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Teaching Demonstration Reflection July 8, 2013 Dear Me, I know you were super nervous about your teaching demo

. B-r-e-a-t-h. Relax. The hard part is done, so now is the time to reflect and consider how your Red Cedar buddies responded to what you taught on Monday July 8th 2013. So let’s start off with some celebrations, and some things my peers thought I did well. I got a lot of praise for teaching some tough stuff—the article choice and punctuation were complex and my team mates said I did well, especially since it was all in one lesson. Wheeww. I said it before—I was nervous because I didn’t know how everyone would feel about this topic, but I am glad I presented it in right way, and the RCWP group saw that. I am also glad that voice was brought up because it was one of my contentions and something I am very, very passionate about. I want my students to have voice, and I am glad to see my peers saw that shine through in my lesson. Some of them even tries some voice/dashes themselves and I saw that in the letters they sent to me! I am the most exciting by the observation that I served up some “meaty material,” because I don’t want to be a fluffy teacher—I want my students to be challenged, and I feel like today’s lesson did that not only for my students past, but my (adult) peers in the present. Moving along, it was really helpful to look back on my own lesson from the five categories that my peers reflected on. So here is what I got out of this their letters and each of the following categories: Affect: I want to be an engaging teacher. I want my students to be involved in the lesson, so it was helpful to see that my mentor text did this. Also my use of the prezi and video helped as well. It was also great to hear that the issue keep my “students” engage and looking forward to the end result, which was the dash write. And I have to brag, but one of my strong suits is using Kagan, and I am glad to see those techniques were engaging, even though some people find Kagan to be juvenile, or too structured.

Best-Practice: It was interesting to see how much praise I got for using mentor sentences and having the “class” give me patterns verses me writing down the rules for the dash. Truth be told, before today, I have always given my students the rules directly and this was a change for me in my own grammar instruction. I am glad to see the success, and to know that I am applying Anderson to my instruction in new ways. It goes to show that rereading some of pedagogy out there is a helpful! I was excited to hear that I was pushing reflection throughout the entire lesson, and not just the end. I worry about that in my classroom because I often feel rushed and I want to make sure I continue to allow

reflection in my day-to-day lessons because it is valuable. Once again, I feel good about my transitions, especially because I use Kagan, and my group mates letters help me realize to keep doing it because it works! Policies/Regulations/Professional Dictates: I struggle A LOT with standards. My first couple years I felt like I ignored them, but I am trying to get better, and it was wonderful to see one group cite specific standards I was fulfilling and how many I was able to touch on several in one lesson. I am also glad that I was helping my “students’ consider ACT and college writing. It is so important to me to make sure I am preparing my students for the world beyond high school, but doing it in a way that isn’t boring or meaningful for my students. Extensions/Adaptations: Below are some of the ideas my peers have gave me in their letters and what I think:  Offer students a choice of articles (provide 2-3 articles), and do groupings by article choice

This is a GREAT idea, because as we know CHOICE is huge for students and it might help some students who are sensitive to one topic over another.

Provide a day for debate and allowing students to take a stand and support it (also consider having students prepare to debate the opposite side)

Debate is something I feel high school students love to do, and I know I don’t do enough of, and this would be another great way to get students to consider counter-arguments and evidence.
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Provide more informational text by choosing locally published materials which show dashes -- information published by city government, local tourist attractions, etc.

I know I often get caught up into the idea that mentor text should only be from fiction, and this would be a great way to expand and push myself, and help students see writing beyond just “literature.”

Prepare an activity where students view the same sentence punctuated 3 different ways (with commas, parentheses, and dashes) for discussion. Think about the role as a reader and a writer during this discussion.

This could also be a mini-lesson or review strategy and would be a way to help me fulfill the question arisen about teaching the dash with other punctuation. 

 I definitely need to do this because we go over a lot of grammar techniques by the end of the year and students forget, or they stay focused on only one technique (like the dash or AWUBS).

You might consider adding a checklist of grammar techniques to the rubric or somewhere in the room (butcher paper?) so that students are constantly reminded of the grammar techniques that they need to be playing with in their writing.

You might consider having groups write one persuasive paragraph together. This will cut down on your grading while still having students work on their writing and grammar skills.

Genius! This is one of my favorite suggestions because it does become overwhelming trying to keep up with these grammar packets and grading.  Depending on time constraints and the availability of the program, you could use Eli to have students review each other’s paragraphs.

 Yes! With luck, I will be trying this next fall because we will be piloting Eli. Fingers crossed! 

We liked the use of the persuasive writing, especially given the ACT. This prompt does allow for various modalities of writing, from a letter to the editor, podcast with interviews in groups, blogging, etc.

Questions Arisen:  What do you do if you do have a student who is very uncomfortable reading his/her section of the editorial aloud?

I have encountered this once before, with a student who stuttered. He actually read aloud fine, but he was sitting in a table group of his own choosing and was comfortable with the people around him. I actually didn’t have to do anything because he took his own initiative. If this happens again, I might have the para-pro step in and read if needed, or take the students who need the extra help into an alternative setting. I might also offer to step in and read myself, but structure it in a way that doesn’t embarrass the student.  What do you do if students do not clearly identify their techniques, but are clearly focused on learning the lesson? What do you believe highlighting shows about what you value as a teacher of writing? Do you remind students to mark their grammar right before they turn in their work?

I also remind students to highlight their grammar, and if they don’t, I will often return the writing to them so I don’t have to take off those 5 points. I tell students that they are doing great writing, and I want them to get full credit so they need to highlight. That is also a reason why I put the circling as a separate category on the rubric. Students can still get 20 points if they show great writing. Often times kids forget, which is why I do the reminders before they turn it in.   How do you decide what mentor texts to share with students? Would you ever not use the Dorn case? Why or why not? How can teachers know what topics are so sensitive for students that they may diminish the student’s ability to engage with the topic as an academic exercise?

I am very picky about my editorial choices, and the most controversial, like this one, are usually done later in the semester, so I know my students and can get a sense to how they will react to this topic. If I

know a student might not respond well (ex: get upset or angry), I will do something else. Also, the editorials are constantly changing as new topics come out on the news. To be honest, I haven’t done this editorial since last year because I found a new story that better fit our book unit at the time, which was The Great Gatsby. It depends on a lot of variables and consideration, and that could be why I was nervous when I did this teaching demo because I knew it was going to be a “sensitive” topic to explore.  Do you have another strategy for accountability during partner work that doesn’t involve you initialing thirty two papers?

Yes, I have had kids finish the activity and then they them share and get a partner’s initials instead of mine, so that helps. I still really like the initialing because I can check for understanding on an individual level. It also works out well because kids are on different academic speeds. Yes, I do get overwhelmed but I try to balance it out. Let’s say I couldn’t get everyone’s initials at the time. I tell students “I will check you later during the paragraph write,” and that works out pretty well.  As we’re choosing reading materials for our students, do we consider if they have context, or lived experiences so that the readings are relevant? If not, how do we scaffold their understanding of this unusual context?

This is such an important point, and I do think about this a lot when I pick my editorials. I try to think about topics that will interest my students, and have done several articles about deer and sports, because it is prevalent in my current district. I also think that you can still do unusual, sometimes unfamiliar stories, but provide a lot of materials and time for discussion. That is why I used the video (and always try to include a video in these types of lessons) and had students do the annotation strategy for the reading, so they had enough information to write a meaningful response later on.  Would it be useful to discuss dashes simultaneously with other punctuation marks that accomplish the same goals?

This is not something I had thought about, but I agree, especially when thinking about the commas. However, I would still be careful about doing too much and students becoming flooded by too much grammar. However, I would see the merit of looking at this a day or two later as a mini-lesson. We definitely could look at mentor sentences and I could have students experiment with the other types of punctuation and see which is the most effective and why.  In terms of your 6th contention, can there be ways of scaffolding group work that provides similar levels of meaningful participation and accountability of individual students?

I’m afraid I didn’t word this contention as well as I could have. There is a time and place for group work, but after attending PD for Kagan, I came to realize we need to critically think about activities that include group work and make it meaningful for each student. Each student needs to have accountability and a “role,” and it is hard to find the equality sometimes in group work, but you could fall into the same trap if you aren’t doing cooperative learning. The solution is really thinking out those activities before you initiate them in your classroom.

Extension/Adaptations
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Offer students a choice of articles (provide 2-3 articles), and do groupings by article choice Provide a day for debate and allowing students to take a stand and support it (also consider having students prepare to debate the opposite side) Provide more informational text by choosing locally published materials which show dashes -- information published by city government, local tourist attractions, etc. Prepare an activity where students view the same sentence punctuated 3 different ways (with commas, parentheses, and dashes) for discussion. Think about the role as a reader and a writer during this discussion.