Saturday, December 27, 2014

I am posting this here because I find many people have a hard time creating measurable goals in ELA. Here are some good ideas about goal setting. Remember, you can measure a child's ability to write without focusing just on grammar and punctuation. Courtesy of Choice Literacy.

The Big Fresh Newsletter from Choice Literacy
December 27, 2014 - Issue #413

Happiness of Pursuit
When a great adventure is offered, you don't refuse it.
                                                 Amelia Earhart
I've been enjoying the book Happiness of Pursuit: Finding the Quest That Will Bring Purpose to Your Life by Chris Guillebeau, about the joy that comes in life from quests. Guillebeau set out to visit every country in the world, and he accomplished his goal while he was still in his mid-30s. He isn't a wealthy guy, and the book chronicles nights spent sleeping on airport floors in third-world countries and the deep anxiety of visiting unsafe countries where westerners weren't welcome. He also shares other stories of ordinary people with extraordinary quests.
The quests can often involve travel. My two sisters are on a quest to bike in each of the 50 states together. Guillebeau writes movingly of a woman with a terminal cancer diagnosis who set out to view more species of birds across the world than anyone had ever seen. But a quest doesn't have to take you far from home -- one of the questers in Guillebeau's book set out to cook an authentic meal from every cuisine in the world, all within the confines of her suburban Colorado home.
The book reminded me that kids aren't only natural-born questioners -- they also love quests. Childhood reading provides a kind of scaffold for the bigger quests children might face down the road. All around us there are children who are right now memorizing dozens of stats for their favorite baseball or hockey team. When I was nine, I fulfilled my quest of reading a whole wall of children's books about the presidents at the town library (just because it was there, I guess).
Maybe we shouldn't be too concerned when a child is on a quest to read every book in a series (even when there are 47 of them), or a book that is far over their reading level because it is a favorite of friends. A quest isn't just an item on a bucket list -- it's something that requires planning, sacrifice, and often a bit of risk.  And aren't those all elements of reading beyond your comfort zone, with goals or texts that are a little bit daunting?
I am not on a quest at the moment, but I want to find one. I'm using the questions Guillebeau provides as a starting point for finding one:
What excites you?
What bothers you?
If you could do anything at all without regard to time or money, what would it be?
I am taking my time finding a quest -- or maybe I'm letting one find me.
This week we look at goals. Plus more as always -- enjoy!
Brenda Power
Founder, Choice Literacy


Free for All

[For sneak peeks at our upcoming features, quotes and extra links,  follow Choice Literacy on Twitter: @ChoiceLiteracy or Facebook:
Here are two features from the archives on goals for teachers and students: 
Katie Doherty considers goals for book clubs in Assessing Learning During Student-Led Book Clubs:
Ruth Ayres writes about being kind to yourself and realistic in On Perfection and Goals:
Make goals in your classroom SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely) by using this advice from Maurice Elias at Edutopia

Lead Literacy is our subscription site designed especially for literacy coaches and school leaders. You can sample content at this link:
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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Monday, December 8, 2014

Some more info from the Harrisons. Enjoy!

I also adore the vocabulary word of the day from tomorrow's SWT slide too: PARSIMONY (which is a Try-GOT, not an EGOT, for those of you who are using our Vocabulary Lessons).  It's a Try-GOT that my kids always enjoy inventing a word that should serve as the word's missing verb form.  Once they've invented a verb form, I challenge them to use it five times before the day is over with their other teachers.  That said, this might be a good week to maybe go back through your students' collected/graded vocabulary and see if they can find any other words that are Try-GOTs, then see if they can invent a brand new word (in the spirit of Frindle, am I right?) to fill in as the word's missing form.  
My kids love to write stories/comic strips wherein they use a good word they've created.  If they come up with PARSIMONIZE (or something like that tomorrow), I can get them writing all about that brand new word!  We'll write comics, we'll write raps, we'll make propaganda, and we will give life to a word that never before existed.

Finally, if you're looking for an enjoyable persuasive/argumentative lesson that can be done quickly in the two or three days before Thanksgiving, WritingFix still features the original "Thanksgiving Turkey Protests" assignment, which you can easily teach even if you don't have the cited mentor text (My Lucky Day by Keiko Kasza) to share with your kids; you can just share the basic premise of the story: a fox plans to eat a smart pig for dinner, but the fox ends up exhausted because the pig keeps assigning him chores that--if done well--will ensure the fox an even tastier pig for dinner; the pigs ends up warm and clean, and the fox is too tired to eat.  A great, original story can come from the simple idea formula here: SMART TURKEY + NOT-AS-SMART FARMER or CHEF = funny story about the holiday meal saving himself/herself using good rhetorical strategies.
At one point, when WritingFix was still being sponsored by the NNWP, we had the vision of eventually posting several holiday-inspired writing lessons for every holiday in the school year, and my friend/colleague Barbara Surritte-Barker created this fun Thanksgiving lesson to serve as a a model.  The project never came to fruition unfortunately, but here is the direct link to the lesson, which comes with a graphic organizer, revision tools, and student samples from writers as young as second grade--even though the lesson's author was a middle school teacher:
And wow...that reminds me...last year we did something fun in our enrichment period with the Aristotle's Rhe-turk-ical Triangle, which I happily posted as a five-step lesson on my Pinterest Board:  Follow the links that are provided below each picture in the write-up, and you'll see the whole lesson idea unfold in five steps.  I got funny, smart stuff from my kids last year doing this!
Have a superb holiday with friends and family this upcoming week, if you indeed celebrate this week's holiday!  December's Lesson of the Month is going to demonstrate some new ways to have students create original iPod Playlists in pretty inventive ways -- to teach character analysis AND to teach grammar.  Fun stuff is coming on December 1!  Until then, have fun with unique talents, the word PARSIMONY, and persuasive turkeys!  
Dena and I wish you the best for you and your family!
--Corbett (& Dena) Harrison
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