Inside the ELA Classroom

December 2019

Talk Less So Students Learn More


Productive struggle is important for students to retain what they learn.


In moments when students are not understanding, we often find ourselves trying to explain more clearly. But sometimes, more teacher talk doesn’t offer clarity. When we consistently lean on teacher explanation as a primary teaching tool, we teach our students that we are the dispensers of information and they are the consumers. How can we shift from teachers owning the learning to student ownership? How do we move from students being dependent on teachers to using each other or tools as a support? Instead of jumping in to show the way, provide the tools and time to encourage cognitive struggle to get students doing more while you say less.


Start with Struggle

... When we sense discomfort in our classrooms, we can be quick to explain and provide steps to follow. But removing the struggle for students also removes the cognitive heavy lifting that leads to deep learning and understanding.


Shift the script and begin lessons by asking students to experience struggle. Explain what you are doing and how grappling with concepts will help them learn before support is given. In math, use an open-ended problem or provide a solution with a mistake in the work and ask students to analyze the error.



Continue reading HERE, edutpoia

Written By Shannon McGrath, November 15, 2019

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10 Strategies To Add Rigor To Any Lesson, Unit, or Assessment

Several common classroom tasks are inherently rigorous, including reading idea-dense literature, taking notes, and using the writing process itself, but these are rarely engaging and don’t always fit with a given academic standard or task. But the following 10 strategies can be used to add rigor to almost anything.


1. Necessitate a transfer of understanding

By definition, transfer requires a student to apply knowledge in new and unfamiliar situations, an inherently rigorous process. If you can encourage self-initiated transfer (unprompted or coached), all the better.

2. Require students to synthesize multiple sources

In rigorous tasks, learners will often need to synthesize data, positions, or theories from multiple sources or perspectives. When learners have to analyze, internalize, and reconcile multiple perspectives to create a new position or perspective, rigor is a safe bet.

3. Design tasks with multiple steps that build cognitively

Not all tasks that require multiple steps are inherently rigorous (fill out the worksheet, turn it in, read the book, answer the questions, talk to your partner about your answers and turn them in is neither a unique or rigorous approach to learning).

If the tasks build (somewhat parallel to Bloom’s Taxonomy), rigor is more likely. In this approach, a student might define “conflict,” analyze cause-effect of a specific conflict, research the sources of said conflict, then design some kind of short-term solution to one critical cause of said conflict. This approach starts simple, becomes more complex, and is likely to challenge any student no matter how “proficient” their understanding.

4. Use divergent perspectives

Use authors, philosophers, artists, content experts, or other thinkers who make authentic cases of their own that offer contrasting perspectives. Not only does this encourage argument analysis, credibility, etc., but also models how elusive and illusory “truth is,” a rigorous idea of its own.

5. Use divergent media forms

Rather than two (or more) texts, require students to analyze a conversation, a poem, and a tweet; a YouTube video, an encyclopedic resource, and an interview with an expert. The more (seemingly) awkward and divergent, the more learners are challenged to develop new strategies to find solutions.

6. Breakaway from the content-area convention

Use literature to frame math. Use science to promote political discussions. Extract the philosophy from cartoons. Find poetry in the stars. Use Google Earth to make sociological observations. These approaches force students to revise schema for new situations, a key characteristic of rigor.

7. Require design thinking (often in project-based learning)

Build design thinking into rubrics or scoring criteria, supply exemplars, or model their use, but whatever you do, be sure that elements of design thinking, creativity, and the “tinker culture” aren’t just “encouraged” but required for the student to find success.

8. Require long-term observation or analysis

Another potential use of project-based learning or learning simulations, when students are required to observe long-term, cognitive actions such as identifying patterns, cause-effect analysis, and problem-solution thinking are natural by-products.

9. Study nuance

Nuance is often overlooked and offers a world of rigor due to the unique thinking habits it requires.

10. Require students to take and defend positions

This can be done first in small groups, then socialized into larger groups (hopefully outside the classroom). A “position” requires a kind of cognitive ownership that is not only indirectly engaging but also intellectually stimulating and even emotionally demanding, requiring students to think “Why?” as much as “What?,” “When?,” and “Where?”

Rigor is Always Accessible

As Strong, Silver, and Perini explains in “Teaching What Matters,” rigor is a “quality of content, not a measure of the quantity of the content we cover.” Certain content areas may be more inherently rigorous than others (Astrophysics comes to mind), but rigor can be added to anything.


... Rigor is always accessible.


Taken from ASCD in Service on October 23, 2013 by Alexa Epitropoulos

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How to Add Rigor to Anything

TeachThought.com


1.Necessitate a transfer of understanding

2. Require students to synthesize

3. Design tasks with multiple steps that build cognitively

4. Use divergent perspectives

5. Use divergent media forms

6. Break away from content-area-convention

Require design thinking

8. Require long-term observation or analysis

9. Study nuance

10. Require students to take and defend positions

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Click on the graphic above to read original student work from across the district! Writing improves students communication skills and provides a method for expression. No matter the age, grade level or ability of students, consistent writing practice boosts the students' skills and comfort level. It helps cement new concepts by directing students to describe learning in their own words. Through writing students are forced to organize their thoughts, sequence ideas into a story, and record important moments.


The ELA Assesslets and Georgia Milestone provided data to develop the Targeted Writing Plan. Student data is the driving force to adjust instructional practices in writing.


Elementary Plan

Secondary Plan


So glad to know that your students enjoyed the 2nd installment of our Writing Initiative. Be on the look out for the 3rd prompt.

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Reading Strategies and Graphic Organizers

Reading Quest - provides teachers with the philosophical bases for comprehension strategy instruction, directions for a range of comprehension and content reading strategies, and printable resources.


Education Oasis Graphic Organizers - cause and effect, compare and contrast, sequencing, and vocabulary graphic organizers.

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Click on the graphic above or HERE to access some step-by-step processes to help maneuver the new platform.


Don’t forget, we have the online support of Renaissance

  • Live Chat: The link for the live chat is in the upper right-hand corner of your Renaissance home page when you are logged in.
  • Email Support: Email us at answers@renaissance.com.
  • Renaissance Refresher: Subscribe to the bi-weekly E-Newsletter and stay informed about key updates. The newsletter includes tips and resources.

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December Activities

December 1 (1955) (Rosa Parks was arrested)

December 3 (Persons with Disabilities Day)

December 5 (World Soil Day)

December 6 (Write to a Friend Month)

December 7 (Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day)

December 8 (Handwashing Awareness Week)

December 10 (Human Rights Day)

December 11 (International Mountain Day)

December 15 (Bill of Rights Day)

December 17 (Wright Brothers Day)

December 19 (Winter Holidays Worksheets)

December 19 (Winter HOlidays Reading Lists)


Polar Express (PreK-K, 1-2) Crafts, Printouts, Mini Units, etc.


A Colonial Christmas in Williamsburg (three to four lessons)

Beyond A Story: A Dickens of a party (Victorian period)

Christmas Alliterations

Celebrating Winter Holidays: ACtivities and Resources for Teachers

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Polar Express has become a favorite for teachers and students during the holiday season. Take advantage of the "teachable moment" while connecting the book and move to your curriculum. share your ideas in our your grade level Learning Resource Folders!


Writing topic: Why do you think the author had the boy lose the bell?


Vocabulary


Chris Van Allsburg Author Spotlight


Countdown to Christmas games and activities.


Encourage your students to read by creating a train track reading log.


A Teacher's Guide to the Polar Express.


Polar Regions MapMaker Kit - National Geographic


The Artic Region - National Geographic


Polar Bear Territory - National Geographic

A Conversation with Chris Van Allsburg

Chris Van Allsburg talks about his childhood, his artwork, and the creation of The Polar Express


Q) What was your childhood like?

A) I grew up just outside Grand Rapids, Michigan. There were open fields, trees, and unpaved roads. The houses weren't big — they were nice, small houses for families of four or maybe five. There were still places nearby where I could catch tadpoles. There were places to go sledding, and fields where you could play baseball — not someplace surrounded by a fence, just open fields. I rode my bike to school.

My father ran a dairy. Not the kind with cows, but one that converted milk into ice cream, butter, and cottage cheese. On Sundays, my father would take me along with him to the dairy to make the cottage cheese. There was a giant stainless-steel vat with milk heating up in it. My job was to push a floating thermometer around the big tank, using a stick, to see if the tank had a uniform temperature. Then my father would put bacteria in to start the process of turning milk to cheese. Then we’d lower the lids on the vat. A couple of days later, you’d come back, and there would be guys standing in the vat with boots on and big shovels, shoveling the cottage cheese.


Q) What were your favorite childhood pastimes?

A) I loved to build models: cars, planes, and boats. In fact, I built these models rather obsessively and even as a child had an unchildlike concern for craftsmanship.


Q) Did you always know that you wanted to be an artist?

A) I drew as a child but didn't take art classes in high school. I entered the University of Michigan with a vague idea of becoming a lawyer, but as a lark I took some art courses in figure drawing. I rediscovered the pleasure that drawing had given me as a child. When I studied three-dimensional art it reminded me of building models. I thought it was great that I was going to get a college degree for doing something I did when I was eight years old. Ultimately, I graduated with a degree in sculpture. By that time I'd forgotten about law school, and went to the Rhode Island School of Design to continue studying sculpture.


Q) How did the story for The Polar Express occur to you?

A) I had this idea, this mental image, of a young boy who, perhaps while visiting relatives or something, hears a strange sound in the middle of the night, and he goes outside. It is a very foggy, misty night. He walks through these woods and sees a train standing still, just sitting in this kind of fog. Where is it going to go? Well, there are a lot of places a train could go and take a child, but where would a child want to go more than anywhere else? As I reflected on this mysterious train, it occurred to me that it must be a cold night, because the engine's steam is heavy. It might even be winter. Maybe some snow is falling. Perhaps it's December, close to Christmas, or even Christmas Eve. Then I asked myself the question again: where would a child want to go more than anywhere else on Christmas Eve?


Q) Did the story take you long to write?

A) The Polar Express was the easiest of my picture book manuscripts to write. I created only one draft and had to make only a few changes to the text. Once I realized the train was going to the North Pole, finding the story seemed less like a creative effort than an act of recollection. I felt, like the story's narrator, that I was remembering something, not making it up.


Q) What is The Polar Express about?

A) The Polar Express is about faith, and the power of imagination to sustain faith. It's also about the desire to reside in a world where magic can happen, the kind of world we all believed in as children, but one that disappears as we grow older.


Q) How did you create the artwork for the book?

A) I was interested in seeing what I could do with oil pastels; I attempted to achieve the qualities of the light at night by mixing color complements (reds with greens, oranges with blues) to bring out the ambiguous hues of colors in low light.


Q) Did you use models to create your images for The Polar Express?

A) Yes. The children were neighbors of David Macaulay. And David himself posed as Santa. But for most of the book — the train interiors, the landscapes, the North Pole — I relied on my imagination.


Q) Was there a particular artistic inspiration for the artwork in The Polar Express?

A) The mood and palette for The Polar Express were inspired by the paintings of the 19th-century German artist, Caspar David Friedrich. He was a landscape artist who created wonderful panoramic views with single small figures in the composition. I wanted to use the tertiary colors, the browns and the violets, to get the somber atmosphere I sensed in Friedrich's work.


Q) Were you surprised by the success of The Polar Express?

A) It was a surprise for everyone, especially when it appeared on the New York Times bestseller list. Kit William's Masquerade had been on the list, but I don't think any other picture book had appeared there. Houghton initially printed 50,000 copies, certainly indicating support for the book. But yes, we all were surprised.


Q) How would you describe the kind of fantasy you create in your work?

A) The idea of the extraordinary happening in the context of the ordinary is what's fascinating to me. Alfred Hitchcock always explored the ordinary person who was visited by unaccountable sorts of events and was pulled out of the kind of reality that he could rely on. I think fantasy is more provocative when it happens in the context of ordinariness, or things that you recognize. That's why outer space fantasies, fantasies of the Middle Ages, pixies, dwarfs, giants — none of that is especially appealing to me as a writer. I prefer surreal elements within a realistic landscape.


Q) Who was the audience you had in mind when creating The Polar Express?

A) I write for what's left of the eight-year-old still rattling around inside my head. I think it's a mistake to try to create something for a particular audience. You end up spending more time wondering what they like and less time wondering about what's really important to you as an artist.


Q) Have you been surprised by activities inspired by the book?

A) Surprised and pleased. I've received many letters (and some photos) that describe reenactments of the book in auditoriums and classrooms around Christmastime. In North Conway, New Hampshire, they reenact the ride itself with an old steam engine that makes a trip to a nearby ski lodge. The passengers (which include quite a few kids in their pajamas and bathrobes) disembark there, where about a hundred citizens of North Conway, dressed as elves and carrying lanterns, greet them. At the lodge there's a presentation of the story, Santa appears, and as they leave, all the children are given a small sleigh bell.


Q) Do you often get interesting letters from your readers?

A) I have a favorite one, about Jumanji. "Dear Mr. Van Allsburg, I love the books you write. I am so glad your books are so weird because I am very weird. I think you are weird but great. I wish a volcano and a flood could be in my room when I am bored."


Q) What will you be doing in the next fifteen years?

A) I don't make plans. All my life, one artistic impulse has simply led me to another. I thought once that I was going to become a lawyer, but I became a sculptor. That led me to drawing, which led me to storytelling and, recently, I've been doing some writing for film. Following my muse has worked out pretty well so far. I can't see any reason to change the formula now.


An interview from 2000. Taken from http://www.houghtonmifflinbooks.com/features/thepolarexpress/cvaconversation.shtm

Polar Express Guiding Questions for a Book Talk

  • The boy's friend told him that Santa doesn't exist, but the boy continues to believe. Think of a time in your own life that you have experienced this situation. How does it feel to keep firm when other people tell you you are wrong?

  • Notice how Van Allsburg adds to his descriptions of the train ride to the North Pole by comparing one thing to another (give some examples). How does this kind of descriptive language add to the story for you?

  • The boy can ask Santa Claus for anything in the world. Why do you think he chooses a simple bell?

  • Why can the boy and his sister hear the bell while their parents cannot?

  • Why can the boy still hear the bell as an adult, while his sister and friends cannot?
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Exit Slips to Foster Writing

Writing , even in brief formats, can help students reflect on what they have learned. (Marzano, 2012). Exit slips are a quick and easy way for students to maintain involvement with a lesson even as it ends. It only takes a few minutes to engage students in a summarizing activity where they jot down their thoughts, re-frame their learning, and formulate areas to review.


Step-By-Step


1. The first step is to determine the type of information needed to check students' understanding. Three most common types of exit slips are:


Prompts that document learning

  • The three most important things I learned today are...
  • Today I changed my mind about....
  • What I would like to tell someone else about what I learned today is...


Prompts that emphasize the process of learning


  • Two questions I have about what we did in class today are...
  • I am confused about...
  • What I would like to learn next is...



Prompts to evaluate the effectiveness of the instruction


  • The thing that helped me pay attention most today was...
  • The thing that helped me understand the most today was...
  • Something that did not help me today was.....
  • One thing that really confused me today was...



2. Make sure to leave enough time at the end of the class session (or lesson) for students to respond to the prompt.


3. Collect students' writing as they leave the classroom or you transition to another content of study or activity. This will provide direction for you as you make instructional decisions (remediation and enrichment). Do not worry about editing and returning the slips. The primary focus is for teachers to understand how the students think.

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Five Reasons Your Students Should Write Everyday

Why should students write every day?


Are your students writing as much as they should be? Classroom writing, done with willful focus and daily diligence, remains an essential part of educating students of all ages, including adults. Here are five reasons why classroom writing is still a must:


1. Writing improves communication skills.

First and foremost, writing provides a vehicle for expression and communication. No matter the age or grade level of your students, diligent writing practice will boost both their skill and comfort level with revealing and relating their own thoughts and feelings.


2. Writing helps students review and remember recently learned material.

Isn't it always easier to remember a household task or a website to visit later if we write it down somewhere? A brief writing assignment at the end of class, focusing on the day's lesson and discussions, is a great way to reinforce the material, support long-term recall of the key lesson points and help build writing skills all at the same time.


3. Writing helps educators assess student learning.

Probably the most common use of writing in the contemporary classroom is for a given student to demonstrate that he or she knows and understands x or y concept. Whether the assignment is, for example, an intensive compare-and-contrast essay at the secondary level or writing and illustrating a haiku in the primary grades, writing assignments help teachers see what material students have mastered and where there may be gaps.


4. Writing encourages creativity and exploration.

Daily writing encourages a creative flow that can help students use their imaginations, explore possibilities, delve into problem solving, and engage in storytelling. In addition to "serious" writing assignments which are reviewed and graded, it is important to assign "free" or "creative" writing time, so that students can explore vocabulary, concepts, and writing styles that they wouldn't risk in a formal essay or heavily graded assignment.


5. Writing is essential for self-understanding.

Even a cursory search online will reveal a plethora of diary-like blogs, filled with entry after entry of highly personal content. In the same way that these blogs serve their authors, classroom writing can help students understand and make sense of their own experiences, locate contexts, and make (sometimes surprising) discoveries about their own thoughts and feelings.


Classroom teachers will find that reading through their students' writing assignments can give them great insight into each student's personality, style, and comprehension level of the material being presented. When a high value is placed on consistent writing in the classroom, it's a win-win all around.


So, write on!


Taken from http://www.scilearn.com/blog/5-reasons-students-should-write-every-day?utm_content=buffer16260&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

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Writing Ideas for December

1. Holidays have special traditions. Describe a tradition your family has for this holiday season.

2. Write a poem about winter. How does the air feel? What sounds do you hear?

3. How can you practice gratitude?

4. How would Memorial Day be different if it was celebrated in December?

5. We are going caroling after school. Describe how we will prepare. What will we sing.

6. A snowman came to your classroom door. Give him a name and write a descriptive story to tell me about your day together.

7. Write a new ending to your favorite holiday story or movie.

8. What is your favorite holiday decoration? How does it make you feel?

9. Patrick Penguin met Sally Snowgirl. What adventures did they have?

10. What is your favorite part of Winter break?

11. Persuade your parents to take you to the North Pole during Winter Break.

12. Write a story about the adventures of two children your age who went to a neighborhood with life-sized gingerbread houses.

13. In this magical world when snow fell it made a sound.

14. One Christmas Even - Rudolph's nose was green...

15. Your family won a vacation at the North Pole. Share some of your experiences.

16. It is better to give than to received. Describe a time when you did something thoughtful for someone or gave a person a thoughtful gift.

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Why Teach Writing in the Content Areas?

Although writing can be scary, it is important for students to write about their learning. The learning process isn't complete until the learners share their thinking with others. Writing is a way for students to review their own learning, organize their thinking, and evaluate how well they understand what has been taught

There are many reasons for asking students to write:
  • To clarify their thinking about what they've learned.
  • To think deeply and clearly about the subject.
  • To communicate what they have learned.
  • To explore, extend, and cement ideas.
  • To record learning.
  • To evaluate the learning process.
  • To explain ideas.
  • To apply what's been learned to new situations and problems.
  • to evaluate what they have learned.
  • To organize new information.
  • To make connections between what they know and what they are learning.
  • To build confidence about their knowledge of the subject.
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Writing contests added in this publication! Look carefully.

Young Georgia Authors Writing Competition

Each school is invited to submit one entry per grade level (K-12) for the district level competition. Students may write from a genre of their choice. This link will direct you to the landing page to see 2019 winning entries and honorable mention entries. The revised Official Rules Booklet is available HERE. At the district level we will follow all guidelines provided in the booklet. Entries may include: Short Stories, Poetry, Essays/Literary Criticism/Analysis, Journalism, Academic/Research Reports, Personal Narratives, or any other original student work.


School level winning entries must be received by Thursday, February 6, 2020, 5:00pm. Please send four copies of each winning entry, the original piece, and the completed 2019-2020 Entry Form with parent signature.


A panel of reviewers will select the Coweta County School System grade level winning entries. District winners will be announced by February 28th.

Kennesaw Mountain Writing Project

Leslie Walker - Writers of Promise Contest


Teachers are invited to submit up to 20 of their students’ most interesting pieces to our contest.

  • Open to All Content Areas
  • Entries are judged in three groups GRADES 3-5 GRADES 6-8 GRADES 9-12
  • Submission Dates February 10 to April 14
  • Entries may be submitted digitally via kmwp.org or e-mail

53-Word Story Contest

It's free, it's fun, and the winner gets published in Prime Number Magazine and receives a free book from Press 53.


Open for entries the first day of each month.

Deadline for entries is the 21st day of each month.


Winner will be announced on the first day of each month along with our new prompt.

Email your 53-word story to 53wordstory@gmail.com

Achievement Awards in Writing (11th grade students)

2020 AAW Prompt: Why Do I Write? (#whydoiwrite)



Purpose: To encourage high school juniors to write and to publicly recognize the best student writers.

  • Schools in the United States, Canada, Virgin Islands and American Schools Abroad are eligible to nominate juniors. Nominating schools must be US accredited.
  • Participating students submit two types of writing: themed writing and best writing.
  • Electronic submissions only. Deadline February 14, 2020

Engineer Girl Annual Essay Contest

Engineer Girl sponsors an essay contest with topics centered on the impact of engineering on the world. Students can win up to $500 in prize money. This contest is a nice bridge between ELA and STEM and allows teachers to incorporate an interdisciplinary project into the curriculum. The new contest prompt is published in October. Check out the educator’s page for more information about how to support this contest at your school.


Age Groups: 3rd–5th grades; 6th–8th grades; 9th–12th grades

Essays must be submitted by February 2020


How to Enter: Students submit their work electronically. Word limit varies by grade level. Check out the full list of rules and requirements here.

Promising Young Writers Program

1) To stimulate and recognize the writing talents of eighth-grade students and 2) to emphasize the importance of writing skills among eighth-grade students.


This year’s theme invites eighth-grade writers to explore their life in Nature. We hope that this year’s theme will support teachers’ efforts to facilitate both eighth-grade writers’ inquiries into their values and their experiments with embodying those values in social interactions with others, particularly those interactions mediated by reading and writing. In this way, this year’s theme promotes literacy education for social action and civic responsibility.



2020 Themed Writing Prompt


My Nature

If we will have the wisdom to survive

to stand like slow growing trees

on a ruined place, renewing, enriching it

then a long time after we are dead

the lives our lives prepare

will live here.

—Wendell Berry


Much of the suffering in the world arises from human beings’ tendency to forget, deny, or misunderstand our primary bond with Nature, our dependence on Life for life. This year, we invite you to write about your relationship with Nature.


Timeline:

November 11-December 15: Encourage your students to write, edit, revise, and finalize their submissions.

December 15: Awards link will open to accept submissions.

DEADLINE for All Submissions: February 15, 2020*

Poetry Out Loud

Poetry Out Loud helps students improve public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn great poetry in literature.


High schools get involved now in Poetry Out Loud, a local, state, and national poetry recitation competition.


Registration is now open for the 2019-2020 school year.

IMPORTANT DATES AND DEADLINES

Friday July 26, 2019 – Saturday December 20, 2019 Registration

Saturday(s) January 25 and February 1, 2020 Regional Competitions Workshops, free and open to teachers and students

February 9, 15, 22, and March 1, 2020 – Regional Competitions for school champions

Sunday, March 15, 2020 – State Finals Competition

Monday (April 27) through Wednesday (April 29, 2020) – POL National Finals in Washington, D. C.

Scholastic Art & Writing Awards

The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards are the nation’s longest-running and most prestigious recognition program for creative teens in grades 7–12. Through the Scholastic Awards, teens in grades 7–12 (ages 13 and up) from public, private, or home schools can apply in 29 categories of art and writing for their chance to earn scholarships and have their works exhibited and published. Beyond the Awards, the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers produces a number of programs to support creative students and their educators, including the Art.Write.Now.Tour, the National Student Poets Program, the Scholastic Awards Summer Workshops and Scholastic Awards Summer Scholarships programs, the Golden Educators Residency, and much more.


For the 2019 competition, students submitted nearly 340,000 works of visual art and writing to the Scholastic Awards; nearly 90,000 works were recognized at the regional level and celebrated in local exhibitions and ceremonies. The top art and writing at the regional level were moved onto the national stage, where more than 2,700 students earned National Medals.


Students may begin submitting work in September by uploading it to an online account.

Promising Young Writers Program (8th grade students)

2020 Themed Writing Prompt



My Nature

If we will have the wisdom to survive

to stand like slow growing trees

on a ruined place, renewing, enriching it

then a long time after we are dead

the lives our lives prepare

will live here.

—Wendell Berry


Much of the suffering in the world arises from human beings’ tendency to forget, deny, or misunderstand our primary bond with Nature, our dependence on Life for life. This year, we invite you to write about your relationship with Nature.


DEADLINE for All Submissions: February 15, 2020*

American Foreign Service High School Essay Contest

The American Foreign Service Association’s national high school essay contest completed its twenty-first year with nearly 700 submissions from 41 states and five countries.


Age Group: 9th–12th grades

Deadline for submission: April 6, 2020


How to Enter: Each year a new prompt is published in September. Stay tuned to the contest web page so you can find it when school begins. Winners receive full tuition to the Semester at Sea program as well as a trip to Washington, DC, to meet with a leader at the Department of State.

The Ocean Awareness Contest

This competition invites students to use their creativity to make a difference for our planet. As the creators share on their website, “Our contest is a call for young artists, thinkers, and activists who are concerned about the future of our human and natural communities to use their creative voices to explore, express, and advocate for issues related to climate change and our oceans.” Students are eligible for a wide range of monetary prizes.


Age Groups: Ages 11–14 (Jr. Division); Ages 15–18 (Sr. Division)

Contest deadline: June 15, 2020


How to Enter: Students may submit work in the categories of art, poetry, prose, film, or music which must always be accompanied by a reflection. Check out the contest details for a set of educator resources as well as the new contest prompt coming out in September.

John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Essay Contest

Description: This annual contest invites students to write about a political official’s act of political courage that occurred after Kennedy’s birth. The winner receives $10,000 as well as a trip to Boston to accept the award.


Age Group: 9th–12th grades


How to Enter: Students must submit 700–1000 word essays by January 18, 2019. The essays must feature more than five sources and a full bibliography. Read the requirements and find the link for submission here.


Requirements

  • The contest deadline is January 17, 2020 at 11:59 PM (EST).
  • Essays can be no more than 1,000 words but must be a minimum of 700 words. Citations and bibliography are not included in the word count.
  • Essays must be the original work of the student.
  • John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy, and Edward M. Kennedy are not eligible subjects for essays.
  • Essays must describe an act of political courage by a U.S. elected official who served during or after 1917, the year John F. Kennedy was born. The official may have addressed an issue at the local, state, or national level. See Contest Topic and Information and Helpful Tips for Writing Your Essay for more information.
  • Essays about past recipients of the Profile in Courage Award will be disqualified unless they describe an act of political courage other than the act for which the award was given.
  • Essays about the senators in Profiles in Courage will be disqualified.
  • Essays must have a minimum of five sources.
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ELA Professional Learning Sessions

ELEMENTARY


Tuesday, December 3rd, 8:30 - 3:30pm

West GA RESA

Information Writing with Dr. Melissa Fincher: HOw to IMprove Feedback with GSE and Literacy

In this professional learning session, teachers will engage in work with Dr. Melissa Fincher to improve instructional practice in the areas of literacy and informational writing. Deconstruction of the GSE and writing rubrics will guide the discussion. Complete the district and RESA registration process. (session is closed)



Monday, December 9th, 3:30pm

West GA RESA

Academic Vocabulary: Approaches and Tools for Learning the Words Students Need

In this professional learning experience, teachers will practice using strategies and resources that emphasize vocabulary instruction at multiple tiers, including Marzano's six step process for teaching academic vocabulary and Beck's Tiered Words. Complete the RESA registration process. Use this link to register.


Friday, December 13th, 9:00 - 3:30pm

West GA RESA

Introducing the DBQ Method and DBQ Online

In this professional learning experience, teachers will explore The DBQ Project Method, with special emphasis on the gradual release model as an approach to document analysis. Special emphasis will be placed on differentiating the process to meet the needs of all learners. Complete the district and RESA registration process. Use this link to register.


Please review your Professional Learning Schedule for a complete list of opportunities.


MIDDLE


Wednesday, December 4th, 8:30 - 3:30pm

West GA RESA

Information Writing with Dr. Melissa Fincher: HOw to IMprove Feedback with GSE and Literacy

In this professional learning session, teachers will engage in work with Dr. Melissa Fincher to improve instructional practice in the areas of literacy and informational writing. Deconstruction of the GSE and writing rubrics will guide the discussion. Complete the district and RESA registration process. Complete the district and RESA registration process. Use this link to register.


Monday, December 9th, 3:30pm

West GA RESA

Academic Vocabulary: Approaches and Tools for Learning the Words Students Need

In this professional learning experience, teachers will practice using strategies and resources that emphasize vocabulary instruction at multiple tiers, including Marzano's six step process for teaching academic vocabulary and Beck's Tiered Words. Complete the RESA registration process. Use this link to register.


Friday, December 13th, 9:00 - 3:30pm

West GA RESA

Introducing the DBQ Method and DBQ Online

In this professional learning experience, teachers will explore The DBQ Project Method, with special emphasis on the gradual release model as an approach to document analysis. Special emphasis will be placed on differentiating the process to meet the needs of all learners. Complete the district and RESA registration process. Use this link to register.


Monday, December 16th

Google Classroom

When Kids Can't Read: What Teachers Can Do (A Guide for teachers 6-12)

In this professional learning session participants will read and discuss When Kids Can't Read as it relates to the district SMART Goal and ELA Writing initiative. Participants will discuss theoretical and pedagogical frameworks and best practices to enhance comprehension, vocabulary and literacy instruction. -- Chapter 1 and 2


Wednesday, December 18th, 4:00 - 5:00pm

Werz

Secondary District ELA Meeting

All secondary ELA teachers are invited to participate in the monthly ELA department meeting. The discussion topic for this session is DBQ (Document-Based Question) also known as data-based question. Participants are asked to bring a Chromebook.



Please review your Professional Learning Schedule for a complete list.



HIGH


Monday, December 9th, 3:30pm

West GA RESA

Academic Vocabulary: Approaches and Tools for Learning the Words Students Need

In this professional learning experience, teachers will practice using strategies and resources that emphasize vocabulary instruction at multiple tiers, including Marzano's six step process for teaching academic vocabulary and Beck's Tiered Words. Complete the RESA registration process. Use this link to register.


Friday, December 13th, 9:00 - 3:30pm

West GA RESA

Introducing the DBQ Method and DBQ Online

In this professional learning experience, teachers will explore The DBQ Project Method, with special emphasis on the gradual release model as an approach to document analysis. Special emphasis will be placed on differentiating the process to meet the needs of all learners. Complete the district and RESA registration process. Use this link to register.


Monday, December 16th

Google Classroom

When Kids Can't Read: What Teachers Can Do (A Guide for teachers 6-12)

In this professional learning session participants will read and discuss When Kids Can't Read as it relates to the district SMART Goal and ELA Writing initiative. Participants will discuss theoretical and pedagogical frameworks and best practices to enhance comprehension, vocabulary and literacy instruction. -- Chapter 1 and 2


Wednesday, December 18th, 4:00 - 5:00pm

Werz

Secondary District ELA Meeting

All secondary ELA teachers are invited to participate in the monthly ELA department meeting. The discussion topic for this session is DBQ (Document-Based Question) also known as data-based question. Participants are asked to bring a Chromebook.



Please review your Professional Learning Schedule. Dates are TBD based on submissions from your Department Chairs.

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Have you heard of "blank page syndrome?" This happens when students stare at a blank screen or paper. The cursor blinks, the pencil swings, or the pen twiddles without any words appearing on the page. Some research says that writing with fluency and volume is unnatural. Through the use of writing strategies, our objective will be to ease the stress of writing for our students.


Research based instructional strategies positively impact student learning. Each month check back for different writing strategies. When using any strategy, teachers should (1) ensure students understand why the strategy is useful, and (2) describe explicitly how the strategy could be used. Demonstrate, model , and follow-up with independent practice opportunities. Remember to share these writing strategies with your colleagues in other content areas. We are in this together!

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Thank you for your enthusiasm and participation as we incorporate writing strategies across the content! For December let's take time to review the strategies featured in the August - November newsletters. It is imperative to provide opportunities for students to review previously learned strategies. In order for students to be successful using these strategies, it is important to spiral through the reading strategies.

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NOVEMBER

Quick Writes

TAPE

What's the Writing Rule


OCTOBER

Show, Don't Tell: Using Senses

Show, Don't Tell: Emotions


SEPTEMBER STRATEGIES

Transition Words

Word Mapping

Color Coding


AUGUST STRATEGIES

Making a List

Quick Writes

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Contact Dr. Paula Baker, ELA/Literacy Content Specialist with any questions, comments, or concerns.


Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.

~Nelson Mandela


Nine-tenths of education is encouragement.

~Anatole France


The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character - that is the goal of true education.

~Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.