We’ve all read those papers where a student uses short choppy sentences with little variety. It can be painful to read, and even more difficult to assess, for sure! How can we encourage and teach students to move beyond writing with simple sentences and add texture and depth to their writing? One way to teach students how to write compound and complex sentences is to teach them to combine thoughts and clauses. You can do this to teach and model using punctuation or even how to reorder the syntax of a sentence. There are many different ways to describe this process. I like to call it sentence combining! Why Sentence Combining is Important I like to tell my students that one of their jobs as a writer is to keep their reader interested. One of the biggest factors of how a piece is received is sentence fluency. Sentence fluency is the flow or cadence of a piece of writing. It should be relatively effortless to read a piece of writing. If a piece of writing is read out loud and the reader s...
If you are looking for a collaborative peer review activity that gets students working together, analyzing student writing, and really thinking about what elements are required in a good paragraph, I’ve got just the activity for you: collaborative peer review with sticky note rubrics! This activity piggybacks off of my short story collaborative paragraph, and it is the perfect way to extend that activity and have students analyze each other’s writing! To get started with this activity, you will need first to complete the short story collaborative paragraph that I describe in this blog post . The collaborative paragraph typically takes about one 50-60 minute class period. If you are on a block schedule, you might be able to get to both of these activities on the same day. I’m not on a block schedule, so I completed these activities on two consecutive days in my classroom. And to be honest, this year, the collaborative paragraph took longer than one class period. Once students complete t...
How to write a summary is easily one of the most important writing lessons teachers can teach students. We use summarizing every day in a variety of situations. However, as common as it is, it is not that simple of a skill to master or to teach. To start out with, one reason why students struggle is that they might have a difficult time distinguishing between summarizing, paraphrasing, and quoting. That is why one of my first lessons of the new school year is all about summarizing, paraphrasing, and quoting . I like to teach this lesson at the beginning of the school year because then students have a good understanding of what each of the three is. summarizing, paraphrasing, and quoting Here, I provide several tips to teach students how to summarize a text and demystify the process. Tips to Teach Summarizing Be Brief and Concise One of the more challenging things for students to do when summarizing is deciding which details are essential and which details are not. Oftentimes, students ...
With my yearbook and journalism classes, I want to make sure that all of my staffers and editors feel like an equal, important part of our little classroom community that we are building. And what is so tough is that at the start of a new year, these types of publications classes start out somewhat divided. The newer students are trying to learn all of the basics, essentially they are trying to fly an airplane as they build it from scratch! And while that happens, the returning editors are busy at work making sure the publications get a good start. And with that predicament, Team Building Tuesday was born. Every single Tuesday, my publication classes pause and take a break from the hustle and bustle of journalism and yearbook to come together and complete team-building activities together -hopefully establishing a bond built on trust and understanding. Please note: This post contains Amazon affiliate links to help me with the cost of hosting this website. Here’s a look at four team-bui...
As someone who graduated in the very early 2000s, I’ve seen the dynamic shift in educational practices and pedagogical strategies. The high school classrooms in which I once learned are far different from the high school classroom in which I teach. And this is a good thing. While some strategies have lasted through time, others are no longer beneficial to students. Here is a look at three teaching practices that you should stop immediately and what you should do instead. 1. Popcorn Reading Popcorn reading is one of the most anxiety-inducing classroom practices. What is the objective of this stressor anyway? Is it to make sure students are following along? Is it to assess student fluency? Is it to intimidate students into paying attention? Is it to fully help students comprehend the reading? Is it to catch students when they aren’t paying attention? Is it to humiliate students in front of their peers? Whatever the reason, I can guarantee you that is it more harmful than beneficial. I st...