Sunday, May 31, 2009

Post #27 - Clay & Play-Doh

Here’s an unusual post: I have never tried this lesson before, but I really want to!

I’m trying to diversify my teaching techniques…to be honest, I think I cover different styles fairly well, but I do struggle to make the material appeal to kinesthetic learners. This activity intends to appeal to those tactile learners and to make the sometimes-abstract writing process more logical and concrete.

The lesson lets students use clay or play-doh to begin a creation and then make connections between that process and the writing process.

I had the idea of this tossed at me off-handedly; I followed up by hunting online for any lesson plans that had a structured lesson for it. Unfortunately, I found only a couple lessons.

One is more structured: Ask students to create something using their clay, and stop periodically as a class to talk about how each step of their modeling relates to the writing process. I like this and that it makes clear, direct comparisons in the process. I hesitate, though, wondering if perhaps it's too much emphasis on learning the writing process, something they should already know. Plus, I just don't want to be too structured for something in which I'm trying to get them to express creatively-out-of-the-box.

The other is a bit more organic: You give students the assignment to create something with their clay/play-doh and after about 20 minutes, ask them what steps they went through in creating their artwork. The class talks about the process as a whole, relating it to the writing process. I like that all the students are working on the same assignment so they can see how everyone creates something unique. Because this is a little less meta-cognitive, I worry that during the discussion students wouldn't connect to the writing process, or they might twist it. Then again, it could make for an interesting discussion about whether or not the writing process is linear...

Have you ever done a lesson like this? Any extra suggestions you could offer? If you haven’t done a lesson like this, which do you think you would prefer?

I lean more towards the structured activity, since my students are convinced that they don’t need brainstorming and that they just draft immediately. I want them to be aware of each step of the process – metacognition – so they see the value of testing the clay/play-doh (in other words, their writing & topics) before they actually begin creating. The structured version would enforce that, in my opinion.

source: initial idea from speaker @ county in-service, lesson plans from provided websites

Monday, May 25, 2009

Post #26 - Happy Tales

This is belatedly taken from my personal journal, dated Thursday, May 14.

  • Re-reading Fahrenheit 451 and talking about it with my students this week was awesome. We only had 4 days, and I so could have done more with it. But I LOVED talking to them about it...golly, I love that book. Today they had a student-led discussion...I especially love those, too. Sometimes it's hard to bite my tongue and stay out of it, but I love hearing/seeing them take ownership of the discussion and ideas. They even shush each other to hear what a commenter is saying - LOVE IT.
  • Today my non-advanced-honors students had a trial for Brutus. They were pretty funny. My Brutus in third period was hysterical - I was on the verge of tears by the time he finished his "post-trial CourtTV" interview. He had been found guilty and the interviewer's first post-trial question was "How do you feel about the verdict?" His face was PRICELESS. That alone made me burst into laughter. He had this tired & disbelieving expression of Is she seriously asking me this? "Well, I'm not happy," he responded flatly. The entire time, his facial expression and comments were so dryly in character ("Excuse me now, I have to go get ready to die."), the whole class was cracking up. Other kids kept looking back at me, I think to see if I was taking it humorously or getting annoyed. Oh there was no way I was keeping my face straight. It was one of those moments where I think, "These kids are so freaking fun. I LOVE MY JOB!"

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Post #25 - Fahrenheit & Censorship

Why is it that after we finish Fahrenheit 451, articles like this and this and this are all over the news!! Where were these 5 days ago? Dang fraggumit.

Obviously, we don't have to stop talking about censorship issues after we finish a book/theme, but we have 5 days left in the school year, and I've already got to move right along. Oh well. Bookmarking 'em in my Portaportal as we speak.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Post #24 - Censorship Intro

Obligatory apologies for not updating - blah blah blah. I know. OK, that's done.

Fahrenheit 451 - I had forgotten how much I LOVE this book. It's our last hurrah with my advanced honors students, and we started today.

I wanted to start our discussion today with censorship and give them a broader knowledge of what censorship entails; it's not just the library banning books or the radio editing lyrics. I wanted them to see how censorship is essentially controlling who gets what (or how much) knowledge and the most dangerous, extreme ends of that manipulation.

We started with a discussion on Censorship, feeling out what they already knew about it. How would you define it? What images come to mind? Does it have negative or positive connotations? That was a fun discussion.

I then provided them with the "textbook" definition, and explained that we'd look at censorship in a variety of historic instances, from 16th century England to contemporary Cuba. I'd already selected short readings that fit this bill and attached a copy of the "Censorship Packet Cover" to each appropriate reading. I currently only have 5 readings, but over the summer (or maybe next year?) I'll work on finding 2-3 more. They broke into groups and followed the directions on the packet cover for their reading.

They gave a 2-3 sentence summary regarding their historic event and then provided 3 interesting facts to the class about their reading. What I loved was that other groups actually listened and reacted to what they heard ("You mean they didn't...Why didn't someone just...Serious??")

After a quick wrap-up reminder that they should keep these censorship ideas - what provokes censorship, what is the danger in it - in mind as we venture forth into the awesomeness of Fahrenheit 451.

Tomorrow, we'll talk about the alienation of technology.

Censorship Introduction PPT

Censorship Packet Cover

Censorship in Cuba Reading
Hitler Youth Reading
Hollywood Ten Reading
16th c. England Censorship Reading
Book Burning -1933

source: I owe the idea to a webquest I found online; it gave me a springboard & directed me to three of the readings- Fahrenheit 451 Webquest