The Jens

The Jens
jen b & Jen P

Saturday, October 13, 2012


Trying to find balance seems to get harder each year.

Balance between writing and reading, between whole class books and self-selected books, between grading and lesson planning, between counseling and teaching, between work and home, between staying present in the moment and planning the next thing...

Any suggestions?

~Jen P

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Wrapping up the boot camp

We're finishing our third week of argument writing, our seventh week of writing boot camp, the eighth week of instruction.

We've slowed down the pace considerably for the argument unit, spending the first week talking about the format and practicing a very basic template. The outlines were predicable, but I am okay with that as we gave them a very simple topic (argue for a later curfew).

We also had them look at the convention speeches and debate whether Obama should feel pleased with Clinton's speech or not.  This wasn't a great assignment, but it did allow us to incorporate current events and study rhetorical appeals in the speeches.

The second week we gave them slips with reasons and evidence for both sides of an issue and they worked in pairs to organize the slips into the two sides of the argument. They had to figure out the claims and organize the reasons and evidence, but all the research  was done for them, allowing them to focus on organization and transitions.

This final week we're doing a DBQ style synthesis essay. Students will read several articles on boxing and then write an essay arguing something about boxing.  We've given them the topic and some resources that can be used to help develop and support their argument, but they have to come up with their own claim, organize their reasons and evidence, provide a counterclaim and rebuttal.

Next year I think I'll give overviews of all three types of writing in the first week and then spend more time looking at exemplars from each genre to see how each meets the standard. After spending time looking at professional and student mentor texts, then we'll start writing. I think instead of giving multiple prompts for practice, I'll just give one and spend more time peer editing and self-evaluating. I also want to have students write a draft in each genre on the same topic so they can really see how they need to shift their writing to meet the different standards.

~Jen P.