Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Myth: Why is There High Tide?

There once was an inland village that was very plentiful. The people were very happy, and never went without food. One year, the village endured a long drought that caused many of the people in the village to starve. Many would die if they went without food for much longer. One little girl began to pray to the moon for her family. For that whole month, whenever she saw the moon in the sky, she prayed for food. On the night of the full moon, the tides rose and pushed through the land all the way to the village. It flooded their fields until the ground was soaked. It did this every night for the next month. The city became prosperous again, and the little girl's family was saved. Now whenever the moon is in the sky, the tides rise.

The Worth of Historical Fiction in the Classroom

My biggest takeaway from Historical Fiction for Children by Leland B. Jacobs is how priceless the use of historical fiction can be in the classroom.

The Historical Benefit

Historical fiction provides a medium through which the reader can live in another time. They are able to feel the spirit of the time and are able to have perspective and make judgments on the past.

The Appeal

As long as he story is not too picturesque, to the point where history is being distorted, the high appeal of historical fiction can actually make kids want to learn about history. It has a romantic appeal of what was and cannot be again, no matter how irrational. Look at all the crazy people who want to go back to the 1950s where there is less medicine, segregation/ high levels of racism and little to no rights for women. However, the novelty interests them. For these reasons historical fiction is invaluable in the classroom.

Using Fever 1793 in a Classroom

I couldn't remember reading much historical fictional as a kids so I actually had to look up a list on Goodreads to see if I had read ANY children's historical fiction. When I saw this title I was flooded with memories.
I found this book in my classroom in 5th or 6th grade and decided I wanted to read it. Not for an assignment just for casual reading. For most people, including myself, it is difficult to stick with a book that doesn't interest you. So as a kid if I wasn't sucked into the world of the book, I won't read it, but for some reason, I could not stop reading this book. The Goodreads summary reads:
"It's late summer 1793, and the streets of Philadelphia are abuzz with mosquitoes and rumors of fever. Down near the docks, many have taken ill, and the fatalities are mounting. Now they include Polly, the serving girl at the Cook Coffeehouse. But fourteen-year-old Mattie Cook doesn't get a moment to mourn the passing of her childhood playmate. New customers have overrun her family's coffee shop, located far from the mosquito-infested river, and Mattie's concerns of fever are all but overshadowed by dreams of growing her family's small business into a thriving enterprise. But when the fever begins to strike closer to home, Mattie's struggle to build a new life must give way to a new fight-the fight to stay alive."

How this book drew me in, I'm not sure, but it definitely left a mark on me. Though I read it so many years ago, I still remember that this is the book that taught me that if you bite your cheek, it can stop you from crying; a habit I still do today.

Implementation in the Classroom (Late Elementary Level)

I would use this in the classroom as an invitation into this time period in the classroom. While the country was just starting a people not much older than those in the classroom were faced with these monstrous challenges. I would emphasize different parts of the American culture during this time by using example from the book. I can show pictures of Philadelphia at the time when the Yellow Fever struck. I would also us this novel to invite students to write about inferred character descriptions. I would love to use this novel to teach characterization.

The Legend of Hua Mulan

My favorite piece of traditional literature (as a child and now) hands down is The Legend of Hua Mulan; The Disney version of course, the real version is actually quite depressing.
The summary according to IMDB is:
"To save her father from death in the army, a young maiden secretly goes in his place and becomes one of China's greatest heroines in the process."
While I learned about this legend through the Disney movie, and not the literature itself, it definitely helped to develop my creativity. Prior to learning about Mulan, I knew nothing of the rest of the world. Mulan was the force that drove me to want to learn about other cultures because it was my first experience with a culture that could be so drastically different from my own(even if it is not all accurate). Seeing the world as something totally different than the one I knew also sparked my curiosity for fantasy. Knowing that something so different is a possibility encouraged me to think outside of the box and in turn to become a more creative person.

My Most Memorable Fable

Growing up, fables didn't really have much interest for me. I mean, they still kinda don't. Their basic purpose is to teach a life lesson, which isn't exactly fun. While I don't have a favorite fable, I do have one that is the most memorable; The Tortoise and The Hare. This fable tells the story of two animals that obviously have a huge difference in speed, but decide to race anyway. The hare believes that the tortoise could never beat him, so he stops after darting off in the beginning of the race. Because the tortoise is slow and constant, he ends up winning the race, creating the moral, "Slow and steady wins the race." I'm unsure why this fable is most memorable to me. It could be because it is so widely known and repeated or it could be because I'm not the most athletically inclined person, and its nice to see someone who matches my athletic potential win.

Using Children's Books As Models: McElveen & Dierking Response

My greatest take away from this article is reflected by the title; children's books should be used as models. The daily mini-lesson often requires precise demonstration, and simply modeling that skill to your students, and expecting them to emulate it is not realistic. We need "a bridge to link the model to students' ability to write independently and confidently"and children's books are that gateway. In addition, using children's picture books is a great way to evoke students' interests. Children's books come in various topics and drawing them into an example that they a interested in makes the learning process much easier and occur almost naturally.

Where the Wild Things Are: Classroom Activity

As a child, I would take out about 15 picture books every time I went to the library. I must've been like 6 or 7 so my poor mother had to carry them all. However, the only book I can really remember enjoying is, Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak.
This is why I chose this book for my picture book activity.
For the activity, I would first read the books (obviously).
Afterwards we would discuss the book and some of it's lessons, like not judging  book by its cover, and the fact that its okay to be silly sometimes. For our primary focus, we will talk about some of the adjectives and characteristics used to describe the monsters in this picture book
For this activity, I would have students use descriptive terms to write about their own monsters
Though it is not it's original purpose, I found a handout that would work perfectly for my activity.

This handout will be where the student
 can draw the top part of their monster

Applying Poetry To The Classroom: Linaberger Response

Many teachers have a fear o bringing poetry into the classroom due to their own misconceptions and prior experiences with it. Some simply read the poetry, which is not enough, since students become confused by the complexity. However, teaching children to write their own poetry is not as daunting a task as it seems. 

Linaberger's Implementation

In Linaberger, the class reads the poetry and discussing it. Then, they go on to write their own. These poems can them be shared with the class and analyzed. 
In the author's own experience, they first give the students a prompt to simply write a poem. This gives them an idea of what their students perceive poetry as. The next time, she gives them a prompt to describe, if they had a third eye, what it would see. Finally, she uses the process previously described and the students effectively mimic parts of he poem. This method is so simple, but seems to have such a large impact in teaching students to both read and rite poetry.

My Implementation

I definitely would love to implement this method into my own classroom, however, there are some activities I would add.

Fill in the Blank: 

I would obviously not implement the type of fill in the blank discussed as ineffective in this article. I would use a different type of fill in the blank and I would use it primarily as a visual demonstration tool. This would show a certain number of blank spaces simply to demonstrate the number of syllables in a poem or the rhyme scheme of a poem.

Acting Out Poetry: 

I think it would be fun and effective for students to read poems to their classmates with emotion and punctuation. It not only practices their fluency when reading, but also demonstrates the fundamental of what poetry is; emotion.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Poetry Analysis

The three poems I chose to discuss were:

  • Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein. I found one of Silverstein's books as a kids and loved it so much that I looked for more. I chose to write about this poem because he is one of my favorite poets.
  • A Dream Deferred by Langston Hughes. This is arguably Langston Hughes' most well know work. He is most famous for his use of Jazz rhythms in his works.
  • A Poison Tree by William Blake. I was actually most attracted to this poem by it's title.

Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein. 

"There is a place where the sidewalk ends
And before the street begins,
And there the grass grows soft and white,
And there the sun burns crimson bright,
And there the moon-bird rests from his flight
To cool in the peppermint wind.
Let us leave this place where the smoke blows black
And the dark street winds and bends.
Past the pits where the asphalt flowers grow
We shall walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And watch where the chalk-white arrows go
To the place where the sidewalk ends.
Yes we'll walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And we'll go where the chalk-white arrows go,
For the children, they mark, and the children, they know
The place where the sidewalk ends."

The style of this poem is a limerick. This is set up in a abcccb, daeeea, eeea format which is very unique. This style puts emphasis on the center of the poem.The voice of this poem is hopeful. It starts with a bright, and fresh place that is full of life. This is contrasted with the second stanza which describes the place that the reader currently resides; a place that is dead, dark, and mysterious. The poem is closed with hope. Silverstein explains that the idealistic place from the first paragraph can be reached.

A Dream Deferred by Langston Hughes

"What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up 
like a raisin in the sun? 
Or fester like a sore-- 
And then run? 
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over-- 
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags 
like a heavy load. 

Or does it explode?"
This style of this poem, as discussed earlier, is similar to jazz. It's rhyme scheme is abcdcefeghh. The rhyming usually skips a line. This format shows the reader when Hughes has finished a thought and is going onto the next.
The voice of the poem seems to be coming from someone who is in a position in which their own hopes and dreams are stifled. They are wondering what will happen to all their dreams, and trying to find hope in a situation that they are not completely happy with. This poem is the poster child for personification. In this work, dreams dry up, fester, run, stink, sag, explode, etc, In addition, the poem is filled with similes.

A Poison Tree by William Blake

"I was angry with my friend;
I told my wrath, my wrath did end.
I was angry with my foe:
I told it not, my wrath did grow.
And I waterd it in fears,
Night & morning with my tears:
And I sunned it with smiles,
And with soft deceitful wiles.
And it grew both day and night,
Till it bore an apple bright.
And my foe beheld it shine,
And he knew that it was mine.
And into my garden stole.
When the night had veiled the pole;
In the morning glad I see,
My foe outstretchd beneath the tree."

The style of this poem is a limerick which is written in a very basic aabbcc rhyme scheme.
This poem teaches the reader how harmful and poisonous hatred can be to those around you. The tone of this poem is bitter and almost proud. The reader sees how much emotion goes into this poison tree and all the resentment the subject holds for their foe.

Poetry: Study Abroad Limerick

I decided to write my poem on a topic that has frequently been on my mind; studying abroad. I figured studying abroad would be considered an educational topic. I'll be leaving for Chile in February, and I have mixed emotions about it; nervousness, fear, longing, joy, and excitement. All of these emotions are expressed in some form in the following limerick about what it may be like on the day I leave.

The floor skids under my feet,
An unusual rhythm to which my heart beats.
A long embrace substitutes a wave;
My feet will not falter, I decide to be brave.
A smile forms under my skin,
A new adventure, soon to begin.
I find my way, surrender my slip,
And fall through my seat to a long awaited trip.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Narrative Essay: Writing Process 4

Once I was done with all my personal revisions, I exchanged papers with Heather for peer revision. When I got it back I found that there were a few errors I had missed.

1. Remove unnecessary dialogue
For example, there was a point in the story where I have a character say something, but that I trail off into explaining something else.

2. Add world/situational details
There were terms that I had not previously defined that were part of this world(since I did the fantasy genre). It was important to elaborate and give the reader more background knowledge.

3. Correct small punctual or grammatical errors
When you read over something a certain amount of times you tend to miss the small errors.

I corrected these three main errors, read through it again, and I was finished.

Narrative Essay: Writing Process 3

Finally, I could start writing. 
I wrote with as much detail as possible using the information I discussed in the last blog post. I tried to use as much vivid description as possible. I try to build up my rising action, and use as much detail as possible.

Next, I started my personal revisions. I read through about 10 times and looked for grammar errors, spelling errors, awkward sentences, and areas that needed more detail. I tried to refine the characters and setting using the five senses in order to make the image more vivid. I tried to remove some unnecessary details and add details where they were needed.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Characterization Lesson | Using Disney's Frozen

First, as an introduction to the process of characterization, students will work on this worksheet. A basic traits chart (below) will also be provided to assist in the process. (Students will be able to write in the document by typing on a tablet or computer).

After this, students will watch this video I made on the different types of characterization and how to characterize. I'm having the students watch this afterward so they can gain a better understanding of what they were already doing on the worksheet.

Finally, students will practice characterization using their independent reading books or talking about a character they have read about or seen. They will use this chart to show what they have indirectly learned about their character.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Narrative Essay: Writing Process 2

The second part of this prewriting process was asking myself how I could build upon the previous concepts to add depth to the world, to the characters and build to the climax.

Rolan is a 14 year old boy who is very hopeful. Like most 14 year olds, he is not quite sure of himself yet.

Alicity is one of Rolan's best friends and a non morpher. She has sort of a motherly vibe to her.

Gemma is Rolan's other best friend and a non morpher. She is very indignant and opinionated. She is not optimistic. Instead, she is very realistic/pessimistic about how things may turn out.

Elder Cetan is in charge of the precinct that Rolan, Alicity, and Gemma live in. Like Rolan, he is a very powerful morpher. He is in his late 40s and has a mysterious air about him.

The rising action: will be the waiting process of Rolan making his request.
The falling action and resolution: will be him annoying this news to Gemma and Alicity.
Twist in the climax: Rolan finds out more than he thought he would from the Elder.

Narrative Essay: Writing Process 1

Since I wrote my my informational essay on Fantasy my work of fiction obviously has to be in the fantasy genre. My prewriting process looked something like this.

Idea: A fantasy world in which certain boys have the gift of morphing.

Main character: Rolan
Other characters: Gemma, Alicity, Elder Cetan

Setting: A precinct in  the country of Alcra
The beach

Climax: The choice that Rolan makes for his 'request' and the decision of the Elder whether or not to agree with it.

Main elements of fantasy: fantastic world, magic

So basically the first part of this prewriting process was making sure that the main elements of a story and fantasy literature are in this story.

Reflection: Guiding Young Students' Response to Literature

The way Patricia R. Kelly guided students responses in her classroom was by asking:
(a) what was noticed in the book,
(b) how we felt about the book, and
(c) how the book was related to our own experiences
Started off at 5 minutes and ended up at 7 to 8 minutes after student ideas. Students were encouraged to use this entire time to write and not to worry about spelling. Common words were put on the board.

Progression and Results:
When students first started this activity they gave short one sentence responses. By the end, however, they gave more elaborate and meaningful responses. Students even gave less literal interpretation of they text and more in depth analysis. They discusses how real the story sounded, and even relations to how thing in he story couldn't have occurred in real life. There was significantly more fluency in the classroom and surprisingly  fewer grammar and spelling errors

My opinion:

This  method of obtaining responses encourages the students to do more than just look for information in the text, which is usually of pointless in some literature anyway. The point of teaching literature is not just to have students understand what happened, but to understand why it happened and the devises being used in the literature. When students read in a reflective way they become more active readers, understand more, and enjoy reading more. I feel this is similar to what is done for the reading reflections in our class. Being able to freely interpret the literature encourages putting out my best work and using my own standard of writing. It is up to the individual. It also makes the reading and writing process much more enjoyable. It takes the pressure off and makes it impossible to simply search the text for that one specific answer while absorbing nothing else.

View the Article:

Sunday, November 2, 2014


Oddly enough, I love seeing my paper ripped to shreds with red pen markings of all the things I need to revise; as long as it does not have a grade on it of course!
Arguably, the process of blending I describe in my drafting post is a form of revising. My revising can consist of this blending, replacing words with better fitting ones, or simply formatting an essay to the proper style. Previously, during revising I would refer to a list of my common mistakes, and would use it as a guide when revising. Some of these included:

  • NO: Past tense: had, was, ed, made in literature.
  • NO: I, we, our, us, you.
  • NO: Contractions.
  • Never use: things, stuff, something.
  • Check: theres, yours, effect/affect, women/an, then/than, except/accept.
  • Court cases & book names are italicized.
Most of these are well ingrained in my mind by now, but when I did have to look for these, I would hit Command + f (Mac) or Ctrl + f (PC) to search for these potential errors.
Now, I'll simply do a read through for obvious mistakes or awkward sentences. After I read through, I listen to my essay on text-to-speech as I read along. This helps me correct multiple errors that I was previously blind to from reading my essay over and over. Once this is done, all my errors are corrected, and the essay is formatted, I'll print it out. Once and a while I'll find an error on the printed page, but its usually uncommon.

The Drafting Process

I'm not sure where the line is drawn between prewriting and drafting because I am technically writing the entire time I am planning my paper, so I guess I'll just continue from where I left off. When drafting, I only do a written draft when absolutely necessary, i.e. when computers are not allowed or available.

After I fill in any necessary information under the topic headings, I write my introduction; if I haven't written it already. Then, I go into the first paragraph and just kinda fill in the blanks. I take all the information I have noted and make it fluid. I do my best to order it in a manner that makes the most sense. I basically blend everything together. This process is a lot like the oil painting above. The colors are still district, yet they all flow together. I continue this process into the rest of the main body paragraphs. My conclusion is basically a rewritten introduction with an interesting final sentence that attempts to sum up the entire paper.

The Prewriting Process

The way I prewrite depends on the type of essay I am writing and the time constraints, but no matter what the essay may be, my prewriting revolves around structure.

Non-time Constrained Essays (Papers with a due date)

1. Plan
I write down any requirements, questions, or topics for the essay as dictated by a rubric or class instruction. If the essay has one main question, than this is the time that I will type out my introduction.

2. The Skeleton
I take the questions or topics that I typed out and place them in a separate document. I leave space between each heading to fill in information.

3. The Substance
I do research and write relevant information under the corresponding topic title.

Time Constrained Essays (Essay Tests)

For essays that have a time constraint, like essay tests, I use this chart structure to map out my ideas and quickly get myself organized during prewriting. This is one of the most useful writing skills I learned in Elementary school. I don't remember what it is called, and I couldn't find it online so I made this one. This has to be the quickest way to get myself on track when writing an essay in which every moment is precious. I even drew out one of these for the essay portion of my SATs. Now, I mostly do it off hand and don't need the chart, but I still used the same method.
1. Write the Introduction
2. Fill in main ideas
3. Brainstorm supporting ideas
4. Start drafting

Writing in General

Though I feel confident in my writing skills now, for most of my academic career I didn't enjoy writing. In Elementary school, I did not enjoy my writing assignments and I don't think I had any understanding of the writing skills I have now. The only thing I do remember is how to structure an essay which I will cover in my drafting entry. Writing was frustrating because I didn't understand how to do it. I did, however, enjoy writing poetry throughout third grade and would write it in my notebook.
I finally honed some of my writing skills in high school. I began to write music, and I enrolled in the honors English classes every year. These were the classrooms where I learned pretty much all I know about writing. These are the classes I look back on and most closely compare to college level courses. Some tests required me to write 3 essays in a 45 minute period. In my opinion, these teachers were the best at my high school. 
I began to enjoy writing when I looked at it as a means of expression. I'm not sure when exactly this occurred, but that's what I enjoy about it now. I enjoy finding the words that best articulate what I'm trying convey.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

How Writer's Workshop Functions

My Infographic for Writer's Workshop

Children's Fantasy Literature

With fantasy being one of my favorite genres, I could really connect with the author's view on fantasy literature. However, I never thought about it this way. 

"Fantasies allow the reader to consider and speculate about central and sometimes painfully realistic themes in a way that is more palatable than in realistic fiction or fact."
 -Kurkjian, C., Livingston, N., & Young, T. (2006). Children's Books: Worlds of Fantasy. The Reading Teacher, 59(5), 492-503.Emotional 

They allow the reader to keep an emotional distance from the reality of the book and to form an objective view on the events that occur it it. Therefore, it seems to be a gentle, nonthreatening, yet effective way of understanding reality.
For this reason, I think that fantasy is an essential part of literature curriculum in schools. There are many parts of life that are difficult and complicated, or even painful. Fantasy literature can introduce these things to an audience that is not quite ready for the real thing yet. 
Fantasy literture also offers a form of escapism. Being able to go into a completely new world where your problems seemly don't exist can be a tremendous coping mechanism, especially for children with rough home situations.

Characteristics of Fantasy
There are slight differences between traditional and modern fantasy. Traditional fantasy was passed down orally. It has a very vague setting and symbolic characters that do not grow. In contrast, modern fantasy is associated with a particular author. It has a detailed setting and developing characters.
However, all fantasy literature has certain characteristics in common including: a fantastic world, time shifts, fantastic characters, talking animals, magic, multiple interpretations, a call to the quest, guides and helpers, quest challenges, a goal of the quest, and the journey home.

Read the full Article:

Monday, October 27, 2014

Literature Circle Video Reflections

This Literature circle video effectively lays out the method in which literature circles should function and gives great examples of student discussion.

1. Read 

Students independently read their group book.

2. Question & Note Take

Students can take note of specific quotes that back up their ideas and think of questions they want to ask or have their peers think about. This can even include making a chart. During this time, I think the main focus is for students to independently reflect.

3. Discuss

I think this is kind of the meat of the literature circle activity. Students are divided into groups to discuss what they have read. This video showed some great examples of what students should be discussing during this time.

  • Critiquing of the author
  • Character discusion
  • Character to self comparison
  • Using quotes to back up their argument
  • Asking questions and asking for more detail after they answer a question.
  • Critiquent a charter
  • Relating to the character
  • Making predictions

4. Reflect & Response

During this time the students write in their notebooks about what they discussed

5. Profess

I thought this part of the literature circle was great. The kids in this particular video stood on the table and would: summarize, say what they realized, question, or even talk about their favorite part. I think this activity is great because it gives each student the opportunity to freely say what they think. I thought it was really creative of the teacher to have them stand on the table. It acts as an stage, making their words have relevance and giving them the attention of the entire class.'

This video was clearly scripted, but ti was a cute production of how literature circles work in this classroom.
In these literature circles everyone has a specific role
-Makes 3 connection (self, world, another book and explains why)
-Draws a picture that is important to the story
-Offers 2 questions an their answers
-Makes a prediction
Word Wizard
-Shares important terms in the text.

I feel theses role have their benefits and downfalls. I like that each student has a purpose and they are forced to practice different skills as the roles with off. However, I don't like that it kind of hinders discussion. Someone would have better questions to ask or more relevant connections, but thats not their job. Also, I feel that word wizard and illustrator don't have much importance. Not all kids like drawing and I think the group should take note of and discuss the words any of the group don't know since they are all at different reading levels.

Like the previous video, this one also  the same roles. I definitely preferred this over the scripted previous one. My issue with these roles is that discussion should be as natural as possible. However, the discussion does go well in this video. I love that the students continuously back up what they are saying with evidence from the text.
If I were to do this in my own classroom I would not divide up roles. I would ask students to think of at least one question, make one prediction, and take notes of words they don't know. I do like how when someone asks a question about the story or a word they ask their peers what they think. This is great opportunity to reflect on the the text and use their deductive skills.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Reciprocal Teaching Video Reflections

I absolutely loved the way reciprocal teaching was used in this lesson. It got the kids involved, on topic and kept them interested in what was going on. This way of reciprocal teaching was especially great for kindergarteners because it counteracted their short attention spans. I also thought it was a good idea that the child went up to the front of the classroom to hold the item and answer the question. I felt that this probably prevented disruptions and distractions. It teaches these skills in a simple and fun way that makes the kids feel like they aren't being forced to learn.

I like how this video lays out the exact steps of reciprocal teaching and shows an effective way to do it in regard to time. Bringing up a group of kids easily solves this issue. The idea that one of the best ways to learn is to teach is reflected through this practice. The children are almost taught to be teachers and to ask questions that they think their teacher would ask them. I think this is a very effective strategy that the students can use for test preparation and memorization, while at the same time being a more effortless way to learn. Essentially, these kids are learning how to learn.

I like that this video shows how once reciprocal teaching as taught, it can be used for independent practice or in a group setting. Once this still is learned, it can be practiced with other students. The teacher could even put all the students into different groups and walk around the room observing and just making sure everything is running smoothly and properly.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

What's Wrong with our Literature Circles?

The issues presented with the literature circles in Clarke and Howlwaldel are ones that I have personally seen in with my own classrooms throughout my academic career and even now; how divides in race, gender and socioeconomic status can lead to a lot of conflict within the classroom. Though I have I seen this so prevalently in my own life, I have never thought about how it would impact my classroom. Relieving these divides and finding common ground is so essential to literature circles. The teacher in this particular classroom, Jennifer, uses multiple activities to minimize this divide.

Finding Common Ground

Jennifer's first attempt to relieve this involves the students discussing their favorite TV shows, songs, one item they would bring to a deserted island, etc. At first, these activities triggered more conflict. However, when it was explained that this activity was meant to bring them together and to find common ground, the students responded positively.


I think the mini lessons and activities had the greatest impact breaking the divide. One specific mini lesson focused on compliments. The students would write a poem and the other students would say something they liked about it. This was adapted to the literature circles by making a good literature chart with a list of things that make up a good literature response. The students would use this chart to respond to their peers in a positive manner.


I thought the activities done in Jennifer's classroom were innovative, and offered a huge opportunity for self evaluation which made students more aware of what they could do better in their literature circles. In one activity, students would be filmed and then watch back their literature circles. Students enjoyed doing this and watching themselves from an outside point of view really helped them to become self aware.
I also thought the poker chip idea was pretty awesome! Students would get a certain amount of poker chips, and every time they talked they would put one in. Once they ran out, they were out of the conversation. This prevented one student from dominating the conversation and made them think more about what they were going to say. I imagine this also drastically decreased the amount of arguing in the classroom.

Choosing the right books

I think choosing the right books can be a great step toward productive literature circles. Certain books facilitate better discussion. It's important to find books that kids can find interest in and relate to.


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

My View on Reciprocal Teaching

Reciprocal Teaching
is an instructional activity that takes the form of a dialogue between teachers and students regarding segments of text for the purpose of constructing the meaning of text. Reciprocal teaching is a reading technique which is thought to promote the teaching process.

After reading Palinscar and Brown, I actually really like the idea of reciprocal teaching. I like that it focuses on the individual student and can be accommodated based on each students needs. However, there are some obvious issues executing this in a classroom.

Reciprocal teaching can be very time consuming. Doing this over an extended time span with every student could take hours and teachers just don't have that amount of time to work on one skill. 
In addition, it can be frustrating for both the student and teacher because reciprocal teaching is such a slow process for some students. At times, it may seem like no progress in being made.

Despite these issues, I think that reciprocal teaching is well worth the effort. The benefits outweigh the challenges. The skills learned with reciprocal teaching are essential skills that can be used for the rest of the students' lives. In the long run, it will teach them how to better absorb and learn information. To absolve the issue of time, there can be a time limit set for how much is done each day and how often. I believe the long term skills are worth the accommodation.

Here's the full journal article:

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Handbook for Boys: Book Club Reflection Four

There was no a lot to talk about in the last book club meeting as the novel was imply coming to a close.

The Annoying Aunt
Or was is just some random nun? I thought Kevin was annoying, but she definitely rivaled him. I am all for sharing your belief with other people don't get me wrong, but she wouldn't acknowledge that Jimmy had something positive going on in his life. If and when he wants to incorporate God into that is up to him.

The Struggling Student
When Jimmy hears one of his teachers say to a classmate that the only way he wouldn't flunk is if he dropped out it makes him angry. In the beginning I think this would have gotten on his nerves, but I don't think he would have said anything to the student about it. While Jimmy still has his flaws he is becoming a mentor to those around him.
I think it is atrocious that teachers actually say things lim this to students and I don't understand how they even got their degree. I think teachers (and future ones) should be constantly working on their patience and be self aware of how their words can impact a student. If they do or say something wrong then they need to acknowledge it and apologize.

Another Mantra
Duke says something that I live by in this section of the book. He says, "If somebody doesn’t do their job and give you what you need, its still your life (169)." I have had people fail me in my own life and realized that you have to make things happen for yourself. We need to try our hardest and not expect everything in life to simply be handed to us. This mentality has enabled me to be successful in a many endeavors because if I fail, it's on me, and I expect better of myself.

Kevin's Sentence
As much as Kevin's character annoyed me, sending him off to jail was a sad ending to this story. He had it coming to him and no matter how many chance he had he wasn't learning. He got in trouble initially; got bailed old by Duke. He failed his drug test; there were no consequences or a change of heart. Finally, he says around a friend who buys drugs and now has to go to prison for it. Unfortunately, some people need that wakeup call. He wasn't learning from Duke or his second chances so the only thin that could snap him out of it was a real consequence.

My Review
This book is ultimately about making choices. Jimmy pretty much sums up all the lesson Duke was trying to teach him with, "Talk is easy, doing is hard." This book is immensely valuable to a young person. If they can grasp it's wise lessons, then it can change their lives. I thought it wrapped up well and will definitely recommend it to my students one day.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Handbook for Boys: Book Club Reflection Three

This weeks book club reading and discussion really hit home. 
So Much Potential
A central theme in this part of the book is the potential for so much more than what people actually achieve. Duke says, "Too many of them end up pushing a broom around some factory at night when they should have been running a business or practicing some profession (99). Even though being in America is like have a box of tools, so many people don't know how to use them. Kids don't know how to get their life together. They don't have the skills, so they resort to crimes (Lonnie G), hope the good comes their way, or pretend like nothing bad could happen to them (Tariq). They may not have the same background or advantages, but they are faced with the same choices as everyone else. They can take advantage of an opportunity that comes their way, as Peter did, or make the easiest choice that comes their way.

It can be so difficult to get this point across. I have watched people make the wrong decision or the easy decision over and over again, and it can be so frustrating to communicate why they are making a bad decision for themselves. This book is so great for young people because it shows this from a personal and anecdotal perspective. It understands and acknowledges the other side, but still shows why things could have been done differently. Ultimately, we "are either going to make the choice, or be a victim (140)."
My Mantra
Seeing the disadvantage in the lack of example or seemingly lack of choice many kids face is one of the factors that drives me to become a teacher. One day, I want to be able to reach out to my students and show them that they have so much potential. They can be successful if they work toward a goal in life and try to make good choices.
Character Reflections
Jimmy- I love Jimmy as a character because he grows, thinks, and is introspective.
Jimmy's mom- I'm really growing to like Jimmy's mom. You can tell she really loves her son and wants what's best for him. She seems like such a sweet character and reminds me a bit of my mom. She doesn't understand everything and just tries to get through life, but she works hard.
Kevin- Well... I have officially decided I hate Kevin. I decided this when Jimmy mentions his smirk on p136. He seems so self righteous in his own actions, and goes around thinking he is better than everyone else, including Jimmy.

Mini Lesson: Basic Parts of Speech

My Mini-Lesson Video

Mini-Lesson Writeup

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Handbook for Boys: Book Club Reflection Two

I actually really enjoyed this meeting, and prefer meeting in person over google hangouts (the lag can make it a little awkward). In this session, we talked about several different things that stood out to us.

First, we discussed what we think a person is entitled to, which was a central theme in this section of the book. We talked about how we are only entitled to privileges, and when we do something wrong we loose those. You don't work, you don't eat. If you committed a crime and are in prison, you have lost your freedom. These so called rights can be lost as a consequence to our actions. Provisions provided to an individual by the government or the people around them should only be a backup plan.

We also talked about Duke's opinion on what everyone should know, and the rules that everyone should follow to be successful. Even if they don't know these rule successful people follow them. If Duke were to write this book, he would call it Handbook for Boys, which is where we get our title. Some predictions came true as well. We found out that Duke went to college. Jimmy continues to grow as a character. He becomes more curious and starts to show up early for work to talk to Duke.
We learn more about Mr. M and how he is from Puerto Rico, worked his way from the bottom up and used to own a business.

The quote that really stood out to me in this chapter was when Duke talked about how, "That's why you hear so many young guys talking about going into the NBA. That's a success they can see, even if they can't play a lick of ball (81)." I thought this quote was so true, and you really do see this with many kids. If they aren't told they need a practical plan too, then that's what they aim for. That's why kids need someone in their life to be an example of someone who is successful. Every child needs to be shown a visible success.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Handbook for Boys: Book Club Reflection One

In this video chat Heather, Krista, and I discussed several topics regarding Handbook for Boys by Walter Dean Myers. It wasn't easy to come up with exactly what to all about in the video chat, and I think it would be more helpful if we had more specific questions to focus on.

Initial Reactions: We all agreed that this book was an easy read probably best suited for 5th and 6th graders. I think it would be amazing for inner city kids who could really relate to the characters in this novel. I honestly would love to use this in my classroom if possible.

Setting: Present day Harlem

Character Discussion: 
Jimmy is a 16 year old from Harlem who got into a fight and was almost sent to juvey for it. Instead, Duke takes him in to work at his barbershop. Jimmy is the generic adolescent from an inner city. He thinks to survive and has a laid back attitude about life, but we suspect that this will change the more time he spends with Duke.

Duke is a 68 year old barber in Harlem and Jimmy's mentor. When his wife passed away a few years ago he decided to sell he store and use the money to send some boys off to college. He is wise and knows a lot about life. I assumed that he has some form of education since he knows about the philosopher Descartes.

Kevin is Duke's other mentoree. He is the president of a bunch of clubs and does well in school. He only got in trouble because his mom got him arrested for possession of  marijuana. He is very different from Jimmy to the point where he doesn't even seem like he's from the inner city. I assume that his parents are probably very overprotective.

Cap is Duke's friend who hangs out at the barber shop and has the mentality of a pessimist. He thinks everyone's life is going down the tubes.

Mister M is a Hispanic immigrant who we don't know much about yet. But according to Heather we learn a lot more about him in the next chapter

Jimmy's Mother is a single mother and waitress who has the same 'we-can't-change-things' attitude that Duke is trying to get out of Jimmy

Jimmy's father is a character that we haven't met. His parents are divorced and his dad lives in New Jersey, yet he never sees him.

Author reflection: Walter Dean Myers comes from a similar background as his characters and wishes he had someone like Duke in his life. He has written other similar books like Monster.

Predictions: Jimmy's character will mature strongly and begin to want to make something of himself.
Duke went to college (I actually already know this is true since Heather read ahead).
Kevin's parents are overprotective.
We may meet Jimmy's dad.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Teacher Mini-Lessons & Reading Conference Videos

Rick's Reading Workshop: Mini-Lesson 
I loved the way Rick interacted with his students and got them to really think. As he reads the Wednesday Surprise, he models the exact behaviors the kids need to use in their own reading. I love how he really guides their thoughts by talking about his own and asking about the students. He creates his own theory as he reads the story and demonstrates to the students how his develops and asks the kids to form their own.  I also love how he really knows how to engage his students. These mini-lesson videos are very inspirational and are wonderful for ideas and examples to use in the classroom.

Reader's Workshop, Rena Norwood
In this video, Rena talks about why we would reread a book. One this I really liked about this teacher is how she treated her students in regards to classroom management. When students got distracted instead of telling them to be quiet, she tells them to look at her. When she had to call out an individual student, she didn't call their name in an annoyed voice and tell them to stop talking. Instead, she called his name kindly, and when he looked she would thank him for looking at her. She used positive reinforcement to manage her classroom instead of negative reinforcement. I think something she could have done though is to integrate some more of her ideas to keep the kids thinking instead of having them simply repeat the same ideas over and over about why we would reread a book.

A Reading Conference: Teaching Intertextuality to a Student (5-8)
I love the idea that reading conferences really differentiate students as individual reader and challenge them. This must be a really good student/school though because most people even in my high school didn't pick up on these themes in the text. I really like how the teacher works simply as a guide through these texts, but these student does most of the thinking.

Reading Conferences
This video demonstrates many of the difficulties teachers can have in regards to reading conferences. I think this problem applies more to the older grades, but can become an issue as soon as you get past picture books. When its functions properly conferences like this one can show a teacher that the student is engaged in the book, but also works to guide what the student should be think about while reading the book.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Literacy Center Map & Explanation

Above, I include several different literacy stations, which are differentiated by the colors on this map. The first area is in light blue. Here, I can give instruction to the class as a whole. Students are seated at tables in a half circle formation. An essential part of using literacy work stations is teacher instruction. We must model positive behaviors, encourage students to share their work and what they have learned at each station, and be able to instruct the class as a whole.

The next station (red) is for Guided Reading. This takes place at the teacher's desk, and is a great opportunity to cater to students' needs face to face. The students in this rotation will be grouped based on their skill level in the particular subject matter.

The Computer and Listening Station (green) will function as an area in which students can practice their typing, do research, or play educational games.

The Writing Work Station (orange) will function as an area where students can work on their writing skills in a creative way. There will be craft supplies and writing materials available at this station, which students can use for a variety of activities; including writing stories and letters, and making cards. Writing prompts will also be available to students. Materials and prompts will be changed on a regular basis to keep students engaged.

The Poetry Work Station (dark blue) is a table where students can pick from a variety of poems. An 'I Can' list will also be on this table. Students can choose to illustrate a poem, write their own, or even practice preforming one for sharing time.

In the Drama Work Station (yellow), students will be able to retell a familiar book, script, or play. They can do this orally or use sock puppets and popsicle stick faces to assist them. These materials will be located in the prop box.

The final two stations are part of the Classroom Library (purple). This area can be used for teaching and story telling, as well as independent work. At the classroom library, students can read familiar books, write a response, and even share their favorite part. On a nearby wall, students can write down their book recommendations on a recommendation pocket chart. At the Big Book Station (purple) next store, a familiar book will be displayed, and students will have the option of answering a prompt about this book or simply reading it. The Big Book will be a book associated with the curriculum.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

A Third Grade Virtual Classroom Tour Reflection

I completely relate to this teacher's philosophy. She teaches third grade and strives to make her classroom fun, engaging, and to use lots of repetition! She believes that all students should be engaged from the top of the list to the bottom.

I watched the virtual classroom tour for third grade. When I first clicked on the virtual tour, I looked around the classroom and noticed these little red dots. Actually, the first thing I noticed was the couch, which I thought was pretty awesome! But after that I noticed the dots, and naturally, I clicked on one. This opens to a YouTube video describing the particular function of that visual in the classroom. I was so fascinated by the variety of different activities that happen in one day and the creativity that goes into them. It is so exciting to see the creative use of these visuals in a classroom. They can act as an enforcement of positive behavior, make learning more exciting, or even give students activities to do that free up the teacher to work in smaller groups of children.

I loved the poetry club idea! Not only do the kids get used to being fluent when reciting something, but it also makes public speaking fun. I think it is so important to have children do these oral presentations at a young age so they won't have such strong fear of it when they're in middle and high school. This activity also gives the students the opportunity to express themselves; maybe by acting out the poem, making other students laugh, or simply just getting the opportunity to be the loudest person in the room!

This classroom is a huge inspiration for innovation within a classroom, and inspire me personally to think outside of the box in order to be an effective and efficient teacher. I definitely plan to use this website as a resource in the future.

For more information: Teacher Literacy Website: Classroom Tours (3rd and 4th Grade)

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Memory of Language Arts

I have various memories of language arts; very few of which are pleasant. One of the memories that stands out to me for some reason is getting into small groups in elementary school, and discussing elements like character and setting. This would usually happen in a group of five or more students which would be moderated by a teacher. We would then record our findings in those small blue notebooks that professors sometimes use for test or finals. 
A more positive memory of language arts was having to journal all throughout eight grade. We could either write about a specific topic/ question or just write about whatever we wanted. I chose to write about what was going on in my life. It was therapeutic, interesting, and fun for me to reflect on my daily life. In addition, I can now look back on this journal, which I still have, and see what I was like and/or what was going on at this time in my life.

What Type of Reader and Writer am I? | Glogster Poster