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

A Get To Know You Poetry Activity: TWO-TONE POETRY

leaves-fall-colors-rainbowBy Elizabeth Jorgensen

Most English teachers have heard of the Where I’m From poem activity based on George Ella Lyon’s professional example. I begin my Creative Writing class with this exercise each year. But as the school year progresses and students become more comfortable sharing, I encourage them to try Two-Tone Poetry.

I start by discussing how we all have multiple sides to our personalities. I am, of course, different with my friends than I am with my students. And I’m different at parent teacher conferences than I am at The Band Perry concerts.

“Most of us are at least two-tone,” I tell my classes. Then, I encourage my students to talk about the different sides of their personalities.

We also discuss how colors can trigger feelings or moods. Moods—like colors—can be warm or cool; they can attract attention or blend in. I tell my students how we interpret and analyze colors, combined with our self-knowledge, can be a good place to start a Two-Tone poem.

I ask students to write a Two-Tone poem that speaks of their two tones and at least two different sides of their personality. In these drafts, I ask for stylistic devices, action verbs, a purposeful structure and original names for the colors (elephant grey, sunset pink, pickle green). I tell my students they could also choose to work with a pattern (chevron, argyle, plaid) instead of a color.

Here are three student examples:

Most of the time, I am eggshell white—

whispered answers hidden beneath books,

innocent gazes given from across rooms.

I am invisible:

blended behind schoolhouse walls,

left unused in paperback Crayola boxes.

But when she sees me, I am electric blue—

squeals of laughter spew in heartbeats,

and secret adventures hide in memories.

I am both eggshell white and electric blue:

swimming through a sea of wonder,

gabbing jaws beneath black knit stars.

~

Part of me is lemonade yellow—

sporadic and spunky,

loud and lively, and

in people’s faces.

But deep within, there’s another side no one sees—

ash black, like the tip of a charred marshmallow,

hurt and resentful,

damaged and filled with hate.

My heart screams, telling me to hang on to the yellow.

But, they both are who I am.

Both…oh…

so me.

~

Most days, I am amethyst purple—

            go with the flow,

            under the rainbow,

            unnoticed like a shadow.

I go about the same routine,

            wake, work, watch, repeat,

            riding down the road of life from the backseat.

            My spunk…it’s obsolete.

But on some days, I am ruby red—

            rebelling against reality,

            laughing carefree,

            swinging from the fruit tree,

            drinking iced tea,

            singing like a bumblebee.

That’s when my spunk returns

to me.

Is Your Compassion Fatigued?

13-heart-shape1By Elizabeth Jorgensen

As graduation nears, student excuses amass, skipping increases and academics succumb to prom plans and dorm decorating. The school days drag and the problems compound. And when students want exceptions or extensions, I’m less likely to budge. But a few weeks ago, I realized my post-spring break impatience has a name—and, it turns out, seniors aren’t to blame.

As I sat in Arrowhead’s back-to-school teacher in-service, our school’s Director of Student Services discussed Compassion Fatigue. According to the Compassion Fatigue Awareness Project, “Day in, day out, workers struggle to function in caregiving environments that constantly present heart wrenching, emotional challenges. Affecting positive change in society, a mission so vital to those passionate about caring for others, is perceived as elusive, if not impossible. This painful reality, coupled with first-hand knowledge of society’s flagrant disregard for the safety and well-being of the feeble and frail, takes its toll on everyone from full time employees to part time volunteers. Eventually, negative attitudes prevail.” That’s it! That’s what happens to me, I thought.

The Director of Student Services recommended battling Compassion Fatigue with mindfulness, meditation and yoga. He recommended proper exercise, nutrition and sleep. He also reminded my school’s staff of the importance of self-reflection and supportive relationships.

He warned that Compassion Fatigue could lead to burnout, emotional exhaustion and negative feelings. I wondered how the increased challenges teachers face impact Compassion Fatigue. I also wondered how pervasive this feeling (in teachers and in our school)—especially considering he started the school year with it.

Then, a few weeks later, DPI sent an email. The email stated that “A DPI-ConnectEd subscriber requested help for ‘the emotions and stress that teachers go through,’ which are ‘getting dangerously’ out of balance for many educators. ‘I am concerned that these incredible, dedicated people will step away from teaching. Some of them already have.’” DPI recommended self-care, awareness, balance, connections, and “small, manageable steps.” DPI, like my district, provided resources, “as part of the self-care module, including a step-by-step guide for developing a plan and a sample self-care plan.”

For me, knowing I’m not alone—and being able to identify and name my feelings—makes me feel better. This year, I’m prepared for what feelings might come, especially as second semester nears. I’m planning to take DPI’s suggestion and follow the ABCD’s of self-care: awareness, balance, connections and develop a plan. I hired a personal trainer, I’m making time for myself, and I joined professional organizations (including Marquette University’s College of Education’s Alumni Board).

Although there’s no quick-fix cure to Compassion Fatigue, I’m hoping my patience and compassion will increase this spring. And if (or when) Compassion Fatigue sets in, I know I’m not alone and I know what I can do to minimize its impact.

 

A Creative (Writing) Approach to Assessment

bubbleBy Elizabeth Jorgensen

Assessment and grades in my creative writing class reflect progress, improvement and growth. Over the course of each assignment, students complete at least three drafts. After each draft, I provide students with feedback, suggestions and corrections. To complete this, I use the “suggesting mode” on Google Docs.

After each draft, students receive points (which reflect the student’s ability to address my feedback and elevate language choices, the plot or writing quality). For a grade, I look for improvement, specifically assessing if today’s draft is better than yesterday’s. Grades in my   creative writing class reflect the work a student does to update his or her draft and make intentional and purposeful choices.

Each assignment, task or draft is worth four points. I remind our students—through words, practice and assessment—that each part of the writing process has equal importance. In my classroom, the brainstorm is worth as much as the first, second, third and final drafts, and is worth as much as peer editing or submitting a piece to a writers’ market. Through this grading system, I encourage students to value each part of the writing process.

I expect each student to hand in something (anything!) each day. I remind students that writing is not about being perfect on the first try—and that if they put something (anything!) down on paper, they will receive not only feedback, but also points. This system allows for not only differentiation and personalization, but also student success in developing writing skills and confidence.

Here are two screenshots of feedback I provided students:

EJ 1

 

Jorgensen sijo presentation

In the classroom, I focus on building confidence through affirmation and skill development. Mini lessons encourage students to implement stylistic devices or action verbs or varied sentence structures. Peer editing provides an additional resource. Because my students are juniors and seniors, I encourage them to assume ownership of their writing, grade and performance.

There are, of course, students who fail to complete daily work. In these instances, a conference is the first step. Often, this initial contact propels the student into action. Losing four points day after day can also motivate (as students see how quickly not doing daily work can dig an academic grave they can’t escape). If the student remains resistant, a phone call or email home can be the impetus needed. If a student continues to refuse, connecting with a previous teacher or guidance counselor can provide insight (what motivated a student to work in a previous class can often continue to be a motivating factor in creative writing). Additionally, everything students do in creative writing is sent to a writers’ market. This authentic writing—with hard deadlines and strict requirements—works to motivate students through the allure of purpose, publication and monetary awards.

This blog was taken from an article I wrote (“Accommodating All Students: A Co-Teaching Approach to Creative Writing”) for the Wisconsin English Journal’s Creative Writing issue.

Authentic Writing Opportunities for Your Students

wallpaper__book_by_analaurasam-d6cak0wBy Elizabeth Jorgensen

Stephen Bonga Award in Poetry and Prose.

This award is given annually to two high school students in memory of Stephen Bonga (an Ojibwe and African American fur trader, interpreter, and founder of United Methodist Church in Superior, WI). Students living in Minnesota, Michigan or Wisconsin can submit poetry or prose. All winners and finalists will receive a year subscription to Up North Literary Journal.

Deadline: November 15, 2017.
Prize: $125 and publication.
Find out more here: https://upnorthlit.org/bongaaward

Teen Ink Essay Competition: “If I Were Mayor of My Town…”

In this competition, students are asked to address the following prompt: If you were mayor of your town, what issues would you address and why? Share your vision for the future of your community. The essay needs to be 1,000 words or less and submitted to the Opinion section.

Deadline: November 30th, 2017
Prize: 1st Place: $500; 2nd & 3rd Place: $100
Find out more here: https://www.teenink.com/Contests/National-Essay-Writing-Contest

Profiles in Courage Essay Competition

In this contest, students are asked to “write an original and creative essay that demonstrates the understanding of political courage as described by John F. Kennedy in Profiles in Courage. The maximum word count is 1,000 with a minimum of 700, not including citations and bibliography.”

Deadline: January 4, 2018.
Prize: Winner receives $10,000. The winner and his/her family are invited to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library. Travel and lodging expenses paid. Second place receives $1,000 and five finalists each receive $500.
Find out more here: https://www.jfklibrary.org/Education/Profile-in-Courage-Essay-Contest/Contest-Topic-and-Information.aspx

New York Times 2017-2018 Student Contest Calendar

The New York Times offers a variety of authentic writing opportunities to students throughout the year.
Find out more here: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/31/learning/announcing-our-2017-18-student-contest-calendar.html

Six Word Memoirs.

Students are asked to write memoirs in six words.
Find out more here: http://www.sixwordmemoirs.com/teens/index.php

 

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.

 


What is a Marquette Educator?

Follow us on Twitter

Archives