I’m excited today to share Collaborize Classroom, one of my favorite online resources for students and teachers. Collaborize Classroom is an online discussion board that is safe, private, and geared especially toward secondary classrooms. I use this site to deepen classroom discussion, teach online communication skills, get my grading done faster, and ensure inclusive student participation. It is also a great way to improve student writing and brainstorm before essay assignments. This video blog will briefly describe setting up the site and feature my favorite parts of this system from a teacher perspective. If you have questions, or suggestions, we’d love to hear about them in the comment section below. Thanks!
I love teaching narrative writing to high school students! I get so busy emphasizing effective argumentation and exposition, that narrative writing always seems like a breath of fresh air and a chance for students to get creative! Here are my tips for teaching the common core narrative writing standards:
Know The Narrative Standards: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.3 Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structured event sequences.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.3a Engage and orient the reader by setting out a problem, situation, or observation, establishing one or multiple point(s) of view, and introducing a narrator and/or characters; create a smooth progression of experiences or events.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.3b Use narrative techniques, such as dialogue, pacing, description, reflection, and multiple plot lines, to develop experiences, events, and/or characters.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.3c Use a variety of techniques to sequence events so that they build on one another to create a coherent whole.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.3d Use precise words and phrases, telling details, and sensory language to convey a vivid picture of the experiences, events, setting, and/or characters.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.3e Provide a conclusion that follows from and reflects on what is experienced, observed, or resolved over the course of the narrative.
Teach Writing with Literature: Give students a concrete professional sample to study before they start writing to actively teach techniques like dialogue, sequencing, multiple plot lines, pacing, and the other standards. Here are some examples:
Read excerpts from Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift and teach students to write narrative satires, which critique current society in a meaningful and allegorical way. Teenagers are masters of satire if channeled properly.
Read “The Street of the Cañon” by Josephina Niggli and inspire students to write imaginary narratives that celebrate their culture.
Read “Earth on Turtle’s Back” or other origin myth and assign students to write their own narrative, explaining the origin of life, or natural phenomena.
Read “There Will Come Soft Rains” by Ray Bradbury and allow students to write narratives about what they think the future will look like.
Read excerpts from A Farewell to Manzanar Jean Wakatsuki Houston and James Houston.Have students write real narratives inspired by their own lives or family members’ lives.
Write Interdisciplinary Narratives: Connect with other disciplines to create meaningful narrative assessments. For example:
If your students are studying WWII in World History, have them write narratives from the trenches. They can be love stories, battle stories, tales of camaraderie, or so many other options to include the interests of all students. Be sure they include accurate historical information gleaned from their class.
If your students are studying the Gold Rush in US History, teach them to write imaginary narratives of failure or success in the Gold Rush.
If your students are studying about the laws of motion in physics, allow them to write elaborate narrative word problems in which the main character’s real life problem is solved with he help of physics.
Have student write mystery narratives in which the detective uses math principals to find the culprit.
Emphasize pre-writing: Multiple points of view, interconnected plot lines, smooth transitions, and a coherent pieces are produced through thorough planning. Don’t rush the pre-writing stage. Allow students to talk it out with a partner before writing so they can bounce new ideas off each other and take the story to the next level. You may even consider making this a partner effort.
Integrate Art: Whether it is drawn, painted, computer generated, or using any other medium, have students create art based on their narrative. Here’s the trick: Art must be based only on sensory details included in the text. If students are unable to complete the art at first, they need to go back and add more detail.
Use Technology: Students can submit their narratives to a class blog for others to comment on. Adding a peer audience almost always brings up the level of writing.
Help Students Reflect: After narratives have been crafted, it is not enough to grade it and give it back. Students need to reflect on what is experienced, observed, or resolved over the course of the narrative and during the writing process. This will help students have a greater appreciation for literature and their own skills.
What are your tips for teaching the narrative standard? We’d love to hear your suggestions, questions, or comments!
Two important revolutions have come together to make online source credibility testing an important skill to teach our students:
The Common Core emphasizes research and informational texts.
Our students have incredible access to online sources.
Even though most of my students walk around all day with the internet in their pockets, they do not know innately how to determine the credibility of a source for my research paper, infographics, and other assignments. More alarmingly, they consistently report bad habits including the use of fast information sources that they know are not reliable and the use of copy/paste functions to get homework done in a hurry. In order to send students into college and into the world with valid research habits, I consciously teach students a checklist to determine the credibility of a source. I go through the list with them a few times and make them use it regularly in the hope that they will internalize the information for future use. Here is my credibility check list:
I’d love to hear your tips, questions or suggestions to add to the list! Leave a comment below and add to the conversation.
Determining the Credibility of Online Sources:
When using online sources for formal research, you must determine credibility in order to validate the reliability of your own research. Keep in mind: Articles from peer reviewed online journals like those found in JSTOR, EBSCO Host, and other databases include all citation information and can easily be found credible. Sites like Wikipedia, blogs, and social media are open forums for non-experts and while they may be great brainstorming tools, they are not credible sources for formal research. With so many sites in the spectrum between JSTOR and Wikipedia, it can be difficult to determine credibility, so here is a checklist to go through when making an evaluation:
What is your topic?
You should always look for sources appropriate to your topic. For example, if you are researching heart disease, you should look at sites run by The American Heart Association and not a side note blog post from Huffington Post.
What is the URL?
Always be sure to record the entire URL. You will need this information and more to cite properly. Be sure you are aware of the root site of the page you found.
Is the extension appropriate to the content?
.gov and .mil are government run sites, .edu means it is an education site, and .com/.org/.co can be purchased online. This does not mean that .com/.org/.co are not reliable, but you should make note of the extension for overall reliability testing.
Who is the author?
You should use sites that have a stated author. Sometimes the author’s name will be on the article or page, and sometimes you will have to dig a little deeper to an “about the author” page or a link on the main site.
Is there contact information for the author?
Credible authors will have some type of contact information. It may be in the form of an email, phone number, address, or online submission form.
What are the author’s credentials?
Look for authors who hold degrees, experience, titles, or memberships to recognizable professional groups relating to the topic.
Does the site appear to be professional?
Look for sites that are professional, clean, and organized. For most research, personal blogs are not a reliable source.
Are there typos and other errors?
Grammar, spelling, and other errors are a hint that the information has not been reviewed carefully and may be suspect.
What is the purpose of the site?
Are they trying to persuade? educate? preach? other?
Is there bias? If so, what is it?
For example, if you take medical information from a cigarette company or sports information from a particular college, understand the bias. Bias does not mean you can’t use the page; you just have to be aware and use the information accordingly.
Is this a primary or secondary source?
The closer to the primary source a page is, the more reliable the information.
Are there citations or a bibliography?
These will help you determine the legitimacy of secondary sources. Ask yourself if the bibliography shows quality research material.
Is there a date for the publication/revision of the page?
You will need this information to cite properly. It is also important to know that your information is current. You don’t want to research current educational trends and use high school drop out rates from 1990.
Does the information seem in depth and comprehensive?
You want to look for sources dedicated to the information you are looking for, not a source, which briefly touches on your topic.
Based on this list, do you find this source to be credible? Be sure that you are able to justify your evaluation with evidence.
Citing an online source:
Please refer to the Owl at Purdue for information on citing electronic sources in MLA or APA format: Owl.English.Purdue.edu
What would you add, take away or ask about this list? I’d love to know!