On the Importance of Writing

 

I came across an interesting article posted on Twitter which made made me think about the importance of teaching writing: Is teaching Writing as Important as Teaching Reading?

I agree that teaching writing is essential, but for a student to begin writing she must first learn to read adequately and independently. How else can a student acquire the necessary vocabulary skills along with the syntactical skills required of a competent writer? Reading a variety of texts empowers the student and as a result may induce her to write.

As the article states, the writing must be spontaneous. A student should feel free to write on topics of her choice.  In addition, this will give the teacher an idea of the student’s interests and passions.

How to get a student to write? I use a variety of writing prompts to get the juices flowing. I usually set a 5-minute time limit. When the timer goes off, each student may share what she writes with a classmate to get some general feedback on the content.  Grammar and spelling are not taken into account. Later, the student will select any of the writing prompts done in class and develop it into a narrative.

What to evaluate? That really depends on what the teacher wants to emphasize. It could be just syntax and vocabulary. Maybe the teacher wants to check the flow of ideas. As a teacher, I just want to get the student to feel confident in writing; confident enough to voice her opinion on a variety of topics.

On the topic of voicing opinions, most students do it using various mediums. The article mentions e-mailing, texting, and using social media platforms. A teacher could suggest the student select one of a number of topics addressing an issue discussed on any of the social platforms (cyber-bullying comes to mind).

Reading and writing go hand in hand. Which is more important to teach? You decide. ~~LMMolina

 

 

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Blogging: Always an Adventure

One of the cool things about blogs is that they can be about any topic. As an educator I like to focus on topics that “teach.” So naturally I choose those that I know about and can enlighten my readers. Although I have been blogging for over ten years, I’m continually learning something new. Blogs are a wonderful way to practice and develop writing skills.

I’ve encouraged students and fellow teachers to have more than one blog. One blog can be used as a portfolio to document school or professional work and another blog can be on a favorite topic.  When I taught a film course a few years ago, I had the students create a blog about movies they had enjoyed watching. The blogs included movie trailers, film clips, quotes, reviews, and biographies of the main actors or production crew. You can check out a related post on the blog as an electronic portfolio here.

There are so many topics that can be blogged about that the list is endless. Whatever comes to mind you can probably blog about it. What would you blog about if you decided to create a blog?

My colleagues at school have created their blogs to communicate with students and parents. Those related to the English class are in English, of course.  The others are in Spanish. The platform most used is WordPress.  You have the option to make your blog private if you only want to do it for a select few. This might be a good way to start off.

I’ve listed a few hyperlinks to the teachers’ class blogs from our school blog.  Feel free to visit some and leave encouraging comments. I’m sure they will be much appreciated.

Blogs in the Spanish language:

https://dulcineatvg.wordpress.com/

http://tvazquez2014.wordpress.com/

http://cbcmrmatematicas.wordpress.com/

http://elblogdeloscronopios.wordpress.com/

 

Blogs in the English language:

https://bmachuca.wordpress.com/

https://ymcolonenglishclass.wordpress.com/

https://downtherabbitholeagainsite.wordpress.com/

 

I’ve noticed that some of my colleagues have become very techie through blogging. They’ve been able to insert images, widgets, links, and create pages or reblog. It’s just a matter of taking risks and a bit of practice. I cannot stress this enough. Practice makes perfect! But keep in mind that sometimes through mistakes we learn.

If you decide to plunge into this world of blogging there are many sources available to help you through the process. YouTube would be the main one. So why not give it try? I wish you success and many happy days of blogging! ~~LMMolina

 

Summertime: A Time to Read

My mystery reading: Summer 2019 ~~LMM

Off for the summer? As an educator, I’ve always loved to read and my favorite genre has always been the mystery novel.  During the summer, I get to indulge in this pastime. I first started way back with the Nancy Drew character one particular summer. I devoured that series! I became enthralled with the way the character set out to discover clues and solve the mystery.

I think that teachers are rare creatures in the sense that they read more than other professionals.  Does it stem from their responsibility to read in order to appear knowledgeable before their students? Probably. Anyway, it’s always wise to read in order to acquire more vocabulary or reinforce that which you already have. Students should be aware that their teachers read outside the classroom. She is their model in school if at home they lack one.

Reading should be pleasurable in order to be satisfying.  My pleasure lies in reading mysteries and solving the puzzles presented by the writer. Students should be encouraged to read what they like in order to read and master content that might not be as pleasurable.   Graphic novels are unique in the sense that they include visuals.  So with reluctant readers, this is one way to get them hooked on reading. It’s a matter of choosing the content that suits their interests and addresses their reading ability. What are your thoughts? ~~LMMolina

Poetry: A Painstaking Process

Posted on Facebook May 11, 2019

I’ve always liked to write but when it comes to poetry, my feelings are mixed. But in order to get my students to write poetry, I must get in the water and wet my toes, so to speak. Even if the water is ice cold! Nothing like cold water to awaken all the senses.  Whenever those senses are awakened, I trust them to guide me in putting words on paper in the form of a poem.  I firmly believe that the teacher should always be the first to model. Her work should “inspire” the students. Hopefully, something good will come out and may even help a shy student explore her feelings by placing them on paper.

For Mother’s Day this year (and to force myself to be extra creative), I chose an acronym to create a poem. As a mother of five, I searched for all those attributes that make being a mother a singular experience. It was an arduous but enlightening process which in the end, I thoroughly enjoyed. ~~LMMolina

 

On Motherhood

 

Moments of happiness mixed with pain abound 

Often to the point where one asks if the

Timing was right to have made certain choices.

Hovering over the soul is the fear that it was not

Enough to just wipe away tears of frustration.

Rearing is a constant demand that only a

Handful can understand but otherwise

Openly cherish and willingly embrace,

Overriding the hurt that accompanies the struggle and

Devoting a whole life to the beloved brood.

 

Art and Teaching: What’s on your palette?

This past semester I had the opportunity to participate in an art contest sponsored by the school. We have one teacher who offers the art elective to the 11th and 12th graders.  The contest was open to all the students whether or not they have taken or plan to take the course.  The school staff was also invited to participate which is why I decided to be a contestant.  It’s surprising how many students like to dabble in painting and sketching. I’m not surprised because I realized just how therapeutic the activity is. Teaching can be very stressful and expressing oneself through art can be very helpful.

Painting or sketching doesn’t have to be tied to an art course.  It’s a great way to get students to interact with what they read and discuss in class. Elementary school teachers do it all the time so why shouldn’t high school teachers?

If a student can’t express his ideas either verbally or in writing, give him the opportunity to do it through art.  We as teachers want to make sure the student understands the content. Does it really matter how?  Let him decide once in a while which medium he can use. And at the same, let’s show them that we, too, can doodle even if it’s with the aid of an App! ~~LMMolina

 

The Advantages of Small School Clubs

Extra-curricular activities provide a unique opportunity for students of different grades to mingle. School clubs get students with common interests to share ideas. The benefit of a club with less than 20 members is that everyone will have a chance to voice his or her opinion. As adviser for a tech club, I see those students who normally don’t get a chance to express their opinions in a classroom environment freely express themselves at club meetings.

The topic of our most recent meeting was the 3-D printing of body organs. That stirred up an interesting debate in which everyone was able to present his ideas on the topic. Some were in favor, others had their issues with the idea of being able to replace an organ in this manner. But what came out of the discussion was the willingness of each member to listen to different sides of the issue. After all, isn’t that what education is all about? Listening to all sides to reach a consensus is part of the learning process. It should start as early as possible and become a life-long pursuit.

Small school clubs provide the necessary outlet for the shy individual who wants (and needs) to be heard.  I’m all for them! ~~LMMolina

 

 

A “Universe of Love”- Another Writing Project

Here we go again with another writing project for the online school magazine. This time students may submit work related to the topic of love as a universal concept. Although this edition will be released close to Saint Valentine’s Day, the written or art piece does not have to be of a romantic nature. As a role model, I decided to write about kids and their feelings on this topic.  And as a group project for my 10th-grade English course, I’ve asked the students to briefly describe an incident involving an embarrassing situation between two youngsters who are attracted to each other. This they’ll do as a comment on my private blog. When I’ve compiled the comments, I’ll edit, and submit the project. Names will be withheld if the student so desires. I’m looking forward to reading their mini-stories! Should be fun. ~~LMMolina

Fun Ways to Learn: Storytelling with Legos

Harry’s Journey to Hogwarts

Legos to tell a story? In the classroom? Well, why not? Various Lego movies have been made and I, for one, admit that they were amusing to watch. That considered, I have the idea that it would be fun to create a scene from a short story, novel, or play with Legos. What better way to reinforce learning and be entertained at the same time?

Creating something physical with pieces that are readily available can help a student visualize an event from a story. With a play it might be even easier because the stage directions can serve as a guide. Anyway you go, you can’t beat the usefulness of the Lego bricks to enhance the learning process which can at times be tedious (if not downright boring!).

This new semester I plan to do something with the Legos that former students have donated. I use them with my tech club so why not with my English course? After all, learning should be a pleasurable experience for everyone! Right? To get ideas, I usually visit Education.lego or Pinterest~~LMMolina

Aragog’s Lair

To Kill a Mockingbird: Life Lessons

If ever there was a novel to teach high school kids about the different aspects of life and in particular the ugly ones, this is the novel. Childhood, the role of girls in society, racism, special-needs kids, poverty, single-parent families, children of divorced parents, sickness, prejudice, and battling addiction are just a few of the topics. Not to mention of course, the justice system and the Era of the Great Depression. I chose this novel this past semester for very particular reasons, all related to the current events of the USA.  Many good debates were brought to the table during the course of the discussion of the novel and its film adaptation. For those who preferred to write, the problem was which topic to choose! I looked forward to hearing and reading what the students had to share and I was not disappointed. Apparently, they enjoyed the novel as much as I did and the film version was a treat for all! This is definitely a classic for everyone and I will keep it on my list.~~LMMolina

A Few Good Writers

The school year is approaching its sixth week of classes. So far it’s been a busy one with the usual curricular and extra-curricular activities. School life goes on as students and teachers get back to doing what they must do: studying and learning.

As an English teacher, I love to get my students writing. Whether it’s journal or blog writing, the idea is to get them to express themselves, especially in a language that is not their native one.

Recently one of the language arts teachers came up with the idea of an online magazine covering writing in different languages and in various genres.   The magazine may include art and photography but I want my students to develop their writing skills by submitting a piece in the form of a poem, a short story, or an essay. This first edition will focus on the theme of horror in our daily lives. After experiencing first-hand the effects of a category 5 hurricane last year, I’m positive several good submissions can be show-cased.

Our magazine art concept

Teachers and other members of the school community will be invited to participate. What a nice way to get students to view their classmates’ thoughts on horrifying events! Expressing yourself about something horrific can be therapeutic.  However, we’re advising our students to leave out details which may be offensive or hurtful to others. 

Of course, I’ll probably be submitting a literary piece myself. After all, I must model for my students. Hopefully, this literary magazine will encourage those students who have difficulty expressing themselves verbally to do something creative through another medium. It’s an excellent outlet for the timid ones! Students will have the option of submitting work anonymously if they so desire.

I’m excited about this project and glad that someone came up with this new venture! Looking forward to enjoying a few good pieces! ~~LMMolina

Magazine promo in Spanish