Tag Archives: Writing

Provocation: What force explains everything and gives meaning to life? A letter from Albert Einstein to his daughter Lieseral.

Lieserl, daughter of Albert Einstein gave 1,400 letters written by her father to the Hebrew University. Below is a letter from Einstein to his daughter.

When I proposed the theory of relativity, very few understood me, and what I will reveal now to transmit to mankind will also collide with the misunderstanding and prejudice in the world.
I ask you to guard the letters as long as necessary, years, decades, until society is advanced enough to accept what I will explain below.
There is an extremely powerful force that, so far, science has not found a formal explanation to. It is a force that includes and governs all others, and is even behind any phenomenon operating in the universe and has not yet been identified by us.
This universal force is LOVE.
When scientists looked for a unified theory of the universe they forgot the most powerful unseen force.
Love is Light, that enlightens those who give and receive it.
Love is gravity, because it makes some people feel attracted to others.
Love is power, because it multiplies the best we have, and allows humanity not to be extinguished in their blind selfishness. Love unfolds and reveals.
For love we live and die.
Love is God and God is Love.
This force explains everything and gives meaning to life. This is the variable that we have ignored for too long, maybe because we are afraid of love because it is the only energy in the universe that man has not learned to drive at will.
To give visibility to love, I made a simple substitution in my most famous equation.
If instead of E = mc2, we accept that the energy to heal the world can be obtained through love multiplied by the speed of light squared, we arrive at the conclusion that love is the most powerful force there is, because it has no limits.
After the failure of humanity in the use and control of the other forces of the universe that have turned against us, it is urgent that we nourish ourselves with another kind of energy…
If we want our species to survive, if we are to find meaning in life, if we want to save the world and every sentient being that inhabits it, love is the one and only answer.
Perhaps we are not yet ready to make a bomb of love, a device powerful enough to entirely destroy the hate, selfishness and greed that devastate the planet.
However, each individual carries within them a small but powerful generator of love whose energy is waiting to be released.
When we learn to give and receive this universal energy, dear Lieserl, we will have affirmed that love conquers all, is able to transcend everything and anything, because love is the quintessence of life.
I deeply regret not having been able to express what is in my heart, which has quietly beaten for you all my life. Maybe it’s too late to apologize, but as time is relative, I need to tell you that I love you and thanks to you I have reached the ultimate answer! “
Your father Albert Einstein

Cheers Nina

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What are the connections between reading and writing? How best can we take advantage of those connections when planning?

I’m using the word ‘flipping’ a lot when talking to educators about literacy planning. Is it better if students are taught in a way that provides stronger connections between reading and writing?  Do students view reading and writing as separate subjects or ‘things’ we do at school? Do students make better connections when strategies are ‘flipped’ to show how the strategies are used when reading or writing?

FPwheel

For example, when viewing the Fountas and Pinnell model, one can see how easily the processing systems for reading can be flipped to the processing systems for writing. For example, inferring and summarising can be easily ‘flipped’. Therefore, should reading and writing be taught concurrently incorporating planned focus sessions for the teaching of ‘flipped’ strategies? What do you think?

Should planning base itself on the ‘read like a writer and write like a reader’ concept?

Example: Flipping – Inferring & Summarising

Inferring also known as reading between the lines requires readers to use prior knowledge and the information stated in a text to draw conclusions. Good writing enables the reader to infer as they read. 

Summarising can be taught using the Somebody, Wanted, But, So, Then (SWBST) strategy when reading a text and flipped for teaching the writing structure of a narrative.

Would focussing on the same strategy when teaching reading and writing enable students to make better connections?

Below: Steve Peha – Integrated Literacy Model

Integrated Literacy

Steve Peha’s Integrated Literacy model provides an excellent framework for discussing ‘flipping’. This model enables educators to build ‘flipping’ connections under each of the six sub-headings for reading and writing when planning.

How do you plan? How do you take advantage of the connections between reading and writing when planning?

Cheers Nina

 

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Integrated Literacy: The Workshop Method improved… using Whole-Part-Whole structure.

I’ve been working this year with Steve Peha author of Be a Better Writer. I’ve actually used Steve’s material for many years and knew his book would be an outstanding resource for students and teachers. We’ve been looking at ways to structure curriculum and I can see enormous merit in Steve’s Integrated Literacy as a starting point for conversation about best practice.

The term community of learners is a meaningful descriptor for any group of students.

There is concern among educators that the teaching of literacy has moved away from an holistic approach to a segmented  approach e.g. one hour reading & one hour writing, without highlighting the conceptual links between reading, writing and oral language.

Integrated Literacy is a framework for K-12 instruction that leverages the complementary nature of reading and writing to make learning easier for kids and teaching better for teachers. Steve Peha

Integrated Literacy

Steve explains how Writer’s Workshop and Reader’s Workshop fit well into an integrated literacy approach. Our programs need to provide explicit teaching but there are many approaches to workshops to achieve this.

Workshops clearly have to meet students where they are at, often referred as ‘point of need’. Once assessment has been completed, workshops can be structured using a variety of teaching approaches depending on where a student or group of students are at e.g. modelled, shared, directed, suggested and facilitated.

Workshops

Steve’s article explains the elements of a workshop e.g. Lesson, Status, Work, Conferencing and Sharing (Reflection). Read further and Steve explains the different ways to workshop.

The workshop approach requires a detailed curriculum planning guide covering all aspects of writing and reading using our curriculum, the IB-PYP and Inquiry. The planning guide needs to cover the study of genres, strategies and punctuation.

Steve’s book covers: Better Topics, Better Ideas, Better Organisation, Better Voice, Better Words, Better Sentences, Better Punctuation and Better Fiction.  

This approach does not mean students are unable to explore writing and reading themselves, however, it is about ensuring explicit instruction is in the mix. I want students to see the interconnectedness of reading, writing and speaking.

Read like a Writer… Write like a Reader…Read as a Writer…Write as a Reader.

Steve and I are working on a curriculum framework based on the Australian Curriculum incorporating inquiry with links to material which supports explicit teaching within an holistic approach. This may take some time…

Cheers Nina

 

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‘The most valuable resource that all teachers have is each other. Without collaboration our growth is limited to our own perspectives.’ Robert John Meehan

My friend and colleague of many years Angela Stockman is now going to be working with teachers and communities to start their own Writing Studios. I’ve been learning from Angela for a long time and watched and read with great interest the work she has been doing with young writers. Angela shares her learning with all and that is special. Angela made an announcement today and I am delighted for her.

Well friends, I’ve been called to travel down a brand new pathway as I continue this writing studio journey of mine. The good news is that I’m beginning to realize the vision that launched the WNY Young Writers’ Studio ten years ago: starting this summer, I will be helping school districts, community leaders, and even nonprofit agencies launch and sustain their very own writing studios within and well beyond western New York.

Equally, Steve Peha has received another award for his book Be A Better Writer and once again I am incredibly pleased that Steve and his wife Margot are receiving recognition for their amazing work. I’ve been using Steve’s work for many years. Visit Steve’s site Teaching That Makes Sense.

I manage with Steve Australia Writes with Steve Peha Facebook group where Steve shares his work and responds to questions from members. To access the group you will need to request membership.

Steve Awards.GIF

Cheers Nina

 

 

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Steve Peha: Integrated Literacy – Love this! Please read… ‘Integrated Literacy is a framework for K-12 instruction that leverages the complementary nature of reading and writing to make learning easier for kids and teaching better for teachers.’ Steve Peha

This document is excellent and one I think teachers should read. The diagram is simple, yet very effective. Reading and writing are being taught separately and I understand why this is happening, but believe there’s a real need to make links between reading and writing explicit and this document does. Steve’s headings below are fantastic and headings I would introduce to students.

  • Writing Community – Reading Community
  • Writing Process – Reading Process
  • Writing Strategies – Reading Strategies
  • Writing Applications – Reading Applications
  • Writing Quality – Reading Quality
  • Writing Connections –  Reading Connections

Steve Peha Integrated Literacies.JPG

steve-peha-ttms-integrated-literacy

Link to full document above… Integrated Literacy is a framework for K-12

Steve has a Facebook group called AUSTRALIA writes with Steve Peha. Steve is sharing many wonderful resources and answering teacher questions. He’s also working with teachers in Australia and actually visits classrooms via Skype. It is a closed group so you will have to join. Here is the link:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/AustraliaWritesWithStevePeha/

Cheers Nina

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Working with Mark to Be A Better Writer – Year 12 Essay Writing

Working with Mark is an absolute pleasure.  Mark is doing Year 12 Philosophy within his Year 11 program. He’s a very able student who has struggled to get his thoughts on paper. Last year he made great progress with his writing using Steve Peha’s Be A Better Writer.

One of Mark’s big issues is ORGANISATION! Today we got organised. Mark printed off a calendar and we put it up on the wall and started recording important dates e.g. tests, due dates and  Common Assessment Tasks. When asking Mark when something is due, a couple of weeks is probably not the best answer. The beauty of this wall is he can’t miss it. My advice is place it near the kitchen or better still, the fridge!

Calendar .jpg

Mark needs a visual timetable/calendar clearly displaying key dates and we’re using different coloured highlighters for each subject. We use these in primary classrooms but they just look different. Next week we’ll put all assessments on the calendar for this term and then it will his responsibility to keep it up to date.

Today we revisited the structure of a philosophy essay and looked at a possible essay topic around what he has been learning. We pulled a topic apart and placed each part of the topic on sticky notes using the prescribed structure.

essay structure

Possible essay based on classroom learning:

essay .jpg

be-a-better-writer-2Teaching genre is crucial for all ages. Structure helps the writer keep on track. We also revised Steve’s chapter on better sentences or what we have covered so far and listed three key points to keep in mind while writing.

organisation .jpg

Mark’s task was to independently write an introduction paragraph on the topic Mark chose. Next week we will build on this. Mark will be working on his handwriting with me but I can see enormous growth in his writing. He wrote quickly because we are looking at timing in preparation for exams. Structure has given Mark the confidence to start immediately. We will also be looking at a narrative letter response for Year 11 English.

essay start

This is a snippet but I’m very pleased with this.

Cheers Nina

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Part 6: Working with Mark (Year 10) to Be a Better Writer (BABW): Preparing Mark for his Year 11-VCE (Victoria-Australia) Philosophy Exam.

Mark is in Year 10, Victoria, Australia which he will complete in a few weeks. It’s common for students to start their Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE) in Year 10 by completing one or two Year 11 subjects. Students completing a VCE Year 11 subject are exposed to the rigor and examination process involved. Mark has completed Year 11 Philosophy which he intends to study as a Year 12 subject in Year 11, which commences in late January in Australia. Year 12 subjects receive a ranking grade.

Using Be A Better Writer (BABW) by Steve Peha has provided Mark with the tools and explanations to focus on the critical issues in his writing.

Our focus has been on Chapter 8: Creating a Logical Answer to an Essay Question using the What-Why-How? strategy, Chapter 7: Better Sentences and Chapter 8: Better Punctuation.

For example Steve’s chapter Better Punctuation takes the writer through:

Do Rules Rule?be-a-better-writer-2

Practical Punctuation

When Sentences Go Wrong

The Muddle in the Middle

The Importance of Capitalization

Grouping Related Ideas into Paragraphs

Punctuating Dialog

Unruly Rules

So Who Really Rules the Rules?

mark-criteriaMark and I reviewed the rubric for a Philosophy essay, particularly the language section. What does ‘Language is appropriate’ mean?

We reviewed the genre structure required. Structures assist Mark to keep his responses logical. Initial structure.jpgUsing Steve’s What-Why-How? strategy has helped Mark to look closely at the question and answer the actual question. When students don’t read the question carefully and continue to write an essay on a different topic, there is a problem. The What-Why-How? helps to eliminate this.

Criteria – Rubric

Students should be able to review and assess their writing when provided with a rubric. Rubrics require unpacking with students so they understand what each standard means. So what does ‘Language is appropriate’ mean? Mark and I have unpacked this to include vocabulary choice, sentence structure, spelling and grammar. We reviewed the expectations linked to each of these.

mark-key-vocab

Mark has limited time before his exam. Having key vocabulary spelt correctly is important. Mark has key vocabulary he must learn to spell written on sticky notes stuck on the walls in his home. His job is to revise, revise, revise and remove when he can confidently spell each words. Mark and I discussed the spelling rules we have reviewed. We’ve only looked at the basics to date. Rules don’t always work when spelling, but at this stage its better than relying on sight alone.

Steve’s chapter Better Sentences takes the writer through:

Sentence Sensemark-sentence

Start Different, Stay Different

Short, Medium and Long

The Secret of Well-Structured Sentences

The Sound of Music

Listen Up

Every Writer Serves a Sentence

Mark’s sentence above has ‘better’ structure. He is able to combine what he has learnt with the actual writing task at the time of writing. This is critical, particularly in an examination situations.

mark-pracise-essay

Above is a section from Mark’s practice essay completed as part of his exam preparation. This is a first draft. Mark and I discussed his letter formation and his use of capital letters. Overall, improvement is evident. Mark is now thinking whilst writing, re-reading quickly and making corrections as he writes. He is also writing using structure and a ‘better’ sense of grammar.

Cheers Nina

P.S Mark has completed his exam! He felt confident and pleased with his efforts. Mark’s goal this year is to achieve a satisfactory. His subject knowledge appears to be good and he really enjoys Philosophy. As I will be continuing to work with Mark into the future, I will be using BABW to plan his next level of learning.

 

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