Ask, Explore Write – Session #7 of the CRWP 2020-21 Webinar Series

Ask Explore Write Cover Slide

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.


We welcome you to sign up for future webinar sessions and we invite you to follow CRWP on Facebook or on Twitter: @chippewariverwp.

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Learn with National Writing Projects of Michigan this Summer!

NWPM Summer 2021 Screenshot

Join us in the Summer of 2021 for Youth Camps and Professional Development Events

With the summer months nearing, National Writing Project sites across Michigan are sharing their upcoming youth camps and professional development events.

Please use the calendars below to find dates, times, and links to registration pages for various sessions from multiple NWP sites, or copy and paste these short links!

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Diverse Texts in the Classroom – Session #6 of the CRWP 2020-21 Webinar Series

Diverse Texts in the Classroom Cover Slide

In our February webinar, two of our teacher consultants Ana Contreras (@AnaContrerasENG) of Harper College and Angela Berent (@a_berent) of Grass Lake Public Schools presented an experience they had sharing diverse texts and doing social justice units in their classroom. Both teachers were inspired by reading Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain by Zarretta Hammond and discussed how they used “The Danger of A Single Story” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in their classroom. 

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. 

We welcome you to sign up for future webinar sessions and we invite you to follow CRWP on Facebook or on Twitter: @chippewariverwp.

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Digital Writers’ Notebooks – Session #5 of the CRWP 2020-21 Webinar Series

Digital Writer's Notebook Cover Slide - CRWP 2020_2021 Webinar Series

In our January webinar, Chippewa River Writing Project teacher consultant and Springport High School teacher Becky Schwartz (@RSchwartz702) shared her feelings about moving into remote and hybrid learning, and one key adaptation that she made: a digital writer’s notebook for her writers. Weaving in some Pear Deck interactivity to her session, Becky then provided a deeper dive into a lesson using George Ella Lyon’s “Where I’m From” poem.

Inviting us to make a copy of her digital writer’s notebook template, then led us through a process of crafting our own “Where I’m From” poem. Reminding us that students appreciate her sharing some personal stories of her own in her own poem, Becky helped us see the ways that students could begin with a brainstormed list of memories, then invite students to highlight and categorize them, ultimately moving their words into stanzas and creating their own poem. 

As an extension, Becky described the ways that she has students take their initial version of the “Where I’m From” poem and added media elements in the slide deck. From there, she teaches students how to use audio and screen recording tools to create an audio and/or video version of their poems. By moving students through this scaffolded process, she is able to have students share their voices in a meaningful manner. Moreover, we need to take some time to listen, and to ask them what they might need. 

Finally, we share Becky’s presentation slides and digital writer’s notebook. She reminded us, too, than even our screen-savvy students are sometimes a little hesitant to try out new technologies. Providing them with time and space to play with poetry — and technology — can be a powerful opportunity for literacy learning. 

We welcome you to sign up for future webinar sessions and to join us for our mini-virtual conference on Saturday, January 30th, “Teaching Remotely without Being Distant.” And, we invite you to follow CRWP on Facebook or on Twitter: @chippewariverwp.

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