Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Idea Diarrhea

The more I read, the more I think, the more I try, the more I want to do.  But when?  And with whom?  My job as a coach allows me entry into many doors in my school, but I do not want to hover outside the doors that have already opened to me, and I do not want to lurk near the closed ones, sending good vibes beneath the door and crossing my fingers.  This is such an exciting time in education, particularly in literacy education.  Every day the limits of what counts as literacy spread a little farther.  Reading, writing, speaking...of course.  Add to that all things digital and literacy becomes all-encompassing.  So where to begin?  With 2-minute documentaries, spoken word poetry festivals, kidblogs, voice thread storytelling, Book Creator stories that save as iBooks, digital mashups, stop-motion animation...  Every time I get a new idea it leads me to seven others.  I need to commit to a plan for developing new projects.  So here it is, for now:

  1. Plan blog-writing unit for forth grade
  2. Plan a 2-minute documentary as a nonfiction writing unit for early middle school
  3. Begin the process of introducing a Spoken Word "contest" in our middle school English program
  4. Identify digital means of presenting knowledge (the kids', that is) that incorporates layers of reading, writing, thinking, and communicating skills.
That's enough for now!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Spoken Word Poetry

This is Sarah Kay's TED talk about her journey into spoken word poetry.  The talk begins with a beautiful poem, "If I Should Have A Daughter," which hits me in the gut as a mother.  But even if you are not a mother, you will be stunned by her word play, her imagery, and her passion.  She reminds me how amazing spoken word poetry can be, and I am again inspired to bring this beautiful art form to our students.  Just add this to the list...I can see it now, the auditorium filled with middle school students spouting their pain, their pride, their poetry.  I can hear the teenagers filling the room with hoots and cheers as they experience the power of their peers' spoken word poetry.  Now I just have to figure out which teachers are with me on this one!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thoughts on Curriculum 21

A few weeks ago I had a conversation with a colleague about planning a new English course for our seniors--one that would prepare them for "21st century" college reading, writing, and analytical assignments.  We discussed the importance of media literacy and how our students, because of our more traditional program, rarely read and write texts that are relevant today.  Some of our teachers, upon hearing this idea, resisted.  Why should they analyze film, television, or YouTube videos?  What would teachers have to give up...Hamlet?  Perhaps.  Or perhaps not--maybe students could re-envision Hamlet through a video and audio mashup of scenes from different versions.  That's just one idea.

Upon reading Jacobs' Curriculum 21 I realized there's another layer we should add into this sort of course, and into all of our writing courses--documentaries.  I can just imagine our seventh graders writing the script to a documentary about a research topic of their choice.  I can hear their well crafted, voice-overs and imagine the time they'd take to select the music to accompany the images.  There's so much to teach in this sort of unit of study--as soon as I finish collaborating with my tech integration specialist, I'm on to my media literacy specialist to help me plan a documentary-writing unit for middle school students.

Then what?  VODcasts, leaving comments on authors' blogs, multi-school poetry slam via skype...

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Next Frontier

The talk of blogging has been swirling around me for quite some time, but this morning when I offered to help a fourth grade teacher prepare a series of minilessons to teach her students how to blog, I decided it was time to dive in.  So this is my first blog post, and it is little more than a confession that I've never blogged...and that I need to head into this new frontier so I can actually figure out how to teach blog-writing strategies to fourth graders.  Why would we want to teach fourth graders to blog?  Because for now, blogs are the way many people get the news, form opinions, or develop hobbies.  When these fourth graders are out in the world, who knows what new genre supported by what new technology will be their main source of information.  But for now...this is it.  So kids better understand how to communicate in this forum without being disrespectful, inappropriate, or vain.  Online etiquette, solid grammar/usage/mechanics skills, effective communication, digital responsibility...there are so many lessons here that I am anxious to get started.