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Writing, part 2
By Frank Holes, Jr.
School English Teacher
This is the second in a series on
using journal writing in class. The first
article, from our June
#2 Issue, gave an
overview of the journaling process that I use. You can feel
free to use any ideas here and modify them to make them fit your
class and curriculum. I believe this can be used at any
grade level and in any subject area. This article will
detail the grading system I use to keep my sanity.
I use a grading
system that makes the journals easy to grade. In my class, a full page is given ten points (ten being the
maximum per page). However,
I'm a stickler; the students must write a full page, right down to the
last line on the paper. I
do allow the top eight lines for brainstorming, though I don't always
require it. Students are
always allowed to use the brainstorming lines if they wish.
I require at least
one page at each journaling session, which lasts from ten to fifteen
minutes. Students are
required to write constantly until the time is up, or until they reach a
full page. However, before
they are allowed to go on to another activity, they must show me their
completed work. Students
may also write more than a page for extra credit.
I give out ten points for each full page beyond those required.
For example, we may have three journal sessions in a week, so the
weekly grade is out of thirty points.
If a student completes five full pages, their score is fifty
points, twenty of them extra credit!
I don't mind
offering the extra credit, since usually the ones who take advantage of
this are your A students anyway. And
since I want to promote as much writing as possible, I strongly
encourage every student to write for extra credit.
are the only form of writing that I allow to be done outside of class.
Mostly this is because I allow students to write for extra credit
(only promoting more writing!)
allowed to share their writing with the class afterward, though no one
is required to share. I
tell the class they may read all or just part of their writing, or just
tell about it. The
remainder of the students are allowed to keep writing during the sharing
time, and must stop when there are no more to share.
I strongly believe
students should be allowed to keep their journals when the year is
finished. For many
students, putting down their private thoughts in class can lead to a
lifetime of writing.
If you'd like to
check out a list of journaling topics, check our website at the
following quick link: www.starteaching.com/free.htm. Again, you may feel free to use any
or all of these, and they may lead you to think of many others of your
own. You can also use any of our Weekly Writing Prompts from
issues of our newsletter. I encourage you to send along your own
topics to add to our calendar.
Frank Holes, Sr.
Frank Holes Sr. is
a retired principal with 25 years of experience in job hiring,
interviewing, and working with new teachers. He has
interviewed hundreds of teachers in his time, and has a wealth of
information to pass along to new teachers. He now works
with student teaching interns at Lake Superior State University
and Spring Arbor University.
This article is a third in the sequence of finding and securing your first teaching job and will focus on the educational portfolio.
What is a portfolio?
*A compilation of professional documents and artifacts that identifies who you are, your professional qualifications, what you have accomplished and what your educational beliefs are – a portfolio can be hard copy or electronic
Who needs a portfolio?
*Beginning and veteran teachers
When do you begin your portfolio?
*As soon as possible, hopefully during your first teacher education classes
Is it too late to start one after student teaching?
*No, however it will be more of a challenge especially trying to work backwards and compile artifacts
How large should your portfolio be?
*Actually you will have 2 portfolios – one will hold all of your information and be very large and comprehensive, the other is the one you will customize to be used when you interview. – Your interview portfolio will contain all professional information such as resume, introductory paper, educational philosophy and belief statements, state certification tests, transcripts, letters of recommendation, etc., however, teaching artifacts will be specific and aligned with the position you are applying for.
How should my portfolio look?
*As professional as possible – you wouldn’t show up for an interview wearing sloppy clothes – that would leave a very unfavorable impression – the same for your portfolio – spend a little extra money and purchase a professional looking binder large enough to hold your interview portfolio.
What are artifacts?
Artifacts simply speaking are examples of what you have accomplished in the classroom. Pictures of students engaged in special projects, documentation of an effective lesson plan, a newsletter sent home to parents are all artifacts that show the interview committee exactly what you have accomplished in your teaching. Once you start teaching you will want to continue to save those very special projects or assignments for your overall portfolio.
Does someone actually ask to see my portfolio in an interview?
That is an interesting question, the committee may not directly ask to see your portfolio, however, there will be an opportunity for you to introduce it. One of the questions may ask about lesson design and the concept of utilizing higher order thinking skills. That might be a lead in to show them a lesson you have in your portfolio. That is the opening you were waiting for, now go for it!
Will an effective portfolio actually make a difference?
In my experience (over 33 years in public schools, 25 in administration) I would have to say absolutely. A well-developed portfolio speaks volumes about the candidate regarding organization, values, commitment, pedagogy and professionalism. My advice is to make your portfolio something you are proud of and to make it work for you.
Stay tuned for the next article – the dreaded interview! Bye!
are the 'Big Rocks' in your life?
A while back I was reading about an expert on subject of time
management. One day this expert was speaking to a group of business students and, to drive home a point, used an illustration those
students will never forget.
As this man stood in front of the group of high-powered overachievers he said, "Okay, time for a quiz."
Then he pulled out a one-gallon, wide-mouthed mason jar and set it on a table in front of him. Then he produced about a dozen fist-sized
rocks and carefully placed them, one at a time, into the jar.
When the jar was filled to the top and no more rocks would fit inside, he asked, "Is this jar full?" Everyone in the class said, "Yes."
Then he said, "Really?" He reached under the table and pulled out a bucket of gravel. Then he dumped some gravel in and shook the jar
causing pieces of gravel to work themselves down into the spaces between the big rocks.
Then he asked the group once more, "Is the jar full?"
By this time the class was onto him. "Probably not," one of them answered. "Good!" he replied.
He reached under the table and brought out a bucket of sand. He started dumping the sand in and it went into all the spaces left
between the rocks and the gravel. Once more he asked the question, "Is this jar full?"
"No!" the class shouted. Once again he said, "Good!" Then he grabbed a pitcher of water and began to pour it in until the jar was filled to
the brim. Then he looked up at the class and asked, "What is the point of this illustration?"
One eager beaver raised his hand and said, "The point is, no matter how full your schedule is, if you try really hard, you can always fit
some more things into it!"
"No," the speaker replied, "that's not the point. The truth this illustration teaches us is: If you don't put the big rocks in first,
you'll never get them in at all."
What are the 'big rocks' in your life?
A project that YOU want to accomplish? Time with your loved ones? Your faith, your education, your finances? A cause?
Teaching or mentoring others?
Remember to put these BIG ROCKS in first or you'll never get them in
at all. ---
So, tonight or in the morning when you are reflecting on this short
story, ask yourself this question: What are the 'big rocks' in my life
Then, put those in your jar first.
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
In This Week's Issue
(Click the Quick Links below):
Writing, part 2
Finding Skills: Your Portfolio
on Life: "Big Rocks"
10 Days of
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