Texas Bluebonnet Writing Project Blog

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Bump

Miguel Guhlin recently blogged about the Nancy Atwell book The Reading Zone. One paragraph jumped out at him as it pertained to blogging:
In fact, a more useful lesson about the connections that story readers make, as we're reading, is one that helps students decide how to respond to them. I ask my kids, "When you're reading a story, do you ever bump yourself out of the zone because something in the book sparks a thought or memory?" and follow up with, "If so, how do you respond to the bump?". . .these occasions when we read like writers: we pay attention to the way a text is written, and we enjoy an efferent moment as we observe something in someone else's writing that we might choose to carry away, and put to use, in writing of our own.
Miguel's direction on this is one that poses the question of how we handle this in connection with blogging inspiration, but mine is how we handle it with our students when they hit the "bump." He leaves us with these parting comments paraphrasing a Scholastic article on the subject:
Every day, smart, well-meaning teachers erect instructional roadblocks between their students and the personal, digital communication tools.
So are we overlooking the teachable moment in the haste of curriculum delivery and test preparation? I know I have. Man, I hate it when I realize my shortcomings. Thanks, Miguel. Just thanks.

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Science Practice

For all of you science teachers out there, here is a chance to get some TAKS-style science practice in while using (not really integrating) technology. This site has questions of the week, so check it out regularly.


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Monday, August 27, 2007

August Blogger of the Month Part III: Teacher Appreciation

I thought it would be fitting to wish you all well with your first week with students----for many of us, at least.

I found these inspirational quotations in appreciation of teachers. I just wanted to take a moment to thank each of you for all you do. Share this with a teacher you appreciate as I do you.

Which one touches or speaks to you? Please respond in your reply.

The task of the excellent teacher is to stimulate "apparently ordinary" people to unusual effort. The tough problem is not in identifying winners: it is in making winners out of ordinary people. ~K. Patricia Cross

A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops. ~Henry Adams

I like a teacher who gives you something to take home to think about besides homework. ~Lily Tomlin as "Edith Ann"

The best teachers teach from the heart, not from the book. ~Author Unknown

I am indebted to my father for living, but to my teacher for living well. ~Alexander the Great

It's easy to make a buck. It's a lot tougher to make a difference. ~Tom Brokaw

Teacher appreciation makes the world of education go around. ~Helen Peters

A good teacher is like a candle - it consumes itself to light the way for others. ~Author Unknown

The dream begins with a teacher who believes in you, who tugs and pushes and leads you to the next plateau, sometimes poking you with a sharp stick called "truth." ~Dan Rather

He who opens a school door, closes a prison. ~Victor Hugo

What the teacher is, is more important than what he teaches. ~Karl Menninger

If a doctor, lawyer, or dentist had 40 people in his office at one time, all of whom had different needs, and some of whom didn't want to be there and were causing trouble, and the doctor, lawyer, or dentist, without assistance, had to treat them all with professional excellence for nine months, then he might have some conception of the classroom teacher's job. ~Donald D. Quinn

I would thank you from the bottom of my heart, but for you my heart has no bottom. ~Author Unknown

I can no other answer make, but, thanks, and thanks. ~William Shakespeare

None of us got where we are solely by pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps. We got here because somebody - a parent, a teacher, an Ivy League crony or a few nuns - bent down and helped us pick up our boots. ~Thurgood Marshall

A teacher is a compass that activates the magnets of curiosity, knowledge, and wisdom in the pupils. ~Ever Garrison

No one is more cherished in this world than someone who lightens the burden of another. Thank you. ~Author Unknown

Teaching is not a lost art, but the regard for it is a lost tradition. ~Jacques Barzun

In teaching you cannot see the fruit of a day's work. It is invisible and remains so, maybe for twenty years. ~Jacques Barzun

No one who achieves success does so without acknowledging the help of others. The wise and confident acknowledge this help with gratitude. ~Author Unknown

We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude. ~Cynthia Ozick

There are three good reasons to be a teacher - June, July, and August. ~Author Unknown

Silent gratitude isn't much use to anyone. ~G.B. Stern

Teaching is the profession that teaches all the other professions. ~Author Unknown

Often, when I am reading a good book, I stop and thank my teacher. That is, I used to, until she got an unlisted number. ~Author Unknown

Appreciation is a wonderful thing. It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well. ~Voltaire

The teacher who is indeed wise does not bid you to enter the house of his wisdom but rather leads you to the threshold of your mind. ~Khalil Gibran

The hardest arithmetic to master is that which enables us to count our blessings. ~Eric Hoffer

Good teaching is one-fourth preparation and three-fourths pure theatre. ~Gail Godwin

I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder. ~G.K. Chesterton

The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires. ~William A. Ward

No duty is more urgent than that of returning thanks. ~James Allen

The only people with whom you should try to get even are those who have helped you. ~John E. Southard

I've seen and met angels wearing the disguise of ordinary people living ordinary lives. ~Tracy Chapman

The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated. ~William James

Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it. ~William Arthur Ward

One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feelings. The curriculum is so much necessary raw material, but warmth is the vital element for the growing plant and for the soul of the child. ~Carl Jung

Let's go make a difference!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Try out Animoto!

This is sweet! It does the transition work for you and has free music to add as well. Enjoy.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Violence in Writing

Thanks to Cool Cat Teacher for this link.

With the fallout of the Virginia Tech event, creative writing teachers are trying to figure out just how to handle writers who write about violence. Ed Falco, director of Tech's creative writing program, came up with the idea of creating guidelines for writing teachers. The article suggests:
Frequency of violence in student writings can be a sign that a student may be troubled, though the guidelines, which have not been approved by the university, caution that violent behavior cannot be predicted by writing alone. The document encourages professors to follow their instincts and take a measured and conservative approach to dealing with disturbing writing.
It goes on to say:
The document suggests faculty concerned about a student's writing follow a series of steps: speaking to the student, encouraging the student to seek counseling and involving university administrators.
So what do you think as writing teachers? Do we sacrifice writing freedom for safety? Or do we "follow ... instincts?" Is there some happy middle ground? Are we all too worried about an isolated incident?

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Monday, August 20, 2007

August Blogger of the Month Part II: YackPack

This is a very nifty application. How might you use this in your classroom?

Thanks, Wes Fryer!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Attention all Kindergarten (and primary) Math Teachers

Need an online, collaborative math idea for your kindergarten students? Here is a post for primary school teachers (mostly K) from the Class Blogmeister List Serve:
I am looking for teachers to add to a Math Trail wiki for kindergarten students. Each month a new problem will be posted that can be investigated in your school, playground, or surrounding neighborhood. Teachers will lead the investigation with their students and add their data to the wiki. At the end of the month teachers can go to the wiki with their students to make comparisons and conclusions about the problem of the month. Email me with your questions or ideas for future investigations.

This is the link to the Wiki
She already has the first math problem posted. Expect more great things to show up on this wiki!

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Social Bookmarking in Plain English

Lee Lefever and the folks at Common Craft Blog have added yet another (insert term here) in Plain English video to the series. This time they take on social bookmarking. Janelle showed you Furl. I use Del.icio.us for my own browsers. They are both great.

Social Bookmarking in Plain English shows you how to use Del.icio.us to tackle your favorites so they are easy to sort through, share with others, and even access from any internet connection.

These are great tools to share with students that do any type of research, so do not think it is just for you. My middle school students loved using it for collaborating on Model United Nations research.

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Wednesday, August 15, 2007


Here's a EdTech Talk Webcast on Podcasting. It was interesting to hear advantages of podcasting not only in terms of students but also for teachers along the lines of professional development. It also features some great information from Wes Fryer. See his notes on podcasting here.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Phonics Posters

For those of you in the lower grades (and maybe some ESL), here is a site from Adrian Bruce. He has posters for phonics. These would make great printouts for the walls around your class. I am sure you creative types can find even better uses for them. Enjoy!

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Blogger of the Month- August Part 1...Did you know?

Check out this video by Karl Fisch.

Wow, think about it. What shift are we talking about here? What does this mean for us as teachers? How can we prepare our students for this? How can we prepare ourselves?

Please join the discussion.

RSS Review

David Warlick is doing a presentation in Florida this week and has posted his notes for it. He has one section on RSS with several article links and a few slideshows. I thought it might help those of you who were in the Summer Institute and set up Bloglines accounts and/or blogs.

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Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Agenda for Thursday, August 9th

I. Introductions (9:00-9:15)

II. Log – Heather Haagen (9:15-9:30)

III. Invitation to Write – Kia Greenwood (9:30-10:00)

IV. Teaching Demonstration #1 – Pat Huster (10:00-10:45)

V. Bluebonnet Writing Project Showcase (10:45-11:15)

  • Group 1: Pat Huster, Leslie Hancock, Sugey Villareal, and Christina Castruita
  • Group 2: Jolyn Redden, Heather Haagen, and Rachell Boyd
  • Group 3: Lourdes Perez, Kia Greenwood, Christine Kohl, and Dianna Trang
  • Group 4: Ginny Thomas and Sherry Neaves

VI. Teaching Demonstration #2 – Ginny Thomas (11:15-12:00)

VII. Time permitting… SI Voicethread Sharing – Janelle Quintans Bence

Aloha Bluebonnets!

I have a journal post on my blog I'd like to share with you. Have a great day everyone. It is so strange that I am just going to bed as you all are just waking up! Yes, Janelle, I stayed up late (midnight) exploring new technology as well!

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Check this out....

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