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Communicating with RESPECT

RESPECT: we love to share the music- attempt to belt out the song- post the word on our pinterest pages and expect “that is that”- Ugh Ugh – real RESPECT involves so much more. 

I spend more time than I ever anticipated being on line these days, reading over blogs, wondering which ones do offer a controversial stance, which ones I could use as demonstration material to share with students, which ones are written from a point of view with which some of us may disagree, however that will still maintain the academic professional concept of “respect” – this way I would be able to demonstrate how disagreements do take place over issues, without descending into cussing or personal hurtful swipes.  When working with older students, looking at debating and beginning the analytical questioning of argument, it is useful to use real life issues; the ones in the news, the ones affecting their future.  It is therefore so discouraging to read a blog which may begin about a topic, and read its quick descent into rude language- students may use this language, they may hear it – that is not the point- the point is that when I click through other blogs written by educators, I plan on using these blogs as examples of Free thinking, the ability to agree to disagree, about issues. 

Name calling, racist remarks, ignorant rants- you name it – the blogsphere permits all of the above- but though times have changed in this past century and teachers today may take a stand on issues, may stick their necks out without fear of losing their jobs, may get married, and have children and return to work- (yes there was a time when for females anyhow, such was not an option) – If labelling oneself and one’s blog as part of the “team Teachers” which ever side you are on- I so wish that the simple concept of RESPECT would reverberate ( lovely word hunh? like the idea of a ripple in a pond…) and that I could comfortably know that RESPECT is both a noun and an action, applied, generated and appreciated- then students will observe such thinking in action, and perhaps – just perhaps, recognize how to apply the concept themselves. 

respectfully yours,

  Alison (ali)

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Essay writing made simple

The mini essay, 6 word style, is a definite challenge for students in terms of understanding how to pick and choose words (diction) to make each word count.  Of particular importance to the High School students when they begin essay applications, and must restrict themselves within a prescribed number of words, younger students too benefit from this form of word play; they may create a six word definition using words which a teacher supplies, or by first coming up with a series of words then deciding if the words relate to a topic.  Initially six word style writing works best when done as a class then in mini “teams”.  Each team may be given a particular word, a dictionary and a thesaurus, and a few sample six word “stories”.  Ideally students begin by writing out way more than is needed for a particular blurb, then eliminate extraneous material until the focus is clear. 

Here is an example: The essay in 6 words : Brainstorm, write it out, share, revise

yes, I know we are encouraging students to use the internet and more and more online resources such as a mapped Thesaurus, however sometimes the tactile aspect of using books to look things up provides a different result.  When students in the elementary to junior years are presented with the wonderfully visual texts that junior dictionaries have become, they almost immediately find themselves curious to learn more, distracted- a bit – but in a positive way, recognizing that these “old fashioned tools” may offer information in a “cool” way as well. 

Six words about me:  I love learning, and sharing results

Your turn!

 

Home brewed-

coffee and books

what I consider relaxing 🙂  weekend wishes to all!

A Lesson outline for Steam; all ages

“Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky.” -Rabindranath Tagore

“ Rabindrath Tagore- he became the first non-European to win the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1913.[4] In translation his poetry was viewed as spiritual and mercurial; however, his “elegant prose and magical poetry” remain largely unknown outside Bengal”
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Word painting: what image is created; when you listen, what do you see?

Say the phrase two or three times, how is the person expressing the idea/ feeling? How can you tell? What words require shape in the actual illustration?

Could there be a metaphor inside the following: “sunset sky”

Remember that for poetry to “work” it must be accessible on two levels; first as an actual literal read through- where we imagine the evening of a day and the sky- what colours, what energy, what may have cleared in the air?

The second level requires a second reading, this time as figurative or metaphorical speech; when do writers speak of clouds? What else may clouds symbolize? What is the writer saying about these clouds?

Please remember that when as readers we interpret poetry, we are offering suggestions relating to the author’s writing- we are relating to the words, and the images the words suggest, but we can’t be definite – our “guesses” relate to feelings, and poetry captures emotions…

Now, read it once more. Has knowing anything about the author helped in understanding the poem? Why might the writing be deemed “magical”?

–Science- recall what are clouds- how may clouds add colour?

Please illustrate the image twice- First as a literal image- what colour are “regular” clouds – and an evening sky…

Second illustration: please share how you would like to interpret the words via painting, drawing, chalk, etc.

Would love to see any images created! Thank you 🙂

From the “so what” to the “now what!”:Turning points

The word just hung there:”ma’am?”; non confrontational, a simple inquiry yet the word startled.  And as someone who deals in words, teaching, explaining, cajoling, always, always, encouraging (learning entails growing -yes?) was surprised by own reaction: recoil! BAM a word that shouted “older now” so – time for a little perspective:

Kids are now young adults 🙂

experience is a great teacher : I have a lot of experience

milestones are meant to be celebrated-

and laughing remains the best medicine, so…I laughed and realized the shop-clerk was right- “ma’am” it is, and no offense meant or taken. But how often over the course of a day do the little encounters add up, and help make or break our energy level. Labels do have meaning, and in the education system, labels are what students hear a lot.

“Is this a test?” ( translation: does it count? will we be judged?)

“special” – loaded as a term – helpful for administrators and parents to categorize and access resources/ hurtful is misused

“common core” in the States, “EQAO” in Canada, basic standards for determining levels of “right” reproduction of knowledge; ask a learner to submit a reflection piece = asking a learner to demonstrate his/her ability to problem solve, today’s “authentic knowledge”- to connect his/her own experience with whatever was/is the topic at hand. And this means exposing feelings, something schools do not appear to have been great about encouraging.

When I review the arguments for or against the Humanities, dearth of job prospects (versus what may exist through studying the hard sciences- actually we all know the real need today is for skilled workers-period), countered by (the)need to develop caring, empathetic human beings as fully reflective and creative as can be I am reminded of how filled with connotative dissonance the arguments are. Just like “ma’am” had the power of suggesting an image I wasn’t sure I was ready for, the suggestions that “hard sciences” may be harder does a giant disservice to those practicing within the Humanities. Scientists needn’t be cold and unfeeling, liberal art majors needn’t be social butterflies, and years of teaching and learning has brought home the very real message that hard is linked to difficult for most people- when in fact what we find difficult may be one of two things- something we do not have a natural aptitude for and/or something that has not been clearly explained, step-by-step, to become if not adored, at least doable. Harvard Professor Howard Gardner* wrote a thought-provoking book on the importance of learning a discipline thoroughly and how it comes to follow that through learning one thing well, other things will need to be looked at and studied as well. No vacuums, but interactive communicative skills that allow for interdisciplinary meeting and sharing of both ideas and ideals.

To be of service when parents and older students ask for suggestions regarding post secondary school choices, my responses return to the questions of “so what” and “now what”; really- how would this decision affect you? how could this decision allow for growth/change and dare I use it? authentic learning. Marks versus goals, labels versus dreams. “everyone/no one is going there”- so what? is this a positive for the learner or a negative? Social aspects of a learning environment do affect outcomes – but- as one grows so may ones social needs change. “Now what” may involve the filling out of forms- or simply the making it through a waiting process- one thing I know for sure- the “Then what” is part of the dream making. What ever else we may be doing as educators – and with thanks to a great educator who is celebrated and honoured today, the third Monday in January, let us make sure we leave room for the dreams –

For full speech of Martin Luther King’s I have a dream: http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/mlkihaveadream.htm

*http://www.amazon.com/The-Disciplined-Mind-Standardized-Education/dp/0140296247

Quote

Which is heavie…

Which is heavier, a pound of gold or a pound of feathers? Did you know, feathers can be heavier if first weighed in air then weighed in a vacuum…science – keeps us thinking…and floating 🙂

Reading Help: great selections for all ages/links/sources…

Please don’t be “a snob” about your children’s reading choices- think of Captain Underpants (http://www.amazon.com/New-Captain-Underpants-Collection-Books/dp/0439417848) as a chance to have a child enjoy the humour a well written satire will produce, accept the comic novels and graphic stories such as “Dork Diaries” (http://www.dorkdiaries.com/home/ interactive website accompanies the series) and be pleased when you see a child reading independently and comfortably. Readers read*, almost anything and everything, and develop vocabulary, empathy, and thinking skills, while learning to appreciate different points of view; a classic today, such as Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte (http://www.amazon.com/Wuthering-Heights-Dover-Thrift-Editions/dp/0486292568/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1385496533&sr=1-1&keywords=wuthering+heights) was apparently a “shocker” when first published (1847) and shipped in brown packaging – 🙂

As promised, today’s feature will be links to other sites where annotated bibliographies allow for less random choosing of books as presents ( it IS Holiday season).  In addition to Amazon, which often offers readers a chance to peep inside with their on line http://www.amazon.ca/Anne-Green-Gables-L-Montgomery/dp/0486283666 click to look inside button – a very good activity to practice as an inside look will quickly show the reader the grammar and vocabulary of the book, and Oprah‘s website where detailed reviews are posted, the following also have proven helpful.   http://www.oprah.com/taglib/index.html?type=bookmark&tag_name=kidsreadinglist&display_name=Kids%20Reading%20List

Oprah’s list is extensive and clear/ separated by age groups: Please remember to try to find out what interests the young person you are selecting for.  For example, someone might be very into a series and even if having read a library copy may wish to have one for personal use. 

 

For younger readers, Indigo provides: http://www.chapters.indigo.ca/books/search/?keywords=younger%20readers , while also offering the following with adult readers in mind:
http://www.chapters.indigo.ca/heathers-picks/ Heather’s picks is an easy go-to source before heading to the store, although I do enjoy browsing a book store and holding a copy while weighing its merit as a gift; reading is a particular habit and not everyone enjoys the same material. In fact, books, like other art forms, vary in appeal…

Ok that’s the basics, then too there are local library lists, such as this one posted on the Toronto Public Library website: http://www.torontopubliclibrary.ca/books-video-music/books/booklists/teen-reads.jsp with their selection for teens-

I used to ask students to browse the sites and read the descriptions, then compile a list of twenty books they would choose. This allowed me to put together a package based on my budget and the choices on the list. For younger students, the reading of excerpts on line, together with an adult, can be a pleasant reading activity.

http://www.literacytrust.org.uk/yrp Lots of good, helpful information here, advice to parents, and a statement I agree with: “The importance of book choice is highlighted, which increases motivation to read”

The following is a book list geared to educators and organized by grade level (American). The list is extensive and comes with a disclaimer in the beginning pages, a reminder that such lists are a “work in progress” – a comment that always reminds me that so are we- as educators, constantly striving to improve…
http://www.p12.nysed.gov/guides/ela/part1b.pdf

*If you have a young student struggling with reading, do not hesitate to select text with visual appeal, and even move into readers geared to the English as a second language learner; the repetition of words and specific vocabulary choices in such readers will help increase fluency as well as offer an opportunity to read a complete passage. Please remember that there is a huge difference between someone “not liking to read” and someone having trouble reading. “Not liking to read” can be a personal choice made by many a bright, capable individual who simply prefers other activities as a means of relaxing, but who has the skills to read as needed- for academics and for other areas of life. “Not being able to read” could indicate other problems; http://www.interdys.org/ International Dyslexia Association which is American based; the Canadian Pediatric Society has devoted a full page to links with articles and advice for new parents and parents in general:
http://www.cps.ca/issues-questions/literacy

Reading for some will rank right up there with any activity – some love music, others dance, still others hockey, football, soccer etc. Don’t forget the motivation that reading about a “hero” could provide.

Thanks for reading …