Saturday, November 28, 2009
Organization presents a major challenge for teachers because curriculums usually present various writing genres in a set sequence. Unfortunately, hot topics do not always coincide with the scheduled sequence or lend themselves to the predetermined topic.
Meshing the organization with the idea in a meaningful manner is key and challenging because: "The organization enhances and showcases the central idea or theme. The order, structure, or presentation of information is compelling and moves the reader through the text." 6 + 1 Scoring Guide.
Comments to address organization when conferencing might be:
Strong: "The way you laid out all the information so logically, with a strong beginning, middle, and ending made this piece a pleasure to read."
Developing:" You have a beginning, a middle, and ending -- that's a great start. Now, let's work on your organization and make it even stronger."
Not Yet: "I'm not sure how all these details fit together. Let's work on putting them in an order that makes sense on your next draft."
I will be posting comments and lesson demonstrations as they happen over the next week. Stay tuned! Some great ideas are on the way:)
You are a research scientist (Role) who is working on an important project to discover cures for communicable diseases. Your work requires special equipment that is very expensive. Write a fundraising letter (Format) to send to prospective donors (Audience), persuading (Strong Verb) them to contribute money for equipment (Topic).
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
As we visited educators, everyone of them asked us how to teach English. Their biggest concern was their students' inability to listen and comprehend, write and reflect, and/or speak the language. Their strengths were: writing using the correct format and reading/translating.
The Chinese schools we visited, began teaching English in kindergarten - to children who are 3 years old. The standard format for teaching English in all of these schools is basically rote with a heavy dose of grammar. Many of the students spent long hours reciting and completing workbook pages.
At one of the schools we visited - a high school for students gifted with the ability to learn languages - the director explained to us that a controversy regarding how to teach language, was raging among teachers in China. There were two camps. 1. Language should be taught through memorization and grammar. 2. Students should understand the culture that produced the language and immerse themselves in it - exploring all of its issues, modes of communication, registers of language.
This resonated with me. As progressive as I like to think our education is, I feel we are still debating this issue in our own country - only it is a debate that involves teaching our native tongue. I still walk into many classrooms where teachers consider teaching English as synonymous with teaching grammar. Interestingly enough, most of the teaching still comes out of the Warner handbook. This was originally written back in the early 30's when we had many immigrants entering our country and the publishers were looking for a way to educate second language students. This raises many questions for us.
The most crucial question :
Is language an extension of ourselves and as such should it be meaning based?
I think China's experience has a great many implications for us. What do you think? Please comment.
Sunday, November 1, 2009
Please stay tuned!
We will continue to share our ideas with you.