Saturday, February 26, 2011

Diigo bookmark (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Readwritethink lesson on persuasive writing

In our booktalk podcasting assignment, I've been working with teachers and students on how to "sell" a book that they would recommend to other students. During the college football season, the TV was on at home more than I would like. One thing our family ended up doing was talking about funny ads. Now that we can play them on the Droid, we can look up and share a funny commercial with each other whenever we feel like it. We all laughed at the Piggy Geico commercial, and then I had to revisit one of my favorites, the Old Spice commercials, which Solana thought were hilarious.

Our enjoyment of the commercials made me think there must be a way to bring in the creativity and humour of advertising to help students write better leads for their booktalks. One of the teachers I'm working with thought we could introduce the different types of advertising (bandwagon, etc.) as a springboard for ideas. Although the main goal is improving student writing, looking at persuasive techniques in advertising is also an important lesson in critical media literacy.

I haven't found any great lists of advertising techniques for use in the classroom online, although this site's list of examples does use visual cues. My favorite resource so far is a lesson on persuasive writing from readwritethink that uses a more sophisticated description of persuasive rhetoric that is used in advertising or any persuasive argument. It might be adaptable for a younger age group and for the booktalk assignment.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Pokemon Literacy Connections

Another burgeoning area of interest for that daughter of mine is Pokemon. Last July, My brother-in-law got a bunch of Pokemon cards for Solana and her cousin to trade on a hot summer evening in Chicago. They spread out the cards and got involved in some very intense trading. Then I kind of forgot about it. But recently, Solana has been scrutinizing her cards, giving us cards to trade with her, reading and requesting Pokemon books, and watching the television series.

I remember the whole Pokemon thing when I was working in what was then district six in Washington Heights. Even sixth graders were completely obsessed with it. I thought of Pokemon as some cute marketing ploy to get kids to buy the cards. Now I’m thinking I missed out on a teaching opportunity: I didn’t realize the literacy potential for this interest. As I read the Pokemon books or watch the show with my daughter, I’m seeing parallels to reading non-fiction, especially the idea of classification in science. For example, the Pokemon Junior Handbook series has stats on each page, with a pronunciation guide and the Pokemon’s type, weight and height as well as a sidebar “fun fact," much like the structure of early science readers. The more advanced Sinnoh Hall of Fame has quite a bit of text, with topics and subtopics such as “Who’s Who in Sinnoh.” The whole idea of “Sinnoh,” this alternate imaginary world, could also be a precursor to fantasy books when Pokemon fans get older.

I have always felt reluctant to promote books that are written for commercial content because they’re so poorly written and are basically the company's marketing extensions. I remember last year a teacher was reluctant to buy Bakugan books for the Bakugan-crazy boys in her classroom for the same reason. Of course, I’ll always prefer well written children’s literature and nonfiction to a commercial series. But if a young reluctant reader is obsessed with Bakugan and that’s going to get him into reading, shouldn’t that be an important part of the equation? And shouldn’t we be looking into the potential of student interests to expand them as readers of both fiction and nonfiction?

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Diigo bookmark (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Diigo bookmark (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Cooking on a snow day (and in the classroom!)

Solana has been getting into cooking lately. Before the snow day, she picked out several kid cookbooks on her own from our local library: our hands down favorite was Molly Katzen's Pretend Soup. The book has fun ideas with kid quotes about each recipe and step-by-step illustrations. The Williams Sonoma kids cookbook had interesting ideas with beautiful pictures: I'd give it a second place. My ESL student also loves to cook: looking at this snow day activity from a teacher perspective, there was so much incorporated into making one recipe: following step by step directions, thinking about nutritional value, being aware of how much sugar to use (or not), figuring out how to double a recipe, and getting that sense of satisfaction when you eat what you made and share with others. Worth giving a try in a kitchen-friendly classroom!

Hide and seek muffin