Here is what went today

This morning we got out of seats and played with language by using the concept of the "live ball feed." We stood in a big circle and I tossed our chalk packet to a student or a peer mentor and asked a question. As the student answers, he or she was supposed to pass the packet back to me. And, I passed it to another person to keep the Q and A. Here is a list of some of the questions:

  • Name 3 prepositions
  • Name 3 verbs
  • Name 3 condiments
  • Name 3 political words
  • Name 3 geographic words
  • Name 3 words for big would work in formal writing (ginormous does not work.)
  • Name 3 words for important
  • Name 3 pieces of sporting equipment
  • Teach me a slang word --- on fleek and lit

The idea and purpose behind this exercise was to use language in a fun way away. We also needed to get away from our desks and to get to know one another a little bit better and to get our minds a little more nimble with words and thinking on the "fly."

After this, we settled back to our desks, and I dictated two sentences:

  • They're are taking their dogs, over there, to the park.
  • Two people are going to the park with two dogs.

Then we had a discussion about these homophones. After this we moved over to the computer labs. There I introduced the following short passage and essay prompt:

Short passage:

An actor, when his cue came, was unable to move onto the stage. He said, “I can’t get in, the chair is in the way.” And the producer said, “Use the difficulty. If it’s a drama, pick the chair up and smash it. If it’s comedy, fall over it.” From this experience the actor concluded that in any situation in life that is negative, there is something positive you can do with it. (Adapted from Lawrence Eisenberg, “Caine Scrutiny.”)

Essay Prompt:

Can any obstacle or disadvantage be turned into something good?


Students began the writing process for this essay with prewriting at the tables. The peer mentors worked to students at each table to brainstorm, mind map, cluster map, bubble map the idea. My delivery on this activity was not that great. One problem that I ran into is that students wanted be very linear in their thinking as they set about the task of brainstorming. They also needed a mentor text. I tried to create one on the Smart board but I was not very familiar with that technology. Another problem I encountered was that as the students' mind-mapping started to expand and get more complex, I found myself getting anxious because I knew that, in order, to write a 500 word essay, the students would have to rein back and rein in all expansive thinking.

I read a sample TSI essay out loud that received a 7 score.

The Writing Goals for this Essay

  • Keep working on focus and organization as it pertains to the 5 paragraph essay.
  • Work on using examples and details to make your writing more complex and developed.
  • Cellphones are always a distraction in class no matter what. (This is a strong statement. Is it true always?)
  • When professors are lecturing, students usually get notifications from snapchat, facebook, twitter etc, In which it makes it hard to learn causing it to be a distraction in class. (Fix the grammar)
  • Most of students first instinct is to check their phone when they get notifications but checking cell phones in class has become a bad habit that interferes with the learning of students. (Look at subject verb agreement)