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.
Congratulations to Becky Schwartz for being CRWP’s March Feature Spotlight! Please take a moment and read about Becky below.
I’ve been with CRWP since 2015 (6 years now) and I think probably the greatest experience I had was when I realized that none of the work that was done in our organization was a competition. It wasn’t about who is doing what better, whose been teaching longer, or who has a better position. It is about passionate people coming together and sharing what they do, but also wanting to learn from others to keep striving towards excellence for the students in their classroom.
I can’t pick just one thing that is my favorite part about teaching writing. Its probably a tie between creating interesting and engaging low stakes writing activities and circumstances that help push my students towards the bigger writing tasks and success and getting to understand who my students are as writers. I love having those writing conferences were you can ask students about the moves and choices they make in their own writing and they explain what is going on in their brain. It blows me away.
The Quick Reference Guide I wrote with other teacher consultants in CRWP is the most recent thing I’ve published. It means a lot to me because I really enjoyed the creative working process the group of us went through in writing this and its a culmination of a lot of the aspects about teaching writing that I believe teachers can use.
One of the books that I’ve read in the last few years that always sticks out in my mind is Beartown by Fredrik Backman. One of the things I love about reading are the characters that captivate and draw me in. Every one of the characters in this book drew me in for many reasons. The dueling perspectives the author puts back to back in the text forced me to see the issues in totally new perspectives, sometimes within pages of each other. Also, I really really dislike most sports and this book is based around hockey and it managed to grab my attention in a way no other book that is based around sports has. I read those types of books so I can talk to the teenage boys in my classroom, and because I enjoy them. I felt like I couldn’t come up for air until I finished this book.
Time and experience are two words I would give to new teachers. This is a maddening expression my mentor teacher used to tell me when I often asked questions. I used to be really frustrated in my first two years of teaching and I didn’t have the exact right answer, the right technique, or the right idea for the current challenge I was facing. I didn’t realize there is never going to be the perfect answer ever and that part of the reason master educators are educators because they have just had time to master their crafts and experience. Trust the process, you’ll get there. I still kind of dislike admitting how right she was about that piece of advice.
Becky has been a teacher for 7 years and currently teaches at Springport High School in Springport Public Schools in Michigan. You can follow Becky on Twitter: @RSchwartz702 .