Saturday, December 17, 2016

Writing 3 Class Notes -- Week 15 (December 15)

Greetings!

We've done it!  We've successfully finished another semester!  This has been a great class, and the students have worked hard researching and writing.

I don't usually do a Quick Write with this class, but we did more of a Quick Draw.  I asked students to draw an Ugly Christmas Sweater, and those who were willing entered those into a class "contest."  They were quite creative!  I'll attach the handout in case any moms or dads want to design a sweater.

We had our final two presentations today:
Anna gave us wonderful presentation on GMOs, their origins and effects on agriculture and our health.  It was very informative and enlightening.
Preston spoke well about performance-enhancing drugs that today's athletes use.  He gave us some good background information and some ramifications of doping to think about.

I can't tell how proud I am of all of these students.  They worked hard, wrote well, spoke with grace and intelligence, but mostly learned not only about their topics but about themselves.  When we finished our presentations, we talked about what worked well and what was challenging.  Every year, students admit to procrastinating and losing motivation. That being said, they all rose above those challenges and have handed in good papers. I am excited to sit down and read the polished final drafts of their research papers.

Finally, we played a game called "Bowls."  I pre-selected some Christmas/Winter-related words and put them in a bag.  Students had to get their teammates to guess the words (like Catch-Phrase).  For the second round, they had to get their teammates to guess the words using only actions (like Charades).  I'm afraid that we ran out of time, but for the final round, they would have tried to get their teammates to guess the words using only one word as a clue.  Here's a link to a variation of this game.

As soon as I get the final papers graded, I will be sending out grades. 


Have a very blessed Christmas!
Mrs. Prichard

Links for this week:
Class Notes

Friday, December 9, 2016

Writing 3 Class Notes -- Week 14 (December 8)

Greetings!

My apologies for not sending a note last week.  I've had almost 70 rough drafts from all of my classes to read since last Thursday, and the week went by too quickly to get everything done.

This is the part of Writing 3 that is my favorite -- the presentations!  The students have worked really hard on these papers, doing multiple drafts and learning the finer points of incorporating research material and doing parenthetical citations.

Last week we heard --
Nicholas Westerberg about the history of weapons, especially knives.  The passed around some knives, including a home-made version of a balisong, a butterfly knife.
Luke Troyak spoke about the details of the war in Bosnia.  He had some pictures and also spoke of a personal interest because of his missions trip there.
Harrison Pennell gave us a good presentation on synesthesia. He had some good analogies and activities for the class. He was able to get this complex idea across to us.
Nicole Miller spoke and inspired us with the life of Daniel.  She spoke clearly about this man who lived a godly life in the face of opposition.


This week we heard -- 
Abigail Bjorlin gave an eloquent  presentation about third wave feminism.  She spoke with conviction about aspects that seem to counter God's ways.
Eden Heille spoke about the history of toys and the effects of toys on child development.  We were especially interested to hear about electronics and young children.
Christopher Johnson presented information about God's use of music.  His passion for music and its use for God's kingdom were apparent.

What's Next?
Next week is our last week, which means our final presentations.  We will hear from Anna, Katie, and Preston.  Also, the Final Drafts of their papers are due at that time.  A couple of students have sent me a third rough draft, and I will have them back before the end of the weekend.  AND, if there's time, we'll play a Christmas game, eat treats, and show off our ugly sweaters.

Assignments for Next Week
-- Final Draft!

Links for this week
Class Notes

These students have done a great job!  Give them hearty pats on the back!
Blessings and stay warm and drive safely!
Mrs. Prichard

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Writing 3 Class Notes -- Week 12 (November 17)

Greetings!

We had a good class this week and some good discussion.  We are in the phase of the class where students need to focus on their own writing, and there is not as much for me to teach. 

We began class with a discussion about the Presentations.  I had the students tell their classmates what they would like to hear about the different topics. We had a good discussion that I hope will peek everyone's interest in one another's topics.

Rough Drafts #2 have been coming in, and I handed some of them back this week.  We discussed some issues that were in these rough drafts, including parenthetical citations, Works Cited entries, forecasting your topics or ideas ("I'm going to tell you ..."), active vs. passive voice, noun/pronouns agreement, use of colons, etc.

The Presentations for December 1 are: 
Luke
Nicole
Harrison
Nicholas

As I've told the students, the Final Drafts of their papers are due December 15, the last day of class.  They may find themselves presenting before they've completely finished writing.

We ended the class by playing two games that we use at my other school for community building.  One was "A Cold Wind Blows," a game that is a mix of musical chairs and "Never Have I Ever."  The other is a common theater warm-up game:  "What are You Doing?

I will be returning the remaining Rough Drafts this weekend.  

Assignments for Next Week
-- Keep working on those papers.
-- Keep working on your presentation.

Links for this week:
Class Notes

Stay warm, drive safely, and have a great Thanksgiving!
Mrs. Prichard

Friday, November 11, 2016

Writing 3 Class Notes -- Week 11 (November 11)

Greetings!

We began class with some discussion about the elections.  I wanted to give the students some time to process their thoughts in writing.  I've found that many times thoughts and emotions rumble around inside, and the process of writing about them not only helps to bring clarity but to gives room for the Lord to speak to us as we write.  

Before we began writing, I spoke a bit about the need to hear from the Lord about our individual roles in this wonderful country of ours.  Where should we serve?  Who are the needy and broken for whom we can be the hands and feet of Jesus?  In the book of Luke, the work and gospel of Jesus is often expressed of in term of peace.  Peace, not anger that responds to hatred that is responding to more hatred, is our calling from the Lord.  OK, now I shall get off my soapbox.  I am so grateful to have the class of thoughtful homeschool students whom I can encourage in the Lord!

For the Quick Write, students could write about the election, Veteran's Day (November 11), the anniversary of the founding of the Marine Corps (November 10, 1775), or marshmallows vs. popcorn.

We worked on Works Cited pages and correct format for entries.  Easy Bib is a great resource, but students will need to check to make sure that the entry that Easy Bib gives them is actually correct.  I've had a number of incorrect ones for websites.  This site also had some good resources for MLA guidelines:  Citation GuidesWebsite Evaluator, and Commonly Cited Sources/ Research Guide.  We also looked at formatting using Microsoft Word.  In the links listed below, I've included a couple specifically for formatting.

Finally, I showed three videos about giving presentations.  Some students love giving speeches or presentations; others hate it.  This is a good, small group of gracious students, so I'm hoping that will help with any jitters about speaking and sharing the information about their topics.

Most of the students handed in their second rough drafts.  To clarify, I went over the first rough drafts looking for any problems with content or organization.  I gave a number of ideas and suggestions for expanding the papers or for re-organization.  For this rough draft, I'm especially looking for issues with grammar and mechanics.  For those who have had classes with me before, they know that I will be thorough and will read very carefully.  Students new to my style should be prepared to find lots of little marks and comments.  If the second rough draft was not handed in during class, it should be mailed to me by the end of the weekend. 

We will start presentations on December 1 (go to this blog post for the schedule of speakers.)  The Final Drafts are due the last week of class.  Students have the option to hand in a third rough draft if they think it is necessary.  

Assignments for Next Week:
-- Work on the Presentation
-- Send in Rough Draft #2, if nec.

Links for This Week
Class Notes
MLA Basic Format -- Works Cited  (note:  I do not require that URLs be included on the Works Cited pages)

Have a great weekend!
Mrs. Prichard

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Writing 3 Class Notes -- Week 10 (November 3)

Greetings!

Great class this week -- especially since they talked me into taking the discussion outside.  How can you say know when the weather is so beautiful?

We are at the point in our class where I have given them most of the information that they need to write a good paper.  Now that students are in the midst of their own writing, what was theory is now becoming practice.  From this point forward, we will review topics and areas that are unclear; students might think they know how to write signal phrases or how to smoothly transition between paragraphs but once they start writing they find that they need some help.

During our discussion outside, we particularly talked about the challenges and the areas in which students were having the hardest times.  Being motivated to work on the paper topped our list.  This is not surprising.  Students often get bored with their topics or get stuck in one aspect.  A related struggle is busy-ness.  Other assignments or activities have more pressing or immediate deadlines, causing students to put their papers aside.  We brainstormed some strategies for dealing with this disinterest or "writer's fatigue."  Setting particular times and places to work were suggested.  Being aware of external distractions (*cough* -- friends, Facebook, playlists, etc.) was also mentioned.

Another place of difficulty for these researching writers was in the area of content and resources.  Some students had too much information; some were still looking for good quality resources and information to expand their papers.  The length of the paper seemed to be a primary concern.  

As I told the students, this project will teach them a lot about themselves.  Most homeschool students are fairly self-motivated and are equipped to manage a more open schedule.  Writing a lengthy research paper tests students in those very areas.  And that's a good thing.  When they get to college, managing their time and having strategies for their own personal work habits and learning styles will be essential to their success.

They signed up for Presentation slots.  The papers do not need to be handed in until December 15; they can present about their material before they hand in their papers.  Next week we will talk about what makes a good presentation.

Below is the schedule:
December 1
Nicholas
Harrison
Luke
Nicole

December 8
Abby
Eden
Christopher

December 15
Preston
Katie
Anna

We're nearing the home stretch.  Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

Assignments for Next Week:
-- Rough Draft #2 

Links for this Week
Class Notes

Have a beautiful weekend!
Mrs. Prichard

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Writing 3 Class Notes -- October 27 (Week 9)

Greetings!

We had a good class this week.  It's good to have a break and then come back ready to tackle this research paper project!

First, my apologies for the missing Class Notes for Week 8.  I found it in my drafts folder; I'd written it but my battery ran out before I could send it.  I then completely forgot to go back and send it.  Mea culpa.  I'm making it up in a longer note this week.  

I handed back the first rough drafts of their papers. My primary focus with these drafts is organization and content.  Many students noted that they knew they still had more to write. Below is a condensed version of our discussion for the day.

REGARDING CONTENT
-- As I'm reading papers, I'm asking myself, "What other questions should this paper answer in order to be complete?"  Many times students feel that they've run out of material or are unsure what direction a paper should take. If still a bit confused, a helpful strategy is to have another person read the paper, asking the same questions.


REGARDING FOCUS
-- It's crucial that students have strong introductions and conclusions.  These set up the paper for greater success. 
-- Some questions to ask about the introduction:
          -- Do I grab my reader's attention at the beginning?  Have I established common ground and interest?  Have I addressed a reader's concern, "Why should I care?"
           -- Is my thesis stated clearly?  It can be two sentences, but at the end of the introduction, there should not be any doubt about what the topic and opinion/stand are?
          -- Do I give an adequate road map for my readers?  Do they know what subtopics this paper will cover?  

-- Some questions to ask about the conclusion:
          -- Have a adequately summed up my essay?  Have a summarized the subtopics?  In the introduction you tell your readers where the paper is headed.  In the conclusion, you tell your readers where they have been.
          -- Have your restated your thesis statement?  Have you reminded your readers what your purpose in writing this paper was?
           -- Have you left your readers with something memorable?  What parting thoughts have you made that will leave a lasting impression?  Do you want them to think differently or to take some action?


REGARDING INCORPORATING RESEARCHED MATERIAL:
-- This is probably one of the trickier parts of writing a research paper.  Some information at student knows, but the average reader may not know this same material.  That information should be cited.  (In other words, common knowledge for the writer may not be common knowledge for the reader.)  When in doubt, cite.
-- Seamlessly incorporating information is challenging.  Remember, your job as a research writer is to gather information from many sources and then present it to your readers.  Any ideas, facts, statistics, data, etc. that you got from a source needs to be cited.  
-- Use signal phrases to indicate sources.  
-- If you are not sure how to do this, review some of the handouts and links that I've previously given you.


REGARDING ORGANIZATION:
-- Some sections in the papers felt more disjointed than others.  This is often a result of missing transitions, either between paragraphs or within paragraphs.  Students should re-read their essays and look for those places where there are abrupt changes in ideas presented. (Below are some helpful links)
-- Some sections seem to have information that has been presented in another section of a paper.  When writing about a topic that has elements that are closely woven together, it's sometimes hard to figure out when to write about the individual elements.  Students should re-read their papers, looking for places where they repeat themselves.
-- A way to get a bigger picture perspective of your organization is to do a Reverse Outline.  A detailed outline tells you what you plan to write, but a reverse outline tells you what you actually wrote.

-- Directions for a Reverse Outline:
          -- A reverse outline is kind of like taking notes from your own paper.  
          -- Number each paragraph and give the details that are in that paragraph (including the intro & conclusion)
          -- After the details of the paragraphs have been listed, check for subtopic groupings.
          -- Be especially aware of information that is out of place, unnecessary, or repeated.


After our discussion, I broke the students up into groups of three to do Peer Reviews.  I asked them to read their classmates' papers in the same way that I did -- looking for those questions to ask that would help in expanding the essay and looking for any organizational issues.  Sometimes having a peer read and comment on your writing feels a little uncomfortable, but it's really a helpful exercise.  It not only helps the writer, the reviewer often walks away with some insights that helps his/her writing.

Students have been working hard.  KEEP IT UP!!!

Assignments for Next Week:
-- Keep working on the Rough Draft
-- Write a Reverse Outline
-- Works Cited draft


Links for this Week:
Class Notes


Have a great weekend!
Mrs. Prichard

Monday, October 10, 2016

Writing 3 Class Notes -- Week 7 (October 6)

Belated Greetings!

Best case scenario the Class Notes get sent out Thursday evening.  Worst case scenario they don't get sent out at all.  This week, we're somewhere in the middle.

We began class with an ACT essay prompt.  I had given the students a handout the week before that walked through writing this essay in a step by step process.  This topic of this prompt was globalization and its effects on society.  I had the students come up with their own opinions and then compare it with the three given perspectives.  They did a great job thinking and analyzing.

This week's primary topics were correct citation principles in MLA format.  I have a number of videos that will be helpful for them.  (See the links at the bottom.)

This Thursday Rough Draft #1 is due.  Happy Writing!

Assignments this Week:
-- Rough Draft #1

Links for this Week"
Class Notes

Have a great week!
Blessings,
Mrs. Prichard