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By: Sara Elizabeth Fortune, (daughter of TC Missy Fortune) as told to Tracy Baisden
June 5, 2008
On Tuesday sissy, mommy and me were going to the Park Pool for a swimming party for school. It was in the morning. The sky was white with clouds and it was warm. We were going to the car to get mommy's bathing suit and there was a rat in the garage. The rat was black and fluffy. It had a little nose and big tail. The rat ran. It tried to chase me, so we went in the yard and got a toy and threw at it. It went running. I yelled "Tiny!" And from somewhere my dog Tiny came running. When he got there he chased after the rat. Then he killed it. He bit the rat. He shook that rat. He threw it and slammed it on the ground. Then he caught it in his mouth again and killed it. Then Tiny brought it in the yard and dropped it at mommy's feet. That was the day Tiny killed the rat
In order for students to write more fluently, they need multiple opportunities during the school day and a t home to practice. This can be accomplished in many ways. For example: journaling before reading a passage, freewriting, creating timelines, brochures or advertisements, writing descriptions, emails or reports, generating surveys, diagrams, charts, or graphs can be utilized in various educational settings. Each targets a different skill and allows students to enjoy the writing process.
Students need opportunities to play with words and use words in various modes.
Recently, my students wrote a Blotz poem using alliteration and created a person book that would match the poem. To write the poems, students used the first letter of their name as the basis of their poems. They brainstormed lists of foods, places, activities and action verbs that began with the chosen letter. Once a list of words was formulated, the first task was to create an imaginary name for the Blotz creature. With an activity such as this, students have an opportunity to play with words and use their imagination to create something nonsensical too.
Recently my students completed an in-depth study of the Holocaust. I tried a concept new to me; I incorporated literature circles and used fiction and non-fiction young adult literature. Students read one of the following books: Room in the Heart by Sonia Levitin, Daniel's Story by Carol Matas, Escape from Warsaw by Ian Serrailler, Number the Stars by Lois Lowry, Elly: My True Story of the Holocaust by Elly Gross, and Shadow Life: A Portrait of Anne Frank and Her Family by Barry Denenberg.
Last year I taught Romeo and Juliet to several classes of ninth graders. (First of all, let us understand that whoever had the bright idea that ninth graders would like that play should be shot...and then run over...several times...) I was not stupid enough to expect them to read the whole play in the original language. I was not stupid enough to expect them to understand it without intense explanation. I followed my own dictum and tried to approach Shakespeare as a play - that was meant to be seen or acted, not simply read. We watched parts of the movie versions. (Would you believe that the Leonardo di Caprio version, which was created to make the play appeal to this age group was the least favorite? "They didn't have helicopters back then!") On the other, I was stupid enough to try a tableau activity that failed miserably.
This year Coalfield Writers will hold summer creative writing camp for students enrolled in grades 5 - 8 of the 2007 - 2008 school year. The camp, Diversity University, will be held July 28 - August 1, 2008 at Logan Middle School from 9 a.m. till 3 p.m. daily.
Welcome, Teacher Consultants! I've been working behind the scenes at coalfieldwriters.org: adding user groups, setting permissions, etc., trying to make our site meet the needs that have been expressed to me. Bob asked for a Revision Group - what a great idea! - so I put one in the 'Teacher Consultants' block in the left sidebar. If you want to be part of this new feature, submit a piece of writing and let's begin. Hopefully, someone will have a plan for how we actually do the revising.. =)
I'm not a Language Arts teacher, I don't have a great deal of experience with the process of revising writing, but I am the queen of changing my mind... Does that make me a candidate for this group?
Chapter 1 Penny Kittle Response
One of my worst teaching moments occurred early in my career, in a tenth grade class called “Introduction to the Majors”. To understand the moment I experienced, the first thing to understand is the class itself. The goal of Introduction to the Majors was career guidance and development. Intro, as we called it, was a newly mandated course for sophomores in the state of West Virginia. No one who was teaching it really understood what it was about, and we were selected as teachers for the curriculum for a variety of reasons. Some principals believed Language Arts teachers would be better at it. Other principals chose teachers who had open time in their schedules. In Logan County those of us assigned this course in our class schedule were sent to Chapmanville for training in the curriculum, just before school started.
Summer Institute began with a bang Friday evening! Keynote speaker, Paul Epstein of the Central WV Writing Project, spoke about the power of teachers who not only teach their students to write, but write with them. He talked about the joy of publishing his students' work after they had taken it through the revision process.
A highlight of the evening was when Paul strapped on his guitar and sang three of his original songs! We laughed during the song gently poking fun at the King's English (our native language in southern West Virginia). We nodded in agreement and understanding as he sang about having coal in our veins.
Just this past weekend I came face to face with how children use technology as I watched my four-year-old granddaughter, Georgia, move through her days. She entertained herself with a VSmile game that taught her first grade and above content while we old people grabbed a few more zz's each morning. She moved 'Bikini Princess Leia' through her Lego Star Wars game on her Dad's PlayStation-driven big screen TV while we old people talked. She took her virtual pets out for a walk while we drove to a local restaurant for dinner (on her Nintendo DS). She photographed us and our surroundings with her FisherPrice My First Camera, then we created a Digital Story on her Dad's computer... I wonder: Am I doing enough as a teacher to meet the needs of tech-savvy students? How do I use technology in a way that expands the skills of students growing up with ipods, cell phones, etc., without putting undue stress on students who haven't been exposed to the ubiquity of technology?
On Saturday Aug 5, 2008 a Writers Workshop was held in the Cultural Center at the state capitol complex. There were four choices of sessions in the morning and four more in the afternoon. Poetry, screenwriting and view point sessions were in the morning. The afternoon sessions included comic and graphic novel writing, a different screenwriting session and slimming down and strengthening a piece of prose. One session was repeated, the session introducing the Archive Library. If the reader has never visited this library there is a wealth of information useful for research and as prompts. It is open Monday through Thursday until eight in the evening, Friday and Saturday until four.