Another writing project idea from Kelly Gallagher that my reading group highlighted in our presentation of his book In the Best Interest of Students. Students do a mini-research project in which they research how an object, product, invention, etc. was created or became popularized. I love this idea for 9th graders, who need to be introduced to formal research in a small, manageable way. It also allows endless options for personal choice. The mentor text comes from the New York Times Magazine.
This writing idea came from KG’s In the Best Interest of Students, which I’m reading this month. I can see using it at the beginning of a school year for students to introduce themselves to a class (“6 Things You Should Know About John Vasquez”) or for practice writing to explain (“6 Things You Should Know About Competitive Swimming”). I also like the idea of allowing students to play with layout and images, much like the ESPN Magazine itself does here (as the mentor text).
Answer to the question posed to repeating sophomores about what made a difference this year if they were passing now and had earlier failed: “I would say that the teacher helped me tremendously. Ms. ____ made it so much more fun and easy to learn. The classroom environment was great almost everyday, and I really enjoyed it.”
I’d encourage all teachers to keep a record or repository of the things students write or say that we can point to when answering the question, “Why do I teach?”
Grading every piece of homework is misdirected. A numerical grade does not show students how to improve their work. Further, students ignore comments when grades are given.
“Students’ belief in their ability to learn to read proficiently, and to set specific, short-term goals for an assignment motivates them to work hard, become involved in an assignment and successfully complete it.” –Laura Robb, from Teaching Reading in the Middle School, Scholastic, 2000, p. 19, based on research from Schunk and Zimmerman
“With urban youth, acts work better than words, because so many people have not followed through on their words.” –G. Norman