Thursday, May 28, 2015

Conventions often occupy most of the time teachers use to teach writing. Here are some thoughts on conventions and how to teach them. Courtesy of choice literacy. Enjoy!

The Big Fresh Newsletter from Choice Literacy
May 16, 2015 - Issue #433
From Obligation to Appreciation
It is impossible to feel grateful and depressed in the same moment.

                                                                             Naomi Williams  
Through brain imaging, neuroscientists have found that the parts of our brains that are activated when we are complaining cannot be activated when we are appreciating something. That is, we can’t simultaneously feel grateful and disgruntled. The trick, of course, is to notice early enough when we are on the downward slope of general gripey-ness and to switch to appreciation mode.

For us, a recent word experiment--switching from “have to” to “get to”--has helped. Take the laundry, for example, a never-ending job in both our homes, and most likely in yours, too. Try saying to yourself, “I have to do the laundry [or insert whatever task you dread].” How does that feel? For us, it feels heavy. A certain amount of dread builds up. We automatically begin telling ourselves stories about how much laundry there is to do, how long it will take to get it all done, and how the laundry never gets caught up.

But, if we are present enough to notice our “have to” and switch it to “get to,” the entire experience changes. Say to yourself, “I get to do the laundry [or insert the previously mentioned dreaded task].” Notice how that feels different. Follow the line of “have to” and think about the privileges associated with doing your laundry. Think about the luxuries of clothes and of cleanliness. Remember when your dryer broke and you had to drag everything to the laundromat in the interim. Think about how doing laundry isn't very labor-intensive, compared with going down to a rocky stream and beating the stains out of our clothes for one full day of each week. Think about the people you love whose clothes you are preparing, and what a privilege it is to be their caretaker, even if the person you are folding for is yourself!

Now, take this word work to school and see how using “get to” instead of “have to” can support an appreciative perspective. What “have to” thoughts can you begin to shift to “get to” thoughts. And what can transforming your language with students do to help them shift to appreciation? For example, try saying, “We get to do math now,” rather than “We have to do math now,” or “I get to grade papers now” versus “I have to grade papers now.” Watch how this subtle word change can help you and your students notice typically overlooked gifts and spend more time in a state of appreciation.

This week we're looking at conventions. Plus more as always -- enjoy!
Jan Burkins and Kim Yaris
Contributors, Choice Literacy

Kim Yaris and Jan Burkins are the writers and thinkers behind Burkins and Yaris -- Think Tank for 21st Century Literacy, where their blog and their instructional resources have drawn a national audience. Their book Reading Wellness is available through Stenhouse Publishers.
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Heather Rader explains how teaching conventions is all about Finding a Fit:

In Explanatory Grammar Moves, Jeff Anderson shares the power of teaching the convention of right-branching sentences to young writers:

This video from the Teaching Channel shows how to make punctuation instruction engaging in middle school classrooms:

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