FEATURES FOR TEACHERS
Features For New Teachers
Volume 2, Issue 18
The first step is
brainstorming. We require a
specific number of 'triggers' for each topic.
Students generally choose between making a web or a list to
visually show their brainstorming. For example, our 7th graders must
include eight triggers, while seniors must have at least fifteen. You and your school will decide what is appropriate.
Then all triggers are ORGANIZED by order of importance,
chronological order, etc. Students
are asked to number the triggers 1-8. Of course, students are always encouraged to write down more
triggers (sometimes we even offer extra credit for more triggers!).
We also encourage students to freewrite as brainstorming.
Students look over their prewriting and start using their
organized triggers to form the ideas presented in the paragraph.
Students then create a topic sentence (T.S.). This is an introductory sentence which captures the reader's attention and gives the reader an idea of what the paragraph is about. We require students to restate the topic in the T. S. This begins to create flow (the connectedness of ideas and transitions) by using several key words in the topic.
At least three body sentences
follow (we require six in the 7th grade).
These will include details and examples, as well as data in the
form of facts or statistics. Make
sure these all support the topic sentence.
The body sentences also will include a personal life experience (PLE)
which connects the topic to the writer's life or to a real-life
situation (7th graders must have two sentences for each PLE).
We've found, in particular, that papers with a well developed PLE
scored much higher on the MEAP than those without a PLE. The body sentences must connect to the topic sentences, and
be sure their details flow in a logical manner.
Finally, wrap up the paragraph
with a CLINCHER STATEMENT. This
again restates the topic, brings closure to the paragraph, and
summarizes the ideas presented. The
clincher should leave the reader satisfied that he/she understands what
was presented in the paragraph. It
may also leave the reader wanting more, and provide a means to find more
information. The clincher
may also be a transition to another paragraph or subject.
Always have your students
write a title for the paragraph. This
is really an advanced skill, requiring students to think about what they
really wrote and condense down the ideas into a short phrase that must
also catch the reader's attention.
It's a great skill to practice each time they write.
COMMONLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Q: How long is a typical
paragraph required for class?
A: This is always hotly
debated among teachers. We
have set limits at each grade level, based on what our MEAP requires and
a progression up the grades. These
minimums ensure our students are forced to include examples and details
to enhance the paragraph's supports.
Our 5th graders must write at least 40 words in each paragraph
(as always, they can always write more).
In the 6th grade, 80 words are required.
At 7th grade, students must write 100 words, and at 8th grade it
is 125 words. There are
also sentence requirements. A
5th grade paragraph must have at least 5 sentences (topic sentence,
body/support sentences, and a clincher).
6th graders must have 6 sentences, while 7th and 8th graders must
include at least 8 sentences
Q: How much time do we give
students to write out a paragraph?
A: The paragraph structure was
developed in response to the demands of the MEAP test (Michigan's high
stakes test) as well as to our own school's curriculum and class needs. We
wanted a structure that could be easily learned and remembered (by both
students and staff). It had to be versatile enough (and adaptable) to use at any
grade level or course. And
it needed to allow for students to make it their own - we believe it
promotes students' creativity, writing style, and voice while giving
them a structure that nearly guarantees success.
Thus, it had to be written in a fairly short span of time to
allow for students to proof and edit.
Brainstorming & organizing should take no more than five
minutes (most of our students can do it in under a minute with
practice!). The whole
paragraph can be written in fifteen minutes or less (again with
practice). We NEVER let
these go home, and they're always due in class.
Students cannot take their MEAP tests home to finish, remember! Time frames start out longer at first, but then we shorten
the time as they become more proficient.
Q: How much do you worry about
mistakes in spelling, grammar, mechanics, etc.?
A: Remember, this is drafting.
We always encourage the students to be careful about what they
write. However, we want
them focusing on the structure and the logical flow of ideas.
Corrections can be made if/when we revise and proof for a final
Q: Doe the PLE have to come at
the end of the paragraph?
A: Certainly not! It should be
inserted where it makes the most sense in the paragraph.
Think about how that story will fit in the flow of ideas in the
paragraph. PLEs can even
occur in the beginning of the paragraph; we call these LEADS.
Q: Can a topic sentence or
clincher be more than one sentence in length?
A: We try to keep these at one
sentence in our younger grades, but as students become more mature
writers, it is expected that they will attempt and experiment with
developing their own personal style.
If a middle school student asked about this, I'd ask back,
"Why do you need more than one sentence?"
If there is a compelling reason, I wouldn't have a problem.
If you want to be successful as a teacher—any teacher—you have to refrain from playing the fear trump card. Unfortunately many math teachers do this, thinking that this will set the tone for the year and keep the students in line. This is not the way to go. Remember. You are on difficult turf. Most students despise math because it frustrates the heck out of them. They feel hopeless, lost, and confused most of the time when trying to work through this strange domain of variables, number systems, and word problems. Instilling fear in them will only make the problem worse.
you love to have a teaching tool to create a fun learning environment
for your students regardless of the curriculum or grade level? How
about something that the students beg you to teach them? The
secret is: Houdini In The Classroom!"
Michael Kett has been a physical therapist, as well as a magician, for more than 25 years. He has also taught at Northwestern University and Benedictine University. His first book, Applied Magic, is a blending of his physical therapy and magic backgrounds. The magic effects in the book have a therapeutic twist to address specific goals such as fine and gross motor control, sequencing, range of motion, and balance. Michael has lectured to many professional organizations regarding the benefits of therapeutic magic.
His second book, Houdini in the Classroom, is also the title of the workshop he teaches at conferences, conventions and individual schools. In this book, Michael has combined basic magic tricks with techniques to enhance creative thinking, cooperative learning, writing skills, public speaking, and self-confidence.
Have you read Applied Magic or Houdini In The Classroom? Do you have comments you’d like to share with our readers about this book? Email your responses to email@example.com. Please type in BOOK CLUB READER RESPONSE in the subject line. Responses will be posted on our website with the StarTeaching Book of the Month Club. All responses will be proofread, and may be edited for content and space before publication.
Two men were traveling together, when a Bear suddenly met them on their path. One of them climbed up quickly into a tree and concealed himself in the branches.
The other, seeing that he must be attacked, fell flat on the ground, and when the Bear came up and felt him with his snout, and smelt him all over, he held his breath, and feigned the appearance of death as much as he could. The Bear soon left him, for it is said he will not touch a dead body.
"He gave me this advice," his companion replied.
"Never travel with a friend who deserts you at the approach of
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forth into the light of things:
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Designing and Running a Medieval Fair
Technology & Teaching: Setting up for Handhelds
Using Magic in Class
Preparing for Student Teaching (part 3)
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