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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Let's Agree to Disagree: Using Google Moderator in the Classroom

Google Moderator was originally designed to collect and rank questions to be answered in large conference settings. Users could submit questions and then vote up or vote down those questions or ideas submitted by others. Used in this manner, Moderator acted as a back channel for live sessions.

What's great for classroom teachers, however, is that Moderator can also be used as a tool for collaboration, crowdsourcing, and even assessment. See some recommended classroom uses below the video.

How to Use Google Moderator

Using Google Moderator is in no way difficult, but you need to be aware of variables which can be toggled on or off.

First, be sure that you're logged into a Google account (students will need to be logged into Google accounts as well to submit responses or vote on ideas).

Once you arrive at Google Moderator, you'll need to choose a nickname. Since you are the moderator, this nickname will be used to identify you, so yes, it will be visible! Choose wisely.

Next, click on Create Series. Other series (questions sets) you've created with this same Google account will show up as well.

Rather than simply typing a Title, click on Advanced.

Use the Advanced Screen to choose a Title, Description, and other variables.

One task is to Choose Options for Responders. These are fairly self-explanatory, but note that
  • If students submit responses, these will simply appear below the moderator's question. Peers will not vote on these responses.
  • If students submit ideas, these can be voted up or down as a "Good Idea" when students click either yes or no. Additionally, peers can respond to each submitter's idea. This option creates more dialogue among students.
  • When students submit questions, these can voted up or down by choosing yes or no.

One setting I recommend changing is Series Visibility. This will lessen the chance of uninvited users adding to your conversations.

Other settings might make little sense now, but become more clear as you begin to use the site. The good news: you can always change these later, and they'll take effect on all responses and questions, no matter how many have been submitted. When done with options, choose Create Series.

If you didn't do so earlier, click on the Home button to create your nickname as moderator for the Series. Otherwise, all of your comments and questions will appear as "submitted by Unnamed."

If you want students to remain anonymous to each other (and you), don't let them choose nicknames. If you want identities known, I recommend students use nicknames or codes that are already known to their peers.

Next, submit a Question.You can submit multiple questions, but I recommend you try just one at first.

To share the Series with students, click on the Home Menu and select Share. The Share button provides options for email, direct link, etc.

Once students reach the site, they create a nickname and they're good to go.

When I tried Moderator for the first time, I neglected to allow students to post responses to questions. I easily fixed that by editing my Series (which took just a couple seconds). Then, we noticed that all the responses came up unnamed, since I hadn't directed students to create nicknames. What's cool, though, is that once the nicknames were created, all the "Unnamed" attributions changed to the owners' nicknames (which leads me to think you might actually want to work your responses in this manner in order to initially keep responses and ideas anonymous, thereby preventing students to vote ideas up or down based on student popularity).

Video Explanation

Below is a video which explains much of what I discussed above. Nothing, however, beats giving it a try with your own students!

Suggested Uses:
  • Post a statement concerning a character's motives. Let students voice opinions on whether or not they agree with this character's actions. Students can also discuss what the character should have done instead.
  • Post a headline from a recent current event. After students read the news article, they chime in with their opinions.
  • In preparation for argumentative writing, allow the class to crowdsource ideas. Assign students to post ideas, examples, and evidence for both sides of the issue. Regardless of which side each student chooses to argue in a later writing piece, the ideas from the other list will help them to craft their opposing view statements. (For more on strengthening argumentative writing with opposing viewpoints, see my post called Fightin' Words).
  • Students agree or disagree with an editorial stand.
  • Post a scenario relating to a topic or theme of a novel and ask students to share their thoughts. When students wondered why neighbors would assist the Nazis is locating Jews, I introduced the idea of Citizenship Credits. Students soon learned that incentives to report on your fellow citizen can lead to abuses.
  • Students can share opinions in connection with a video (which can be attached to the form). See some sources for videos at the bottom of this page.

Friday, February 22, 2013

And Action! Motivating Reluctant Readers with Movie Scripts

I'm a huge believer in using nontraditional materials to get kids reading in the classroom. It's no secret that I totally dig picture books for all grade levels, and I also feel that appropriate graphic novels can serve young readers.

Another way to motivate reluctant readers is through the use of movie scripts. For many students, scripts are both engaging and nonthreatening, since the overall plot lines are already familiar (and don't be surprised if students know whole scenes by heart as well). The Internet Movie Script Database features dozens of scripts from current movies and television shows, categorized by genre and fully searchable. From classics like The Breakfast Club to newer films like Lincoln, you'll find tons of gems here! The scripts can be read right online, with no download or additional software needed.

Simply Scripts features a larger assortment of scripts, from movies, television, radio, stage, and more. Several other sources are available through Google, but I've found these two to be most reliable.

These scripts can be used in other ways as well:
  • Students attempting to write scripts can use these as models for conventional formatting.

  • Teachers working on proper use of quotations can assign a portion of a script to be rewritten as traditional dialogue.

  • Oral expression can be examined through multiple readings of sections, emphasizing different words and varying rate and pitch. For example, how many emotions can be expressed by rereadings of the simple question, "Really?"

  • Students can discuss the use of flash forwards and flashbacks as vehicles for advancing the plot.

  • Speakers of English as a second language can practice reading portions, comparing their diction with that of the on-screen actors. (I suppose you'll have to be careful which scripts you choose for this purpose. Having a classroom full of Nathan Lanes or Robert DeNiros is probably not a desired outcome of instruction).
Some disclaimers:
  • Movies rated R appear here as well, so proper guidance on this site is needed.

  • I'm not a lawyer, nor do I play one on TV, but my guess is that printing off entire scripts from this source or any other is probably not legal and should be avoided. Snippets of the scripts might be okay, but don't take my word on that.

  • Although the scripts I viewed seemed true to the movie versions, it's possible that some vary from the final theatrical releases.

  • These script sites exist to sell movies, books, DVDS, etc. For that reason, some schools are likely to block them! I recommend you search about a bit and you may be able to find the desired script on an unblocked site.
Have some other uses for online scripts? Email me or leave a comment below.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

How Could "They" Let This Happen?

The world is a dangerous place to live. Not because of the people who are evil; but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.  ~Albert Einstein

If you're reading a Dystopian or a Holocaust novel with your students, you're apt to see the wisdom and warning in Albert Einstein's words. If so, then keep reading.

When studying the Holocaust, my students always ask, "How could people let this happen?" They little realize how insidiously this tragedy was allowed to occur, and how quietly and malevolently similar atrocities continue to proliferate across the globe.

To help students better understand, I assign a writing piece called Citizenship Credits. It consists of a prompt for an argumentative essay, and its success relies upon students' struggle with seeing both sides of the topic presented. Most important, however, is the discussion which ensues, as it helps students begin to understand how such tragedies can occur, through not only the action of those who seek to control others, but the inaction of those who stand aside silently and allow it to happen. This small understanding is a jumping off point to exploring further causes; it is also, however, a cautionary tale for avoiding the consequences of inaction in their own lives.

Please know that this is NOT a simulation activity. I recently attended a session of the Master Teachers Institute in Holocaust Education at Rutgers University, where I heard teacher educator Ilana Abramovitch discuss the ineffectiveness of simulations. We cannot conduct one short exercise which causes discomfort and deprivation, and then declare to students, "And now you know how it must have felt."

This prompt instead allows students to see that "how this was allowed to happen" could happen just as easily in their own country, their own state, their own school. If you're studying a Dystopian novel, this prompt could also serve as an excellent prereading discussion piece, with exactly that same message

The Prompt

The prompt I share with students is embedded below. I kept it as simple and jargon-free as possible, and it's always amazing to see the number of provisions and conditions and rules which students attach to it as they begin to write, regardless of the perspective they've chosen to argue.

The class reads the prompt together and discusses it briefly. I then ask students to turn to the assignment's blank backside, fold the page in half, and write at least three bulleted statements arguing why such a policy is good, and three bulleted statements for why such a policy is bad. We share these aloud, and I encourage students to record points made by classmates which they might have missed. Students are encouraged to record arguments for both sides, even if they've already decided which point of view they take.

Students are then directed to choose one side of the topic or the other. My students organize their thoughts on a Google Draw doc which I've created for this purpose, which later allows them to copy and paste sentences easily to a blog or wiki. Another possibility for organizing ideas is with an interactive mapping tool such as Read Write Think's Persuasion Map, which can be edited online or printed up as a blank map for off-line use.

If you prefer that students use a more traditional outline format, check out Quicklyst. This frills-free outlining site is incredible quick to learn and leaves off distracting bells and whistles which students simply don't need.

As students begin writing their essays, encourage them to discuss not only the facts, examples, and anecdotes which support their own side of the issue, but also the opposing views of their opponents. Only if they acknowledge these opposing views and counter them will their writing be argumentative, versus simply persuasive. For more on argumentation vs. persuasion, and also the power of the opposing viewpoints, see my previous Fightin' Words post. 

How you choose to close this activity depends largely upon the approach you'll take with your novel. Every year it's my students who draw parallels between the dangers of the Citizenship Credits policy, and what began to happen with citizens reporting on their neighbors in the early years of Nazi Germany.  You may also wish to share The Hangman by Maurice Ogden, an allegorical poem with a powerful message. See "The Hangman" related activities.  

Responding to Holocaust Readings

If you're interested in additional ways that students can respond to Holocaust readings, be sure to check out this post which provides four writing prompts to use before, during, and after a Holocaust unit.

Recommended Reads

While I've used this activity successfully with both Number the Stars and The Devil's Arithmetic, it could also used as a prereading activity with other Holocaust titles such as Markus Zusak's The Book Thief and Susan Campbell Bartoletti's The Boy Who Dared

The theme of a police state of paranoia would also ring true with Dystopian titles such as Animal Farm, 1984, The Hunger Games, Brave New World, and Divergent.

If you're looking to read more on the topic of argumentative writing, check out They Say, I Say: The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing. This book explains in concise language, dozens of templates, and numerous real-world examples, the powerful concepts which guide argumentative writing.

Here you'll find templates for openings, closings, discussion, disagreement, etc. You'll also have at your fingertips many professionally written articles, essays, and speeches which show these same templates at work (see the explanation of argumentative writing in "Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Letter from Birmingham Jail" shown in the book preview on Amazon). 

This work, aimed at both instructors and high school- and college-aged students, is must reading.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

13 Ways to Engage Students from Beginning to End: Active Lesson Openers and Closers

A lesson which features a focused initial activity is more likely to produce active participation, focused learning, and intended learning outcomes. The lesson openers, or anticipatory sets, that follow are designed to immediately engage the student in the learning process. 

The closers, or closure activities, describe how each opener can be revisited in some form at lesson’s end, thus providing students with a quick review and closure, while providing the teacher with some small measure of student achievement of the desired objective. 

1. Prior Knowledge
Opener: Students discuss and list on a flip chart or in a journal all they know about the topic to be covered in the lesson. While this might be a traditional KWL type chart, with older students I prefer a bulleted list or a T-chart showing opposing viewpoints. At the teacher’s discretion, students can add ideas which their peers share (we call this crowd sourcing). 

Before reading a nonfiction article about privateers, for example, or well-researched sea yarn such as Privateer's Apprentice, students might be asked to list all they know about pirates. Walking the plank and burying treasure are sure to top such a list, and most students will likely agree that pirates were lawless, ruthless renegades that roamed the oceans. They would be surprised to discover, then, that many "pirates" were in fact privateers, commissioned by royal powers to attack ships under enemy flag. In Privateer's Apprentice, author Susan Verrico provides a students with a compelling narrative that not only keeps them reading, but also dispels many of our most common misconceptions about "pirates." (Visit Peachtree Publishers for a free teaching guide for Privateer's Apprentice).
Closer: At lesson’s end, students place a + sign by those listed items which were addressed or confirmed, and circle any issues about which questions remain. In some cases, the "facts" students know may not be confirmed or denied until a large portion, or even the entirety, of a book is read.

2. Presort
Opener: Each group of three to four students is given a number of index cards to sort according to set criteria. A stack of mixed cards, for example, may contain factual and ten fictional statements drawn from a historical fiction text. The group sorts them, relying upon prior knowledge alone.
Closer: The group’s sorting is later confirmed or emended through information provided in the lesson or reading. These cards can be saved and used by the group for later review before testing. As students become accustomed to this strategy, you can assign students to make similar card sets, to be swapped with a partner for purposes of review.

3. Rules
Opener: Have small groups create a list of rules pertaining to the lesson subject.  You can specify that rules begin with prompts such as

  • Always...
  • Never...
  • At least once a day...
  • If you want to succeed, you must...
  • If you wish to guarantee failure, always...

For example, you might say to students, “Thinking about The Witch of Blackbird Pond, pretend you are a colonial mother giving advice to her daughter on the proper behavior of a young woman. Make a list of rules she must follow.” (In the case of Kit Tyler, headstrong ideas and odd behaviors directly oppose the rules governing her present circumstances). This activity would be followed by a group reading of a colonial era journal, or by students referencing relevant passages from the novel. Realize that with this activity you’re likely to receive as many humorous as serious responses!  

For other books such as Animal Farm (where the rules mysteriously and malevolently shift) and Devil's Arithmetic (where obeying Rivka's rules are as important to survival as obeying the Nazis' rules), this activity might be adapted somewhat and revisited over multiple class periods. 
Closer: For that reason, this strategy is a great closure activity if each group’s rules are shared after the lesson is formally conducted. Another possible closer is asking, "What is likely to happen to a member of this community if these rules aren't followed?"

4. Pretest
Opener: Similar to Presort, but here each student is individually given a quiz which they answer to the best of their ability. Students check their answers as the lesson progresses.
Closer: Formally review the answers to the pretest, and have students provide the reason for, or additional information regarding, each answer. These can be saved for test review.

5. Share a Goal
Opener: Each student jots down one goal he or she would like to see addressed in the lesson. These are posted by group and addressed at lesson’s end as a form of closure. The same procedure can be done with “questions to be answered.”
Closer: Review questions/goals to see what has been accomplished, and which items remain as “burning issues” for future lessons.

6. Sentence Starter
Opener: Each student responds orally or in writing to a sentence prompt.  Some effective prompts might include:
• A successful student prepares for a test by...
• When checking over your writing, always check to see...
• The most tragic character flaw a character can possess is...
Closer: Have students with at least three other students in paired sharings. Then ask students to share with the class the best answer they heard, whether it’s their response or another student’s.

7. Describe the Best...
Opener: Students brainstorm a list to describe their best teacher, class, learning experience, etc. for the purpose of finding common attributes which point out good teaching, learning, etc. Another possibility is to show video excerpts of three to five exceptional public speakers, asking students to take notes on what makes their presentation style so compelling.
Closer: Have students choose one trait they will focus on during a specific role play, during the next day, or as a semester long goal.

8. Think Tank
Opener: Ask a number of general knowledge questions which all students should know, but may not (capital of Bolivia, number of teams in the NFL, the meaning of the word tsunami, Mark Twain’s real name, three sports which celebrate “hat tricks,” the most common animal from which we get pâté, etc.). Have each student complete the quiz independently, then form groups of 4 to 6 and let students share information. They will learn that the more people involved, the more informed the process, or, in a more cliché mantra, Together Everyone Achieves More (TEAM). This can lead into a discussion on shared problem solving, communication, etc.
Closer: The teacher, widely known as Mr. or Ms. Know-It-All, might be challenged to answer similar general knowledge questions generated by the students.

9. Read Aloud
Opener: The teacher asks students to listen to a piece being read aloud, with a specified objective in mind. The literature piece can be a poem, fable, excerpt of a historical diary, example of a specific genre or literary device, top ten list (David Letterman style), a news article, a fictitious letter, etc.
Closer: Closure depends on the type of literature used. Groups can be encouraged to create their own “top ten” lists, read a related article or story for discussion at a later time, or write their own “You Were There” letters. A fictitious letter from a Civil War mother, for example, can be answered from the point of view of Abraham Lincoln, or from an “enemy” soldier who has found the body upon the corpse of a man he has killed in battle. A book such as On Enemy Soil: The Journal of James Edmond Pease provides ample historical background as well as personal narrative to provide students with both a contextual frame and a writing style suited to the task. Or does it? Is James' terse, narrative style of this journal the same type of writing in which a letter to grieving parents would be written? Can such a letter celebrate a life, without glorifying the hell which ended it? Author Jim Murphy provides some answers to all of these questions by book's end.

10. Metaphors
Opener: Divide the team into small groups of 4 to 6 people. Have each group discuss and identify an analogy for a topic being discussed. It can be a metaphor or a simile. For example: “Eighth grade is like a three-ring circus. We have so many things going on at once that it’s both frightening and exciting.” Allow five minutes to discuss; then have teams share. My students enjoyed taking novels with large casts of characters and identifying each character with an animal.
Closer: Sharing is a must. You might also provide students with a metaphor of your choosing, such as a metaphor for learning. Explain how that metaphor should be extended throughout the school year.

11. A Picture is Worth...
Opener: Have each small group draw a diagram, picture, map, etc., depicting how they view a recent topic. Have groups post their pictures, but then have a member of a different group interpret a group’s drawing for the audience (without any help from that group beforehand). The group which created the picture is not allowed to speak during the presentation. Some students like the idea of trying to represent complex story relationships with mathematical symbols and imagery (some modeling might be needed here).
Closer: Time allowing, groups can compare/contrast their true “visions” with the interpretations offered previously.

12. Review through Competition
Opener: Upon completion of the content portion of a lesson (whether the content was presented by the teacher, through a reading, or other means), challenge each group to list, within five minutes, all they learned from the lesson.
Closer: Give a follow-up quiz, and allow groups to share notes to complete the quiz.

13. Sandwich Boards
Opener: Each person in the group writes on newsprint, “Things I Know” (about the content of the lesson, areas of personal expertise, etc.).
Closer: On a second newsprint sheet, students write, “Things I Learned.” The sheets are joined with tape, sandwich board style, and one member of the team wears the completed piece.  All students mill around, non-verbally, reading the contents of other groups’ sandwich boards.

Other Opening Methods
Other short lesson openers include sharing:
• an unusual fact,
• a personal experience,
• a quotation,
• a statistic,
• an amusing or thought-provoking anecdote,
• a rhetorical question,
• a relevant joke,
• a story, or
• a reference to a current event.

Other Closing Methods
The following closure activities can be used regardless of the lesson’s anticipatory set.  Some require more time than might be permissible in the classroom; they can either be truncated or assigned as homework

Got You Covered

Google image search reveals an incredible assortment of book cover art for many novels. A book like A Tale of Two Cities has been represented in countless ways via cover art, especially if you consider foreign editions. In the case of Linda Urban's Hound Dog True, the cover art was changed from a simple, "pretty princess" type design to a photograph. How does this change a reader's approach to the book? Does it change the potential readership of a book? One of my sixth graders recently read this book, loved it, and recommended it to me. I can say with some certainty, based upon other books she read, that she wouldn't have chosen this same book given its original cover. 

To get the most bang out of this method, make predictions based upon the cover art (as you'd usually do). Then, at some point in the middle of a novel, show students several cover art versions and allow them to pick their favorite and describe why. Repeat the exercise at book's end and see if any opinions have changed. Your students may even be up to the challenge of designing their own covers! Another interesting discussion begins, "If a book was made into a movie, should an image from the film version be used as cover art?"

Group Question
It is usually fruitless to ask, “Are there any questions?” after intensive learning of a new topic.  Instead, upon completion of a session’s content portion, separate participants into groups and ask each group to form the “two best questions” they can.  Only one is asked; the other is generated in case someone “takes” the group’s first question.

Quick Toss
Use a small stuffed animal, bean bag, or Nerf toy to toss to students.  Each person shares one thing he or she learned, and then tosses the object to another student.  Greater control can be exercised (particularly if this is adapted for use by younger students) if the speaker tosses the object back to the teacher, rather than another participant.

What Now?
Each student jots down (or could share) one specific strategy or skill he/ she learned and how it will be used in the immediate future.

So What?
After reading a select text excerpt, students write a “So What?” statement, explaining in their own words the importance of the passage to plot, character development, problem resolution, etc.

New Knowledge
When designing the lesson, jot down 4 to 6 key questions that each student should be able to answer by lesson’s end.  Pass out one of these questions to each student at session’s end, and have them answer the questions aloud in small groups.  You can also use students’ questions which were gathered at lesson’s start.

Learning Map
Have each individual, or group of  3to 4, draw a diagram, picture, map, etc. symbolically representing the concepts just covered.  These can be shared with the group or posted for all to view.

Game It
Use an online word search or crossword puzzle creator (such as to create a puzzle containing relevant information from the lesson.  In order to make this a group-oriented activity, puzzles can be enlarged into posters.
Some Final Thoughts on Lesson Openers

• Don’t confuse your opener with the content or skills of your lesson.  The opener is meant to assess prior knowledge, engage the learner, and raise energy levels.  Once the lesson is successfully “kicked off,” more substantial content must be introduced.

• Reward risk-takers.  Enthusiastically welcome and thank the first student who volunteers or asks a question.  This will encourage others to participate.  Too many teachers act as though student questions and comments are an intrusion upon their time.

• Keep the openers short. Do this by being prepared. If note cards are required, hand them out as students enter. If charts are required, set them up ahead of time.  The one exception here would be hand-outs, which will only distract students if they are handed out too soon. 

Credit Where Due

For many of the above methods I owe the late Mel Silberman a great deal of credit, as his ideas about active participation greatly influenced my own teaching at schools and summer camps. I recommend you check out some of his books, including 101 Ways to Make Training Active and Active Training: A Handbook of Techniques, Designs, Case Examples, and Tips.

Another huge influence on my teaching and presentation is Bob Pike, another master of active training. His extremely successful training company has a terrific archive of articles. His 50 Creative Training Openers and Energizers is highly recommended for any teacher looking to motivate students and move them toward positive action.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Narrative Writing that Makes a Point

Perhaps your experience differs from mine, but a lot of personal narrative I've witnessed students write has been either too formulaic or too pointless in its wanderings. How can we help students write personal narratives that are detailed yet focused in purpose?

A terrific scene in Planes, Trains and Automobiles depicts Steve Martin at wit's end. Martin has lost all patience with John Candy, who plays an eternally optimistic and kind-hearted teddy bear of a guy who will strike up a conversation with anyone. That simply rubs the more pragmatic Martin the wrong way. While hilarious, Martin's rant reflects my own feeling about too much student writing.

So I was pretty excited to find Rope Burn, a compact middle-grade novel that immediately struck me as the perfect mentor text for showing students how to write narratives with purpose. Author Jan Siebold writes smooth yet eloquent passages that I think students could easily see themselves writing. Her paragraph and chapter structures are perfect models of the way in which exposition, narrative, and dialogue should combine to create storytelling.

The premise of Rope Burn is that  Mr. Best, Richard's English teacher, has assigned his students the task of writing a composition about a proverb that illustrates something that happened in their lives. While some of Richard's friends choose easier proverbs, applying them to family members rather than themselves, Richard feels challenged to make a real effort at it, especially when his teacher insists that Richard find his "writing voice."

The book begins:

I hate writing.

At least, I hate the kind of writing that most teachers expect. Where do they come up with these ideas for assignments, anyway?

I swear, all teachers must have been required to take a college course called "Student Torture 101." Mr. Best, my English teacher, must have gotten an "A."

Wow. That beginning just won over some of my more reluctant kids! They're thinking, "All right! I totally agree with this kid!" And they keep reading.

In addition to noticing that fabulous hook, I made note that Siebold models some wonderful elaboration, building from one idea to the next, slowly drawing the reader in. The fact is, she artfully pulls off quite a few technical writing feats. Throughout the novel, I marked several passages which I felt would either make excellent mini-lessons, or provide students with how-to models for getting past bits of sticky composition.

In case you're wondering, Richard writes nine pieces, finding both his "writing voice" and his real voice, as the exercise allows him to commit his emotions to the page, and finally wrestle with some pretty heavy issues. Oh, yeah. Writing can do that as well. 

And I dig how Richard links the proverb to his experience through the use of a subtitle; Proverb Five, for example, is titled "Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder, or The First Time I Saw a Dead Body." While the proverb chapters can somewhat stand alone, the reader discovers wonderful narrative threads which flow through and unite them all.

In case you're wondering about the title, it acts as a type of frame story (think Canterbury Tales). Mr. Reynolds, the gym teacher, announces that the basic physical education test includes rope-climbing. Most students, Richard included, don't succeed on the first try. For our protagonist, it's not even close. But a new friend, recognizing Richard's struggles, explains that the secret is to "just keep going, no matter what." With some practice and his friend's encouragement, Richard is able to make progress.

  • Remember how the book started? Have students write a narrative on something they hate. They can start as simply as Robert did, with "I hate ________." Rather than elaborated descriptions of this  hatred, however, students will need to relate at least one anecdote which supports their abhorrence of the chosen topic.
  • Provide students with a list of proverbs ala Mr. Best's assignment. You can find a great starter list at American English Proverbs or Idiom Site (which includes literal interpretations). Quotations Page and Creative Proverbs both feature proverbs from other countries. Students can either scour these sites for phrases which inspire them, or you could ask that students choose from a limited pool of proverbs. Students might be interested to see how one proverb might receive different treatments and interpretations.
  • features some interactive practice with proverbs, should you wish to focus on that aspect of language before the above writing activities.
  • And finally, check out the discussion questions and activities provided at the book's end. Some good ideas for shorter assignments and responses.