Texas Bluebonnet Writing Project Blog

Friday, May 18, 2007

Grammar Books from NCTE

Based on your previous purchases from NCTE (http://lists.ncte.org/t/851526/683131/1/0/), we thought you might be interested in the newest grammar book Engaging Grammar: Practical Advice for Real Classrooms (http://lists.ncte.org/t/851526/683131/6308/0/) by Amy Benjamin.

Amy Benjamin is a seasoned professional with many years of experience in the classroom. As a member of NCTE's Professional Development Consulting Network (http://lists.ncte.org/t/851526/683131/3674/0/), Amy works with school districts nationwide on a variety of topics. She is also the president of the NCTE Assembly for the Teaching of English Grammar.

Amy's enlightened view of grammar is grounded in linguistics and teaches us how to make informed decisions about teaching grammar-how to move beyond fixing surface errors to teaching how grammar can be used as the building blocks of sentences to create meaning.

In addition to Benjamin's sage advice, you'll find the voice of Tom Oliva-an experienced teacher inexperienced in teaching grammar-who writes a teacher's journal chronicling how the concepts in this book can work in a real classroom. The perspectives of Benjamin and Oliva combine to provide a full picture of what grammar instruction can be: an exciting and accessible way to take advantage of students' natural exuberance about language.

Although she does not advocate for teaching to the test, Benjamin acknowledges the pressures students face when taking high-stakes tests such as the SAT and ACT. Included is a chapter on how to improve students' editing skills to help prepare them for the short-answer portion of these tests.

By using sentence patterns, mapping, visuals, and manipulatives, Benjamin and Oliva present an approach to grammar instruction that is suitable for a variety of student populations.

To learn more about Amy, or to invite her to speak at your school, visit: http://lists.ncte.org/t/851526/683131/5719/0/ .

159 pp. 2007. Grades 7-12. ISBN 978-0-8141-2338-6.

Nonmember Price $26.95 Member Price $19.95


Other titles you might enjoy:

Grammar Alive! A Guide for Teachers

Grammar Kit

Grammar and the Teaching of Writing: Limits and Possibilities

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Little Bit of Grammar Help Here, Please?

My wife is moving into a new position next year at a new school. Since it is a private school, they have no "adopted" grammar curriculum, although they expect the teacher to have it. She has been using Atwell's material this year with her middle school students, but she will be adding freshmen and sophomore classes next year.

Can you give me your suggestions for resources for her to teach grammar to the high school students? While she has every intention of teaching grammar in context, she still needs a guide to go by for this new level for her. It is going to be an uphilll battle for her with this new position. We kind of figured that out when she both the teacher she is replacing and the upper level English teacher gave her a "Huh?" look and a shrug when she mentioned that she uses writer's workshop and Nancie Atwell to guide her writing curriculum. Oy. Can anyone say, "We found the five paragraph essay motherload?"

So please, give me some input to help her out. She needs the material to work on over the summer to get ready.

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Saturday, May 05, 2007

If My Maps wasn't enough to entice you, then check out My Maps+

As a follow-up to my post on using Google's My Maps tool, I share with you My Maps+. Thanks to Tim Lauer, elementary principal, blogging at Educational/Technology for the tip.

I am continually amazed at how right-brained our society can be with technology. This creative group has taken the very neat My Maps tool and found a way to create a library of them and even give you embed codes for your blog or website (like you would with YouTube or Flickr) for your creations. These folks have a great teacher-friendly tool here. And once again, the best part is that it is FREE!
  • Use the library to store your own My Maps to share with other educators.
  • Use the library to have access to your own My Maps from wherever you are.
  • Use the library to find other My Maps that are applicable to your content.
  • Use the library to allow your students to store their My Maps projects in one place to make it easy for you to find and assess them all.
  • Use the embed tool to generate conversation about your content.
  • Use the embed tool to show off your students' My Maps creations.
  • Use any of the My Maps+ tools to integrate information literacy and technology into your curriculum.
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Wednesday, May 02, 2007

My Maps to Visually Document and Tell Stories

Blogical Minds, a 5th grade teacher's blog for working with her students, a post asks how to use Google Maps in the classroom. She has her students using it to document commenters to their classroom blogs. What a neat idea! It creates a lot of geography mini lessons that would not exist otherwise with maybe a little history thrown in. She then asks for more ideas. I offered the following in the comments just in case you are interested. I see ties to digital storytelling and science here as well as the aforementioned geography and history.

I plan on using it this summer to document our family summer trip. I am going to take photos along the way and decide which ones best represent our experience. I will then load then into My Maps (new feature with Google Maps) at the appropriate point on the map so my students and peers can see virtually our journey. I can add the picture (linked from my Flickr account) and then a description of what we did in that area or why it is important to note. Since my wife is not big on having my six year old's face on the Internet, He will just be adding description and taking photos with me instead. His class next year will enjoy the new style digital story he will have to tell.

I am going to encourage my students to do the same in the hopes that they will share it with their teachers next year and get them energized into using more technology.

A neat thing about My Maps is that you can make them public or keep them private, so that is good for my classroom use with students. I could do the same for science projects that our grade level does when they map out a piece of property.

Folks are already creating some neat My Maps that they are sharing:
Hosting Olympics Cities
Every Major League Baseball Park and HOF
Our Earth as Art (sat images)
America's Highway: Oral Histories of Route 66

Of course there are even more to look at. One idea I would like to elaborate on (for my memory if nothing else) is that you can zoom in rather closely in Google Maps. It would allow our science students to document the findings of our wetlands project location with pictures and descriptions using coordinates. I am sure the Texas Parks and Wildlife group would love to have that. I just need to get them some GPS handhelds now to help with that.

It would also be a great addition to our school website where potential visitors and home buyers can virtually visit our campus and see what grades are where and which facilities are which. If we really want to take it one step further, we could label classrooms by teacher or subject and contact info.

If you are logged into your Google account, then just click on the maps link on the Google home page just above the search window. It will open Google Maps with a new tab added on the left called My Maps. It is pretty simple to do. Find Google's directions here. Please come back and share what you create. I will post mine when we return from Florida. My son is going to have an awesome "My Summer Vacation" report to share with his class next year.

And the best thing about it all is that it is another FREE tool to use with our students.

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Tuesday, May 01, 2007

iPod Outlaws: Educational use of a concealed weapon

Let me follow up my previous "Outlaw iPod" post with just one way that these "disruptive" tools can be used for good and not just the dark side.

My knowledge trail (aka Personal Learning Network) on this started with The Savvy Technologist, curved around to Mark Wagner, bounced over to Theory.Isthereason, which in turn flipped me over to Betterdays and the iQuiz Library finally resting (temporarily) at the Mac Development Center. Clear as mud? Okay, then let's get started.

Everyone by now knows that the video iPod can store video and picture files (hence the "Cheater Cheater Pumpkin Eater" status). Well, it can also play games. And get this. It can play ... wait for it... educational games. Who would have guessed such a vile instrument of the Future Felons Club could be educational? Interested? And what if I said you could create them on your own for kids to download and utilize? Better?

Well, for 99 cents an iPod user can download iQuiz. iQuiz can run either pre-made quizzes from another source for free, or you can create your own quizzes for your students to download and use as review, pre and post tests, or whatever you can imagine. There is a free tool to create and download quizzes to your students' iPods. You can even store them online for other teachers and students to use (see below). As long as the answers can be multiple choice or true/false, you are good to go. Side note: Wouldn't this be a great way to offer parents the chance to download release tests to see what their kids are facing each year? Why not give it a try?

Download the iQuiz Maker software (Mac or PC) for free here.
Learn about the process to make your own quizzes here.
Follow this online tutorial (beginner and advanced version) to make quizzes here.
Store them or find new ones others have made in these online libraries here or here.

Then leave us some comments and tell us how it went. We can only learn if we share our successes and failures with each other. Better yet, tell us what you are using your iPods (ESL, recorded books, etc.).

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