Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Week in a Sentence and Happy Holidays!

This week, I participated in Day in a Sentence. Thanks to Kevin for hosting this event and for taking the time to compile and introduce each submission. I first heard about this from Larry Ferlazzo, and then again from Cheryl Oakes; I decided it was time to give it a try. In addition, boiling my week down into one sentence seemed to fit the theme of what I have been doing: being more concise! Let me explain how that all relates to professional development.

In preparation for the Blogging for Educators session I'll be co-moderating, I have been experimenting with Twitter. At first, I thought Twitter will be a great way to update my status in Facebook; however, now I realize that these 140 character posts are a great way to connect and learn with other educators too! I am following some other Twitter users and their twits encourage me to check out some new places online. For instance, Vicki Davis gave a heads up about her recent interview on NPR about blogs and Claudia Ceraso introduced me to Pownce (and while I couldn't look at the item she was referring to, I have signed up for Pownce's waiting list.)

Meanwhile in the classroom, I was looking for a new and different way for students to write about stories. The holidays are a great time for sharing stories! After reading "'Twas the Night Before Christmas", I asked students to share some of their favorite stories with me. Their choices ranged from Disney movie plots, to Japanese folk tales, to graded readers they had read in class. Instead of having them write detailed accounts of the story, and urging them to add *more details*, I had them write quick Story Pyramids. Although story pyramids are often used for younger learners in language arts class, I thought they would be a useful exercise for older students as well, since the word limitation puts the pressure on students to choose specific words, and to carefully consider their word choices. According to a lesson plan on Hotchalk, a story pyramid is constructed as follows:

1. name of main character
2. 2 words describing main character
3. 3 words describing setting
4. 4 words stating problem
5. 5 words describing an event
6. 6 words describing another event
7. 7 words describing another event
8. 8 words describing the solution

In short, by challenging ourselves and our students to adhere to character and/or word counts, we can make connections in new ways and add variety to every day tasks! Happy Holidays, everyone!

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Dogtrax said...

Thanks for contributing go Day in A Sentence and good luck with everything!


Mary H said...

Thanks, Kevin! It was a pleasure to participate and try something new!

Vicky said...

Hi Mary,
I've been reading your previous posts and I found this one very interesting. I've never tried that strategy with my students, but I think it is very creative and challenging. I would like to apply it with my students when i come back to class. Thank you for sharing!
Vicky from Misiones, Argentina.

Mary H said...

Hi Vicky!
I'm glad you liked the idea of Story Pyramids. A colleague of mine also does a similar activity called "A Very Short Story"; he asks students to write a story using only 50 words! It is really challenging, but interesting :)