Thursday, October 19, 2017

Writing Programs

i have looked at what the needs of todays writers are. I'm talking about the K12 students who are both getting lots and lots of writing practice thru tweeting and texting but are not learning to clearly structure anything more than sentence fragments.

The biggest tool out there is turnitin which schools use to detect cheating.
There's also massive essay grading programs used for most of the standardized tests.
There are not so many good grammar checkers or pratice tools.

VocabularySpellingCity has a nifty pair of writing practice programs for sentence writing practice and paragraph practice writing.  There is also a great set of short (ie 8 week writing classes) provided by Time4Writing which is used mostly by parents to help with their kids' writing. Often for homeschoolers learning to write.

Time4Writing is an online writing curriculum designed with homeschoolers in mind. In fact, the creation of Time4Writing was the direct result of feedback from users of the Time4Learning Online Homeschool Curriculum who wanted more targeted, individualized writing instruction.  The outcome of that feedback was an elementary writing curriculummiddle school writing curriculum, and high school writing curriculum that covers the key writing skills students need to know by graduation. In addition, the variety of lesson types is designed to keep young writers engaged and motivated to succeed.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Science SBIR 2012

Science educators have proposed interactive hands-on engagement to enhance science instruction for over 30 years. During the early 90s, hands-on science kits and teacher professional development institutes and programs were implemented across the nation (Roychoudhury & Kahle, 1999; Stohr-Hunt, 1996; Supovitz, Mayers, & Kahle, 2000; Supovitz & Turner, 2000).

However, the use of kits, specifically the refurbishment of consumable items, represented additional costs to school districts. During the hands-on kit based era, the refurbishment process often revealed that few of the items were ever used from the science kits. This observation indicated the limited use of science kits to enhance science instruction. Further, teachers reported that the significant amount of time necessary to set up material centers, distribute manipulatives to students and control the safe handling of certain items served as barriers to science instruction.

Research found that a science kit curriculum requires more professional development investments by school districts than they are able to provide (Bransford, Brown, & Cocking, 2000). The typical professional development structures for science teachers in the U.S. are problematic and have a limited impact on teacher practice and student learning (Randi & Zeichner, 2004; Weiss, Banilower, McMahon, & Smith, 2001).

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Writing and Vocabulary

Is it impossible to be a good writer with a poor understanding of vocabulary? I think so. I think it's also nearly impossible to be a good writer without a certain proficiency in spelling. Why?

Becuase when someone writes, they should be thinking about what they are trying to say and how they are trying to say it.  It's hard to imagine someone without basic spelling skills having the spelling automaticity required to write well.

Or, the cognitive load of trying to spell each word can prevent someone from thinking about what they are trying to write. But if their spelling is automatic, they can think about their writing.

Schools and students develop spelling and writing automaticity largely through practice.  Here's some great resources for practicing for each grade level.  For second grade spelling, third grade spelling, fourth grade spelling, and fifth grade spelling

In second grade, and I quote:  Second grade spelling word lists include Dolch and Fry sight word lists and word structure lists (compound words). Second grade students can build sight word fluency and phonics mastery through the use of VocabularySpellingCity’s interactive online games. Second grade games feature both audio and visual elements, an effective learning tool for all maturing readers and writers, specifically English Language Learners (ELLs).

And quoting from the 5th grade materials:

Fifth grade teachers can find hundreds of free vocabulary and spelling word lists on VocabularySpellingCity‘s website. Word lists can be paired with engaging, interactive games to practice fifth grade English language arts concepts. In addition to online learning games, VocabularySpellingCity offers printable worksheets on topics including hyperbole, personification, and metaphors to help make planning fifth grade vocabulary lessons easy.
Fifth grade-level word lists support reading and literacy programs like Journeys and Wonders. Teachers can use lists to supplement fifth grade language arts lesson plans. VocabularySpellingCity can also administer and assess spelling tests and vocabulary tests. Fifth grade teachers can create their own lists to accommodate more advanced spelling patterns that include affixes and multisyllabic words, as well as remedial word lists that include high frequency words and commonly misspelled words.
Maybe the traditional spelling practice really is the way to learn these words and the whole CCSS thing of just read read read is not going to develop the skills needed for writing. No duh!

Elementary Writing: The Writers Workshop

It seems like Writer's Workshop and Six Traits Writing are two popular approaches to learning to write in schools.  But how is a school ...