Blogging in the Classroom

In my Education English class today one teacher-to-be brought up the discussion of using blogs in a high school classroom. She was talking about how we need to teach students what to post on the internet. This would be a step to teach students that they need to be aware of what they are posting on the internet. And that whatever they choose to post could affect them if future employees are looking for them. They need to be aware of what they are posting on the internet — especially on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.

Blogging is a great way to incorporate internet and get students thinking about their image in the online world. Instead of writing in a journal, they could blog.

One disadvantage to having students blog would be for some homes that don’t have the money for internet or computers/laptops. In my internship, I had a student in grade 10 who had a phone but it didn’t have data on it so he could only connect to WIFI. I’m not sure if he had internet at home but if I would have incorporated daily blogging into the class, he would have fallen behind if I didn’t give him class time.

However, I think if it’s possible, blogging should be incorporated into a high school classroom — especially English. I think it would be a great tool to utilize if you are able to as a teacher. You could give students topics to write about just like we’ve had in my ECMP 355 class this semester.

Table for One – FanFic Assignment

“Table for one, please.” He says in a crowded Saturday morning where all the hungover kids scarf down their breakfast in an attempt to calm their stomachs.

Kevin Reowl’s six foot frame follows the waitress to the table and slides into the seat and stares at the other chair across from him. She hands him the menu and places a neatly wrapped fork, spoon, and knife beside him. “Anything to drink?”

“Water for now.” He says and opens his menu, green eyes lazily scanning the pages. He hated waffles and eggs and skillets. He just liked bacon and the odd orange juice. He’s kept one ear piece in and the other dangles around his neck. He’s supposed to, though. That was the plan. Go in, scope it out, and leave.

Kevin Reowl takes his position seriously. He works for someone who knows exactly when targets will be arriving at certain places. Then he’s sent out. Soon, she’ll arrive and the waitress has placed him in the exact spot he needed to be. Of course, the Boss knew that, too. He set an elbow on the table and rested his jaw in it, fingers brushing his short, curly, brown hair. He enjoyed sitting alone on missions like these. He was able to have some alone time to himself and think about his life.

He ended up with this position when a good looking woman entered his life and told him that he would be perfect. He must have looked confused. Perfect for what? Marriage? A doctor? An all-star quarterback?

Nope. An spy.

And so here he was sitting in a restaurant waiting for the next target to come into play so he could get the details he needed and leave abruptly. Maybe he would buy an orange juice. if the waitress ever came back with the water.

Whatever. He wouldn’t care either way. it was just something to make people think he wasn’t a creep or something.

Kevin heard her voice and his looked up above his menu. He glanced down at his watch and nodded. Right on time. Now he could finally complete this.

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There’s a short answer to that assignment for DS106: http://assignments.ds106.us/assignments/creating-your-own-character/. I could go on for a lot longer but I believe I covered the majority of the criteria of the assignment. I really enjoyed this little assignment. This prompt came from actually hearing a guy ask for a table for one. I found it very interesting and decided to write about it here. Any feedback would be great on it. Can you tell I’m an English major? This might actually spin into a longer story for another class of mine.

Something like this I will definitely do in an ELA classroom of mine. I would love to tell students to just listen to conversations around them and something might spark a story. I’ve had this happen to me several times. Just seeing what a person looked like had a story spinning in my mind and I ended up writing it.

Writing about a character’s likes, dislikes, appearance, backstory, personality, and what their place is like in their world is definitely a great place to start for a character. If I were to continue this story I would add in more details about him but this will suffice for now. Again, an assignment like this is a great way to get students thinking about characters for stories.

Another great place would be to ask students to think up questions they would like to ask a character who lives in their mind. Tell them to think up ten questions and not just basic “What’s your favourite colour” ones, either. I’ve also had to do that for a creative writing class this semester.

Overall, I love writing exercises so whenever I get the chance to do them, I’ll do them. I’ll definitely continue writing some DS106 Fanfic or Writing assignments.

 

What’s in a Name?

My first name, Helyn, is a different version from my grandma’s name, Helen. My parents thought it was a beautiful name (and yes, I think it is) but it has created some irritation with me over the years. Why? Well, both ways are not pronounced the same. Ah ha! Yes, that’s the trick. You might think it’s like Helen but no. It’s actually, “Hel-lyn”, if you will. Just think of “Lynn”. Close enough.

I’m becoming more amused when I tell people my name and it takes them several times to find the right pronunciation. I still have some friends who pronounce it wrong. I’ve received all sorts of name variations from “Helain,” to “Helene” (a French version).

And then there’s the spelling of my name. I would say my name over the phone of for another person and they would stare at me with a blank stare, “Um, what?” Really, though, it’s not that hard to spell. H-E-L-Y-N. One time I had someone who put an “i” where the “y” is supposed to go. Close, but not quite.

When I’ve gone on first dates I usually ask them how to pronounce my name. I’ve become more amused with it over the years as they try to look like they know how it’s pronounced. But they usually get it wrong.

Anybody else have funky name problems? I could tell you about my long last name and the spelling of that but that might be for another post.

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This was an assignment for the DS106 (Digital Storytelling) assignment in Writing. http://assignments.ds106.us/assignments/whats-in-a-name/

It is a really simple assignment that can be used in the classroom as an ice breaker for students. It’s a great way to let them write about themselves and talk about their name and the experiences they’ve had with it. As I kept writing the ideas and stories just kept flowing. This would work really well for a high school ELA classroom and would work well for a prompt to a character — the students could write about a certain character’s name and see what type of story comes from just doing that.

Internship – 1st post

September 16, 2013. 

 

I am in a small school – K-12 and 180 students — for my internship. Instead of being in a high school classroom, I’m in a Grade 6/7 class. At first, I was disappointed to hear that because high school English is my specialty. However, once I entered the classroom on the first day of school, I began to enjoy the students. They were so ambitious and fun to be around that I immediately felt at home with them. 

I taught my first drama lesson not long after that and it went completely wrong. I took the students to a different classroom where there was lots of space and they were crazy. The boys in the class didn’t want to pay attention to my lesson so I didn’t get much done. I had to do some scolding and be rather firm throughout the entire lesson. After speaking with my co-op, she said that we will try it again tomorrow. 

I took a different approach and re-did the entire lesson. We stayed in the same classroom and I was firm from the beginning of the lesson and carried it through. It went over extremely well. My co-op and I took them outside because they had to present their tableaux. 

The days that followed that lesson I had some of the students asking me if we were going to do another drama lesson so that made me feel great about the lesson. 

The next week, I worked with the grade 10s and ran a lesson with them on short-short stories. I had so much fun working with them and getting to know them. We began to develop longer stories based off of the short-short stories. 

The internship seminar was just last week so my co-op and I went to it. I enjoyed hanging out with her and getting to know her. The seminar was a wonderful experience. 

Today, I really took over my first class — ELA 6/7. I had my lesson plan figured out and my target sheet ready (my target was about making sure that the students were on task. I also developed a unit plan for the 6 and 7s and figured out the outcomes for each. When I taught the lesson, I had to go back and forth between the two grades — get one grade started on something and then go to the other and get them working on something. the 6s began a suspense unit while the 7s worked on a media/communications unit. It was very interesting to have to plan it out so that each time I went back to the grades, they had something to work on. 

When I spoke to my co-op afterwards, she said that the lesson went over really well and she enjoyed the content that I had presented to the class. I got through all my material for the 7s but for the 6s I didn’t get quite as much done as I had hoped. That was okay, though, because for tomorrow’s lesson that’s where I will pick up – the 7s will have time to do a mini project and the 6s will begin reading a story on suspense. 

So far, great time teaching the 6/7s! I am already learning lots. More ideas to come! 

Final Thoughts

I wanted to write another post to finish up anything major that happened during my last week of pre-internship. 

On Thursday, I had one lady who thought I was a student. I was with the drama 10 class and they had to  go to the computer and do a survey on technology. The lady who was running the survey online looked at me and asked, “So are you not doing this? Do you need a computer?” I was a little bit shocked because I was wearing a high-waisted skirt and heels and I thought I looked fairly professional. I did find it a bit funny, though, because I guess it means I still I look young!

On the same day, I gave students a choice in period four! They were finishing up an assignment and by the end I went around to a couple of students who I knew were not finished the assignment and said, “You can either hand something in now, not hand anything in, or email your main teacher by tonight with the assignment and then she can pass it on to me.” Some of the students knew what they were going to do right away and so most of them handed in what they had finished. 

In that same English A10 class, this one student kept getting distracted by his two friends. This final class, I went up to him and said that maybe he should think about moving to a different location to work alone — like the front of the room. He agreed. When I spoke to my co-op about this, she said that he knows that he needs to work by himself and sometimes he will take initiative and move himself. I said that we should have moved him from the beginning but she said that we shouldn’t always baby them because they need to learn themselves. I did agree with her. 

Overall, a great experience! I really enjoyed it and my co-op was fantastic. My adviser was also fabulous!! I really enjoyed the school and getting to know my students. They were a lot of fun and I would definitely go back to that school. 

 

Almost Finished!

I cannot believe how time has flown! Here is an event that happened in today’s class. 

Last Friday, my co-op told me that I needed to work on being stern. So today I had to bring out the stern.

In period four, I was the only one teaching because my partner had to teach Art. My co-op was in the room but I basically took over and ran the show. It was a work period for the A10s and most of them were actually being productive. I allowed three boys to go and use two computers since they were doing the same Disney show, Hercules. I asked two of the boys who were sharing the same computer again and again to focus on Hercules but they kept going onto YouTube and Facebook. Finally, I asked a third time and they ignored me so I leaned over and said, “Alright, if you aren’t going to focus on Hercules then you don’t need to be on the computer,” and I shut it off on them.

            After they sat there in stunned silence for a moment, they began to talk about Hercules. The third boy who had a computer to himself closed all his YouTube tabs and began researching Hercules.

            I believe I needed to give them that extra firmness because I was being too soft with them in the previous lessons. They wanted to see how far they could push and they finally reached my limit.

            I talked to my co-op teacher afterwards and she agreed that I did the right thing with them. Then she showed me a book that talked about giving students choice and motivating the unmotivated students. I agree that giving students choice is a good idea to do especially when it comes to assignments. This book, however, talked about giving students choice in what you ask them to do. It could be simple things like: “Can I sharpen my pencil?” “If you can do so without disturbing the class. It’s your choice.” By saying something like that it allows them to have more freedom and to actually think about what they are asking. It gives the students more responsibility in their actions. For my situation, I could have told the students who were being disruptive and on YouTube, “You have two choices: You can either close YouTube or focus on your work or you can leave the computer. Your choice.” By saying this, they might have done the right move or it would have resulted in the action that I ended up taking.   

Pre-Internship Week 2

Wow! Two weeks done. I cannot believe how fast the time has gone. 

Monday: I had trouble starting a class discussion with the students. It was very weird. I had to really push and get them to finally start speaking somewhat. I taught my first drama lesson this day and I found it difficult because I have never taken a drama class nor have I learned much on how to teach Drama. Luckily for me, the Drama teacher at my school also teaches English so it’s nice having that connection between the two. Today my partner and I co-taught an English A10 class! I enjoyed it a lot and since it was a rowdier class, it was nice to have someone to help out. All this week we will be teaching together. 

Tuesday: This day was three-way conferences at the school. I was able to sit and listen to a few of them which was nice and interesting to hear. The conferences were more so teacher-led than student-led. 

Wednesday: My adviser was here today and I enjoyed speaking with him. He told me that when I have my own three-way conferences, I should have the parents sitting beside me instead of across the table. It’s nice to not have a barrier in the way of the conferences. When I taught today, I had students write down answers for some questions before we had a class discussion and that went a lot better. I was pleased because more students had something to say! 

Thursday: Thanks to my co-op teacher’s notes, I remembered to tell them what they should be finished by the end of the class and when the project is due. I continued my drama lesson and my English lesson. I also managed to snag some resources from my co-op! I went nuts with the photocopier. 

Friday: This day was interesting. I co-taught again with my partner and I found it somewhat difficult. We were handing out the assignment and I got the class to listen to her explain it. When she got to a certain point in it, I found the need to interrupt for a second to add in the examples that I had typed in. However, I should have waited until she was finished before adding in what I wanted to say. I suppose that I just became so comfortable with the students that I wanted to run everything, which isn’t what happens in co-teaching. It was my first week to teach together with someone so it was quite the experience. 

Overall, great second week! I’m learning more and more each day and my co-op’s notes are awesome because they help me improve. Onto week three for more learning opportunities!