I had the opportunity to go to a Kelly Gallagher workshop at Judson this spring, and it was absolutely amazing!
He was so nice when I went up to him (I was terrified and starstruck), and even wrote "You're Welcome" on this piece of paper, because my students actually asked me to THANK HIM for changing the way we read novels in class.
Students + asked me + to say thank you to an author + about school stuff = UTOPIA!
Here are some of my abbreviated notes from the day:
His TOP Points:
- Kids should write 4X more than you can physically grade
- Students suffer from word poverty. Must get students reading more in order to be exposed to vocabulary.
- We need to teach kids WHY they need to write, while we teach them HOW to write.
- Literature and poetry should be the core of a language arts program. No one else is being asked to give up the core of their content!
- Use narrative to strengthen argument
- If your district requires a cheese ball 5 paragraph essay, wait till the week before the test to teach that formula. Bring me a five paragraph essay published in the real world and I'll buy you lunch.
"If students don't write at least three times a week, they are dead." Donald Graves
- Narrative Writing Modeling Exercises:
- The Six Word Memoir
- Take it to twitter: 140 characters
- Encyclopedia of an ordinary life by Amy rosenthal
- Make an alphabetical encyclopedia of life
- The unofficial and unwritten rules of... Band, choir, drama, etc...
- Explain a photograph (fictional)
- Write one sentence
- Share with your group
- Mini lesson on first and third person pov
- Start telling a story
- You have four minutes
- Continue the story
- Mentor Text: This I Believe
- Do this at the beginning of the year, on the first day of school.
- Read these that Friday in class
- Who made that? (Informational Writing)
- Have them research who made that and why.
- One page, has to have a graphic.
- Bind and put in classroom library.
- Explain a photograph (non-fiction)
- Tell a story
- Students bring in a photograph and write about one
- Use TED talks so kids can learn to take notes
- The one strategy that elevates writing the most is MODELING
- Instead of teaching grammar separately, incorporate it into the writing curriculum
Grading Practices (MY EPIPHANY!)
Do four timed writing a quarter, staple together have them pick the one they want graded.
Second time tell them you will randomly pick one.
For me I would do this in the Interactive Student Notebook:
Every ten assignments collect notebooks.
Tell students to put a post it on the assignment you want me to grade, and I'll pick one randomly.
I created and ordered this stamp last night to keep track of checking in notebooks from Vistaprint. See my FB page for a $10 off link!
SOW (Sentence of the week)
Although it was warm, she wore a sweater.
After the game, we ate pizza.
As the evening progressed, I relaxed.
1. What do you notice about them? Write the rule
Commas, front branch, dependent clause, etc...
Every time a sentence starts with an AAAWWUBBIS WORDS, it will need a comma.
Aaawwubbis phrase commas
After, although, as, when, while, until, before, because, if, since
2. Can you imitate it?
Then do a table check, grade one person at the table for the whole group.
10 question quiz every Friday, including AOW (Article of the Week), SOW, lesson of the week, and what I'm reading now
Don't grade final draft, grade level of movement. Staple all drafts together
My favorite strategy from him: CLOSE READING!
The reason my students asked me to say thank you was because we read Flowers for Algernon this year, and we just read it. I would assign a certain number of pages that needed to be completed by a certain day, and they just had to read. NO vocabulary, no guiding questions, just reading. On the day the reading is due, I had taken random pages from that selection of reading, and made copies. I grouped the students, and gave each group the same passage. First, let me back up.
On the first day, we modeled a passage together. Marking things such as details, questions, important vocabulary, and I would create two questions to focus the close reading. Let me preface that this was very time-consuming, but totally worth it!
Students were given their passages, and worked in groups to do the same thing we had modeled together.
Above are their questions to focus the reading.
I would then grade their close reading, making sure they showed careful consideration of the questions in a short response, and had highlighted and marked sections of the passage they felt helped to clarify the section of the reading.
I discovered that instead of quizzing students on completing the reading, we took it to a deeper level. Students who had possibly not finished the reading realized, on their own, that they needed to catch up in order to have a valid discussion with their peers about it.
To make it uniform, I created keys for my students to use. This made them easier to grade, and helped students get into a routine!
In reference to some of the activities above, I did the six word memoir and "This I Believe" with my 8th graders on the second to last day of school, and had them put it in a sealed envelope. Many students said in their course evaluation that it was their favorite activity, and they couldn't wait to come back and pick them up. A few even put dollar bills in their envelopes, saying they were starting a savings account, and to ensure they would come back for it! :)
Although I literally just had a mini panic attack realizing there are only 2 1/2 weeks of summer left, writing this blog post showed me the things that are so exciting that I'm looking forward to going back for. I am not excited, however, to leave this little sweetheart.
Coming Up Next...I have an ERIN CONDREN shipment coming in today! I already received my new teacher planner, but I figured I'd wait to post pics until this other little package arrives!