Tag Archives: CCSS

All these Wonders: Teaching Storytelling with The Moth

Today I had the privilege of attending a storytelling workshop presented by NCTE and The Moth, at Penguin Random House Books in New York City. The Moth Radio Hour, produced by Jay Allison at Atlantic Public Media and presented by PRX, highlights personal narratives and storytelling of ordinary people. In addition to listening to the Moth Radio Hour, there is a Podcast and published collections of the stories told.

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Today’s workshop, lead by The Moth Education Program, provides a framework for eliciting stories and personal narrative with students. There was a lot of talking and interacting before we even started to write. The first hour was spent meeting people and developing possible seed ideas where stories might be hiding. The first introduction required participants to complete the sentence, “I’m the kind of person who . . .”

There was lots of oral drafting before we ever put pen to paper, and this might be a great entry way for the reluctant writer/student who is more willing to try adding to or subtracting from their stories than when they physically write a draft. As teacher Tara Zinger and moth curriculum partner states, “Hearing a laugh or a gasp from a peer can be just what a student needs to know they are on the right track, and that just doesn’t happen as easily with a more traditional writing process.”

Presenter and The Moth Storyteller, Micaela Blei shares five techniques of storytelling and what makes a story compelling?

Change – Change is what separated a story from an anecdote. From the beginning to the end of the story, you’re somehow a different person, even if in a small way.

Stakes – We like to define stakes as what you have to win or lose in the story. Or, alternatively, what MATTERED to you?

Themes – Choosing a theme can help a storyteller decide how to shape this particular story. Deciding what thread or theme you want to draw out for this particular 5-minute version can help you make critical choices of details that pertain.

Show Us vs. Tell – A story is most effective when you have at least one really vivid scene: with sensory details, action, dialogue, and inter thoughts/feelings.

Be Honest/Be Real – There’s no one right way to tell a story. Be yourself.

The Moth stories online and in the published books are great for studying author’s craft and the craft of storytelling. This helps to meet the standards for Craft and Structure:

CCSS ELA Literacy. RL. 11-12.4 – Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in the text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone, including words with multiple meanings or language that is particularly fresh, engaging, or beautiful. (Include Shakespeare as well as other authors.)

CCSS ELA Literacy.RL.11-12.5 – Analyze how an author’s choices concerning how to structure specific parts of a text (e.g., the choice of where to begin or end a story, the choice to provide a comedic or tragic resolution) contribute to its overall structure and meaning as well as its aesthetic impact.

After analyzing the stories, students can use these same stories as models and mentors for their own personal narrative writing and storytelling. To get started, try out one of these Moth-style story prompts:

A time you did something you never thought you would do.

A time your relationship with someone your love changed – a little or a lot.

A time that you took a risk – or decided NOT to take the risk.

A time you tried to be something your weren’t.

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Speak Up: 12 Informative Speech Ideas to Promote Speaking and Listening in the Classroom

Speaking and Listening is part of the Common Core and starting by the first grade, “students are expected to know and be able to do the following during small- and whole-group discussions: follow participation rules, build on others’ comments, and ask clarifying questions.” By middle and high school the conversations and group work is more demanding. Speaking and listening must go beyond the “turn and talk” or “think pair share” opportunities we offer students during class activities. Students must also be able to present information to small groups and large audiences. Students can utilize technology and podcast or video their presentations too.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.8.4

Present claims and findings, emphasizing salient points in a focused, coherent manner with relevant evidence, sound valid reasoning, and well-chosen details; use appropriate eye contact, adequate volume, and clear pronunciation.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.8.5

Integrate multimedia and visual displays into presentations to clarify information, strengthen claims and evidence, and add interest.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.8.6

Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and tasks, demonstrating command of formal English when indicated or appropriate.

http://www.corestandards.org/ELA-Literacy/SL/8/

One of my most popular blog posts is 50 persuasive speech and debate topics. I wanted to come back to this topic of speech and debate topics to catalogue informative speech topics that students can complete to practice speaking and build their communication skills.  Below are 12 different informative speech topics that creatively tap into research, writing, speaking and listening skills.

  1. The Letter Lecture – Students take turns “lecturing” to the class by reciting the alphabet or counting to fifty. Without having to think about what you are saying, you can concentrate on making eye contact, gesturing for emphasis, and other elements of great speakers. When lecturing students can put inflection on the letters or numbers as though they are really saying something, and meeting each classmate’s eyes at least once. This activity is more to help students understand inflection, emphasis, tone and volume, rather than focusing on a specific topic.
  2. Create an Imaginary or Mythical Creature – Describe the following: What does it look like (size, fur, scales, nose, claws, color, tail)? Is it a mammal, reptile, amphibian, marsupial, alien? What does it eat? What eats it? Why kind of habitat does it live in? Does it make a sound? What survival characteristics does it have (flies, swaims, runs, digs, camouflages, flights)? Present an informative speech on the creature.
  3. Splendorous Persons Award – We have all seen the award shows —  VMAs, the Oscars, the Tony’s, the Emmys, and the Grammys — the award shows that celebrate and highlight people’s achievements. Find someone in class and interview them in order to find out what makes them so splendorous – ask them about their achievements, strengths, and what makes them unique, why they deserve this award. Write a short speech to introduce and present the award (think lifetime achievement awards) to the recipient. As the recipient, you also need to come up with your thank you speech. Who are you going to thank and why? What lasting words do you want to leave your audience with?
  4. Personal Icon Presentation – Students are to build a visual representation of themselves (a personal icon). Students can use their icons to share as much or as little about themselves they are comfortable with using any objects, scale models, photos, memorabilia, drawings, jewelry, cut-outs, or collections that they choose (Do not include names or photographs that would identify you to the rest of the class.) This can be a collage, a grouping of found objects, a piece of artwork, your imagination is limitless. Concentrate on the overall message about yourself that you would like to communicate through the choice of symbols.
  5. “I Have a Dream” Speech – In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. students come up with a topic for their own “I have a dream” speech. In the speech students can talk about a dream for yourself and/or the country. The dream can range from the simple to the grand. The speech should include what the dream in, why it is important to them personally, and one thing they can do to accomplish the dream.
  6. Speech of Introductions – Begin by identifying a major, defining characteristic of “you,” a personality characteristic or a value which you believe in very strongly. Then, write a “personal statement,” a statement that defines the essence or a defining characteristic of you. The personal statement must be a positive statement about yourself; it cannot include negative words. Your personal statement will serve as the central idea of your speech. Develop one or two examples to illustrate what you mean and how this is true. Make yourself and your speech interesting by beginning with a question or anecdote. Provide an initial summary of the three or four defining characteristics you have selected to communicate about yourself. Discuss each of the three or four characteristics, offering examples or explanation to illustrate why your characterization is appropriate. Conclude by summarizing the three characteristics.
  7. Best Selling Authors – Ask students to speak clearly and forcefully by organizing thoughts and using their imagination to create a believable monologue. Act as an expert author on one of these subjects: Alternative Housing: Living in Tree Houses, 1,000 Useful Items Made from Spaghetti, Alternative Transportation: Roman chariots and horses, The Joy of Being Invisible: A pill that works, Changing Lifestyles: Rent a Mom or Dad.
  8. Teacher Travel Agency – You have just been hired by the Teacher Travel Agency as a travel agent. It is your job to present an informative speech on a specific travel destination to the rest of the class. The goal is to inform future travelers about this destination and why it is worthwhile for them to visit. Remember to include information that will be helpful to prospective travelers: weather conditions in the country, passport regulations, interesting tourist attractions, things to do there, places to stay, and additional information that is necessary for planning a wonderful excursion.
  9. Legends – A legend is a person, group, movement, or event which has influenced the way we think, the way we perceive our world. It may reinforce values we already hold or it may force us to reexamine our current values and establish new values. For this speech, students will inform the audience about a legend that has significantly influenced our world and or community. Thus, the legend might be a person, group, movement or event which has influenced the fields of Education, Business, Science, Art or Music. Or the legend might be a person, group, movement or event which has influenced American culture – Barack Obama to Jimi Hendrix, MTV to Google, Hillary Clinton to Madonna. The goal is not to outline the life of a person, group, movement, or event – the goal is to tell the audience how the legend changed things forever.
  10. Willy Wonka – You have invented a new candy. A meeting has been arranged with the president of Nestle Candy Company, the largest candy company in the world. At the meeting you will have a chance to inform the corporate executives of your candy invention. Write an informative speech to present to the president of Nestle about your candy invention.
  11. News Reporting – This assignment gives students the opportunity to see what it would be like to work as a member of a news team. Students choose a popular topic today and prepare a news report based on research and interviews.
  12. The Pet Peeve Speech – Express your frustration and anger about something that upsets you – a pet peeve. For example, a person who constantly interrupts or someone who is always on their cell phone. Voice your anger and illustrate what about the occurrence gets you so upset. What can people do to stop this annoying habit?

Have additional speech ideas? Please share in the Comments section below.

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Close Reading, Common Core, and State Assessments

Douglas Fisher and Nancy Frey define three phases of close reading and the aligned Common Core Standards in their text, Text Dependent Questions: Pathways to Close and Critical Reading (Corwin, 2015):

I. What does the text say?

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.1
Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.2
Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.3
Analyze how and why individuals, events, or ideas develop and interact over the course of a text.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.10
Read and comprehend complex literary and informational texts independently and proficiently.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.8.1
Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.8.3
Use knowledge of language and its conventions when writing, speaking, reading, or listening.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.8.6
Acquire and use accurately grade-appropriate general academic and domain-specific words and phrases; gather vocabulary knowledge when considering a word or phrase important to comprehension or expression.

 

How does the text work?

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.4
Interpret words and phrases as they are used in a text, including determining technical, connotative, and figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word choices shape meaning or tone.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.5
Analyze the structure of texts, including how specific sentences, paragraphs, and larger portions of the text (e.g., a section, chapter, scene, or stanza) relate to each other and the whole.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.6
Assess how point of view or purpose shapes the content and style of a text.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.10
Read and comprehend complex literary and informational texts independently and proficiently.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.8.3
Use knowledge of language and its conventions when writing, speaking, reading, or listening.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.8.4
Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words or phrases based on grade 8 reading and content, choosing flexibly from a range of strategies.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.8.5
Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.8.6
Acquire and use accurately grade-appropriate general academic and domain-specific words and phrases; gather vocabulary knowledge when considering a word or phrase important to comprehension or expression.

What does the text mean?

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.7
Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.1
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.8
Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, including the validity of the reasoning as well as the relevance and sufficiency of the evidence.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.9
Analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.10
Read and comprehend complex literary and informational texts independently and proficiently.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.8.1
Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.8.3
Use knowledge of language and its conventions when writing, speaking, reading, or listening.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.8.6
Acquire and use accurately grade-appropriate general academic and domain-specific words and phrases; gather vocabulary knowledge when considering a word or phrase important to comprehension or expression.
If we look at the most recent test questions on the New York State Exam (ELA Grade 7), the questions asked on the reading comprehension section fit seamlessly into these three phases of close reading.
What does the text say?
What does _______ mainly represent to ______?
Which detail would be most important to include in a summary of the article?
Which line best reveals the change in attitude towards . . . ?
Which claim can be supported by evidence from the article?
Which evidence from the article best supports the author’s claims in these lines?
How does the text work?
What does the word ______ suggest about _______?
Why does the author most likely include lines X through X?
How do lines X most affect the meaning of the story?
Which quotation best supports the author’s claim?
How do lines X  through X develop the central idea of the article?
How des the setting affect the plot of the story?
How do lines X through X mostly contribute to the story? (By describing, revealing, suggesting, showing)
How does the author organize the ideas in the article? (By explaining, showing, relating, describing)
Why are lines X important to the article? (they explain, emphasize)
What does the text mean?
Which question best expresses a theme developed throughout the story?
Based on lines X, readers can conclude . . . ?
What is the main significance of the ______ in the story?
Which inference do these sentences best support?
What does the phrase _____ suggest?
These questions represent the New York State’s interpretation of the Common Core Standards and can be used to inform teachers and students of how the state portrays close reading. I am not going to address the ambiguity of many of the questions asked nor include the uninteresting reading passages that went along with the reading comprehension questions. Rather, I wanted to make public the questions that students are being asked on these standardized tests for teachers to utilize.
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All Depends On the Skin Your Living In: Building Text Sets & World Knowledge

This past March I attended the Long Island Language Arts Council Spring Conference and was able to sit in a great session on Writing About Reading. Kate Gerson, a senior Regents Research Fellow for Educator Engagement and the Common Core of NYSED,  presented the shifts in writing demanded by the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts/Literacy; specifically how the Common Core writing connects to volume of text read, knowledge about the world and knowledge of words.  She mentioned that writing equals expertise and expertise is informed by language (vocabulary) and knowledge. Vocabulary is built through a person’s knowledge of the world. The more a person knows about something, they can read about it, begin to make sense of it, and acquire knowledge and vocabulary about it.

Not knowing words on a page is debilitating and slows a reader down. For ELLs and students with disabilities this can be a even harder challenge. Thus, if we want students to be strong readers with world knowledge and robust vocabulary, teachers need to expose students to information about the world and have the language to discuss it that is accessible to our students diverse needs. Consuming information about the world works best in chunks. Language and vocabulary is acquired over time. A steady growth of knowledge comes with daily reading, writing, and speaking. Teachers can use text sets and build their own text sets that are accessible and consumable for their students. These text sets can also help build student knowledge about the world and expose them to rich information.

Here is a text set that I have started to compile on race and racism in connection with all the racially driven police brutality present in the news. The text set includes a music video, poetry, and a short film that can then be paired with current newspaper articles and young adult novels. The key is that I am continually build text sets around the literature my students are reading and additional domain knowledge.

Poem “BLINK YOUR EYES” by Sekou Sundiata

I was on my way to see my woman
but the Law said I was on my way
thru a red light red light red light
and if you saw my woman
you could understand,
I was just being a man.
It wasn’t about no light
it was about my ride
and if you saw my ride
you could dig that too, you dig?
Sunroof stereo radio black leather
bucket seats sit low you know,
the body’s cool, but the tires are worn.
Ride when the hard time come, ride
when they’re gone, in other words
the light was green.

I could wake up in the morning
without a warning
and my world could change:
blink your eyes.
All depends, all depends on the skin,
all depends on the skin you’re living in

Up to the window comes the Law
with his hand on his gun
what’s up? what’s happening?
I said I guess
that’s when I really broke the law.
He said a routine, step out the car
a routine, assume the position.
Put your hands up in the air
you know the routine, like you just don’t care.
License and registration.
Deep was the night and the light
from the North Star on the car door, deja vu
we’ve been through this before,
why did you stop me?
Somebody had to stop you.
I watch the news, you always lose.
You’re unreliable, that’s undeniable.
This is serious, you could be dangerous.

I could wake up in the morning
without a warning
and my world could change:
blink your eyes.
All depends, all depends on the skin,
all depends on the skin you’re living in

New York City, they got laws
can’t no bruthas drive outdoors,
in certain neighborhoods, on particular streets
near and around certain types of people.
They got laws.
All depends, all depends on the skin,
all depends on the skin you’re living in.

French Rapper Stromae’s Music Video “Papaoutai”

KWA HERI MANDIMA – Short French Film/Memoir (Can Connect with other texts related to Violence in Sudan & Rwanda such as Linda Sue Park’s Long Walk to Water)

New York Times Articles “Thoughts on Race in American, a Backdrop to Ferguson” by Nicholas Kristof 11/25/2014

“Is Everyone a Little Bit Racist” by Nicholas Kristof 8/27/2014

To find out more about the National Text Set Project or attend one of their training programs, check out their website.

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