August 2008
Vol 5 No 8

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Teachers.Net Gazette Vol.5 No.8 August 2008

Cover Story by Alan Haskvitz
NCLB/Poor Teacher Training:
End of Gifted Education?
The most at risk students in the nation are the gifted. Here’s why.

Harry & Rosemary Wong: Effective Teaching
A Computer Teacher Shows the Way

»Tools for the Coming School YearCheryl Sigmon
»Get the Most Out of Being Mentored - Part 2:Take ResponsibilityHal Portner
»Get Set for the Best Year Yet!Sue Gruber
»UPDATE!! Hooray! I did it!Sue Gruber
»"Getting to Know Each Other"Activities, part 1Leah Davies
»School is a VerbTodd R. Nelson
»5 Classroom TipsMarvin Marshall
»The Busy Educator's Monthly FiveMarjan Glavac
»Dear Barbara - Advice for SubsBarbara Pressman

»Who’s Cheating Whom? (Part 2)
»Responsibility Equals Participation
»The Classic Pirate
»August 2008 Writing Prompts
»UNESCO Survey Finds Underprivileged Children Also Disadvantaged in the Classroom
»Good Grades Are Nice – But Mastery is Better
»A Teaching Guide for Libby Bloom
»Brain Based Learning Chat Transcript with Dr. Daniel S. Janik
»Being Mentored Chat Transcript with Hal Portner
»6 Traits Writing chat
»Make the Call!
»High School Physics - "First" or "Last" - Must and Can Be Mathematical

»What would you do...
»Printable Worksheets & Teaching Aids
»A Candle of Inspiration: August 2008
»School Photographs for August 2008
»Lessons, Resources and Theme Activities: August 2008
»Video Bytes: Mathmaticious, Stand up for P.E.!, Becoming a teacher and More
»Today Is... Daily Commemoration for August 2008
»Live on Teachers.Net: August 2008
»The Lighter Side of Teaching
»Apple Seeds: Inspiring Quotes for Teachers
»Lighting a Spark About College
»Newsdesk: Events & Opportunities for Teachers


The Teachers.Net Gazette is a collaborative project
published by the Teachers.Net community
Editor in Chief: Kathleen Alape Carpenter
Layout Editor: Mary Miehl

Cover Story by Alan Haskvitz

Effective Teaching by Harry & Rosemary Wong

Contributors this month: Alfie Kohn, Marvin Marshall, Cheryl Sigmon, Marjan Glavac, Todd R. Nelson, Hal Portner, Leah Davies, Barbara Pressman, Tim Newlin, James Wayne, Alan Haskvitz, Bill Page, Amy Otchet, James Burns, Michael Olson, Stewart E Brekke, Barb Stutesman, Ron Victoria, Joan Masters, and YENDOR.

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Teachers.Net Live!

Meeting Transcript

6 Traits Writing chat

Every Monday during July & August, the Teachers.Net Meeting Room hosts informal peer support chat about 6 Traits Writing chat. Here's the transcript of the 7/7/08 - full of valuable resources, tips and pointers!
6 Traits Writing Chat Transcript
August 1, 2008

July 7, 2008

Teachers.Net - Welcome to the 6 Traits chat!
Darlene - Good morning, it is 8am here in Alberta
Melissa - Good Morning!
Darlene - I have just recently started using this writing program format
Denise - Hi! It's 10pm here in Singapore
Melissa - I am beginning to use it this year in my classroom. I hope to see a difference with my students
Kathleen - Denise, do you use 6 Traits?
Melissa - Does anyone have any suggestions for me?
Kathleen - What caused all of you to implement 6 Traits? Was it selected for you, or did you choose it on your own?
Melissa - I chose it on my own. I teach 8th grade Gifted. I had issues trying to break the "5 paragraph essay" and wanted to try the 6 trait writing to see if that model would help.
Kathleen - Melissa, are you having success, or is it too soon to say?
faye - Good Morning!
Melissa - I haven't started the program as of yet... Could someone suggest resources for me to use?
Kathleen - faye, currently implementing 6 Traits, or just gathering information?
faye - implemented in the district, I'm trying to figure it out
faye - like it, we've gotten some good information, but I have had some difficulty on implementation
Darlene - I taught grades 3-9 ELA in a Francophone school, next year 3-6 in same school
Kathleen - Why not post info about what is challenging, perhaps others here can offer suggestions
faye - I've changed grades so often, that it has been tough
faye - I am currently teaching 3rd grade, for the 2nd year, in MN

Patsy - Hi all!
Patsy - Just looking for info. It does seem to be the "new" buzz in writing.
Patsy - Darlene, what is a Francophone school?
Kathleen - I will be posting resources during the hour, But please don't leave the chat to check them out, just save them for reference after the chat.
Darlene - French first language population, so English is their second language
Patsy - Ok thanks - I had never heard that terminology before.
Kathleen - an article with resources (it's from 2001, so some of the links might not work, but bookmark this one for reading after the chat:
Kathleen - Transcript of 6 Traits chat:
Kathleen - Six Traits Organization:
Darlene - I find the concept of voice difficult to teach the kids, especially the lower grades, any hints?
Patsy - I believe doing a lot of read alouds is one way, then have discussion about what you noticed that the author did.
faye - I have heard the same thing
Darlene - But how do they transfer that into their writing?
Melissa - I am middle grades, but I use different exemplars of the type of writing that we are studying and then discuss and dissect the voice, tone and purpose.
Patsy - This could then be followed by a give it a try in your own writing.
Darlene - But how do they transfer that into their writing?
Debbie - I try to connect it to illustrations. For example, I talk about how you can tell Dave Pilkey's illustrations from say, Tomi DePaola. It's because they each have their own way of illustrating. Then I link that to the way of writing.
Darlene - Especially the gr 3/4s
Melissa - My students are broken into groups and for practice each group writes a paragraph in the selected voice and then share and discuss with the class.
Darlene - Do you give them the voice in each group?
Kathleen - Teaching voice
Melissa - The groups decided on the voice they want to demonstrate. Sometimes we are specifically working on a voice (ex. persuasive) so the groups are required to write in that voice. When we come back as whole group we dissect the groups paragraphs and use sticky notes for strengths and weakness. 3 of each. This seems to work well for 8th grade
Kathleen - Teaching Word Choice:
Kathleen - Teaching Sentence Fluency:
Kathleen - Writing Conventions:
Kathleen - Content:
Kathleen - Organization:
Darlene - Thanks all I think I can develop some mini lessons now to link this for the kids!
Kathleen - These weekly chats can be a terrific support system for those new to and those who are veteran 6 Traits teachers
Kathleen - Darlene, are you the only 6 Traits teacher in your school?
Melissa - I think this is wonderful. I am always looking for new ways to teach writing. I LOVE to teach writing and just want to use what is best for my students.
Darlene - I have a book called "Using the Six Trait Writing Model" which I am going to use with my grade 5 and 6 class. It has some really fun learning activities.
Melissa - I will have to look for that- thanks
Kathleen - Darlene, do you know the author of that book?
Darlene - I was the only English teacher . Next year I refused the Middle School kids. Our school is growing and I had 90 ELA students. It was too heavy. So next year I will only teach 50 students. And the middle school teacher, came from a high school background so i don't know what he will teach
Kathleen - Of course you know about the 6 Traits Chatboard here at Teachers.Net
Darlene - Author Tracy Heskett
Patsy - now I do
Darlene - Can you imagine marking for 90 ELA students grade 3 through 9 it was crazy making
Melissa - I had 140 students 2 years ago, but at least they were all in the same grade level! That is nuts!
Darlene - The prep was insane. Most nights I was at school until 11pm.
Kathleen - Here's a site with additional 6 Traits support. The creator is a member of the Teachers.Net community:
Kathleen - She moderated some of the chats I linked earlier.
Kathleen - 6 Traits chats and other chats archived:
Kathleen - Melissa, I received your email and will send the transcript of this chat
Melissa - Thanks so much!
Kathleen - Six Traits and Quality Writing by Ginny Hoover (article)
Kathleen - Darlene, that's unreasonable, 11 pm!
Kathleen - That's fine, Darlene!
Kathleen - 6 Traits Writing posters
Darlene - I have difficulty getting students to write at their grade level. My 8's sounded like 5s etc. Now part of this I am sure is due to French being their first language and not starting English in school until grade 3 but the overall effort really was lacking with the exception of the natural writers. Any suggestions?
Darlene - How do we get them to want to write?
Patsy - I've taken a couple of workshops that state the best way to get students to write is let them have a writing journal and have them start with "quick writes". They can basically write about anything that they connect to. Then they can revisit this writing at a later date to add some skill that we want them to learn.
Claudia - I found that reading high interest journals/diaries inspires some to write
Claudia - I have been fighting the same battles, however, of those who just do not like to write!
Darlene - I have used writing journals with my older grades fairly successfully but my younger students this hasn't worked with. My g3s are like K-1 students. I struggle with them. The philosophy is that they will do all the catch up in 1 year, can you believe ity. Some of the kids can't say the alphabet in English when I get them!
Patsy - I have worked with ELL students who have Spanish as a primary language. One tool that I have found to be very successful with them is wordless picture books. You need to brainstorm and supply the students with word/vocabulary banks but you'd be surprised how they can use their background knowledge to put word to the page.
Claudia - Patsy, good idea! Maybe have them cut pictures from old books/magazines and then go back and teach them the words/sentence structure later
Melissa - Sorry guys I have to go... I will be back for next week's chat! GREAT INFO!
Darlene - Thanks Patsy. ELL?
lovesbooks - Good morning.
Patsy - English Language Learners
lovesbooks - Write Traits is not embraced in my school (middle) so it's a challenge to get my kids to write.
Darlene - Our curriculum people just bought the kits in may so we are just beginning
lovesbooks - One thing that always strikes a chord with them, however, is poetry. I get some of the most powerful writing from them in poetry.
Darlene - Because we are a French division they are looking for resources to help us finally
Patsy - I think its a challenge for most students to write unless it just comes naturally to them. I find that to be few and far between. We basically have to do a lot of modeling and show students our writing process. We need to write along side of the students.
Darlene - I teach with poety daily. My students have come to look forward to the week's new poem. I teach mechanics, word choice, etc. from it as they are smaller bites of text
Claudia - How often do you require a full composition scored for district assessments?
Patsy - Poems are a great tool - good for reading fluency too!
Darlene - Once per year for district records in April
Patsy - Got to go now - This was a great session.
lovesbooks - Patsy: Oh, yes. That's true. And using books as models sure does help.
Claudia - Writing is becoming MORE important each day as students are acquiring information from the internet and social networking
Kathleen - Do you think those things are causing a new interest in writing?
Darlene - I read a picture book to my students, and have them make a list of words/phrases they hear as I read, then they have created a poem of the book I read. These are amasind to hear read back
Claudia - So, maybe, sitting and writing with them in a computer lab, creating blogs, websites with the Six Traits complementing
Kathleen - use what they love already, great idea
Claudia - Darlene, what a great idea!
Darlene - I sent a collection of these poems to one of the authors. He was blown away.
Claudia - Kathleen, yes, I do. The students I have taught in 07-08 are generally not a writing culture until now. My students went on line to post opinions, information, as often as they could
Darlene - The kids captured the essence of his story according to what was important to them
lovesbooks - My plan is to use Nancie Atwell's Poem a Day this coming school year with my 6th graders. As mentioned here, you can teach all the traits, plus grammar through poetry.
Darlene - Has anyone hears of How to Eat A Poem?
lovesbooks - Yes, I have a class set of them
Claudia - I have not heard of that book
Darlene - Great Resource
lovesbooks - I believe I got the How to Eat a Poem books from Scholastic
lovesbooks - Darlene: weren't they offered "free" from Scholastic one year?
Kathleen - How To Eat a Poem
Darlene - I don't know, I found it in my classroom when I took over 3 years ago. But a quick email to Scholastic would answer it for us!
Claudia - The district I am leaving requires a district wide prompt to be assessed at the end of each quarter. Basically that forces you to 1. teach around the idiotic prompts the district gives or 2. deviate from your lessons and what you are truly concentrating on in order to accomplish the testing
Darlene - Our prompt comes in April and could be anything from a list of 20 types of writing which we are expected to cover through the year. It is crazy making.
lovesbooks - What type of prompts are assessed? (are they the same for the entire district or do they vary from grade to grade?)
Darlene - Same prompt for all grades: Could be write a persuasive letter, write a journal entry, write a personal response to, write instructions, etc
Claudia - Each grade (K-12) has a prompt and each school is to give that prompt. You know the typical standardized test prompts: Describe how teamwork is important to you.......describe a day you woke up to discover you were a cat or dog.......persuade your principal to allow ipods
lovesbooks - Claudia: basically kids can write to any prompt once they're familiar with the prompt formats. Spend a little time reviewing the prompt formats prior to the assessment...and they should be 'good to go.'
lovesbooks - In our state, the assessors have grown tired of the same ol' same ol' responses. Now, they're FINALLY looking for 'voice' in the prompts. Hallelujah!
Darlene - it is having the time to write and read. Because I am in a French school i get half the minutes allotted for language learning as the other 1/2 goes to French. Time is the ENEMY!!!
Claudia - lovesbooks, yes, and that is the way I presented it to my freshmen. I "coached" them through the prompts
lovesbooks - Yet...sadly, our 8th grade teachers (one of the grades tested in writing) STILL teach the boring 5-paragraph essay. *yuck*
lovesbooks - My state (Florida) tests 4th, 8th, and 10th grades in writing.
Kathleen - Every Monday during July & August 2008, 10 - noon, 6 Traits Writing chats here in the Meeting Room
Claudia - The first question I am asked when giving a writing assignment is: How many paragraphs does it have to be? Arghhh! My answer is always the same: however long it needs to be to say what needs to be said
lovesbooks - Darlene: I can't believe your prompts can be one of 20! That's ludicrous! Our kids get one prompt out of 2 possible types: 4th grade can be either narrative or expository; 8th and 10th grade can be either expository or persuasive. That's it.
Kathleen - Every Monday during July & August, 10 - noon Eastern US Time, 6 Traits Writing chats here in the Teachers.Net Meeting Room
Kathleen - There will be more each week, I think.
Kathleen - Thank YOU to all who contributed to this wonderful peer support session!
Kathleen - Be sure to share the Teachers.Net 6 Traits resources with other educators and online groups.

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