Tag Archives: Writing

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

What Why How.jpg

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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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.

Working with Mark session 2 016.jpg

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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