings. Readers expect an event to start at 8:00 or to learn that a driver is speeding or to be told it’s hot outside—so surprise them by using very specific numbers that will pop off the page and pull them into the scene instead. Find practice prompts (with standards included) that require students to use specific times here.

#4 Include proper nouns.
Names and places—such as Dexter Sweeny, Tiffany Chappelle, Rockville Middle School, and Piccadilly Drive—conjure up images in readers’ minds. Keep readers engaged by teasing them with names and places that will make them curious enough to want to confirm or negate their “first impressions” (e.g. Is Dexter Sweeny rich and spoiled or geeky and intelligent?). Download a sample lesson here. Read the full blog post on the power of proper nouns here.

#5 Use repetition for effect.
Repetition of single words—such as No light. No sound. No movement.—adds rhythm, emphasis, and drama to narratives. Once in a while it’s fun to take control of readers’ emotions before revealing a conflict, a motive, or a consequence. Repeating words or phrases (usually in sets of three) is an effective way to build suspense just before revealing something significant. Find examples here.

#6 Include thought shots.
Thought shots—thoughts that reveal fears, plans, reactions, worries, and joys—allow readers to understand the things that influence characters’ decisions. Find 50 free practice prompts (with standards included) that require students to create thought shots here.

#7 Use emphatic word fragments.
An emphatic word fragment—such as “Regrets. We all have them.”—is a rule-breaking strategy used by many contemporary writers. The use of a single word (usually a noun) followed by a period, forces readers to pay attention to all the sentences that support it. Learn more about emphatic words and phrases here.

#8 Include texture words.
Texture words—such as icy, gritty, varnished, damp, and slippery—are among the most frequently overlooked descriptive words. Think about it. Most writers include sights and sounds. Many add familiar scents and comfort foods. But textures? They are often the forgotten members of the five-senses family. Get a list of 400 texture words here. 

Additional elaboration techniques—such as (1) Creating Believable Protagonists and Antagonists, (2) Designing Novel-Worthy Character Names, (3) Developing Irresistible Personalities, (4) Using Nouns and Verb Combos to Develop Writing Fluency and (5) Turning Broad Adjectives into Active Verb Phrases—are available here.

Visual-Writers-Notebook

Share Point: Now, here’s a question for you: What is one easy writing strategy your students use to add interest to their narrative writings?

Until next time…stay committed…teach with passion…and inspire students with who you are.

About the author: Janice Malone is a teacher, seminar leader and owner of ELA Seminars. Visit her website www.ELAseminars.com, or check out the 100’s of free lessons she has posted on Pinterest http://pinterest.com/elaseminars/.

You tell yourself, “This year will be different.”

You have a high-interest, data-driven teaching strategy in place.

You…

…hand out your favorite list of subordinate conjunctions.
…plan a great mini-lesson on independent and dependent clauses.
…provide stimulating practice sessions until your students can write award-worthy sentences on demand.

“This group of students will include masterful complex sentences in future assignments effortlessly,” you convince yourself.
“This group of students will achieve more advanced-proficient writing scores than any students I’ve ever taught.”

You then sit down with a cup of coffee and slide the paper clip off the stack of Period 1 writing assignments, eager to read pieces that will confirm that your hard work has paid off. Instead, you find paper after paper littered with fragments!

Arrgh!  Where did you go wrong?

The answer – more often than not – is that you are giving students too many choices. That’s right. Too many choices.

Luckily, the remedy for this is simple: just limit student choices and skill mastery will follow.

The fact is, teaching students to use complex sentences fluently can be easy.  All you have to do is try a technique I call Sharpening the SAW for two weeks and when the next set of assignments roll in, you will get the results you deserve…guaranteed.

Sharpening the SAW

Step 1 (Monday)
Select one of the following SAW (Since – Although – When) story starters and to write for 10 minutes.

  • Since I was the last one to see Carlo before he disappeared, I knew the police would have to question me.
  • Although everything about Lily Devereaux seemed normal, she was actually the farthest thing from it.
  • When I noticed Max Savage heading to the hardware store again, I knew exactly what I had to do.

Step 2 (Tuesday – Friday)
Click on the 50 Story Starters: Simplifying Complex Sentences picture link:

Have students select a photograph with an opening line that intrigues them and write for 10 minutes. Each of the openings for each picture begins with Since, Although or When. For instance, the opening line for the featured picture showcased above is: “When he opened the tiny letter postmarked December 18, 2025,________ finally understood the meaning of his recurring dream.” This exercise will be repeated for four days.

Step 3 (Monday – Tuesday)
Provide students with choices of three dependent clauses and have each student add an independent clause to one of them. Then get everyone to write for 10 minutes, using one newly-crafted complex sentence.

Monday choices:
Since Mr. Hackney is the toughest teacher in our school,________.
Although I am generally not a fan of reality TV, _______________.
When the school board voted to adopt a four-day school week,_______.

Tuesday choices:
S
ince today is my birthday,______________________________.
Although I promised never to disclose Tom’s secret , __________.
When I found out that I had won the lottery, ________________.

Step 4 (Wednesday)
Click on the Living Punctuation picture link and download four free lessons and a set of punctuation cards:

Students will “perform” the sentences they designed on Monday and Tuesday, using the punctuation poster cards.

Step 5 (Thursday – Friday)
Students design as many original complex sentences – beginning with Since, Although and When – as possible within a 10 minute time frame. When time is called, each class member will select one to share. As each sentence is shared, the reader will say the word COMMA out loud when it appears in the sentence.  Have everyone share one original complex sentence in this manner. At the end of the exercise, explain that Since, Although and When are subordinate conjunctions used to introduce dependent clauses. These dependent clauses will be followed by commas. Be sure to remind students that there must be a complete sentence (an independent clause) after the comma.

Note: Here is the trick that will make grading the next set of essays or narratives more satisfying. First, have students write SAW (Since – Although – When) at the top of their sloppy copies to remind them to include complex sentences in all writing assignments. Next, have students highlight one or more complex sentence(s) on their final drafts. Then, continue to require at least one highlighted, complex sentence in future assignments in order to ensure skill mastery.

When can you expect to see magical changes in your students’ writings?

Right away.

But the best part is that next time you close your eyes, wave your hand over a stack of Period 1 papers, and whisper, “Fragments be gone,” they will be.

If you would like more lessons on Simplifying Complex Sentences, check out the PowerPoint in my TPT store:

Fill-in-the-Blanks Share Point: The acronym or mnemonic device that helps my students remember important concepts is______________. It stands for__________________.

Until next time…stay committed…teach with passion…and inspire students with who you are.

About the author: Janice Malone is a teacher and owner of ELA Seminars. For more of her story, go here www.ELAseminars.com.

%d bloggers like this: