Friday, October 31, 2014

Poetry and Face Painting Friday

Turning Back by Sara Holbrook

October light
turns in by six
and night
comes early in the forest,

This weekend we will turn back the clocks. Halloween is a turning back for the teens in my classes--the holiday provides good cover for kids that want to turn back into kids, if just for a little while.

Teenagers can be quite serious. So serious that it's easy to forget that they like to be kids too.

Today we are writing for the Yes Magazine essay contest. The contest prompt asks students how they combat world suck with awesome digitally or otherwise. The prompt extends from an article about empathy, teens, the Green brothers and Nerdfighteria featured on the Yes Magazine site.

To prepare for writing we read and discussed the article. We watched the Nerdfighter F.A.Q. video. We brainstormed how we build strength and support in real life and online and we've planned how we could use a variety of details to shape our pieces.

I wrote with students this morning and I began my essay with an anecdote about painting a little girl's face at Give Kids the World Village.

After I wrote my lead I remembered that I had my face painting kit in the classroom. I usually paint students faces for our homecoming football game, but I didn't get a chance to do that this year. I was at a conference on that Friday. So after writing, I broke out the face paints and said I'd paint some Halloween cheer. Students were so cute. 

"Is it free?"
"Does it cost money?"
"You're going to what?"

They were delighted and the first boy that sat down. Well, he decided he wanted me to recreate the unicorn dolphin. 

I love working with teenagers. 

Have a Spooktacular Halloween!

Lee Ann

Sara Holbrook's feature poem for October "Turning Back" is on her website. Zoom on over there to read the entire piece.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Papertowns Moment

Sunday a John Green  tweet  read "In town for Papertowns. So excited."

What if both Green brothers were in town for the filming? What if the brothers decided to take a break and visit local classrooms, surprising teachers and students? Talk about awesome. Imagine the door opening.

Portable classrooms  in Florida, are stand-alone rectangles, strung together by  side walks. The portables open right to the outside.

As the classroom door opens, the sun shines in. The class sees the door-shaped sun patch stretch across the floor. Students  blink at  the bright light. We turn toward the door. We see only shadows at first, two, tall, lanky shadows, likely jean-clad. It wouldn't take a minute for us to recognize such celebrity guests.

Can you imagine?

That was my teacher day dream today. A day dream I shared with a student who'd written about Papertowns in her reading journal this morning. The student was telling me about talking to her agent about the Papertowns movie. I shared my day dream based on Green's tweet. For a minute we were fans together talking about a book we love. We were having the kind of excited conversation that the rest of the room quiets down to listen to.

When I looked up everyone was listening. Jessi and I shared a smile and right then the door flew open.

The wind caught it and sun spilled into the room. It was as if we all held our breath at the same time. Could it be? What if?

Everyone turned to the door, eyes wide.

In walked the fire marshal with a custodial escort. We laughed. Perfect timing

Slice of Life is hosted by the team at Two Writing Teachers. Head over to serve 
up a slice from your day or help yourself to seconds.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Lesson Planning

At my school we are required to turn in our unit and lesson plans via Share Point. This is the second year we have been asked to submit lesson plans. Administrators have been charged with giving five teachers per week lesson plan feedback. All of us are still working on meeting these expectations.

My lesson plan folder on our School Collaboration site.
Here's the page I use to introduce my plans to my administrator along with links to the calendar files.
Are you required to turn in lesson and unit plans at your school? I'd be interested in hearing what you, your school and or your district does. If you have a minute, share in comments or send a screen shot of your plans my way on Twitter

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Audience matters when writing lesson plans. I use an instructional calendar for myself to paint a big picture of the focus, goals and texts I will use over the course of units and quarters.  The focus calendar files are named:

Pre-IB English 2: focuscalendar_2014 ib_quarter 2                    

I write daily and weekly plans for students.  I publish lesson plans online for students and parents. I try to link documents and resources students need to participate in class (in case they were absent or in case they need support outside of school). Such transparency helps me communicate with students and keep parents informed about what is going on in English class.

I update the daily/weekly plans as needed based on what happens in class.

Because I am writing plans for students to use, the material they most need to be able to do what we are doing in class is noted first:  daily learning targets and the agenda items as well as assessments, reviews and homework.  Then below the orange line I note items administration has requested: Marzano’s instructional elements, Florida Core standards and other professional requirements.

My daily plans are tabbed web pages. Click the dated tab on the webpage to go to the week. Links to each week are also provided below. Please note that though I plan units and map out the quarter for students ahead of time, daily plans are usually written out one to two weeks at a time based on needs assessed during classroom instruction. Plans change. Instruction adapts to students' needs.

I welcome feedback about my lesson plans. To receive such feedback in the past I have blogged about my planning processes.   Feedback in the form of comments from other educators is one way I learn and refine my practice. You can read my past reflective posts on Portable Teacher, my blog here, here or here.

I look forward to talking with you about my lesson plans.

Lee Ann Spillane

Pre-IB English II
A.P. Language & Composition

Week 11:
Week 12 (exams):

Week 9 & 10 (break):
Week 12 (exams):

Pre-IB  English II  Plans
AP Language Plans