Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Tuesday Teacher Tips - Oct 8 - Teaching Theme, The Blessing Cup, Letters about Literature & Digital Citizenship

 Here are the tips I shared with my faculty this week!

Tips for Teaching Theme

Check out this blog entry “Ideas for Teaching Theme” [here] at the Minds in Bloom blog by Rachel Lynette.

In the entry, Lynette gives some very practical classroom advice for teaching theme, and talking to kids at their own level. As she points out in the entry , it is sometimes helpful to contrast the idea of theme with plot or main idea, and of course remember that theme is subjective for the reader.  It’s important that kids know they might not all have the same answer when it comes to theme, but they should be able to prove what they think.  Using a graphic organizer, like the one Lynette includes on her page is an excellent way to help kids do just that.
The Blessing Cup—a good choice for teaching theme

If you’re looking for a new picture book to help introduce the idea of theme, check out Patricia Polacco’s new book, The Blessing Cup.

The story is a companion to The Keeping Quilt, and traces the journey of one family from Russia to the United States and highlights the importance of counting your blessings, even during times of extreme struggle.

Check out Polacco discussing the background of the story in this video.

Letters about Literature—4-12 Grades

October’s Literacy Link, which will be archived soon [here], featured information about Letters About Literature, a writing contest for students in grades 4-12.  To participate, students need to “Write a personal letter to an author whose work (either fiction or nonfiction) changed your view of the world or yourself”. 

The deadline for grades 9-10 is December 10, grade 4-8 deadline is January 10.  The first place, National Winner will receive $1,000. 

You can submit entries as a class or individually.  Letters are judged on Content, Writer’s Voice and Exposition.

For the official contest web page, click [here].  Be sure to click on “Rules and Guidelines” for the official entry ticket information.  The Rules and Guidelines page does a good job of describing the expectations for entries. 
This could be an excellent way to challenge students to write for an authentic purpose with a specific audience in mind.

Digital Citizenship—THINK—you can’t see this message enough!

As you start using more interactive technologies with your classes—whether it’s blogging with Kidblog or our SchoolPointe blogs, or email, social learning platforms like Edmodo , or even interactive features of our library’s catalog Destiny Quest it’s important to remind students to THINK before they post.  They should THINK is it True, is it Helpful, is it Inspiring, is it Needed or is it Kind?

As adults, it’s also important to make sure that we are keeping information about ourselves (and our students) private.  Before you share things online you might want to consider NOT sharing things like your birthday, schools you attended, your hometown, where you were born, favorite tv shows, pets names, and vacation plans.  Especially if you’re sharing in a public place, this information could be collected by hackers and used to figure out passwords.

Finally, be sure to periodically check your digital footprint.  You’ll want to Google or Bing your own name to discover what kinds of things are associated with your name.  You may be surprised about the things that show up—maybe things you didn’t realize would be made public.  Monitoring this helps to heighten your own awareness about places that are safe to share, and places that aren’t.
To see an excellent visual of information that is collected online, check out this infographic [here].


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