Monday, April 16, 2012

6:56 AM - 1 comment


Music Video Remix Response to 
Annenberg Media's Write in the Middle Workshops

Responding to Writing: Teacher to Student

Key Ideas!

Teachers help students write for meaningful purposes, prompting students' interest in developing their writing. Having learners write about matters of personal relevance establishes a foundation for effective conferences.

Responding to Writing: Peer to Peer

Key Ideas!

The need to interact with peers and to express their needs and feelings make peer conferences a natural fit for most young writers. When teachers carefully create conditions in which the learners feel safe as writers and as respondents, peer conferences build writing skills while also helping to build a respectful, responsible community of writers.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Writer - Peer Review

One way to avoid the pitfalls of peer review in the writing classroom is to use the "I heard, I noticed, I wondered" method. With these prompts, you can provide useful feedback to a writer without being too biting in your criticism.

I Heard . . .

As a reviewer, first try to summarize what you think the piece was about. This is the easy part. Tell the writer what you saw as the story or the main idea. As a writer, listen to this section, and try to hear whether or not you communicated what you were trying to communicate.

I Noticed . . .

As a reviewer, tell the author about some of the things that attracted your attention. What worked well? What details seemed especially vivid or striking? What will you remember about this paper? As a writer, think about why the reviewer noticed these things, and how you can make all your writing as effective.

I Wondered . . .

As a reviewer, did you have any questions when you finished reading? Did you not understand what something meant, or why it was included? Did something bother or disturb you? Did you suspect something might have worked better another way? This section is your chance to ask the writer all these questions. As a writer, try to answer the reviewer's questions. Look at your writing again, and see if there is any way to make those points clearer to a reader.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

In Your Write Mind

FreeWare for Writer Inspiration and Collaboration

The Brainstormer

Mind Mapping

Lucid Chart

The Story Starter

Creative Writing Prompts

Lit Lift (novel generator)

Thirty-six Dramatic Situations Generator

Hatch's Plot Bank
Rainy Mood (instant white noise)

Simply Noise (white noise)

Live 365 (personal radio)
AutoCrit (Manuscript Editing)

Internet Typewriter

Easy Essay Generator

Grammar Girl (Podcasted Writing Tips)

Grubba (online database maker)

Google Cloud Connect for Microsoft Office
(online collaboration with Word docs)

TypeWith.Me (collaboration tool)

PrimaryPad (student collaboration tool)

Zoho (collaboration tool)
Bib Me (bibliography maker)

Decision Maker

Thought-Provoking Quotes

Thinking Quotes

The Art Zone

Logo Generator

Writing Horrors

Paranormal Paragraphs
and Other
Writing Horrors

A Fantastic Writer’s Workshop for 
Grade 12 Urban Language Arts Learners

Writing can be a scary thing for many students. Luckily, this creepy workshop is designed to relax the fears of the reluctant writer. During the spine-tingling two-week language arts unit, students find their voice through a focus on fiendish horror and fantasy short stories. In mini-lessons and micro-lectures, students also learn how to avoid the most common horrible writing habits and ghastly grammar mistakes.

The flexible daily activities of the workshop may include Writing Time, Sharing Time, Status Check-Ins and Mini-Lessons as needed.  Scheduling and instructional focus should be shaped by the process – as student needs and questions arise. Although this unit learning plan includes some specific mini-lessons and activities, they are entirely optional. Consider it to be the mere skeleton of a unit plan.

Workshops can be a monster for teachers to manage since students are working independently on different things at different times. Still, in using the recursive writing process – prewriting, drafting, revising, editing, publishing – learners will be able to chop up the daunting task of short story writing into manageable parts and concentrate on producing fantastic material.

The final stage, publishing and sharing stories in a group Read-Around, ensures that workshop participants have an audience. Deepening their ongoing understanding of the “Six-Traits Plus One” writing framework, learners will also have opportunities to coach each other through various stages of the process. This peer-editing places further emphasis on audience while fostering collaboration during the often intimidating and scary revision phase.

In this unit, learners will:

  • Examine and explore the characteristics of horror and fantasy literature;
  • Read and listen to scary short stories;
  • Create a fantasy plot and write a descriptive short story;
  • Investigate writing conventions and common writing errors;
  • Self-evaluate writing and peer-edit using the “Six-Trait” framework.

Instructional Strategies:
The central strategy of this learning plan is the Process Writing approach – as defined by Richard Badger and Goodith White (“A Process Genre Approach to Teaching Writing,” ELT Journal 54-2, 2000) – and described in the Annenberg Learner Writing Workshop series: “Write in the Middle.”


Learners are guided to give feedback using the language of the “Six-Traits Plus One” writing framework.

Lesson planning and handout ideas from:

Velvet McReynolds’ PATS peer-editing strategy outlined in “Write in the Middle”

Marissa Marler – “Creating Your Own Fantasy Story” [] 

Karen Luchner – “Using Scary Stories to Motivate Students to Read” []

Big Idea: Conventions

[Adjusting use of conventions, structure and vocabulary to effectively communicate a particular mood or style.]


: ten, 50-minute sessions

Learners: A group of 21 mixed ability students from widely diverse cultural backgrounds, mainly Hmong, Black, White and Mexican American. (The group has theoretically had previous instruction on “Six-Traits Plus One” and the general workshop process.)

Materials – Unit Plan Forms: 13 Dreadful Writing Mistakes handout; Fantastic Plots handout; Scary Story Traits; Goosebumps article; Write a Scary Story handout; Horrible Paragraphs; Paranormal Paragraphs; Writing Rubric; Six-Traits Self-Evaluation Checklist; PATS - Peer-Edit Checklist; Writing Conventions Quiz; (3 or 4) selected stories from – Queen of the Cold-Blooded Tales, Stories by Roberta Simpson Brown – instructor’s choice, but three of the best are Whispers, Sleeping Bags and The Wake-Up Call.

Resources / Websites: Goosebumps article online

Writing Horrors
Core Learning Strategy Map

Writing Standard: 12. 7. 3.
– Write narratives and other creative texts to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structured event sequences.

Benchmark C. – Use a variety of techniques to sequence events so that they build on one another to create a coherent whole and build toward a particular tone and outcome (e.g., a sense of mystery, suspense, growth, or resolution).

Core Objective: I can draft and craft a short story in the fantasy fiction genre.

Learning Target: I can identify the traits of a mysterious, suspenseful or frightening story.
Learning Assessment: mini-lessons, readings, discussions
Learning Target: I can use the writing process to revise a text for clarity and tone.
Learning Assessment: mini-conferences, peer-editing

Core Assessment: Fantasy Horror Short Story - 80%;

Language Standard: 12. 11. 1.
– Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.

Benchmark A.    – Apply the understanding that usage is a matter of convention, can change over time, and is sometimes contested.

Core Objective: I can recognize standard and nonstandard use of writing conventions.

Learning Target: I can distinguish standard from nonstandard writing conventions.
Learning Assessment: observation, discussions, mini-lessons

Core Assessment: Writing Conventions Quiz - 20%

Success Opportunity for Urban Learners – SOUL Focus:
Production and Distribution of Writing

"I try to create sympathy for my characters, then turn the monsters loose." 

~ Stephen King

Friday, April 6, 2012

M . A . P . S .

"Aristotle Light"

Mode - Audience - Purpose - Situation

  • Mode
    Persuasive essay, email, lab report, poem, magazine article
  • Audience
    Instructor, peers, members of a discipline, employer or employee, (potential) customer
  • Purpose
    Inform, persuade, woo, criticise, apologize, sell
  • Situation
    Deadline, resources, experience & skills, collaborators

Thursday, April 5, 2012

7:01 PM - No comments

Six Traits (Plus One)

  • Ideas
  • Organization
  • Voice
  • Word Choice
  • Sentence Fluency
  • Conventions

  • Presentations

Burke considers the Six Traits writing rubric to be "a powerful road map and the tools needed to improve not only writing but also the teaching of writing."

Ideas & Content

As you begin your paper you generate ideas.  Your ideas and content are the reasons for writing a paper.  Every paper should convey a message and be easy to follow. 

Some thoughts to get you going:
What is my message and is it focused and clear?
Did I include important details relevant to my topic?
Did the reader learn something new?
Is my paper interesting and easy to understand?


Organizing your ideas helps a reader move through your paper in a meaningful way. 

Some things to keep in mind as you write your paper:
Does my beginning hook my reader?
Is my paper easy to follow? Did I choose the best way to organize my story?
Do my ideas link to a main message?
Do I have a strong conclusion that wraps up the story?


Your voice is what gives your writing personality, flavor and style.

Questions to think about as you write your paper:

Can you tell I am enthusiastic about my topic?
Does this writing sound like me?
How do I want my readers to feel?
Will my story hold readers' attention? Will they want to hear more?

Sentence Fluency

Fluent writing has rhythm.  Sentences vary in length and structure.  It is easy and pleasurable to read aloud. 

It is important to think about:

Is my story easy to read?
Do my sentences begin in different ways?
Did I use some long and some short sentences?
Does my paper sound smooth as I read it aloud?

Word Choice

The specific words that you choose create images, capture a reader's attention and make your story memorable.

Look at your paper and decide:

Have I used some strong verbs or colorful phrases that grab my reader?
Have I chosen the most precise word?
Have I used any unique words?
Did I repeat common words too many times?


When the first draft is finished it is time to start editing for conventions.  These include spelling, punctuation, grammar, capitalization and paragraphing.  Proper use of conventions make your story easy for others to read.

To begin editing ask yourself:

Did I leave spaces between words and sentences?
Did I use a title?
Did I use correct punctuation?
Did I use capital letters in the right places?
Have I proofread for correct spelling and grammar?
Have I indented any new paragraphs?