Saturday, November 13, 2010

What Resonates With You Thus Far?

What quote from your text resonates with you at this time in your educational career?

In the San Diego Area Writing Project the term resonates has to do with what quote, paragraph, passage or chapter evokes or suggests images, memories and emotions for you of any kind. We do not imply that the term resonates means that you have to agree with the author's intended meaning. In fact, you may whole-heartedly disagree with the statement that seems to resonate with you. We want to explore those reasons and to give you a venue in which to share your thoughts and understandings of the texts we are reading this year.

For the purposes of all of us to share in our different study groups please use the following format for your comment:

1. Name

2. School Site (It is ok for you to put elementary or secondary if you don't want to list your site)

3. Book Title

4. Quote (& Page Number)

5. Why does this quote/passage resonates with you?


  1. Carol Schrammel, SDAWP, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us
    "Self-determination theory begins with a notion of universal human needs. It argues that we have three innate psychological needs--competence, autonomy, and relatedness. When these needs are satisfied, we're motivated, productive, and happy. When they're thwarted, our motivation, productivity, and happiness plummet." (p. 72)
    I agree with the theory but how do we get to this place in our society and within our educational system? Are all children able, first of all, to get to a place of competence, autonomy and relatedness, let alone be motivated, productive and happy? Can you transcend your environment? How do we provide an environment that is equitable for all and transcends socioeconomic and cultural bias? We need to create an environment where children come to school with their basic needs met so they can truly learn and be creative--I am not sure that our current social/business/educational systems can easily adapt to this challenge. Leaves me with more questions than answers.

  2. Valentyna Banner
    San Diego Global Vision Academy
    Nonfiction Mentor Texts

    “We know that students become better writers of nonfiction because they try out new things and take responsible risks (try out or imitate the writing techniques in mentor texts that they are capable of doing with a little practice and guidance). It is only through risk taking and experimentation that our writers will continue to grow and become better writers tomorrow than they are today.”
    Page 5

    This quote pushes me to have the courage to explore the sometimes uncomfortable world of nonfiction. As the text later states, most of the reading and writing that we do as adults is nonfiction. Creating and implementing nonfiction writing lessons is a crucial element of every teacher’s curriculum. However uncomfortable and uncertain I feel, I have to engage my students in nonfiction writing. As an educator experimenting with teaching nonfiction and as a student experimenting with writing nonfiction, we learn and grow together.

    Thankfully Nonfiction Mentor Texts offers at least four different nonfiction lessons at the end of each chapter and countless nonfiction mentor text titles.

  3. Janis Jones
    Del Rio Elementary School, Oceanside
    Nonfiction Mentor Text

    “As writing teachers, we quickly move our students away form bed-to-bed narratives to more focused stories that will include the rich details unfocused stories don’t include. And yet, we often continue to assign broad topics that are beyond the scope of the nonfiction writer. These assignments can lead to writing that lacks intensity and specificity. Just as when they write a narrative, students must learn to wrap their arms around a topic.” (p. 16)

    This quote resonates with me because I realize how closely it reflects my own teaching. In the past, I have targeted the elimination of “bed-to-bed” stories—teaching students how to capture a moment and expand it in their narratives. However, I have been guilty of assigning very broad, unfocused nonfiction topics and have gone on to provide little instruction on how to zero in and develop their nonfiction writing.

    Inspired by our text, I have asked my students to create individual “expert lists” (p. 16-17). They brainstormed their areas of expertise, and they actually surprised themselves with the wealth of knowledge they have on a multitude of topics. However, most of their ideas remain very broad. Skateboarding, video games and pet dogs were repeated often. The next step is to ask the students to choose one of their more interesting and unique areas of expertise and have them to break it down into smaller parts in order to find a way to focus their research. Keep your fingers crossed for me. On Saturday, I will let you know if we had any success.

  4. Tyna, I agree! It wasn't until I began teaching non-fiction writing to my students, that I was less afraid to teach writing period. This content area is so messy and hard to manage at first. Overtime, mentor texts have served as my savior when it comes to any genre of writing. Being in a new grade level, I don't know what I would do without mentor texts. Yikes!

  5. Christine Kane
    San Diego Global Vision Academy (4th Grade)
    iWrite: Using Blogs, Wikis and Digital Stories

    Quote from Page 49:
    Perhaps the most powerful use of a blog is in developing a student's own voice as a writer and thinker. Because blogs are best known as vehicles for a writer to publish his or her thoughts to the world, they allow students to safely learn to think through writing in a way that is public yet part of a learning community- individual yet shared, solo yet interactive....If you make blogging a part of the school routine, you can build on the natural motivation of adolescents to write in order to make sense of their world while helping them develop the practices of reading and writing more deeply and critically.

    Since I have introduced our classroom blog into our literacy centers my fourth graders are more visibly and audibly excited to publish their thoughts for others to read. When they are commenting on content that we've covered in class they have an opportunity to instantaneously see their work validated by being "published" for our classroom community. Many of students have also asked their parents to look at their post at home since our classroom blog is linked to our school's website which widens our potential audience in a safe way.

    I've also noticed that the majority of my students read other students comments before they post their own thoughts. When I've asked them why they choose to read their peers comments before writing their own post they've stated that sometimes they want to get ideas for their posts and other times they are just curious about what other students are thinking and writing. Using a classroom blog has nurtured more natural curiosity about wanting to read their peers writing then when we are writing drafts or brainstorming on paper which seems more solitary.

    Now I'm wondering how their use of the classroom blog (purpose & interest level) will vary over the course of this year and if other teachers in different grade levels (lower elementary, secondary etc.) have similar or different experiences using classroom blogs?

  6. Kendra Madden, SDEMC High School, Nonfiction Mentor Texts:

    What is really resonating for me right now is not a quote from the text, but an idea from Chapter 3 that I am still trying to navigate. I've been finding from my own Mentor Text work that what it really facilitates is descriptive writing and language conventions, but I'm struggling with how to transition from these into expository writing instruction. Even in Chapter 4, the focus is on the more descriptive or creative side of expository writing, the introduction (ledes) and conclusions. I'm sure the book will move into the "meat" of expository texts, but for now, I'm experiencing a break between mentor text writing instruction and academic writing instruction. I get that it doesn't have to be fiction in order to be poetic, but how do we use these same methods to teach students how to write a strong thesis statement? I guess my real struggle is feeling that the traditional essay assignment, given in high school and college, is not the appropriate medium for "real" writing. The articles I use with my students don't often have an explicit thesis statement! I'm afraid to toss out The Essay as a writing assignment, however, since students will need it for college... Issues!

  7. Kendra--

    Your comments and questions on the blog made me think of an essay that Shannon Falkner just forwarded to me. I tried to post it to the blog for you (and others) to read and think about as it applies to school-based writing instruction, but it was too long. But I just googled it--and here's the link: I think it's worth some discussion!


  8. Elizabeth Lonnecker
    San Diego High School-Scitech

    "We have to teach writing in a way that makes use of the new tools that effectively scaffold writing, and yet not adopt every kind of technology just because it exists. We need to update the reading and writing process model to incorporate useful technologies. And, perhaps most important, we need to be familiar with these tools ourselves." (p.11)

    This quote resonated with me because it reminded me to be mindful and discerning with technology, and to not feel like "it counts" just because I am using it in an activity. I have to be as reflective and purposeful with technology as I do with any other classroom activity. I guess that that sounds obvious, but I just got my Promethean board last week and simply being able to effectively use it seems like it will be an accomplishment for me. Learning how to use all the new technology is going to a big task in and of itself, but it doesn't make any difference unless it is purposeful.

    I really appreciate reading this book- it is helping me feel less intimidated by technology-and incorporating it into my classroom seems much less daunting. I feel like I have a new perspective of how technology expands things- it isn't just about adding technology to literacy, but looking at how technology can expand our thinking and vision. It is a whole new dimension.

  9. Demi Sakadelis, Integrity Charter School
    Nonfiction Mentor Texts

    p. 37 "Without sufficient detail, my students tend to write paragraphs that may have an impressively relaxed tone, but that lack force, or memorability, because there's nothing to sink one's teeth into as a reader."

    This describes what I face every year as a teacher. Reading this chapter helped me realize some great ways that I can guide my students in writing with rich details. The chapter also discussed that students will have a hard time writing with details and power if they are not familiar enough with the topic. I realized that when my students were limited to researching their topics on the internet, too many of the sources they found were at a reading level they could not comprehend. Rather, using a wide range of books relating to the topic, will more likely provide students with the knowledge they need to create nonfiction texts that dance with details and leave the reader with something to sink their teeth into.

  10. Laura Smart
    San Diego Global Vision Academy
    In Pictures & In Words

    "Teaching into illustrations asks teachers to understand that when children illustrate, they prewrite (or predraw), draft, revise, and edit, just as they do when they write, and to value this process equally in this parallel context." (p. 16).

    This book has given me a whole new perspective on allowing children "time to draw". It has showed me how drawing helps student make sense of their thoughts and ideas, which often leads them to include richer details and description in their writing. I am a huge fan of mentor texts and I am now starting to see how teaching my students to "Read Like Illustrators" can also be an effective technique to help students build on their writing skills, especially when it comes to purpose, intent, and description.

  11. Alicia Sandoval
    Escuela de Inmersión en Español Longfellow
    p. 49
    "Perhaps the most powerful use of a blog is in developing a student's own voice as a writer and thinker. Because blogs are best known as vehicles for a writer to publish his or her thoughts to the world, they allow students to safely learn to think through writing in a way that is public yet part of a learning community--individual yet shared, solo yet interactive."

    As I begin to leave my comfort zone and take a shot at creating a blog on Don Quijote de la Mancha for my 8th grade Spanish class, I think of how my students will have a place to express their thoughts on the novel in a safe environment. In class, we are currently reading the novel (abridged version for intermediate level Spanish speakers: "Mi Primer Quijote"). During and after each day's reading, I lead the discussions and many times I confess I am the one doing most of the talking. I want to see what happens when I open up the discussion in a blog. What else are my students thinking? What are they not sharing in class? How will this interactive space change the way we "read" Don Quijote and understand the themes, the characters' intricacies, ?

  12. Lauren Wilensky
    San Diego Met Middle College High School (9th grade)

    Quote page 43
    If you want to have an avenue for students to write and publish their thinking, create a writing community around particular ideas, learn to comment and critique each other's world, and reflect on their growth over time a blog may be the perfect choice.

    This sums up all the reasons why I am trying to use a class blog in my classroom. I wanted to build on the technology they already use (although this is for many of them the first time they have used a blog)
    and connect to creating a culture of critique in the class. It is an informal way to get students talking about critical issues relevant to their lives and it gives all students a voice; quiet and the talkers. I am impressed with how blogging teaches listening- that they read each other's comments in preparation for their own. The students who generally fall behind in their writing always have something to say on the blog. I am trying to figure out how to give the students even more of a voice on the blog. I am also thinking about getting parents involved in creating and maintaining a class news blog.

  13. Ver0nica Welch
    Nubia Leadership Academy
    In Pictures and In Words
    Katie Wood Ray

    Children need to know that if they can imagine it, they can try it- and trying is what will be celebrated. (50)

    I am big on really getting my students to try new things and experiment, not only in their writing and illustration, but also in other subject areas. I really aim to steer them away from a neat cookie cutter product. It is the experimenting and differences in product that generate more creativity in my classroom. It's like when students ask how many sentences and I say "I don't know how ever many it takes to get a clear message across." It is the differences in outcomes that bring the biggest gains. I want my student to learn that not everything has to be done the same way!