Monthly Archives: August 2012

Reading, Reading, Reading

Hello again Students and Parents,

Wednesday in Advanced-TAG classes, we had our second Socratic Seminar based on an interview transcript with Elie Wiesel, a Holocaust survivor. This will help prepare students for reading Night, which we’ll start before the quarter is up. 🙂 I think this one is one you could read together. It’s intense. It’s historical. It’s one person’s true-life-experience.

I’m sending home permission slips for, but here’s a copy in case one doesn’t make it home tonight.

Wednesday in my Media ELA class, we began planning for our first public service announcement. We watched this one: as an example. I explained there are two purposes of a PSA:
1. To inform the audience about an important issue
2. To convince the audience to act differently or do something
We’re going to back up a little today and work in groups to write our scripts, step-by-step.

Having a good year! I hope you are. 🙂


What’s the Difference Between Effective Communication and . . .


Quite a bit, right? Today, we talked about the two parts of communication that students are responsible for: the message and the presentation.

In Advanced-TAG classes, we compared the bad speech video to a montage of good speech clips and brainstormed differences. Then, we focused on what a good message looks like, analyzing Twain’s “Two Ways of Seeing a River” essay. This was tough! We’re used to thinking about what words SAY, but we’re not as used to thinking about what words DO. We may back up and try this with a simpler text this week.

In my Media ELA class, we watched the bad speech video above and talked about message and presentation, only we’re starting with analysis of the presentation. We watched Channel One News and analyzed the presentation of the reporters. Students, get ready to BE the reporter! Now that we’ve checked out the presentation, we’re ready to analyze some messages.

Almost halfway through first quarter. 🙂


One Book Project

The One Book Project has the website up and running!

Curriculum Night

How is argumentation like boxing?

Today, we launched are unit on argumentation with a comparison/contrast activity focusing on this essential question. Some student responses that come to mind:

* Both take training
* Both involve pride/dignity
* Argumentation might involve more than two perspectives, but boxing is just between two.
* Both have winners

Unlike boxing where the opponent is in your face, in a written argument, the opponent is invisible. So, the first thing you have to do as an argument writer is identify your naysayers. Who would disagree with your argument? Why would they disagree?

We finished class with a naysayer game.

Tomorrow, we’ll dig into the importance of EVIDENCE.

Coming Up

If you’re looking ahead:

THURSDAY, AUGUST 23: Curriculum Night–Come if you’d like and get the scoop on your team teachers. Ask any questions you have.

FRIDAY, AUGUST 24: Literacy Festival–Your child will participate in a share-my-summer-literacy-project event! Students should make sure they have projects in a format that is share-ready.

FALL: The PTA Reflections National Competition is coming up. This year’s theme is “The Magic of the Moment.” I’ve updated the link on the left.

NOVEMBER 17, 2012: The Holcomb Hustle 5k
Register Now

First Week of School

Dear Parents,

So, it’s another year already? 🙂 For some of you, this is your second or third child to sit in my classroom, and I hope you’re excited to have your kids walk through those blue doors at Holcomb Bridge. I tell kids every year when they ask that teaching is a choice for me, and when I stop loving it, I’ll know it’s time to move on. I still feel lucky I get to spend time trying to impart to your young people how important communication skills are and how incredibly vital they are in this tech-crazy, hyperconnected world.

Here’s the video we watched the first day:

Please take a minute and email the school board and let them know that a infrastructure incapable of supporting tablet textbooks for students (or even working computer labs) is not going to cut it when it comes to preparing your children for this kind of world.
FCBOE School Board

This week, aside from some get-to-know-everyone activities, we practiced two different classroom protocols:

1. The Rotation —I’ll group students according to different needs and, as much as possible, try to give each group what they need.

2. The Socratic Seminar– Students will “close read” and mark up a text and answer a few questions for homework the night before. When they arrive to class, the desks will be arranged in a giant circle. Students will have a professional level discussion, building on one another’s comments, referring to the text, drawing others into the conversation, etc., all with very little input from me.

Today, our socratic seminar focused on a letter by Stanley “Tookie” Williams, the notorious Cripps leader who was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize when he made a striking turnabout after spending years in prison for murder. Williams wrote a few books aimed at young people–encouraging them to end gang violence. A few of the “sparker” questions I asked were: Can people change? and Why do people join gangs?

Discussion was rich–especially for our first seminar! Each class has a different challenge, but I’m looking forward to watching students improve their academic discussion skills.