Part 5: Working with Mark (Year 10) to Be a Better Writer (BABW): Preparing an English essay for an English test using Steve Peha’s BABW!

be-a-better-writer-2Mark’s focus for our session was preparing for his Year 10 English test. He knew this test would entail writing an essay. Mark would be writing an essay on Scott Anderson’s Triage.

Mark explained the main themes contained in book and how the plot and characters are intertwined within the main themes.

Firstly, Mark and I reviewed what we had covered in our previous sessions about structure, grammar and spelling. Reviewing prior learning is important and provided us with another opportunity to discuss and correct misconceptions.

babw-5We have also been reviewing sentence structure. Chapter Seven focuses on Better Sentences and commences with the 10 things you need to know about sentences.

Sentence Sense is explained, followed by a checklist for Better Sentences with further explanations and examples following.

 Mark and I wrote our own essay topic based on the text to practice. Writing a practice essay would give Mark an opportunity to complete an essay on the book.

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Guilt is one of the themes in Scott Anderson’s Triage. Discuss

We reviewed Steve Peha’s What? Why? How? organisation tool which Mark has used previously. This tool provides a framework for Mark to ensure a logical response to an essay question. Mark proceeded to write a logical answer to the question. He used quotations to support his arguments, paragraphs and was reading back and thinking about his spelling whilst writing. After writing his first draft (copy below) Mark reviewed his draft and wrote a corrected copy.

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Cheers Nina

NB. Mark has seen an Occupational Therapist to review his hands and handwriting. The review has highlighted a number of issues with Mark’s hands. Therapy should help enormously and improve his handwriting.

 

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Part 4: Working with Mark (Year 10) to Be a Better Writer (BABW): Preparing for Year 10 & Year 11 Exams Using Steve Peha’s What? Why? How? – Creating a Logical Answer to an Essay Question Technique/Strategy.

In Australia, students are nearing the end of their school year. Secondary students are sitting a range of examinations or tests over the coming weeks. Mark is in Year 10, but like many students he is doing one Year 11 subject.  This subject is part of our Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE) and preparing for these assessments can be challenging.

Mark and I are using Be a Better Writer (BABW) by Steve Peha as our guide. I love the fact that Steve’s book can be in the hands of the student and teacher. I call this being able to cross borders. Mark and I have been exploring techniques.

‘Techniques are simple activities that help you do complicated things faster and easier.’ Steve Peha

Our focus has been centred on Creating a Logical Answer to an Easy Question (BABWp8) to

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We’re using Steve’s What? Why? How? – simple! After reading the background information we reviewed Steve’s example. The example in BABW is about the American presidential system. This was not an issue for us because any example text could be substituted. 20161031_111539.jpg

Text Example BABW: A candidate may lose a presidential election even if he or she receives the most votes. How is this possible?

What? Why? How? is an organisation tool. It provides a framework for a logical response. After completing Steve’s example, Mark and I posed an essay question related to his course content.

Aristotle believes that beauty is in the form. How is this connected to Art?

Mark completed the What? Why? How? quickly which gave him an organisational structure for his response, something he was grappling with. What’s also very special is seeing Mark’s confidence grow!

Teachers want ‘a logical presentation of accurate information.’  Steve Peha

Finally, this technique/strategy has a hidden strength:

T0 complete this strategy you have to unpack, understand and answer the question!

Cheers Nina

 

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Part 3: Working with Mark (Year 10) to Be a Better Writer

Unpacking the Year 10 and now Year 11 English curriculum in Australia is challenging and something I wish I’d done earlier in my career. Yes, we must know our primary curriculum and early secondary (to a point) but pulling apart these higher levels is interesting.

Angela Stockman has given me some excellent advice and even though I’ve been unpacking curriculum for many years, these standards are complex. Her advice is breaking the standards into learning targets that can be taught in one lesson and can be understood by teacher and student. This is essential to develop Learner Agency. Each standard has multiple targets and as my time with Mark is short, I need to maximise learning.  

be-a-better-writer-2Whilst putting this continuum together, I’ve been working with Mark on punctuation. Steve Peha recommended we do the Punctuation Inquiry activity in Be a Better Writer.

Punctuation Inquiry helps you learn how marks are used. Once you’ve read through a passage and figured out the punctuation, figure out why it’s there.’ Steve Peha

Steve uses a simple chart with three headings:

Example- Why It’s Used- Questions & Comments.

Mark and I focussed on capitalisation. We read through the example and discussed the use of capitals. He describes looking closely at a text as close reading. This is a quick activity and can be done daily on 75-100 words a day. What an excellent launch activity.

Next we looked at Punctuation Reading. The background Steve gives for this is that ‘most of us aren’t fully aware of punctuation when we read.’

We read the passage in Be a Better Writer and then we read the passage again with the punctuation noted in words e.g. new paragraph, indent, capital on a dark capital December night in 1776 comma…

This short paragraph contained 48 marks of punctuation, ten different types of punctuation and fifteen uses of punctuation which are explained in the book.

Steve states that this activity helps you ‘learn the names of the marks’ and ‘helps you develop a sense for how they’re used in published writing.’ Another great launch activity for the classroom.

Mark is reading Triage by Scott Anderson for English. He decided that writing a chapter summary would help him to analyse the text. Summarising the first chapter was excellent, because the first chapter sets the scene, introduces the characters and emotions and plot.

Mark wrote a well thought out paragraph. It was clearly presented, double line spaced and did not require rewriting! The punctuation was in place, placed for meaning and his spelling has greatly improved. I’ve called this his ‘awareness phase’.

I also love the dedication page in Be a Better Writer.

‘Use it to talk to your students about what matters most in writing. Use it to show them the writer you are so they’ll have a model for the writers they’ll become.’ Steve Peha

We break standards into learning targets that are kid friendly and teachable in a single lesson. They use kid language, and we put them on the board or on our anchor charts.We break standards into learning targets that are kid friendly and teachable in a single lesson. They use kid language, and we put them on the board or on our anchor charts.

Each standard has multiple targets, typically. We share them with kids.

It makes things far more meaningful.

 Cheers Nina

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Powerful video & text: How one action prevented a youth suicide – Why the IB- Learner Profile should be lived and breathed by students, teachers and the community!

Probably one of my most important posts! Education & the success of our education systems is far more than ‘As’ on a page… ‘just saying’

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A psychiatrist friend shared this video with a message on Facebook…

‘It is something everyone should read – especially school kids.’

I always watch or read anything Angela shares because I know her work. The video is confronting, but so is youth suicide.

The IB -PYP clearly mandates that the Learner Profile is embedded into the curriculum. It is unpacked from the very first day of school.

All schools have values they embrace but I wonder how well the values are embedded across the curriculum. It takes time to unpack the Learner Profile with students in a real and meaningful way. The Learner Profile has to be lived and ‘breathed’ by students. It’s not a wish list, its part of what embodies an IB teacher, student and IB school community.

An IB school also has to meet the standards of the IB to be endorsed as an IB school. There are…

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Part 2: Working with Mark (Year 10) ‘to be a better writer’ using Be a Better Writer by Steve Peha – documenting Mark’s learning.

516aatihrgl-_sx348_bo1204203200_Mark and I decided  we would complete the activity  Take an Edit Pass Approach to Correcting Your Own Work following Steve’s steps.

N.B. These sessions are targeted to Mark’s instructional needs and are directly related to his writing samples.

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Task 1: Mark wrote an introductory paragraph for a book he had read. He chose To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. This is his first draft (below) and although he’s still scribbling through his edits, overall, there are notable improvements evident when comparing this sample to his first reference piece in Post 1.

Mark’s first draft followed by his edited draft after completing Steve’s Take an Edit Pass Approach activity. Our conversations were interesting as he completed each step. Mark was constantly referring to prior learning and making connections.

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Task 2: Mark completed the following passes…

1. Checked his writing for missing words/repeated words

2. Checked his sentences to see if they made sense.

3. Checked his use of capital letters

4. Checked to see if he had used commas correctly

5. Dialog-none in paragraph

6. Checked for mid-sentence punctuation marks

Each time Mark completed an edit pass we referred to Steve’s book to correct  misconceptions. For example, we read the 6 Things Commas Do In Our Writing looking closely at the examples given. Our discussions, and review of commas and their use clarified Mark’s misconceptions.

N.B. Its important to remember that Steve’s book is written for teachers and students. The way explanations are presented is engaging, informative and can be easily implemented!

BIG TICK!

Mark and I unpacked-The 6 Things Commas Do In Our Writing working-with-mark-session-2-023

  1. Separate parts of sentences
  2. Separate items in a list
  3. Separate multiple modifiers
  4. Separate things that might be confusing
  5. Separate speaking from speakers
  6. Separate information to make it easier to read

Mark followed Steve’s recommendation and completed  2 passes for spelling

  1. Underline misspelled words
  2. Correct misspelled words

How best will we/I learn?

Mark likes rules, so we are revisiting common spelling rules and using these rules to make corrections. The rules Mark is revisiting, are directly related to the errors made within his texts.

IMPORTANT!

Two Rules Reviewed

i before e except after a long c but not when c is a “sh” sound and not when sounded like ‘a’ as in neighbour

When the word ends in a vowel + y just add ‘s’. If the word has a consonant before the ‘y’: take off the ‘y’ and add ‘ies’

After completing the above, Mark wrote a second draft of his paragraph (see below).

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Learner CycleI asked Mark to reflect on his learning, and reflecting is something we’ll explore further.

A reflection book is a great asset for learners to record new understandings and refer to when needed.

After reflecting, I asked Mark what he felt he needed to learn next and record this on a yellow sticky note.

What do we/I want to learn?

Using the Kunyung Primary Learner Cycle questions promotes Learner Agency.

On the yellow sticky note in the picture (above) Mark has clearly stated ‘Punctuate Dialog’… So that’s what Mark and I will be doing!

How will we know what we/I have learned?

  1. Evidence of learning – Mark’s writing
  2. Continuum: Based on Year 10 Australian Curriculum (being developed)

Cheers Nina

 

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When you know you’ve met an inspirational education leader! Vale Dr. Elizabeth Mellor

What is leadership? This post is being read often!

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Last week Australia lost a true advocate for early childhood education. Doctor Elizabeth Mellor was a passionate driver for improved early learning for children and much of her recent work was in this area.

Having completed many professional development courses, there is still one standout for me: The Leadership for Community Engagement Program. Elizabeth was a co-presenter and one of those educators you meet and sense instantly that you are in the presence of a leader!

What did I learn from Elizabeth and the course about leadership?

I’m calling it YOU!

You, as a leader, will be different to a manager, you will be finding solutions, you will use your courage and confidence to influence others, you will speak a common language and find that common language so you can move forward. You will empower others and be an enabler so you can shift barriers. You will encourage others to…

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Working with Mark (Year 10) to ‘be a better writer’ using Be a Better Writer by Steve Peha – documenting Mark’s learning.

Mark is in Year 10 in Victoria, Australia. I’m working with him to ‘be a better writer’. I’ve asked Mark if he’s happy for me to share his journey here and he is! We’re using Steve Peha’s book to guide us. Mark is an extremely bright, articulate young man.

Documenting Mark’s learning: Initial sample and observations

I asked Mark to write something he had to do for school and I discovered Mark is left handed. He suffers hand cramps and doesn’t have keyboard skills either. However, Mark is very computer literate, but had chosen to use his iPad or phone for everything. His subject content knowledge is high and he knew what the question was asking, but he has to be able to record his thoughts in an essay.

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Above is Mark’s starting piece and my reference sample.

516aatihrgl-_sx348_bo1204203200_Where to start: The Basics

I immediately asked Mark to change his posture and I checked his pen grip. I also asked him to write on every second line from now on and not scribble through changes. Dotting every second line gave the visual cue he needed. Mark’s incredibly receptive to advice. Just these few simple changes would enable Mark and his teacher to read back his writing and for Mark to correct his spelling and grammar whilst writing.

What do we/I want/need to learn? Kunyung P.S Learning Cycle

learner-cycle

After observing Mark write and talking with Mark, he decided that punctuation is where we need to start first. Mark is invested!

The pen must be always in the hand of the writer. The writing belongs to the student! The student needs to be able to articulate their understanding of each question in the learning cycle

Below: After focusing on two punctuation and spelling rules you can already see a difference in the quality of Mark’s writing.

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Whilst reading Steve’s book, I’ve tabbed certain reference points for myself. Unpacking Chapter 8: Better Punctuation has been interesting for me as a teacher.

Each chapter starts with ‘the stuff that matters most!, 10 things you need to know.’  This is followed by background information about rules and the bsteve-page-272-2est ways to learn about punctuation rules.

The beauty of this book is that its not written just for teachers, its written for students too.

Next is ‘Your Checklist for Better Punctuation.’ Steve explains the key things that effective punctuation involves using. He uses the phrase ‘Ask yourself’ after questions, which is an invitation to inquire.

On the side of the page are tips, each with an icon. These are terrific!

magnify-2Light bulb: Think About This

Clip board: Three Great Things To Do OR Learn

Question Mark: Ask Yourself

A Key: Key Ideas

Magnifying Glass: Look Closely

Steve explains that the checklist doesn’t cover everything, but it covers the ‘most important five groups of punctuation’.

1. End of sentence punctuation

2. Mid-sentence punctuation

3. Capitalization

4. Paragraphing

5. Dialog

The chapter includes examples, explanations, tips and tasks for :

Punctuation Changes Almost Everything

Punctuation Reading

Punctuation Inquiry

When Sentences Go Wrong

The Muddle in the Middle

Example: The Muddle in the middle: I love the way Steve explains the Cantankerous Comma, the Dashing Dash, Polite or Impolite Parentheses, the Commanding Colon, the Superfluous Semicolon and the Ethereal Ellipsis.

What will Mark be focussing on this week?

At the end of each chapter there are activities to complete and Mark and I will be doing these. One activity we’ll do this week is: Take an Edit Pass Approach to Correcting Your Own Work following Steve’s steps. I’ll write about this in my next post!

Cheers Nina

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