Thursday, August 3, 2017

Welcome to Writing 1, 2017

Greetings Parents!

Registrations have been coming in, and Kim Nelson has sent out updated class rosters to the tutors.  I'm excited to see this class fill up.  For those who are new to my classes, I will use e-mails and this blog, Writing 1, to keep parents and students informed and connected.  If you are curious about the class, feel free to peruse past blog posts, especially the Weekly Class Notes.

The students will be reading Animal Farm (Orwell) and A Christmas Carol (Dickens) this semester.  I will buy these books for the students.  I order almost all of my books from Dover Publications because they are so inexpensive.  Dover doesn't carry Animal Farm, so I get used copies at book sales, Half-Price Books, etc.  If you have a copy of Animal Farm that you would like to use, let me know.

The only items your student needs to bring to class, along with some paper and a pen/pencil, is a notebook or folder to keep track of assignments, handouts, worksheets, and class notes.  In the past, I've used Dropbox as storage for handouts for the class.  This year I am using Google Docs.  Shortly, you will receive an invitation to join the shared Google Docs folder with all of the study guides, handouts, worksheets, etc.

I use My GradeBook, an online grade book, for keeping track of assignments and grades.  You will be getting a link to that account, also. 

I'm looking forward to a new group of students and starting a fresh year of writing.  If your student has an email that I can use for the class, please send that to me.  Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

Please let me know that you received this e-mail; you can simply hit "reply" and "send."  Also, if your student has a separate e-mail that he/she would like me to use, please send that to me.

Looking forward to the Fall classes!
Tammy Prichard

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Writing 1 -- Grades are Coming!

Dear CHAT Writing 1 Students & Parents,

I've just finished calculating the grades for the Spring semester, and you will be finding them in your inbox by the end of the week.  As tutors, these are suggested grades for you as homeschooling families to consider.

For those who are new to my classes, let me share my thoughts on grades.  As I homeschooled, I didn't give my children grades.  I felt that grades were far too subjective.  I taught my own children for mastery.  We didn't proceed with a topic until they were ready no matter how long that took.  In a class setting, knowing where each student is with regards to his/her understanding of a topic is not possible, so any grade given is not a complete representation of what the student learned or accomplished this year.

Letter grades are a funny thing.  For some students, it becomes the only motivation for doing well.  For some, it becomes a measure of their worth as a person or as an academic learner.  I personally don't like these "side effects" of the grading system.  On the other hand, grades can be a valid reflection and reward for working hard, being diligent, and understanding the materials.

When teaching students to be good writers, I give a lot of consideration for growth and improvement. Each student has a starting place; over time I look for him or her to learn the mechanics of grammar, good writing techniques, and analytical thinking skills.

For this class, I gave points for attendance, participation, short assignments, literature assignments, grammar exercises, and longer essays. (I tend to be an "easy grader" and like to see my students encouraged to do their best.)  For this essay assignments, the final drafts were graded using a rubric that divided the papers into the following categories:  focus, content, organization, and mechanics.  The grades will be divided into the following categories:  Assignments (Quick Writes and in class activities), Literature, and Writing.  A student may have been strong in one area and not in another, and this will be reflected in these categories.  The categories are not evenly weighted; in other words, 100% in Assignments, which were almost all Quick Writes, does not have the same value as 100% in Grammar, which included lots of worksheets and new material to learn.

Each student (and parents) will receive an e-mail with percentages and suggested grades for this semester.  I’ve seen each student improve with each paper.  Good Work!

Tammy Prichard

Writing 1 -- Grades are coming!
Grades, Percentages, and Scores Clarification

Friday, May 12, 2017

Writing 1 Class Notes -- Week 15 (May 11)


Well, we've made it through another great year at CHAT.   I know that these great students learned a lot -- just compare their first essays with their final ones!

Even though I had a full day planned for the class, we didn't skip the Quick Write.  Thursday was the 159th anniversary of Minnesota's statehood, the day that SPAM was produced, and National Eat What you Want Day.  Students could write about any of the choices.

We didn't do any Words of the Day this week.  I wanted to make sure we had time for the rest of our activities.

I handed back all the homework that I had graded, and students handed in their Spring Grammar Tests along with any other homework that they had for me.  If there is still any homework left to be handed in, I will take it until next Thursday (May 18).  After that, I will send out grades.

Now for the fun stuff ...
We finished our Poetry Jam.  Team 2 (Caitlin, Jade, Shannon, Gabriel) and Team 3 (Isabella, Sam, Kayla, David, and Macy) recited against each other, while the other 3 teams judged.  We had a great collection of poems, some memorized and some originals.  As far as I'm concerned everyone who participated was a winner!  We finished our poetry with the 5 teams doing a class reading of Dr. Seuss's "Oh the Places You will Go."

Remaining in our teams, the class then played a Jeopardy game with questions related to the grammar, writing, and literature that we've covered this year.  

I'm pretty proud of these kids.  They've written well, engaged well in class discussions, worked hard on homework, and been generally great all-around kids.  We had a marvelous year reading and writing!

Assignments for Next Week:

This week's links:
Class Notes

Have a great summer!
Mrs. Prichard

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Writing 1 Class Notes -- Week 14 (May 4)


Just brief notes about today.  I'll give a fuller summary of the year next week.

This week's Quick Write options:
National Day of Prayer -- write about what you feel is the most pressing prayer need for our country.
Cinco de Mayo -- The 5th of May, -- write about what you know of Hispanic culture or your favorite Mexican food.
Star Wars Day -- "May the forth be with you."  See this article for how this became Star Wars day.

Words of the Day:
trans -- Latin, across -- trans-Atlantic, transportation, transport, transition, trans-continental
tempo -- Latin, time -- tempo, temporarily, temporal, contemporary
ultra -- Latin, beyond -- ultrasound, ultrasonic, ultraviolet

In with the Homework that I handed back were two handouts from My GradeBook:  missing reports, and current grade reports.  Since next week is our last week, I'd like students to be able to get any missing homework in.  If a student is missing any worksheets, he/she can find missing worksheets on Google Drive

Students have finished the Mastering the Comma Review, and are to take the Spring Grammar Test about commas at home this week.

After handing in their homework for this week, we settled into our Poetry Jam. When one team recited, the other teams judged.  I didn't have time to enter all of the scores before the left for the day, so here are the results:

FirstTeam 28.4357
SecondTeam 37.825
ThirdTeam 17.6
FourthTeam 57.2
FifthTeam 47.1
Next week Team 2 and Team 3 will participate in the Poetry Jam Play-offs.

Next week we will also have a final exam in the form of a Jeopardy game.  Students can bring snacks to share.

Assignments for Next Week 
-- Spring Grammar Test
-- Teams 2 & 3 need to bring a poem to recite
-- Any old homework!!

Links for This Week:
Class Notes

Have a great week!
Mrs. Prichard

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Writing 1 Class Notes -- Week 13 (April 27)


I guess I should not have been surprised to see snow showers on my way to CHAT this week.  After all, it is Minnesota.  However, it does make it hard to believe that spring is really here and that we only have two more weeks of CHAT classes.

We had a fun Quick Write this week.  I have a game called "Man Bits Dog."  According to the makers of the game, it's a game of "hilarious headlines."  This game has cards with words that are to be used as headlines, and I incorporated this into our Quick Write by having them write a story to go with the headline.  They were very creative, both in their word combinations and their stories.

Words of the Day:
scio -- Latin, "to know" -- science, scientific, conscience, conscious, omniscient
scrib -- Lain, "to write" -- describe, scripture, script, scribe, scribble, inscribe, subscribe
sens -- Latin, "to feel" -- sensitive, senses, sensible, consensus, sentiment, insensitive, sensory,
spect -- Latin, "to watch" -- spectator, spectacle, spectate, inspector, respect, specimen, introspective
sub -- Latin, "below" -- subway, submarine, suburbs, subzero, sublime, subliminal, sublingual

I didn't have a lot to hand back to students, but they had their final drafts to hand in to me.  I know that some students have been gone due to trips, sports, and illnesses, so any homework that wasn't handed in this week can be handed in the next.  I will have My Gradebook updated this week so that students can check to see if they are missing any assignments.  With only two weeks left in the semester, it's important to get on top of any late homework.

Our final essay for the year is a "Re-Write."  Students rarely have the opportunity to go back to previous assignments in order to revise and improve them.  These are important skills for successful writers to have.  Students are to choose one of their previous essays from this year.  I've encouraged them to choose either their "worst" or lowest scoring essay or to choose one that is about a topic that they are especially interested in.  They should consider the final drafts of their previous essays as the "rough drafts" for this assignment.  Next week, I would like them to hand in their re-write and the final draft of the previous essay.

In addition to reading poetry, we are doing a "Poetry Jam," a competitive poetry reading experience. Each student is to bring two poems next week and to be ready to recite them with a team.  The rest of the class will score the presentations, and the top two teams will read the following week.  (In class we went over the scoring rubric and the competition details.)  Below are the teams:
Team 1

Team 2

Team 3

Team 4

Team 5

We finished class with a continued look at punctuation, especially the semicolon and commas.  Students have a Mastering the Comma Review worksheet to do for next week.  The following week, I will be giving students a final test on commas to do as a take home test.

Assignments for Next Week:
-- Read the poems by the following poets:  Shakespeare, p. 1; Quarles, p. 4; Bradstreet, p. 6; Longfellow, p. 20; Burgess, p. 39
-- Essay Re-Write
-- Comma Review Worksheet
--  Prepare 2 Poems for our Poetry Jam

Links for this Week
Class Notes
Poetry Out Loud 
     -- Jabberwocky
     -- Pied Beauty
     -- My Mistress' Eyes

Have a beautiful Sunday!
Mrs. Prichard

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Writing 1 Class Notes -- Week 12 (April 20)


We had a good, productive day in class today.  I gave the students two options for the Quick Write.  Firstly, this day in 1841 marks the day that the first detective short story was printed.  This story, "The Murders in the Rue Morgue," by Edgar Allen Poe introduces Monsieur C. Auguste Dupin to solve a series of murders in Paris.  The second option was to respond to the fact that today is National High Five Day.  We had a couple options for additional ways to great or congratulate someone.

Our Words (Latin roots) of the Day:
omni -- Latin, all -- omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, omnivore, Omni Theater
pac -- Latin, peace -- pacify, pacifist, pacifier, Pacific, pact, impact
pater -- Latin, father -- paternal, paternal, Padre, compadre, patriotic, patriot, patron, patronize, patronage
ped -- Latin, foot -- pedometer, centipede, pedestrian, pedal, expedient, pedicure, podiatrist
pedo -- Greek, child -- pediatric, pediatrician, pedagogy

I handed back homework, and we took some time to talk about the Rough Drafts of the News Stories.  Usually when I hand back rough drafts I have a list of common corrections that we go through.  For this set of essays, I asked students to look through their own papers and offer up areas for corrections.  This was helpful in that we could discuss issues specific to their papers.  I also encouraged them to pay close attention to their corrections because this is one way that they can take charge of their own growth as writers.  When they do their Final Drafts, they have a half sheet to fill out for documenting the first five corrections on their papers.  They also have the rubric to do a self-evaluation on their papers.

Continuing with our focus on Punctuation, students were given a worksheet dealing with parentheses and dashes, and we worked through a number of sentences together.

Finally, we turned to our Poetry books.  April is National Poetry Month, and I talked about the poetry presentations that we will be doing at the end of the semester.  For the final two weeks, the students are divided into teams and "compete" by reciting poems from their books or originals.  I have some poetry-related blog posts listed below.  We read one of my favorites, William Carlos Williams' "The Red Wheel Barrow."

Assignments for Next Week:
-- Read Wordsworth (p. 12); Browning (p. 19); Bronte (p. 24); Hopkins (p. 31)
     -- Read all of the poems by the authors listed.
-- No poetry worksheets
-- Final Draft of News Story
     -- 5 First Errors worksheet
     -- Self-Evaluation Rubric
-- Worksheet 15-4

Links for this Week
Class Notes

Have a beautiful weekend!
Mrs. Prichard

National Poetry Month

April is National Poetry Month, and for that reason, I usually plan my syllabus so that we're discussing poetry during April.  A few students love poetry, while some really dislike it.  For the most part, however, students are fairly ambivalent towards reading poems for class.  They don't love it, but they know it won't kill them.  Honestly, I think this is the attitude for most people, students and adults alike.

Some poetry is pure fun.  Take the limerick, for example.  It's short and cute, and it doesn't require too much deep thought:

There was an old man with a beard
Who said, "it’s just how I feared!
Two owls and a hen
Four larks and a wren
Have all built their nests in my beard.
- Anonymous

There once was a lady named Sue
Who had nothing whatever to do
And who did it so badly
I thought she would gladly
Have stopped before she was through.
- Anonymous

There was a young fellow who thought
Very little, but thought it a lot.
Then at long last he knew
What he wanted to do,
But before he could start, he forgot.

- Anonymous

Some of you may be thinking to yourselves, "How can I participate in this illustrious event?"  Below are some links for anyone wanting to explore more of their own poetic natures:

Poetry Through the Ages
Poem-A-Day e-mail sign up
A Brief Guide to Poetry Slams
30 Ways to Celebrate National Poetry Month
National Poetry Writing Month (NaPoWriMo)
The Academy of American Poets (for more information about poets and poetry than you could read this month.)

Have fun!