Week 12 2012


Clock number 12
Hmm, where to start? How about with writing! I’ve been doing a bit with that getting ready for an all day training on Monday on Common Core (more on that later). Here are some things that I’ve been doing lately:

  • Having students work with questions they themselves have generated;
  • Having students work on single paragraph writing around an organizational pattern to guide their analysis;
  • Having students return to the same topics, and same text to dig in deeper.
It’s feeling like the puzzle pieces are starting to come together in the writing my students are producing, and I’m pretty pleased.
The  writing using an organizational pattern is going much better.  The most recent assignment was for cause and effect. This was something that most students could not do at an acceptable level on the science assessment I gave in October at the end of our first chapter. Recent writing on changes to habitats cause by natural disasters had every student nailing the cause and effect part. Some of them did fall short on the details, but their core analysis was there.
My first attempts at having kids write questions were okay, but there were problems. The questions had problems, either in syntax or thinking. We had a good discussion, and their next questions were better. The most important part of this process is giving them feedback on the questions they wrote, not just the answers to the questions. In addition, the first time I did this, I had a large number of questions  asking for a short one-sentence answer. This was too much writing, and not enough depth. This time, I gave them a choice from a list of seven questions, and had them just do two (the prompt says three, but our period was shortened, so I adjusted the work down).
Here is a particularly good response:
Hieroglyphics are like computer icons because today we use icons like smiles to say words. Letters like LOL tells about what we are doing. I wonder if the Egyptians would have had smiles in hieroglyphics?
The thing that allows so many creatures and plants to live there is the Nile river. Since the river is so long it picks up nutrients along the way to the delta. When it floods all the nutrients start going everywhere. It’s good for everyone and thing.
The answers were much better, and showed some great depth of thinking on the subjects. I think it’s a superior way to handle assessing content information.

Image Source: Clock number 12 by Leo Reynolds, on Flickr

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All of Ms. Mercer's work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Howdy! I teach sixth grade at an elementary school in Sacramento, CA. I started my career in Oakland, Ca, and moved here to Sacramento in 2001.

My goals are:

  1. To reflect on how I am teaching, and how effective my practices are;
  2. To reflect on my profession, and how effective various practices are;
  3. To understand the political and cultural context that we teach in; and,
  4. To network with other like-minded educators.

To help me reach my goals, I use this blog as a place for me to reflect on best practices, and the practices I’m (trying to) putting in place in my classroom.

I can be contacted here.


The views expressed here are those of the writer and do not those of Sacramento City Unified School District.