#CEM #teachingmoment Remember and Learn 9_11


Connected Educator Month kicked off today, September 12th with request to share your #teachingmoment at 11:00 am local time. I participated twice with my grade seven and eight classrooms. At 9:00 am, which in my mind was 11:00 am ET, my grade eight students were continuing their research into the memories and facts of 9/11, a time not in their memory. I tweeted this, and tried to share a picture. However, our Internet slowed down and wouldn’t let it happen.

What is our goal and activity? Perhaps you would like to try this also.

What have we learned from the 9/11 tragedy?

Goal: Honor the memories of those affected by the 9/11 tragedy by reading the memories, learning the facts, and concluding in a blog post what we have learned from the 9/11 tragedy supported with the facts read.


Part 1:  What do people remember about the 9/11 tragedy?

1. Read at least 10 posts from the blog in the link below: Interviews of 9/11 Memories.


2. Comment respectfully on three (3) blog posts.

To comment: Use name, comment positively on something important that impressed you. Thank them for their memory. EDIT! Spelling. Sentences. Capitals. Lots of people will read these blog posts.

3. Explain the main points you learned from the three posts you commented on.

Part 2: What are the facts about the 9/11 tragedy?

1. Find out the facts related to the memories at the blog in the link below. You will need to search the site for information that will provide you with the 5W+H+R facts (Who, What, When, Where, Why, How, Results/Effects).


2. Consider a strategy you will use to take notes and use that strategy (Docs, Presentation, Journal, Diigo).

3. Organize your notes — summary, list, bullets — to show your facts.

Part 3: What have we learned from the 9/11 tragedy?

Review what you learned from Parts 1 and 2. What can you conclude about what we all have learned from the 9/11 tragedy? Use evidence from the blog posts from Part 1, your notes from Part 2 as you write your response.

What did we learn from the 9/11 tragedy?

Your response should be at least two paragraphs long with evidence from the posts and notes.

Post your response in Kidblogs. Add links to the 9/11 memory blogs and the Library of Congress page in your post as your sources [cite your sources].

Be sure to EDIT your post.

For the first part, our students discussed  the memories in the interview posts. These are some of the notes from that discussion:


People feared that terrorist attack — that it was on purpose.

Most people thought the first one was an accident.

Phones were ringing everywhere.

People were staring at colored people; worried about 9/11 like they were a terrorist.


“Humanity took a step backwards” because we’re afraid now that it will happen again.

Now we have security scans.

Privacy- we don’t have as much privacy.

Standards– Grade 8


RI2 Determine a central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text, including its relationship to supporting ideas; provide an objective summary of the text.

RI 6 Determine an author’s point of view or purpose in a text and analyze how the author acknowledges and responds to conflicting evidence or viewpoints.

RI 4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative, connotative, and technical meanings; analyze the impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone, including analogies or allusions to other texts.

W1 Write arguments to support claims with clear reasons and relevant evidence.

  • Introduce claim(s), acknowledge and distinguish the claim(s) from alternate or opposing claims, and organize the reasons and evidence logically.

  • Support claim(s) with logical reasoning and relevant evidence, using accurate, credible sources and demonstrating an understanding of the topic or text.

  • Use words, phrases, and clauses to create cohesion and clarify the relationships among claim(s), counterclaims, reasons, and evidence.

  • Establish and maintain a formal style.

  • Provide a concluding statement or section that follows from and supports the argument presented.

W2 Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas, concepts, and information through the selection, organization, and analysis of relevant content.

  • Introduce a topic clearly, previewing what
is to follow; organize ideas, concepts, and information into broader categories; include formatting (e.g., headings), graphics (e.g., charts, tables), and multimedia when useful to aiding comprehension.

  • Develop the topic with relevant, well-chosen facts, definitions, concrete details, quotations, or other information and examples.

  • Use appropriate and varied transitions to create cohesion and clarify the relationships among ideas and concepts.

  • Use precise language and domain-specific vocabulary to inform about or explain the topic.

  • Establish and maintain a formal style.

  • Provide a concluding statement or section that follows from and supports the information or explanation presented.

L2 Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.

a. Use punctuation (comma, ellipsis, dash) to indicate a pause or break.

b. Use an ellipsis to indicate an omission.

c. Spell correctly.

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Collaboration and Peer Review: How To

Collaborate to Revise

Collaborate to Revise

Collaboration doesn’t just happen. We work at it. One way we do this is by partner work on the computer. After posting writing on the wiki, students partner up.  The partner reads the story, essay, or report and provides feedback while reading: celebrate excellent writing, clarify confusing areas, and suggest additions or deletions. The author listens and then revises the work. Finally, the partners edit the writing. Then students switch places so this author reads and comments on the partner’s writing.

We follow this process on computers or with writing on paper.

Peer Comments

Peer Comments

Since feedback is so important to writers, we often play Stars and Wishes. We place our work either on our desks or on the computer. If the writing is on our desks, we also place a blank paper beside it for our peer comments. Next everyone stands up and rotates to the next desk or computer to the right.  Each person reads the writing of this person one time through just to enjoy it. Next students read this piece again to add a compliment or two about the writing either on the comment paper on the desk or in the comment area of the wiki or Google Doc.  This compliment (star) would be about the writing traits and strategies we are learning or have learned. (Note: these areas are also what partners comment on during their collaboration / peer reviewing ) Next the student reads it through for confusing areas and suggest solutions (wish). After a few minutes of careful reading and commenting, students rotate to the next desk or computer. This repeats three or four times. Students return to their own writing to read the Stars and Wishes to decide how to revise their work according to the readers’ suggestions.

During this time, the room is silent. Not because I ask for it, but because the students are enthralled and so engaged in their peer review.

Directions for Stars and Wishes

Sample Writing Strategies:

Sample Star:
“funny i laughed at this line: ‘it sounded it reminded me of my aunties arguing or just plain old nagging.’
its such a classic you line.”

Sample Wish:

“i like the detail in the first sentence

but i think you should add more detail and description and of course more part of the story”

What strategies do you have for student collaboration and peer review?


Stars and Wishes Idea from Dollie Evans

Also posted at: What Else 1DR

Go boldly and scatter seeds of kindness…  Reflect curiosity and wonder…

Mentors Inspire Writing

Our class is so lucky this fall: Washington State University students will mentor our students in writing. We’ve started our Writers Workshop with a focus on memoir and the question: “How do writers move from what we know to what we share?”

How do we take what we know and share it in a way that our readers can imagine and connect?

On September 23rd, Jeff Peterson’s Intercultural Communication class arrive for interactive icebreakers and time to meet and help our students with writing.

Take a look:

Our students will draft memoirs on a private wiki, then remix the memoirs into fictional stories to publish on our public site, Coyote Talks. During this process, our mentors will guide our students into writing with passion, voice, and clarity.

We hope you join us in learning more about writing with our mentors.

Fine in 2009

Educational Block F I RustN e McElman_071026_2450_I N wood house with number 2 box 0 zero 0 Plain Educational Block 9

A friend said yesterday, “In 2009, things will be fine.” Hope seems to be springing up even in our snowy landscape. For myself and my class, things will be fine, too. I’m committed to creating online collaboration and student leadership.

I look to the experts and have listened to podcasts and read blogs:




Moving at the Speed of Creativity

Cool Cat Teacher

What do I need to do? Get started! So my eighth graders and I will dive in together, even more than we had before. They will be the editors — the criteria creators and encouragers for the projects to place on our Coyote Talks site.

Discovery Education will help us. To write, we need content.

How about Riding a Snowflake for writing content according to the criteria for science and creative writing that the eighth grade students determine.

After viewing Martin Luther King information and honoring considerations, the editors could choose several types of projects: service, poems, stories, etc..

What will the editors decide? How will they decide? I stumbled upon The World Cafe site which describes a grass-roots format for solving problems. I’m adapting parts of that to help my students become student leaders of writing.

Why? Remember the adage, “success breeds success”? I’m thinking “leadership breeds leadership.” We have some struggling students, and part of the reason they struggle is because they already take care of themselves, and schools generally control them (or try). Perhaps if allowed to be the leaders, they will lead and be successful. I know their families believe they can do it.

And because I want for them that “Things will be fine in 2009.” We’re going for it….

Better Letters

Congratulations Students!  You did it!

You worked well on your Letters to the President, researching issues important to you to find supporting evidence.  Not all of you researched in depth; some only summarized.  Even so, the work engaged you to draft, revise (several times), and edit well.  You met the deadline, and published.

Google Docs is amazing — great spell-check, ease of collaboration, and security.  I could see in your eyes and actions how you completed real work in a real world, real life situation. You accepted the role of concerned youth seriously.  This is what education should be: collaborative application of continuous learning

We wrote better letters than hand-written drafts because of the collaboration in a job-like setting.  It was — and continues to be — a wonderful experience.  I hope you agree (you can comment below 🙂

Links to our directions:  http://whatelse.pbwiki.com/Letters-To-The-President

Links to our letters:   http://www.letters2president.org/classes/2152-ms-edwards

What else will we do? Our next projects:
http://whatelse.pbwiki.com/Who-Are-You A Team/Partner effort to combine facts/text/media about YOU.
http://whatelse.pbwiki.com/Election-Project Just in time for elections and a continuation of issues important to you.
I can hardly wait to read your new efforts.  You always surpass expectations — keep writing?

Tech Beginnings 1

The set up of our class wiki (http://whatelse.pbwiki.com) has begun and is ongoing. I created the project as part of PBWiki Summer Camp to promote the use of wikis in the classroom as a collaborative writing format. As a result, I am now a PB Wiki Educator 🙂 so if teachers or principals have questions/concerns/suggestions, please contact me. I’d be glad to hear your ideas or offer suggestions about wiki implementation.

PBWiki Certified Educator

One project for eighth grade will be “Letters to the President” sponsored by Google Docs and the National Writing Project. The goal is for students to investigate and discuss issues and concerns they would like the future president to address. Students will collaborate in Google Docs and write letters in Google Docs to be transferred to a website of participant’s letters. It’s a fantastic opportunity for students to express themselves responsibly and sincerely to possibly effect change in the future.

As the year started and students filtered in, the eager faces mingled with those students who are less concerned with education and more concerned with being center stage with inappropriate language and actions. I thought about the implications the work of often contrary students could bring to the project; would they continue their negative, distorted views? In the next instant, though, I knew that it is precisely these students who need the opportunity to participate. Their immediate issues and concerns can be transcended as the the whole class deals with and discusses issues of the community. How else will all the students become engaged responsibly if we (I) don’t invite all students? Our purpose and my stated goal is to facilitate student civic responsibility; I believe the students, all of them, will want their voices heard, and they can only be heard if they learn the protocol for responsible sharing. I share these feelings and concerns I have so my students know how carefully and thoughtfully I plan for their successful education and hope for their future.

So, students, what do you think? Are you willing to join students across the nation in “writing the future” by learning how to address concerns to a public persona with thorough discussion, research, and writing?

President Project Prep

Logging in for Thinking Out

The National Writing Project and Google have created a project for students to write to the future president about issues and concerns important to them. The project, Letters to the Next President: Writing Our Future, provides a platform for teens to tackle the issues irritating them and present them to the future president via a website display from teens around the country.

Our students stepped right up to the problem, expressing concerns such as

  • paying the high gas prices,
  • depending on oil as fuel for cars
  • wanting affordable hybrid cars: electrical, hydrogen, battery
  • stopping global warming and the melting of the polar caps
  • stopping the wars and having peace
  • stopping pollution
  • caring for our natural resources

Currently, each student is researching the issue of importance to him/her to find the origin of the problem, statistics, and solutions. That means checking the accuracy and validity of the websites — even those that “look” professional. A great example we are checking is the water-powered car. We are still checking out the facts. (Wikipedia: Check One Check Two).

Discussions we have begun: validity of information (how to check), citing sources (note-taking strategies), plagiarism (what and how to avoid).

Google Education includes lessons for teachers. We learned three google search tips:

  • Use double quotes — “high gas prices”
  • Include a minus sign — “high gas prices” -low
  • Search site choices — site:gov site:edu site:org “high gas prices” -low site:org

The search term: <“high gas prices” -low site:org> found 123,000 searches instead of millions.

The journey has begun. Our computers are old, but working — slow, but steady snow iMacs.

What else?  What’s important! Students are engaged: reading, talking, googling, learning, sharing. They share sources, help each other search, and discuss facts. They are advancing their thinking: “If we didn’t even use gas in our cars, we wouldn’t need to use so much oil.” Tomorrow we continue and review persuasive writing strategies we learned last year.

Student pages: http://whatelse.pbwiki.com/TOC-W8-Members