Archive for the 'Teaching – Reflections From the Field' Category

In-Class Brainstorms Can Prevent Writer’s Block

Veteran_and_FlagBy Elizabeth Jorgensen

Every year, the Fleet Reserve Association asks students to compose an essay (in 350 words or less) on an Americanism theme. This year, the topic was “What Patriotism Means to Me.” This topic could have been daunting or overwhelming to my juniors and seniors. But I used a brainstorm over several days to excite students about both about the topic and writing about it.

I’ve found a thorough brainstorm—including videos, discussions, and music—prevents students from saying “I don’t know what to write” or “I have writer’s block.”

As we began our brainstorm, I told students about StoryCorps. Its mission (according to their website) “is to preserve and share humanity’s stories in order to build connections between people and create a more just and compassionate world…to remind one another of our shared humanity, to strengthen and build the connections between people, to teach the value of listening, and to weave into the fabric of our culture the understanding that everyone’s story matters.” I found a variety of StoryCorps videos featuring veterans. After each clip, we discussed what the video suggested about patriotism or what the students thought patriotism meant to the veteran featured.

Then, students watched country music videos, noting references to American culture. After each video, I asked “How did this video show support for our country?” and “What does this video suggest [insert the singer] loves about our country?” and “What iconic American references did you notice?”

In our discussion, students shared stories about family members in the military, about Fourth of July celebrations and about freedom.

I then had students brainstorm a list of what patriotism could mean. We talked about how patriotism’s meaning could be expressed literally or metaphorically. Students came up with 50-plus words including freedom, peace, opportunity, protection, liberty, unity, sacrifice, bravery, honor, perseverance and prosperity.

During our brainstorm, students also referenced American moments that reflected patriotism. We discussed both inspiring and tragic events.

My junior and senior students—born in 1999 and 2000—were too young to experience the emotions, devastation and patriotism 9/11 triggered. I shared with them my 9/11 experiences and memories, and then students made connections to recent events and their own patriotism. Students referenced the feelings football players kneeling (or linking arms) during the National Anthem stirred in them. They talked about the shooting in Las Vegas. As an English teacher, I encourage students write about what they are interested in or what triggers their emotions. This often means helping them process and make sense of the world around them.

Our discussion spanned several days and although this may sound like a long time, each student left empowered and ready to write. In the end, all of my students composed a creative, personal and specific essay—and all were able to define what patriotism meant to them.

To conclude the unit, we sent student essays to the Fleet Reserve Association, Teen Ink (a national teen publication) and our school’s literary magazine—and now we wait to see the results. I am optimistic the creative, personal and specific essays will be rewarded with publication and prizes.

Assessments, Assessments, Assessments!

parker-big-red-duofoldBy Stephanie Nicoletti

Assessment is a major component of teaching and learning but in order for the assessment to be productive in terms of student achievement, the teacher needs to think about the purpose of the assessment. A summative assessment is considered assessment of learning and is given to identify what students have learned. In an interdisciplinary approach the assessment could be performance based, or in more traditional settings, a general end of unit test.

Education has shifted over the years to assessment for learning and assessment as learning. These types of assessments have increased student test scores but challenged teacher practices over the years. Assessment for learning allows the teacher to screen the specific skills students need and determine what the next steps should be. Assessment as learning puts the students in charge of their learning through self-reflection and self-assessment. When teachers think about the reason for their assessments, student learning is much more successful.

All three assessment types can be crucial to student achievement when done correctly. After reading our text and other outside sources, what I am finding is that it does not seem that one type of assessment process, whether it be as, of, or for learning, is better than the other, but what the teacher does after or during the assessment process is most important. After research and reflection, these three types of assessments can work off one another to provide ample student success.

 

Korean Culture Opportunities

fountain_pen_ink_pen_business_document_writing_office_signature-673659By Elizabeth Jorgensen

Your middle and elementary school students will most likely be familiar with haiku. But if you’re looking to include additional types of poetry in your classroom, I encourage you to consider sijo. Whereas haiku is Japanese, sijo is Korean. I tell my students sijo is haiku’s older, more mature cousin. I published an article in the Wisconsin English Journal last year about teaching sijo to high school students. The article includes practical tips as well as student examples. You can read that article here.

If you’re interested in learning more about sijo and Korean culture, the Sejong Cultural Society offers a variety of opportunities each year. Here’s what’s coming up this year:

Sejong Benefit Dinner
Sunday, October 15, 2017
Drury Lane
Oakbrook Terrace, IL

Keynote Speaker: Linda Sue Park
Linda Sue Park is a New York Times bestselling author and recipient of the Newbery Medal for A Single Shard. Among her other works are When My Name Was Keoko and Project Mulberry. Her keynote speech will be “Sijo Makes You Smarter.

The benefit will additionally feature Yerin Yang, winner of the 2014 Sejong Music Competition piano senior division, and a raffle including Blackhawks tickets and cash prize.

$125 per person
RSVP requested by October 1, 2017 | RSVP online
For more information, please visit our website.

Please email sejong@sejongculturalsociety.org with questions or call 312.497.3007.

Music Inspired by Korean Poetry
Sijo Poems in  Settings from Classical to Hip-Hop
Saturday, October 21, 2017
Poetry Foundation
61 West Superior St., Chicago, IL
Free admission

This performance explores music inspired by sijo through traditional Korean music, jazz piano, piano/violin and cello/flute duos, and a hip-hop performance by Elephant Rebellion.  A post-concert reception will serve Korean food and wine. Hosted by the Poetry Foundation. | more information

Sijo Workshop for Educators
Comparison of East Asian poetry
Saturday, October 21, 2017
Newberry Library
60 W. Walton St., Chicago, IL
This workshop will cover how to write and teach sijo, as well as comparisons to Chinese quatrains and Japanese haiku.  Faculty includes David McCann (Harvard University), Daniel Hsieh (Purdue University), and Elizabeth Jorgensen (Arrowhead Union High School).  | more information

Co-organized with the East Asian Studies Center at Indiana University. Professional Development Credit is available from Indiana University.

2018 Sejong Writing Competition
Submission deadline: February 28, 2018
Open to residents of US and Canada age 25 years and younger
Essay Category

Senior Division (grade 12 and younger) and
Adult Division (age 25 and younger)

An Appointment with His Brother by Yi Mun-yol
Topic: Although it was written in 1994, Yi Mun-yol’s An Appointment with His Brother is still highly relevant today, particularly with North Korea’s almost continuous presence in international news headlines. What does the novella say about the complex issue of reunification and the potential problems it raises for both North and South? What does it reveal about North Korea that may be different from what people might imagine from the media coverage of the country? | more info

Junior Essay Division (grade 8 and younger)
Select one of the Korean traditional folktales available on our website and write your essay in response to one of three prompts.

Sijo Category
Sijo Poetry Category (grade 12 and younger)
The sijo is a traditional three-line Korean poetic form organized technically and thematically by line and syllable count.  Using the sijo form, write one poem in English on a topic of your choice.

Exampleswriting guides, and teaching materials are available on our site.

Competition Information

Guidelines:  All entries must be written in English, and only one essay and sijo per applicant are permitted.  A full list of guidelines and rules can be found on our website.  essay | sijo

Submission deadline:  11:59pm CST, February 28, 2018.  Applications and entries must be submitted through our online submission system.

Prizes:
Adult essay: First ($1,000), Second ($750), Third ($500)
Senior essay: First ($500), Second ($400), Third ($300)
Junior essay: First ($300), Second ($200), Third ($100)
Sijo category: First ($500), Second ($400), Third ($300)
Honorable Mentions: Friends of Pacific Rim Award ($50)

For more information, please visit our website.

 

New School Year, New Writing Opportunities

pencilsBy Elizabeth Jorgensen

As the 2017-2018 school year begins, here are five writers’ markets for your students:

  1. The New York Times.

Check out this article for their 2017-2018 competition calendar.

2. Yes! Magazine.

According to their website, “The YES! National Student Writing Competition is an opportunity for middle school through university students to write about something meaningful, and a chance to write for a real audience…Each quarter, students are invited to read and write an essay on a selected YES! Magazine

You can find out more here.

3. Fleet Reserve Association.

This year’s theme is “What Patriotism Means to Me.”

You can find out more here.

4. Teen Ink.

You can find out more here.

5. Canvas Literary Journal.

You can find out more here.

If you’re interested in sharing writers’ markets, please email me (jorgensene@arrowheadschools.org), and I will feature them in an upcoming blog.

 

State Capitol Commemorative Essay and Art Competition

Wisconsin_State_Capitol_Building_during_Tulip_FestivalBy Elizabeth Jorgensen

To commemorate and celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the Wisconsin State Capitol, the Commemorative Commission is hosting a writing and essay competition for Wisconsin students.

Students in grades K-12, are encouraged to “submit an essay or piece of art which details or symbolizes the importance of the Capitol building and what it means to Wisconsin. Essays should be no longer than one page in length and either typed or legibly written. Art pieces should be two-dimensional, made out of non-breakable material, and no larger than 24 inches by 30 inches.”

When I provided this writing opportunity to my summer school students, I encouraged them to do research and cite sources. I wanted to see my students take a risk and do something original, creative and unexpected.

Entries must be received by October 13th, 2017.

If students are unable to visit the Wisconsin State Capitol, information can be found online here: https://capitol100th.wisconsin.gov/

You can find out more about this writing opportunity here.

If you’re looking for example essays, here are four from my summer school class.

 

 

Summer Reading

Bokeh-Bible-6-900By Elizabeth Jorgensen

During break at my school’s College Essay Workshop, Hope, a former student, asked, “So, what are you reading this summer, Ms. J?” A stack of books sat on her desk, bookmarks sticking out of the pages, tattered and frayed.

“This summer, my book club read two books: Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan and The Good Girl by Mary Kubica.” Then, I flipped the question back to her: “So, what are you reading this summer, Hope?” Hope wants to be a reading specialist and told me her summer goal was to read 30 books.

Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly.” She held up the book and I saw three women walking hand-in-hand down dirt path. On the top of the book I saw “New York Times Bestseller.”
“I’ve never heard of it. What’s it about?”

Hope told me it’s about women in World War II. She raved about the varying points of view and the arc of the story. She said she loved that it was based on a true story. I told her it sounded like The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah and Hope said The Nightingale was also on her to read list. When the workshop ended, I texted Kathy, a member of my book club, who loves WWII historical fiction, to recommend Lilac Girls.

Summer reading lists are ubiquitous. From People Magazine to The Washington Post and Barnes & Noble’s recommendations, there are plenty of new (and classic) books to choose from. On my summer reading list was something by Lauren Groff. My sister, Olympian Gwen Jorgensen, competed with fellow American Sarah (Groff) True and I often heard about Sarah’s sister, the New York Times bestselling author Lauren.

I met Sarah’s (and Lauren’s) parents at competitions and heard about their childhood and the connection intrigued me. I chose to read Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff when I read this in an article in The Guardian: “Fates and Furies, already a New York Times bestseller, was picked as Amazon.com’s book of the year, with the internet retailer describing it as ‘dazzling’ last month…Groff’s novel has been feted in the US: the Los Angeles Times called it ‘audacious and gorgeous,’ and the Washington Post said it was a ‘a clear-the-ground triumph.’”

The book didn’t disappoint. Groff’s book grabbed me with intense scenes and descriptive language. The woven story, flashing back and forward, first the husband’s perspective and then the wife’s, is about secrets spouses keep.

On the plane to visit my sister, I toted Wonder by R.J Palacio. I read it in the hot tub while my sister swam laps and before we went to bed. I found this book on an Amazon deal—scoring the hard copy for $3.99. According to Amazon, Wonder is “soon to be a major motion picture starring Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson and Jacob Tremblay! Over 6 million people have read the #1 New York Times bestseller Wonder and have fallen in love with Auggie Pullman, an ordinary boy with an extraordinary face. The book that inspired the Choose Kind movement.” It’s a young adult novel I look forward to recommending to my students.

There are a few weeks left in summer and I’m hoping to add additional books to my summer reading list—and I’ve decided (on Hope’s recommendation) to start with Lilac Girls.

Year One: Complete

Denali_Mt_McKinley

By Danny Smith

Waqaa!

So I feel as if I start all of these saying how much better I’ll be about posting … blah blah blah…well, I don’t have to do that because it is summer and I am back to living the same boring life you all lead! I have been done for about a month now though, and have been back in the lower 48 for a few weeks. I have been sitting here wondering what I would write about and how I should write for the last few weeks. I think that this post will again be reflective, but before I do that, I want to list all of the new things I have tried or done in the past year:

New Foods Tried:
1. Akutaq
2. moose (dried, sticks, stew)
3. muskox (stew, chunks)
4. fish, dried (halibut, smelt, pike, whitefish,salmon, probably a ton more)
5. fresh and wild berries (cranberry, blueberry, salmonberry, blackberry)
6. seal oil
7. seal
8. shelf-stored milk
9. bird (duck, crane, goose, ptarmigan)
10. and the most important from an Alaskan’s P.O.V.: Tillamook Cheddar Cheese

download

New Things Attempted:
1. halibut fishing (proceeded to give to an elder at fish camp)
2. camping
3. salmon drifting (then used that salmon as bait for halibut)
4. wearing waders
5. holding a rifle
6. maqii (steam bath)
7. teaching by myself
8. running a student government
9. fundraising for a senior trip (despite it not working out)
10. trick-or-treating as an adult and walking into homes instead of knocking
11. speak a new language (Yugtun)
12. waking up at 6AM to fish alone before school
13. living without wifi at home
14. water conservation
15. -60 temperatures
16. seal skin/fur hat (never knew that fur was more than just for style)
17. SIOP lesson plans
18. Word Wall
19. casual conversations with students about firearms…
20. hauling water
21. riding in a sled of mail being pulled by a snowmachine over a melting river
22. riding on the back of a snowmachine
23. calling snowmobiles snowmachines
24. raising my eyebrows instead of saying ‘yes’
25. Iqmiik (aka black bull, or the native chewing tobacco)
26. flying to district trainings
27. not going through TSA to fly
28. Amazon Prime taking 2 weeks to deliver
29. paying $100 for a couple things at the store
30. boardwalks instead of roads

There are a ton more things I could add, but cannot think of at the moment, but there they are: 40 new experiences in the course of a year. As far as reflecting back goes, I’ve realized while writing this post that those lists kind of summarize my experience. I’d love to sit here and reflect on teaching practices and such, but that would get quite boring for the majority of you. As far as teaching goes, though, I will be spending the month of July working on lessons and such — many of which I have to just completely abandon and re-make due to how poorly designed they were. I think knowing our curriculum now and knowing my students and how they learn as individuals will benefit me tremendously going into next year.

As for my plans on staying or leaving is concerned, I have not made a decision on that. This upcoming year will definitely be the determining factor. My plan at the moment though is to be present (elders will tell the younger community members this often: to just be present in the moment and in my words, observe and absorb) and take things as they come, and then evaluate at winter break.

As far as this blog goes, I will probably keep it going throughout next year as well based on how popular it was among you all this past year. However, I am going to be realistic and not claim to have a post every week or every other week. I WILL try to keep it up once a month, or at the bare minimum bi-monthly.

I hope you have all enjoyed this year with me and have a great summer!

 


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