In our final webinar for the 2020/2021 school year, CRWP’s teacher consultant, former MCTE President, and author, Andy Schoenborn (@aschoenborn), talked about teaching poetry in both virtual and face to face settings. He invited us to consider how poetry is not necessarily a therapy, but it is therapeutic.
In this webinar, Schoenborn blended writing opportunities for participants to build an understanding of the power of poetry in our writing lives as well as our students. He also talked about the importance of making sure there are spaces between all the things we have to do in our English classrooms to allow the sparks of student creativity and writing to become a flame… and not be snuffed out or smothered.
Then, Andy talked about what a week in his classroom looks like and how he makes “spaces between the logs” of the fire to keep the spark of student creativity going. In addition to explaining how he provides students time and space for poetry writing, Schoenborn discussed what he has students do with their writing. Andy illustrated how he has students dig deeper into meaningful metacognitive conversations where they talk about their own writerly decisions and voices.
Andy also discussed the importance of sharing. Not only having students sharing their writing with each other, but the idea that we — as teacher-writers — share our own writing with students and share in those moments of vulnerability with them. He talked about how, despite the differences in your students and their backgrounds, there is poetry that will resonate with them. Schoenborn encouraged all of us to give poetry in our classroom a chance and give the opportunity for our students to experience the magic of words.
Towards the conclusion of the webinar, Andy gave us a strategy to use both with ourselves and with our students to help them “find the poem within themselves.” It’s a strategy any educator could take into one’s classroom tomorrow and use as “space between the logs” for sparks of student creativity as we finish out our school year.
Andy’s grand finale to our series this year is a webinar you don’t want to miss!
In our March webinar, CRWP’s director, Dr. Troy Hicks (@hiskstro) and one of our teacher consultants Jeremy Hyler (@Jeremybballer) discuss cross-curricular literacy and connect writing in science and English.
They began by telling us about some of the work they have done on Beaver Island with other science and English teachers. This work allows science and ELA teachers to develop a cross curricular set of lessons or a unit that can be brought back into their classrooms. While they won’t be able to due another institute this summer, the next proposed Beaver Island Institute will be in 2022.
Jeremy began by discussing how he introduces infographics in the classroom. He argues that creating infographics allows students to build on their writing abilities and give them more writing opportunities. Infographics provide them with opportunities to use, analyze, and synthesis data. Jeremy explains that infographics can be used as both formative and summative assessments as well as access student’s creative abilities.
Jeremy walked us through how he introduces infographics to his middle school students by involving them in a discussion of a USDA infographic. Jeremy modeled how discussions in both a traditional classroom might work as well as how to do it in a virtual setting. He explains how the transition looks in his classroom from just looking at infographics to how he begins to get students to create their own infographics. He then shared Canva, Piktochart, and Infogram, which are online softwares he has students create their infographics on. All of these softwares have free possibilities you can use in your own classes. Jeremy also discussed how he assesses students’ infographics and how they evolve over the course of the year and provided a possible rubric that can be adapted for classrooms.
Next, Jeremy explained why science notebooks are powerful tools for vital parts of a science classroom such as making observations, recording data, brainstorming for experiments, and to record notes. He discussed both paper and digital possibilities. He also discussed how he does digital science notebooks this year and shared a template for these notebooks. You can also see the webinar our TC Becky did where she presented digital notebooks more in depth.
Then, Troy wrapped up our webinar by introducing us to Create Creative Non-Fiction and how it can be used in the classroom. Troy walked us through the ways that we can teach students to analyze non-fiction writing and then how we can have students create creative non-fiction. His discussion of creative nonfiction showed not only how it can be more engaging for the reader as well as a powerful and challenging writing experience. With the shared GDoc above, Troy provided us with a template to help writers play with the style of Creative Nonfiction and get students started on a path to writing into a more technical style.
Both teachers used Adichie’s TED Talk to discuss race, culture, and identify. Ana and Angela had their students collaborate and did a shared discussion using Flipgrid with their two classrooms. Angela teaches 8th grade and Ana teaches community college. Both teachers discussed the enjoyment they had working with each other and how much it pushed them to further develop their unit. Ana and Angela also discussed the engagement and growth they saw from their students during this project.
Ana and Angela shared about the pre-work they had done for this unit in order to respect student privacy, gain parent permissions, and teach digital citizenship for this project. An additional, intentional choice both teachers had in place was that they previewed all student videos before they became live, using moderation features on Flipgrid. Both educators discussed the importance of this work for allowing both sets of their students to have a real and authentic audience using technology.
They also discussed the importance of allowing students to guide the discussion and giving open-ended questions, as well as choice who they talked to. Ana’s college students could choose to talk to one of their classmates, or an 8th grader. Both educators remarked about how eye-opening this was to bring new voices and ideas in their classroom. Angela’s students were encouraged to see they were learning some of the things that people in college were, too, and to see more diversity. Moreover, Ana’s students were thrilled to get the chance to discuss and learn from the experiences of younger students as well as to mentor them.
Finally, Ana and Angela discussed reflections and ideas for future attempts at doing this unit. They want to do this type of unit again, and there were insights that they shared with us for educators who are considering doing something similar in their own classroom. They shared the joy of a collaborative process, the value of involving your administration in the process, and the importance of careful and intentional planning. They also shared the idea that though this is difficult at times it’s an important and necessary work.
Here are the slides that Angela and Ana shared with us about their collaborative work.