Tag Archives: English

Enjoyed an 8th grade poetry class. Eve let me share a sonnet I wrote in 1992…

I was in Eve Becker‘s room earlier, trying to figure out why the USB Snowball microphone wasn’t picking up her students’ voices as effectively as it should. I think the sound settings in System Preferences keep defaulting back to the built-in mic rather than the Snowball.

Eve likes to record class discussions with http://ustream.tv – so, if a student misses a class for any reason, they can stay in at lunch and watch a recording.

While fiddling with the preferences, I enjoyed Eve’s introduction of sonnets as part of their poetry unit. I piped in that I wrote a sonnet in college, and the kids humored me by listening.

I also learned a new term, enjambment, which means the continuation of a complete idea from one line or couplet to the next line or couplet without a pause. “Enjambment” comes from the French word for “to straddle.” Giddyup.

Here goes:

It’s often said that five are just too much,
And one should stop at three or even four.
My mother seemed to have that rabbit touch.
The rabbi said be fruitful; She had more.
I sometimes thing the Yuppies know what’s best.
With 2.3, it’s hard to go astray.
No fighting over who deserves the rest
Of pizza or the first who gets to play
The latest of Nintendo. Peace presides!
No squabbling over turns to watch TV,
Or who it was that first began the tides
Of war. The answer’s like to be, “Not me!”
And though it seems that best is 2.3,
I find I’m happy with our four plus me.

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“Romeo and Juliet” Garageband podcasts in 6th Grade English

Marisa Guastaferro‘s 6th grade English students are working together in small groups to rewrite a scene from Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet”. The goal is for them to show understanding of the prose and dialogue by translating it into their own words. (The kids also watch West Side Story and compare/contrast the two stories.)

After, students will take pictures of themselves acting out key moments of the scene (like tableau vivant) and record their voices reading their script into a shared GarageBand file. We have them use a Logitech USB microphone and lay it on the table with the microphone upright between them to capture all of their voices equally.

The audio and images will be mashed together in GarageBand. Then, this file will be converted to an .mov file using Quicktime and uploaded to our Drupal video server that we’ve named The Tube (as it is similar to YouTube and we think it’s hilarious to preface anything related to The School with “The”).

Uploading video to The Tube generates embed code, so students can embed their finished podcast onto a shared class Google Site with the rest of their classmates’ projects.

In previous years, students painted enormous backdrops for their scene in Art and composed renaissance-era ambient background tunes in Music.

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Eighth graders formed small reading groups on our in-house Elgg social network to discuss *To Kill a Mockingbird*

Eve Becker, 8th Grade English, is one of the most interesting people, gifted writers, and talented teachers I’ve had the pleasure to know. She actually gets kids to love reading and she inspires them to dig into the words, text, tenor of each piece like a surgeon. Every time I enter her classroom, I learn something new.

She (and I) are reading To Kill A Mockingbird with the 8th graders. This is the 50th Anniversary of Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize winning classic. TKAM ranks as one of my favorite books ever, and while the last time I read it was over 10 years ago, I’m excited to read it along with the kids and participate in their online discussions.

After briefly discussing the best platform for the students to collaborate online (wiki, Google Site, Drupal, WordPress…), Eve chose to use our in-house Elgg social network. As a school, we try to reinforce how to use technology academically, respectfully, and responsibly, and we have a variety of tools at our disposal including The Social Network, where we show students how to behave in our protected spaces and hope that they continue to make good choices online when left to their own devices.

She divided the 8th graders into small reading groups of 3-4 people, and each member of the group helped populate their group’s space on The Social Network to include:

1. A bookmark from the full-class group to their small reading group

2. An avatar/icon to represent their group

3. A Group Discussion space where the students address teacher-led discussion questions like:

Chapter Nine: Why doesn’t Scout tell anyone but Uncle Jack the real reason she beat up Francis? What does this demonstrate about Scout?

4. A Group Blog section where students post their own questions/thoughts about the book and respond to each other’s posts.

Chapter 8: Do you think it was racists for Jem and Scout to build a black snowman?

5. A Page for Vocabulary terms where students follow a follow 5-step format.

NOTE: the page itself consists of the guidelines for adding vocabulary terms (see below), while students actually contribute to the page via the Comments section. Thus there exists a timestamp with their name each time they add a word to the page. This is great for individual accountability even as they working as a group.

1. Word

2. Make an educated guess (using context clues)

3. Look it up

4. Part of Speech

5. Make up your own sentence 

please specify the page/chapter where you located the word

6. A Page for Quotations where students write a quote, why they chose it, and page number.

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