Blogs on English Language Arts

Blogs on English Language ArtsRSS
Shira LoewensteinDecember 19, 2013

"Does spelling count?"

This is one of my favorite and least favorite questions all rolled into one.

As a science teacher, I gave an assignment to my students to create a children's book. "In your book, I want you to explain everything your readers have learned about the different types of clouds and how they relate to weather patterns." Before I even have the chance to hand out a rubric, no less than five children call out, "Does spelling count?!?" I am sure they're hoping for a simple "yes" or "no" (and more specifically a "no"), but this seems to be a teachable moment if I have ever met one. I'm going to seize it . . .

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Caroline TrullDecember 16, 2013

Students are taught that a closing paragraph should accomplish three things:

  1. Restate an essay's thesis
  2. Summarize main points
  3. Provide a finished feel

In response to this information, young writers often exhibit confusion. "Aren't I repeating myself if I copy the same content from the first paragraph? And what's a finished feel?"

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Beth HollandDecember 9, 2013

I'll admit it. At the end of the day, I like to read books -- the paper kind. Twitter alerts and email don't randomly pop up when I read a hardcover book, nor does the lure of checking "one more thing" tempt me from the pages of a paperback. I have a singular focus, unfettered by a device -- or the tools behind it.

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Beth HollandNovember 26, 2013

Take a moment to think about how you learned to write. What steps did you go through? What was your process?

Most of us learned the same core set of skills on paper: organize, draft, edit, revise, turn in. Our teachers then marked up what we had handwritten or typed, and returned our writing. From there, maybe it ended up tacked to a bulletin board, stuck on the refrigerator door, stuffed into a notebook, or tossed in the nearest trash can. Let's call this Writing 1.0.

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Elena AguilarNovember 15, 2013

If you're looking for something to read this winter by a woman author, something that'll engross you, take you to new worlds and introduce you to characters you'll never forget, I have some suggestions. These books are among my all-time favorites -- to be included, they had to be on my list of favorites for at least a decade.

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Monica BurnsNovember 15, 2013

For families traveling this winter or teachers simply looking for an alternative to tablet games, there are lots of great apps for winter reading. Android devices, iPhones and iPads can be turned into ebook readers with a quick tap or swipe. Portable and kid-friendly, these interactive storybooks will support and engage young readers.

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Andrew MillerNovember 13, 2013

Last month, I wrote about two science teachers who are implementing the Common Core Standards to teach their course content in conjunction with the literacy skills called for in the Common Core. These teachers gave a great context for the implementation, plus some great tips for those of us who are just getting started on that journey. We know that the literacy standards are content neutral. In fact, the content can be vehicle for learning critical reading, writing, listening and speaking skills. What if that content was art?

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I'll admit, as the mom of a toddler I may be excessively preoccupied with the alphabet. But truly, letters are the building blocks of the English language and early literacy. Since November is National Novel Writing Month, I indulged in sharing a few of my favorite ABC videos. I started this playlist just for fun, and quickly found that the constraints of the 26-letter sequence provide a great framework for engaging lists of all kinds. As an exercise for your students, little and big, ask them to use the letters of the alphabet as a structure to get creative around a topic -- just see what they come up with!

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Lisa MimsNovember 6, 2013

As they enter the room, I wave the big yellow envelope in the air. They know what it is, and the room comes alive with excitement. They can barely wait until I open the envelope and pass out the contents. Their pen pal letters have arrived!

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Ali ParrishNovember 5, 2013

Editor's Note: A version of this post first appeared on Techie Teacher and Character Coach.

"But Miss Parrish, I can't think of anything to write!"

Haven't we all heard similar lines in our classrooms? We see hesitant writers sit with a pencil in their hands and a paper on their desks, almost as if they have been handicapped by the task we asked them to do.

How is it that some students have so much to say when talking out loud, but when a pencil is put into their hand they suddenly hesitate, struggle and have nothing to say? How can you help those hesitant writers eliminate the "handicap" or barrier that suddenly appears when asked to write?

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