Thursday, June 25, 2015

Blog #5 Round Table Reflections/Takeaways

Here is a platform for you to share what YOU have taken from each Round Table (this way you'll see what others are thinking, which makes them stealable as well!). What stealable ideas did you get? What videos/songs/books/articles will you find and use for your own classroom? What activities are a must for you? What concepts?

For a recap, here are the roundtables, in order:

Barri on Mentor Texts
Julie on Hayakawa's Ladder of Abstraction
Haylee on Writer's Notebook/Journaling Generating ideas
Ali on Slam Poetry
Dr. Fox on Reformulation
Clayton on Bridging the Gap (between old and new, poetry and media)
Amanda on Storytelling/Power of the Story
Jim on Making the Post-Modern Approachable
Taylour on Interactive Read-Alouds
Christy on Argument Writing
Leanne (to come)
I'll update theirs as soon as I have titles!

If you can, post what you have done and taken away from each by Tuesday, June 30th and then add Leanne's Wednesday evening! We will keep the blog up so you can go back and reference it! 


  1. A Love of Writing: Using Mentor Texts by Barri Bumgarner
    I am definitely on board with using mentor texts, and I have used them in my classroom for years. However, Barri’s round table gave me a whole new perspective on the possibilities for mentor texts. Often, I have used them as a way to reinforce theme or connect multiple genres of writing, but I loved how Barri used mentor texts as a way into writing. “The Paintbrush” activity was a touching one. Not only was it powerful, it provided me with many “seeds” for future writing activities. I will definitely introduce this short piece and writing activity to my future teachers to help them alleviate the “I don’t know what to write about” problem in their classrooms. My favorite part of her RT, though, was the imitation poetry. Like many of my students, I struggle with writing meaningful poetry on my own. The “Where I’m From” poetry model is brilliant. I created my own, and I can’t wait to do this activity with my future teachers. It perfectly blends the concrete, persona, and creative.

  2. Lyrics, Language, and the Ladder of Abstraction By Julie Sheerman
    I was blown away by Julie’s practical application of Hayakawa. After reading Language in Thought and Action last year, I was immediately a Hayakawa convert, but I didn’t know how to apply the ideas to the high school classroom. I loved the use of song—especially such a powerful song as “Boys of Fall.” I can see students loving this activity, and after marking up the song lyrics, it would provide a reference for students to go back to when they needed a refresher on the levels of abstraction present in everyday language. This makes revision much more concrete. For years, I’ve told students to add more “showing” language and less “telling” language, but they struggled with how to do that. This lesson gives them the tools for quality revision.

  3. Generating Ideas by Haylee Rethman
    I took Haylee’s suggestion re: having students personalize their own writer’s notebook to heart because I went home that night and decorated my own writer’s notebook. Also valuable were the resources she brought to us: the Sir Ken Ted Talk, the Ralph Fletcher text, and the Williams article. Since I have beaten my other favorite Ted Talk into the ground, I am so excited to use this one for a multitude of pre-service teaching classes I teach. In my own writing, I’ve already applied the “seeds list” strategy Haylee taught us, and now I have fodder for writing that will last well beyond this Summer Institute.

  4. Slam Poetry by Alie Veatch
    I LOVE slam poetry, so I really enjoyed all aspects of Ali’s round table. I hadn’t seen any of the particular poems she shared with us, and I am really excited to add these to the poetry unit I teach both in my literature courses and my pre-service teacher courses. The paint chip activity to teach metaphor was just brilliant. I can see students referring back to the metaphors they wrote when they needed to include imagery in their own poetry. However, probably the most valuable strategy Ali brought to us was the power in just waiting; when she forced us to write about an inanimate object for SO LONG, I wasn’t sure of the purpose, but when the metaphors even came to me (a self-proclaimed failed poet), I realized what she was doing.

  5. Reformulation by Dr. Fox
    I saw how useful students found the idea of “reformulation” when I taught a class with Dr. Fox last semester, but I had never experienced it from a student’s perspective. The insight I gained from being on the other side of the desk this semester will be helpful when I start analyzing my research project data. I was also a little nervous about the time constraints when he asked us to write two reformulations in about 20 minutes, but I was pleasantly surprised to see how fast it went. It was fun to think what my theme was in the story I chose to reformulate because that made my writing so much different in each version. I will definitely do this activity with my composition students in the fall. I have long tried to figure out how to get college students to do REAL revision, and this would be a great way to set the tone at the start of the semester. I always start with personal narrative to teach voice, and this activity would work great with that assignment too.

  6. Poetry and Media: Bridging the Gap Between Old and New by Clayton Taff
    I am so excited to use the figurative language in pop culture video Clayton used to open his lesson. Depending on my clientele at CMU, I think this would be a great opener/refresher for my Intro to Lit class. I mean, I loved the video, so it seems to be adult-appropriate too. :) The “How to Read a Poem” handout is so useful, and I appreciate the answer key that he included. My favorite activity was the “Stereo Hearts” and “A Red, Red Rose” comparison. In the complement between the old and new, the poetic devices were so much clearer. Again, I can use this with any level of literature student, and I will.

  7. The Power of Stories: Intro to Nonfiction Storytelling by Amanda Schirmer
    I have to admit that I spent a good hour last night wading through the Humans of New York website. What a powerful way to, as Amanda put it, “celebrate humanity.” I loved the use of embarrassing stories at the start of the lesson. Amanda was totally right—I could feel the energy change in the room during the sharing time. The research basis was solid, and I plan to spend some time reading Writing for Story: Craft Secrets of Dramatic Nonfiction by Jon Franklin (after our institute is over ). The multi-modal nature of this project was so engaging and so . . . rich. Students will love this project; I can see multiple uses for it with adult and adolescent students. I can’t wait to try it out.

  8. Object-Based Writing: Making the Post-Modern Approachable by Jim Pruitt
    Jim’s RT was unique and clever. I really loved seeing an application of postmodern literature in the high school classroom because I don’t think I’ve ever seen it handled at all. I really appreciated the scaffolding with the video, the story, and our own writing. Even I was a little intimidated by the concept at the start, but by the end, I could see how even my high school students could add something to the postmodern concept. I liked how both Ali and Jim did object-based writing exercises, but they both had different aims and outcomes. The comparison aspect of Jim’s writing assignment made the weirdness of our writing “okay.” This is something that would be incredibly valuable in creative writing classes or literature courses.

  9. Interactive Read-Aloud by Taylour Beamer
    Since I am only certified to teach grades 9-12, I really appreciated Taylour’s lesson as it provided me with a new and refreshing point of view regarding reading lessons. I have done a version of interactive read-alouds with YA novels like The Maze Runner, but I haven’t used pictured books in my classroom before. That’s my major takeaway from Taylour’s lesson. I loved her modeling of reading picture books aloud, and I have made a resolution to incorporate at least one picture book with an interactive read aloud in my college teaching this year.

  10. Barri on Mentor Texts - I WILL purchase and use Mentor Texts by Ralph Fletcher. I also plan to use the scar story and paintbrush writing activities.

    Julie on Hayakawa's Ladder of Abstraction - I will introduce my eighth graders to the concept of balancing their concrete language with abstract language rather than simply saying "Add more detail, Jack." I also want to use the 60 Minutes Overtime piece with Marshall Mathers Julie mentioned.

    Haylee on Writer's Notebook/Journaling Generating ideas - I want to devote an entire class period early in the year to have students decorate their Writer's Notebooks. I am not comfortable with "organized chaos," so please understand that this is a bold step.

    Ali on Slam Poetry - I am using all of the poems Ali shared: "Explaining My Depression to My Mother," "Text Me," "Coffee," and "Louder Than a Bomb." It is unbelievably hard to find school appropriate slam poetry. I spent hours doing so last year.

    Dr. Fox on Reformulation - I will for sure do this exact activity next year. This was the best way I have ever seen to teach the difference between revision and editing.

    Clayton on Bridging the Gap (between old and new, poetry and media) - I am Clayton.

    Amanda on Storytelling/Power of the Story - I am stealing all of this. I was the only one who did not know what Humans of New York was, but, remember, I am originally from Arkansas. I will probably have my eighth graders go outside for the picture part. I don't trust them enough to let them scamper through the halls unsupervised, and I don't even know them yet. This would be a superb beginning of the year lesson.

    Jim on Making the Post-Modern Approachable - I liked the activity when Jim gave us all a random object and we had to compose a story about it in some way. We all took different paths, but Tess and the mustache took the cake, in my opinion. This would be a good starting point to tackle postmodernism.

    Taylour on Interactive Read-Alouds - This lesson showed me that it is okay, and even helpful, to use picture books with older students. I have mentally debated that strategy for a while. Taylour's point about how many books our students would be exposed to if we read aloud to them everyday made for a paradigm shift in my mind.

    Christy on Argument Writing - I am sure this will be helpful.

    Leanne (to come) - I am sure this will be helpful.

  11. Barri-I enjoyed the idea of mentor texts and believe this correlates with Gallagher's idea of using texts as a means to "show students the butterfly."

    Julie-I have always tried to get students practicing thinking in the abstract and being able to switch back and forth between concrete and abstract but I never had a name for this concept. Thank you Julie for the Ladder of Abstraction.

    Haylee-I really like bringing creativity into the classroom and I think I will have my students experiment with blackout poetry and writing in books...that I do not own.

    Ali-I was familiar with the concept of slam poetry but I was not aware of the various competitions that occur around the country. I will be able to use highlights from the competitions to show my students once we move into public speaking and poetry.

    Dr. Fox-The concept of reformulation is huge and is something that by taking a small paragraph and reformulating it, students can have tangible results fairly quickly. I like the idea of getting students to start thinking about drafting differently.

    Clayton-I think the idea of placing a classic poem alongside modern song lyrics to be a clever idea and something that I will use in the future.

    Amanda-I have already told Amanda that her Humans of New York idea is a great icebreaker for the beginning of the school year and something I fully intend on doing.

    Taylour-What I really enjoyed about Taylour's read-alouds was her ability to set up the activity well and verbalize her expectations in a clear, thoughtful manner. It is things like this that separate the good from the great teachers and something that I plan to work on as I always seek improvement.



  12. Barri on Mentor Texts - I think a lot of this info. will be great to share with my co-workers and PLT groups, as well as to justify my lessons! I love using mentor texts because it is so important to lead and learn by example. It is great for students to have reference to what their work should look like, so I will definitely be using all types of mentor texts, even children's books!

    Julie on Hayakawa's Ladder of Abstraction - it is amazing how much we all use this idea/theory without recognizing it until brought to our attention! I think for my reading class especially, this more in-depth view of scaffolding will help. Probably towards the end of the year having a visual ladder for the students to label their thinking will be great, probably as a book mark!

    Haylee on Writer's Notebook/Journaling Generating ideas - I love Haylee's passion for writer's notebooks. I fear that for my specific classes this year, a writer's notebook won't be as beneficial as in other classes, but I do believe in journaling daily responses! I plan to grade the daily journals and have at least 1-2 creative activities per week in my Civics course. I also want to do the abstract art/reading with my reading kids, I think they'll like to transform books :)

    Ali on Slam Poetry - obviously the best lesson ever... JKJKJK!!! But I do plan on using this lesson in my Civics course and focus on videos of civil rights and citizenship.

    Dr. Fox on Reformulation - I love this distinction between simply editing and truly reformulating. I think this process can be used to transform the standard 5 paragraph essay and encourage our students that simply re-working small segments can make a big difference. I think this will be good for my freshman to see there are more options than the typical analytical essay.

    Clayton on Bridging the Gap (between old and new, poetry and media) - I may just steal this lesson exactly as is! I think this idea of new and old being so close can reach a lot of my students. I want them to think about the words of famous writers/musicians as well as their own word choice!

    Amanda on Storytelling/Power of the Story - OMG HUMANS OF NEW YORK. But really, I plan on doing this the first day/week of classes. I already ran it by my co-teacher who is not a fan of first day activities and have convinced him to let me do this one. I want to hang up the pictures/words in my classroom, especially for my reading students, so they feel at home.

    Jim on Making the Post-Modern Approachable - Definitely a Jim type of lesson... I think this approach makes students think and make what seems like an impossible text, possible. I would love to have my students read this and give them a basic instruction such as "write about this" and watch their reactions! I think it would open a great discussion on differing opinions and interpretations. Being OK with confusion and chaos.

    Taylour on Interactive Read-Alouds - I can absolutely see this idea being used well in a middle school classroom and upper elementary! I would love to incorporate it into my high school class with longer poems and short stories as well. I think teachers should be able to act as naturally as Taylour when stopping reading to discuss what is going on! A lot of our readers need these pauses to truly understand texts

  13. Barri on Mentor Texts- I love the use of mentor texts to teach lessons! I like the idea of using mentor text for warm ups! I plan on doing the Where I'm From poem with my students in the beginning of the first semester.

    Julie on Hayakawa's Ladder of Abstraction- This concept was new to me. I never thought about writing in abstraction as opposed to concrete. I loved using the song lyrics to help us discuss abstract words. I can see myself doing this with my students.

    Haylee on Writer's Notebook/Journaling Generating ideas- I loved Haylee's lesson on writers notebooks and generating ideas. I personally want to use writer's notebooks next year so I learned a lot from this lesson. I particularly liked the use of black out writing.

    Ali on Slam Poetry- This was such a fun lesson! I never worked with slam poetry. It was interesting watching all the videos. I like how there was a video of one person, two people, three people, and four people. I think it would be fun to have students write their own slam poetry.

    Dr. Fox on Reformulation- This was a very beneficial lesson. I learned a lot about revising. Whenever I would edit things I would just fix grammatical errors. I now know to reformulate my writing. I will definitely will use this with my students when we work on revising their papers.

    Clayton on Bridging the Gap (between old and new, poetry and media)- This is was a very interesting lesson. I like the idea of comparing classical poetry with modern day writing like song lyrics or an ad. I think students would be more interested in poetry if they were able to compare it to writings they are used to.

    Amanda on Storytelling/Power of the Story- Amanda had such great ideas on how to teach storytelling. I love how she started out with a story of her own! The idea of humans of the school you are teaching at would be an awesome idea. I can see the students really getting into it.

    Jim on Making the Post-Modern Approachable- I had never read any post-modern work so this was a new concept to me. I liked the lesson though! Having students interpret the 12 second video would be an interesting lesson. I definitely want to learn more about post modernism and writing in abstract.

  14. Barri on Mentor Texts:
    I enjoyed Barri’s roundtable about using mentor texts. That is definitely something that I know I have not done enough of in classes in the past, but there is always a supplemental reading that can go along with a lesson. Because my knowledge of literature is not as vast as I would like to admit, I will be utilizing the literacy coach at Lewis and Clark Middle School to help me find mentor texts. I love that Barri shared that we need to vary our types of texts in the classroom. We need to use both fiction and nonfiction, primary and secondary sources, poetry and prose, short and long works, and works from many different genres and forms of media.

    Julie on Hayakawa's Ladder of Abstraction:
    This roundtable was the most intriguing to me. I know that it is geared more toward older students, but I think it can be simplified for younger students like my 7th graders. I like the idea of thinking concrete versus abstract, and going back and forth between the two is a skill that all students need to practice. That skill will help students develop other skills like higher-order thinking, writing, communicating, and reading.

    Haylee on Writer's Notebook/Journaling Generating ideas:
    This was mine. I would make it more focused. Because I ran out of time, I would center the presentation about the writer’s notebook itself and a seeds list. If I had time, I would introduce the altered book, but that activity in itself would be great for its own roundtable. I would also include a detailed rationale, background, and purpose for my roundtable.

    Ali on Slam Poetry:
    I enjoyed Ali’s roundtable about slam poetry. It promotes deeper thinking about real things that can and do happen in students’ lives. I like the idea of doing a poetry unit (or a slam poetry unit itself) and having a school presentation in which students share their work in a “coffee shop” reading environment. This roundtable was helpful in discussing themes, subjects, attitudes devices, and performance while studying poetry.

    Dr. Fox on Reformulation:
    This was a fantastic lesson dealing with revision. I really enjoyed it because I ended up with four very different and final poems that I wrote from my different versions of my reformations. It really helped simplify changing a piece of writing, and calling it “reformulation” rather than revision is a great idea. Students seem to shy away from revision, and they sometimes do not understand the process.

    Clayton on Bridging the Gap (between old and new, poetry and media):
    Poetry is intimidating for me as a teacher, and it’s sometimes intimidating for students to learn. It can be dry and uninteresting, especially if students have preconceived notions about what it entails. I think Clayton did a terrific job of bringing in modern pop culture to compare and contrast against traditional poetry. This will help the students connect to the poetry better. I think the idea of making a poetry unit that you discuss music as poetry is intriguing to me as well because music is poetry. A teacher could also do different genre studies in music.

    Amanda on Storytelling/Power of the Story:
    I am in love with Humans of New York (HONY). It is such an inspiring story of its origin, its founder, and the people it profiles. We need something like this to celebrate our differences but still connects us as human beings. It has inspired many other sites which are similar to it in different areas throughout the world. I love the idea of having the HONY site as a model for students to do their own storytelling project. This teaches the students interviewing skills, and it could be a good segue into a journalism unit of instruction. It is also a good get-to-know-you activity to use early on in the school year.

    1. Jim on Making the Post-Modern Approachable:
      Most of this roundtable was over my head with abstract emphasis. I enjoyed “The Balloon,” but I didn’t understand it, most likely like the students in school who would read it in class. It goes along well with Julie’s roundtable about The Ladder of Abstraction. I think it is important for student to gain some perspective on the world and to develop their ways of thinking about differences, and this lesson would help them do that.

      Taylour on Interactive Read-Alouds:
      The thing I liked most about Taylour’s roundtable was the children’s story The Dot. It has a much deeper meaning in it than just on the surface level, and it could be used in a variety of different ways with a variety of different students and age levels. I also liked that she projected the pictures from the book onto the projector screen so the entire class could see them as she was reading. This is something that I’ve never really thought about before, but it makes so much sense to do. That way, the teacher does not have students complaining that they could not see the picture. This short story is something that I could use as a character building lesson to teach students to celebrate and appreciate each other.

      Christy on Argumentative Writing:
      Argumentative and persuasive writing is something that I’ve never really been enthusiastic about doing or teaching. I’ve never had to teach argumentative writing, but I know that I will have to in the future, and thinking about it and breaking the topic down into the three forms of arguments helps me see it in a more concrete way. I’m sure that it would help me as well as my students in writing persuasively.

      Leanne on Point of View:

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  16. Barri on Mentor Texts: My favorite part about this round table was the amount of writing activities/prompts that came with it. Mentor texts are an extremely valuable resource, but I’ve always had a hard time determining which ones are the most effective and how to implement them into the classroom. Each exercise provided clear instructions and the mentor texts paired with each one was great.

    Julie on Hayakawa's Ladder of Abstraction: This round table was the most eye opening one for me because I had never heard of Hayakawa and his ladder of abstraction. The idea is very new to me. As a result, I never thought about how to teach the difference between concrete and abstract language to students. But breaking down song lyrics was an awesome way to do this, and I think all students would be successful in an activity like this.

    Haylee on Writer's Notebook/Journaling Generating ideas: I loved this round table by Haylee. I am a big proponent of having writer’s notebooks in the classroom, but I never thought about how to introduce them to students in a creative and meaningful way. The passage she read by Ralph Fletcher was extremely insightful for both teachers and students, and I plan on reading the same thing to my students this year. I also loved how she set aside time for students to decorate their notebooks. This is another strategy of Haylee’s that I plan on implementing in my classroom.

    Ali on Slam Poetry: I enjoy reading poetry, but I’ve never enjoyed writing it, mostly because I don’t know how to be creative in that sense. But, Ali’s lesson made me feel at ease when it comes to studying and writing poetry. The four videos she showed were awesome, and I can see how students were really into the unit she did while student teaching. My favorite part was the activity she had us do by writing about a random object in the room. At first, I didn’t think I could come up with anything abstract or creative. But, I was pleasantly surprised with how much I was able to write about my pen. This is an activity that I would love to use multiple times with my students throughout the year.

    Dr. Fox on Reformulation: Like my middle school students, revising my writing is something I’ve always disliked. I get to the point in the writing process where I don’t want to go back and read my writing and instead turn it in as soon as I’m done. However, Dr. Fox’s strategies for revising writing were very beneficial for me. Re-writing something that I’ve already written once is hard, but forcing myself to re-write the same paragraph two times truly improved my writing. I plan on having students do this when they’re revising their work.

  17. Clayton on Bridging the Gap (between old and new, poetry and media): Clayton’s roundtable was one of the most creative ones throughout the course. Like I said in Ali’s roundtable response, poetry intimidates me, both as a writer and teacher. But, Clayton was able to take very modern resources that most kids can relate to and compare them to traditional pieces of work.

    Amanda on Storytelling/Power of the Story: I’ve followed Humans of New York on social media for quite some time, so Amanda’s round table was awesome for me to watch. I definitely plan on using it in a very similar way within the first couple weeks of school. This is a great way for students to learn about one another and themselves.

    Jim on Making the Post-Modern Approachable: Like Julie’s lesson, Jim’s round table was a new subject for me to think about. Post-modernism is a topic that I didn’t think I could teach in an 8th grade classroom, but after seeing how Jim broke it down, I think it can be taught in a middle school classroom. I also loved the reading strategies Jim had us practice by squaring one aspect of the story and circling another aspect. This helped me read the story, which was hard to comprehend at times.

    Taylour on Interactive Read-Alouds: Taylour’s lesson was really fun and interactive and it made me realize how beneficial teaching with children’s book can be. The way she broke down the story by asking questions throughout was a great reading strategy. Taylour’s roundtable inspired me to incorporate shorter, picture books into my lesson a lot more often than I normally would.

    Christy on Argument Writing: I have to teach argumentative writing to my 8th graders next year, so Christy’s roundtable was really valuable for me. I’ve studies logos, ethos, and pathos in many of my college courses, which is why I didn’t think I could teach them to my students. But, Christy’s lesson was provided with a ton of resources and activities that showed me I can teach this aspect of argumentative writing.

  18. One more to add: Leanne's RT was really interesting. She made me think about point-of-view in a new way; in fact, I never realized how much I hated third person omniscient narration until her warm-up today. I plan to adapt her lesson to use with college freshman in my Intro to Lit class this fall. I think it would be fun to do the reading aloud activity with an advanced piece from the Intro to Lit anthology.