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Topics - beccasmith

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Assessment of Reading / K-W-L Reading assessment
« on: April 07, 2016, 02:22:15 PM »
I found this webpage that focuses on alternative assessment strategies for ESL students. It seems to focus mostly on lower proficiency students (mostly young children, but could be easily adapted for any level.)

They mention K-W-L Charts. This is K(What I know) -W (what I want to know)- L(What I learned)

So K would contain statements about the topic that students know. This would be done at the very beginning of the unit. Then students would come up with questions for what they want to learn by the end of the unit. Then at the end of the unit students would come back to the L section and put what they learned.

This could be a really interesting reading assessment tool. You could effectively break it down into Pre-Reading (K), During Reading (W) and Post Reading (L).

So you could have students free write (either statements or short paragraphs depending on the level) about what they know about this book. That could be anything from “I know it’s set in Victorian England and I know _____ about that setting” or “I know the title is ______ which helps me think the book is about _______”

Then students can come up with some questions about the text that they want to answer. While students are reading, they can be thinking about their questions and trying to answer them as they go.

Then at the end of the unit you can do the same thing as you did in K, but this time students will have to be more specific and detailed in their responses.

Postreading Activities / Character Sheets for Books/Short Stories
« on: March 05, 2016, 02:10:09 PM »
As a writer one of things I learned to do when I first started creating characters was to create a full character profile for that character. I find when I'm reading I tend to do something similar in my head for main characters as a way of getting to know them.

I think this can be very helpful for students to do with characters, especially if they are having a hard time remember facts about that character, but will have to write about them in essays or answer questions about them for a test. For this, you can give students a post reading (or possible during reading) questionnaire for students to fill about important character. This can help the students get to know the character better and organize all of their thoughts in one easy to find place. I have provided a sample that I would use as a basis for writing characters. This kind of questionnaire can be easily adapted depending on the type of story you are reading and the level of the students.

NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month, happens every November. For adults, NaNoWriMo is a challenge to write more than 50,000 words on of a novel in one month. It is very difficult and I have participated in it before as an adult writer. The website can be found on

However, for children under 17 there is a separate NaNoWriMo website specifically designed for kids in this age group to make their own writing goal for the month of November that is reasonable, but challenging. This website even includes lesson plans for instructors [size=78%][/size].

This is an absolutely great resource for teachers. You can use the lesson plans on the site for more writing teaching, or you can just have students sign up (for free) to make their own writing goal for the month. This is a wonderful and easy way to have students challenge themselves in their own writing. Additionally, it can be done year after year making the goal more difficult as they go so students can see how much they are writing and how much they are improving.

The website also allows you to create a virtual classroom for all your students so that you can track their progress. It includes a lot of cool features like your total class word count and the ability to compare your class to other classes. (So you could have classes in multiple class periods compete. Or have one teachers classes compete against another teachers.) You can also have forum discussions if students are struggling with something they are writing to get help from other classmates. (If you are having students write one creative work, this can be especially helpful for the dreaded writer's block.)

NaNoWriMo is one of the best things I personally have ever participated in and I think students could really benefit from the challenge to just write. This is great for students who seem to have trouble producing a great deal. You can ask students to focus less on accuracy and more on just producing writing as much as possible. Completing their challenge can also really boost student's confidence in writing.

I know often times teachers want to incorporate more poetry into their classroom, but they think they don't have time to explain or don't know how to make it applicable to all the other things they have to do. I found this website with some ideas of ways you can use poetry in your classroom. I think it is written for children, but it could absolutely apply to all ages especially if you are focused on themes or character building. It's a good way to apply it outside of just creating your own poetry, but also that poetry can speak to other aspects of literature.

You can find poems for children on this website: All of these poems have audio files with the poet reading them, which is great for children. However, you can go to as well as for adults or teenagers.

This is just a great resource for finding a good angle on introducing poetry in a variety of ways and gives some recommendations for poems/books that can be used in each of these aspects of poetry analysis.

This made me think of using poetry to introduce a larger literary work by linking them thematically or by location. It can also give students a look at the cultural background for the literary piece, which is especially important for ESL /EFL students who may not be as familiar with the world around that piece. You could also have students look at poetry after reading a book to try and find the link between them and enrich either the theme or location of that book.

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