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Novel Madness 2014

book turning pages_animated

ROUND TWO

First Round Winners have been determined in my students’ quest to find their favorite book of 2014. Winners are listed below, with new opponents for the next debate on March 26! Stay tuned!

The Hobbit
by J.R.R. Tolkien
VS.
Hunger Games
by Suzanne Collins
 
Cinder
by Marissa Meyer
VS.
Divergent
by Veronica Roth
Inheritance
by Christopher Paolini
VS.
Sea of Monsters
by Rick Riordan

The Candy Shop War
by Brandon Mull
VS.
The Two Towers
by J.R.R. Tolkien
Contests!

Novel Madness 2014

book turning pages_animatedNOVEL MADNESS is here again! This annual contest crowns my students’ all-time favorite book. In teams of six, they brainstormed titles. The initial list was 25 books. As a class, they voted on the top sixteen. Although some favorites are consistent, new titles appeared too. Hunger Games and Holes are  here for the third time. Maze of Athena, Hobbit, Pie, Cinder, and Lightning Thief are all making their second appearance.

On Monday, March 21, 2013, pairs of students will present arguments in favor of the book they’ve selected. The class will vote, eliminating half the books in the first round. Click on the book’s title to read the students’ persuasive essays, intended to influence their classmates’ vote. Stay tuned here for the results!

The Hobbit
by J.R.R. Tolkien
VS.
Fablehaven
by Brandon Mull
The Hunger Games
by Suzanne Collins
VS.
Mark of Athena
by Rick Riordan
Holes
by Louis Sachar
VS.
Divergent
by Veronica Roth
The Lightning Thief
by Rick Riordan
VS.
Cinder
by Marissa Meyer
Inheritance
by Christopher Paolini      
VS.
Where the Red Fern Grows
by Wilson Rawls
The Sea of Monsters
by Rick Riordan
VS.
No Talking
by Andrew Clements
The Candy Shop War
by Brandon Mull
VS.
Eolyn
by Karin Rita Gastreich
The Two Towers
by J.R.R. Tolkien
VS.
Pie
by Sarah Weeks

Click HERE to see the winners of Round One!

Persuasive, Teaching Writing

Kid Logic

anpencil3I first published this a year ago, but it is once again true. I added some of the kid logic from the recent V-Chip persuasive.

It’s that time of year again–we’re teaching persuasive writing to our fifth and sixth graders. The students at our school are skilled writers. They get a lot of instruction and a lot of practice. They also have a lot of confidence in their ability. All of this contributes to their eagerness to learn something new. Persuasive writing, however, is difficult to master.

First, let’s look at persuasion in their lives. At this age (most of them are ten or eleven) they are used to asking for what they want and resorting to begging or demanding if they are told no. The fine art of persuasion eludes them.

Given their skill with words, these students are quickly able to master the basics of  a persuasive essay. They can present their reason for writing, state their thesis, and even acknowledge the reader’s concerns. They can write supporting paragraphs and craft a conclusion with a call to action. Why is this so difficult to teach, then? It comes down to kid logic.

We spend a lot of time teaching writers how to write for their audience. A great argument to persuade the school board, for example, is it will save a lot of money. If persuading parents, try it will enhance my self esteem and make me successful. When convincing a friend, the best argument is it will be fun. But no matter how many examples you give, when faced with brainstorming persuasive reasons kids always come up with kid logic.

Actual student examples of kid logic:

* If my parents use a V-chip to control what I watch on TV, I will turn into a bad person because I will want to steal the code.

* If the school has an honor roll, I will do worse in school because I can never make it.

* If the school closes its library, I won’t be able to read.

* If my parents don’t give me an allowance, I’ll be too embarrassed to go places with my friends.

* The city library should be open after school and on weekends because that’s when I can go.

* The V-chip will prevent my parents from watching their shows, too.

* The V-chip will prevent me from learning to make decisions. If someone asks me a question, I won’t know how to answer.

They’re kids. They don’t really understand what motivates the teachers, parents, principals, or government that they are trying to persuade. They don’t understand the complex layers of politics or financial weavings that complicate current issues. The result is kid logic.

So how does a teacher score kid logic? In my school district we use a rubric to score student writing. We look for solid reasons to support the thesis. But how can we expect kids to come up with adult logic? In recent years at my school we have begun to score the writing based not so much on the reason itself, but on how well it’s presented. So even if the reason is weak to the adult mind, it can be scored well if it is well supported with evidence and examples. This way, the writing is solid. The framework is in place for when the logic matures. In the meantime, their essays make for an entertaining read.

What do you think? If you’re a student, do you like persuasive writing? If you’re an adult, do you write persuasively?

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iPads vs. Textbooks

An essay written by a fifth grader

IPads Vs Textbooks

by Anisha

            Textbooks have become a nuisance for students and school districts across the nation. As technology advances, learning has become more efficient, and children have become more accustomed to devices like iPads. Some school district officials think that textbooks are the way to go, but iPads are obviously the sensible alternative. This course of action will reduce stress on students, save the district resources, and endure a longer period of time than textbooks.

Although a few people may think iPads can be frustratingly slow if overloaded with applications, the majority of people realize that iPads are easier for students to use. Textbooks put considerable weight on a student’s back, which can lead to medical conditions such as scoliosis. With an iPad, on the other hand, the weight on the student’s back is reduced by a large amount. Also, iPads are much more portable than textbooks. In addition, when a student has to pack just one iPad daily rather than four textbooks, the chances of forgetting a book decrease by 75%. On many occasions, I have forgotten to bring my textbook home the night before a test. This made it difficult for me to prepare effectively for the next day’s exam.

These electronic devices can provide an opening for other distractions, but iPads use fewer resources than textbooks. Some people may feel iPads are more expansive than textbooks, but they actually save money in the long run. School districts also have fewer pages to print each year. Unlike textbooks, iPads will allow the school districts to go green. Since there is no paper printed, the Evergreen School District will save the thousands of trees that go into making textbooks and printing paper. iPads will also save students a lot of space in their backpacks and in school. Instead of having thick textbooks, they will have a skinny iPad.

With iPads, there is a slight risk of software corruption; however, iPads do not wear out like textbooks. To begin with, iPads are impossible to rip or tear. On the other hand, as a student flips through textbooks, the pages are easily damaged. iPads also prevent students from writing in answers to questions in textbooks or vandalizing them. With an iPad, each child can think for him or herself without a previous student filling in the answers for them. Lastly, an iPad has no flimsy spine that children can bend and break. This will help the iPads stay in good condition.

Last but not least, using iPads in schools to substitute textbooks is a wonderful way to solve the problems of kids of all ages. This replacement is the most productive and efficient method because it helps students be more at ease, allows the district to conserve resources, and will last a long time. Make the smart choice and replace textbooks with iPads in the Evergreen School District.

Persuasive, Teaching Writing

Community Service

        book_and_feather    Hooray for Community Service!

by Taman

            The voices of cheerful kids ring in your ears. As you look around, you see smiling kids chattering while piling toys and books into trucks for the needy. Even though some students and adults may think that community service is a waste of time, I strongly believe that doing it is very helpful and critical to a student’s learning of good morals and ethics. Performing good works is beneficial because it teaches kids to care for the community, prepares students for the future, and makes children more responsible.

Some folks may think that doing community service won’t educate children anything useful; however, it can actually encourage students to care for their society. When kids do community service like picking up trash or planting trees, you are cleaning the environment. In the end, the environment will be more fresh and improved. Everyone will be happier! People will no longer have to breathe in yucky, polluted air. If adults and children inhale the disgusting air surrounding them, their bodies will be affected negatively. Nobody wants that to happen! Also, animals will now be more peaceful and cheerful since their habitats will be more sanitary. Animals will also have a smaller chance of dying or getting sick.

People may assume that good work will not actually do anything wonderful for children’s futures, but in reality, it can actually make their future easier and brighter! When kids begin to do community service, it will go onto their application for admission to college. Consequently, there will be a big chance that they can get into one of the best colleges just because of that. Once they get into their particular college, they can start trying to achieve their goals to become a doctor, dentist, professional basketball player, and much more. After that, they will become very successful and can make a lot of money to support their family and themselves. Their parents will be instantly full of joy just to see what their child has accomplished after many years of hard work. But making students’ futures brighter even more excellent isn’t the only reason why community services are fantastic.

Peer pressure from students’ classmates may play a role in this as well. Others may scoff the idea of doing community services because they think that it will not improve their “reputation” nor make their parents happier. In fact, they believe that community service may cause their parents to even expect more out of them and therefore causing them to do more work, but when students do good work, parents start to realize how independent their child is. Everyone will look up to them as responsible, hardworking kids. No one will ever think of them as lazy couch potatoes who watch T.V all day. After that, adults will trust their children to do bigger tasks. Some of the tasks are to babysit their little brother or sister, owning a pet, having a phone, and much more.

Students should do community service because it educates students to take care of their own community and make kids ready for their future. It also creates an opportunity for children to have more responsibility. I encourage parents and teachers to create more opportunities to perform community service as part of school.

Persuasive

Daily Persuasion

When teaching students to write persuasively (which Common Core now calls Argument), it’s important for them to realize that they encounter the art of persuasion every day. After all, persuasion is nothing more than influencing someone else. In ancient Greece, Aristotle wrote abut how to persuade others. Three hundred years later, in Rome, Cicero wrote several books about persuasion. Today, daily persuasion can take many forms. Studies show that we receive up to 3000 persuasive messages each day.

Persuasion in any form can be both negative and positive. Television commercials tout foods that are not healthy and target children with ads for toys they supposedly can’t live without. Drug dealers and gang members persuade others to follow their lifestyle. Salesmen push expensive cars on people who can’t easily afford them. On the flip side, persuasion can also be used to encourage recycling or stopping smoking. On TV, a recent series of commercials from Pass It On encourages positive values.

Advertising is an obvious form of persuasion that we encounter every day. The television, radio, Internet, newspaper, magazine, email, direct mail, and billboards all try to convince us we need something. So many choices! Human beings are natural joiners. We want to do what others are doing, to have what they have, so we are very receptive to being persuaded. Advertising agencies, marketing firms, and public relations companies are all full-time persuaders.

While we are being persuaded daily, we also do our own persuading. Parents persuade children to wear certain clothes, eat certain foods, or be nice to a visiting grandparent. Teachers persuade students to learn. Children persuade parents to buy them a new toy, to increase their allowance, or to get a pet. Applicants for a job try to persuade the company that they are the best candidate, and bosses persuade workers to do their jobs well. Friends persuade each other to see a certain movie, read a certain book, follow a certain band. Personally, I try to persuade my husband to take me out to dinner every Friday night.

With persuasion such an important part of our lives, it is important to learn to do it effectively! Can I persuade you to comment on this post? How have you encountered persuasion in YOUR life today?

Persuasive

Know Your Audience

Persuasive writing can be hard for students for a number of reasons, but one of the toughest is learning to address their words to the right person. Let’s face it. Thinking adults know that whining and stamping your foot will not work if you are asking the president for tax reform, although some politicians continue to try that approach. Conversely, a well-reasoned, heavily supported position does not work on a two year old. When students are learning to write persuasive essays, their audiences are usually their parents, their teacher, the principal or school board, or the city council.

The first step in choosing the best arguments for a persuasive essay is to determine exactly who the audience is. Who is the person or group responsible for making the decision that will give you what you want? If you want an increase in your allowance, to stay up later at night, or to get a pet, then your audience is your parents. If you want a decrease (or increase) in homework, more field trips, or fewer group projects, then your audience is your teacher. The principal would be the one to address if you want more after-school activities, more assemblies, or to change the playground rules. The school board handles issues such as closing school libraries, laying off teachers, and shutting down (or establishing) a music program. If you want a stop sign installed, cleaner sidewalks, or new parks, then you should write to the city council.

Once the audience is identified, you must get inside their head and determine what their objectons will be. On a city or school board level, the objection is usually money. Parents look out for the well-being of their children. Teachers and principals are focused on student learning. Which of the arguments for your position will work best for your intended audience? If you make a well-reasoned, well-supported argument to the school board about how important your idea is for the well-being of students everywhere, they are most likely to counter with a statement that they still have no money. Your argument may have convinced them, but it has not overcome obstacles and caused action. And that action, of course, is why you are writing.

Below are some arguments students have used for various assignments. Which audience would they be most effective with: parents, teacher, principal, school board, or city?

Write your choice in a comment, and add arguments of your own. Maybe use this space to test out arguments for an essay you’re working on.

* I will do my chores every day if I can have it.

* Streetlight maintenance will go a long way to reducing crime on the streets after dark.

*Reducing the amount of homework will allow students to spend quality time with their parents after dinner.

*Saturday school would cost more money because of the need to run heat and lights, and buses.

*Everyone else is doing it.

*Honor roll assemblies should be reinstated because they recognize achievement and that encourages students.

*School libraries should remain open so that students continue to have a wide variety of opportunities to read for pleasure as well as research.

*School projects should be done in groups because it allows the smarter kids to help the ones who aren’t as good.

♥ 

On my Kindle: Ranger’s Apprentice #10: The Emperor of Nihon-Ja by John Flanagan