My journey to shoot for the moon.

I know that I posted the first part of this quite some time ago.  Most of this Part 2 post was written at that time (in Feb.) but I never finished writing it.  So, now it is June and I’ve finally finished writing it.  For those of you who don’t remember, you can read Part 1 here.


For the writing portion of my Observation, I decided that I would have the kids work with Kelly Gallagher’s Real World Writing Purposes.  For those of you who don’t know Kelly Gallagher, he is an amazing teacher and has written several books.  Here is what Real World Writing Purposes looks like:

Real World Writing Purposes

Purpose Explanation 
Express and Reflect The writer……. expresses or reflects on his or her own life experiences… often looks backward in order to look forward 
Inform and Explain The Writer…… states a main point and purpose… tries to present the information in a surprising way 
Evaluate and Judge The Writer…… focuses on the worth of person, object, ideas or other phenomenon…  usually establishes the criteria as good or bad 
Inquire and Explore The writer……. wrestles with a question or problem… connects to the problem and lets the reader watch them wrestlewith it


Analyze and Interpret The Writer…… seeks to analyze and interpret information that is difficult to understand or explain 
Take a Stand / Propose a Solution The Writer…… seeks to persuade audiences to accept a particular position on a controversial issue…. describes the problem, proposes a solution, and provides


The week prior, I had introduced the Real World Writing Purposes and we did an activity where the kids found examples of each of the purposes in the newspaper.  They didn’t do that well with the activity, even though I had them work in groups.  So, the next class I went over them again.  This would be the third time we were reviewing the material.  Well, the third time was the charm!

After we reviewed the chart, I told the kids that from one topic we were going to use the Purposes to come up with ideas for 18 topics.  Their reactions had me laughing.  One student counted the Purposes and told me that there were only 7, so how could we do it?  I asked them to count again and explained that we could write and Express our feelings about a topic and Reflect upon our experiences related to that topic.  The student then said, but then that is only 14 topics.  I promised them that if they hung with me, they would see how we could come up with 18 topics.

To really explain the 1 topic = 18 topics, I used an example from the book.  The topic was the Green Bay Packers and I went through it step-by-step.  The example showed a Graphic Organizer that was almost identical to the chart above only there was nothing in the Explanation Column.  The kids weren’t sure that they were getting it after we finished the first example.  So, I let them pick which other example they wanted to go over, one was skateboarding and I think the other was volleyball.  As we started discussing the Explanations for skateboarding, the kids began demonstrating that they understood.  So, we stopped.

I was using the document camera and projector to put all of this up on the wall.  So, next I got my blank Graphic Organizer and told them that we were going to turn 1 topic into 18 topics together.  After a bit of discussion, they decided that we would use the topic of Baseball.  I filled in the Express and Reflect section with 3 ideas.  I explained since these were personal, it would be difficult for them to tell me what to write.  The remaining ideas we worked on together.  Mostly, the kids gave me ideas and I turned them into workable topic ideas.

It was a great lesson and the kids were quite involved.  At times, I purposely picked an “unpopular” view to make my point.  For example, for Taking A Stand/Proposing a Solution I said that I was tired of kids being late to class and decided that I would send all tardy students to the office for the Administrators to deal with.  I argued my “solution” with some silly arguments and got some laughs from the students (and my Administrator).  It was a success.

When I got my feedback, I was shocked that I had unknowingly used so many different strategies for instruction.  It was very inspiring.  If I could use so many different learning strategies in one lesson (and didn’t plan that many) how many could I use if I really tried and planned them out?  It is a challenge to myself that I hope to tackle in the Fall.


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