Tag Archive for writing as craft

Weekend Culture: Advertising

If everything’s a text how do we hold students accountable?  The Common Core, under Integration of Knowledge and Ideas, requires that students be able to assess and evaluate multiple sources of information in different formats.  You would think that students, for all their “media” savvy, would know how to do this already.  And yet, they struggle.  And we struggle too.  To assess media means we have to think nimbly.

This weekend we’ll focus on some engaging and innovative advertising campaigns that can be employed to teach argument, purpose, and image analysis.

Perhaps, it’s me but Bloomberg Businessweek’s Ad campaign is sleek and smart.  There are four ads total and each one contains an image and keyword.  In smaller text at the bottom is an argument about how the word (“Viral,” “Disruptive,” “Charged,” and “Worldly”) represents the magazine’s edgy, new personality.

Consider having students read the Ad Age evaluation of Bloomberg’s advertisements as background.  While the advertisements could be used independently, the hamburger patty ad labeled “Worldly” is a perfect partner for The Jungle and/or Fast Food Nation.  In two sentences located in the lower left hand corner phrases such as “far flung,” “global food supply” and “crucial” speak to many of the big picture arguments raised by Upton Sinclair and Eric Schlosser.

Use our post on image annotations from September 2011 to have student annotate and write for any/all of the advertisements. Consider discussing how more text or images would change the effect.  You may also choose to have students create a T-chart of pros/cons to evaluate effectiveness.

Weekend Culture: Room for Debate

Yesterday’s post focused on The New York Times’ Room for Debate.  This past Wednesday, the topic of focus included 15 experts, a large number for any NYT debate.  The difference?  They were all high school seniors. Titled How the Future looks from High School, the Times asked these students how they saw their future.

Since this is a topic that directly relates to our students, consider using this “debate” in the same manner as yesterday but with some tweaks.  This is their opportunity to work on personal narratives and opening lines/hooks.

  • Have them read, annotate and create a list of observations from the Times post.
  • Discuss in small groups and/or discuss as a class.
  • Have students take the role of an expert and construct their own short response to the topic.
    • Ask them to come up with an engaging first line.  This is never as easy as it seems.  Try some of the following first:
      • List your top three favorite food memories.
      • Describe a reoccurring dream.
      • What is you most vivid memory from kindergarten?
      • Describe a guilty (and appropriate) pleasure.

The hardest thing will be for them to take this “snippets” and understand that everything/anything they see as important is largely reflective of their personalities and their future plans.

Once responses have been created, add one final step.  Have students “respond” to the “responses.”  You’ll notice that on the actual Room for Debate page it asks, “We hope readers, from high school seniors to senior citizens, will respond in comments: What are the pressures on students at your high school? What are 18-year-olds in your hometown expecting from their careers?”  If you choose to, have students respond to one of the teens who posted their future plan.

If this is too impractical, consider having them post their original response for your class in Schoology or Edmodo.  See our Favorites page for help with these applications.

  • Create a thread for this discussion and have students post their responses.
  • Require students to read and comment on two of the original posts.
  • Ask that they respond, not with simple “thumbs up” language.  Instead they should consider their response as a reflection that demonstrates understanding and thoughtful evaluation without critique.

Weekend Pop Culture: Thanksgiving

Welcome to our pre-Thanksgiving pop culture bash.  Looking for something in the spirit of Thanksgiving?  Something still rigorous?  Something that could stop the tedium of the days before a holiday break?  Look no further.  Today we review blogs, articles and infographics with all of that in mind.  Think about it as a mini Thanksgiving buffet.

Infographics

What’s Cooking on Thanksgiving Infographic-The New York Times

Even though it’s from 2009, this infographic is still interesting commentary.  It reviews the most searched Thanksgiving recipes and then provides state statistics.

Questions for Discussion:  

  • Identify the argument about the intersection of technology and Thanksgiving.
  • Identify the argument made about location and food preference.

Articles

Restaurants on Thanksgiving: 14 million Expected to Dine Out this Year  The Huffington Post

A short article with visual about the reasons behind dining out for Thanksgiving in 2011.

Questions for Classroom Discussion:

  • Identify the argument(s) about modern Thanksgiving celebrations.
  • What does this suggest about American culture and dining out?
  • Does dining out change the Thanksgiving experience?

Note to Self: You may even want to use The New Yorker’s cover from this past week since it’s a Thanksgiving meal inside of a cafe.

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Weekend Tech: Tweets are #funny

Twitter is funny.  Actually, The Onion’s tweets are funny.  And idislikestephen, and monkeysee, and David Pell, and…you get the point.  I troll Twitter looking for my humorous “tweet” fix on a semi-regular basis.  I’m not sure it’s as bad as my coffee problem, but it’s a habit.

The New York Times ran a story this past Sunday entitled Writer’s New Form: Tweet-Up Comedy.  It’s a great read about how writers for late night talk shows use Twitter as their testing ground for zingers.  It is entirely possible, after reading it, that I spent several hours on Twitter scouring these types of tweets while snorting in an incredibly unattractive way. Read more

Writing & Voice: Day One

 

I spent a large part of this weekend reading Jeffrey Eugenides The Marriage Plot.  I knew that I should grade papers, plan lessons, write college recommendations.  I just couldn’t.  The writing was so good, so immensely satisfying that it felt like I was doing something secretive and illegal.  Good writing makes us lose track of time, dog-ear pages and double underline meaningful sections.  As teachers, good writing is easier to identify than to teach.   Students need so much practice and feedback that quite often we find ourselves spent.

Every post this week will focus on how to improve voice in student writing.  It seems an appropriate way to celebrate The National Day on Writing this Thursday and a good way to provide some new approaches to teaching voice.  Jim Burke posted a tweet this past week that commented, “October is the cruelest month” and he’s not kidding.  There is something about October that reminds me just how hard it is to teach writing.   They aren’t quite ready to have individual writing breakthroughs, yet, and they are so busy with putting things in the “right” order that voice is an afterthought.

This weekend I was reminded that good writing is voice.  It is what makes students “fall in love” with an author, character, story, or setting.  It is what makes them take out their books when they finish an assignment early and read quietly.  It is what makes me, their teacher, linger over their own writing when they get it right.   So this week we’ll start with engaging non-fiction writers with loads of voice (Tan, Sedaris, Dowd, Krauthammer to name a few), work on short exercises that practice that voice, and even talk about collaborative assignments the combine multiple voices into one piece of writing.

Now, back to. . . reading.

Weekend Tech: Steve Jobs

There were three apples that changed the world: Eve's, Newton's and Steve's.

Yesterday we talked about Steve Jobs and how to use public outpourings of grief as a way to teach everything from argument to media literacy.  Today we continue by looking at some other choices.  I know that the below link don’t do justice to what exists. They do however provide varied points of view.  Click around and let us know if you have other resources/ideas.

Mourning Steve Jobs: The Purpose of Public Grief

Leave it to The New Yorker.  While I profiled their Back Issues Blog yesterday, the quality of their articles is undeniable.  Today we look at an article from the News Desk.  It’s perfect for student use in class.  They can practice annotating for SOAPSTone and evaluating O’Rourke’s argument.  What’s useful about this article is that it also includes links to other memorials which means a “multi-layered” media literacy strand.  Read more

Weekend Tech: Steve Jobs

Everybody was talking about it and by everybody I mean all of my students.  I expect them to discuss reality television, the NBA lockout, even homecoming requests on Facebook.   But I don’t expect detailed conversations about Steve Jobs.  Not from high schoolers. And certainly not in a meaningful way.  But the way they talked about Jobs got me thinking.  They were right.  The reaction in the last several days has been remarkable.

Teaching is about opportunity presenting itself and this a chance to for meaningful discussion, writing, analysis, anotation. Having students study/discuss these online “memorials” teaches a variety of skills: media literacy, memorializing in modern culture, the impact of social media, our “relationship” to public figures, the importance of technology, technology innovation and so on.   All of it’s critical thinking.  Who are we as a society in relationship to this loss?  This weekend I’ll post some of the best “remembrances” for classroom use.

Pitch Me Another: Apple’s Ads
The New Yorker’s Back Issues blog put together a retrospective of Apple advertising spanning the last several decades. It’s great especially the advertisement from 1984.  An easy way to do evaluate advertising, assess a change over time in audience expectations, even print advertising’s use of word choice.

Twitter’s Top Trending Topics: #iSad and #thankyousteve

The the word choice in the hashtags alone is meaningful.  iSad sounds so much like loneliness.  Like loss.  Like grief.  Even I can barely stand it and thankyousteve sounds almost like the closing of a letter or email or text.  Now perhaps I’ve been manipulated by all the media coverage too but it is fascinating.  The language is meaningful and economical.  Consider class discussion, writing prompt, or big picture analysis.

Here are some useful tweets:

David Pell 

Mark Zuckerberg

Joeykirk

NPR’s Monkey See

Weekend Tech: Krulwich Wonders

I suspect it’s more than likely the tagline of “An NPR Sciency Blog” is what originally made me stop clicking and start reading.  Whatever the original reason, I’m hooked, and as a result I religiously read Krulwich Wonders one of National Public Radio’s blogs.  I’m not particularly drawn to science, and the sheer complexity of scientific thought causes me a middle school like anxiety but Robert Krulwich is different.  He takes science and makes it fun.  Really Fun.

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