This morning, I had the honor of presenting a sectional at the 2009 Wisconsin Council of Teacher of English Convention in Milwaukee, WI.

Please click to view the information from the session:

Learning the Art of the Semi-Colon

My presentation included discussion about two bits of pedagogical theory–(1) teaching grammar in the context of writing and (2) using visual arts in the teaching of writing. For me, finding practical applications of these theories can sometimes be challenging, so I demonstrated a lesson that I use in my persuasive writing unit which integrates both of these theories into actual practice. It’s a really great lesson that middle school AND high school students enjoy and that is exciting to teach. It makes grammar fun! But even better, it produces sophisticated student writing in the end. The participants in my workshop had a chance to try out the activity for themselves, and then to discuss the experience and offer ideas about how this lesson (or those similar to it) can work in the classroom. Some of the cool suggestions generated by this discussion included:

-Using a picture as a starting point for a follow-up lesson, where students view the image and generate an accompanying sentence.

-Displaying posters side by side with formal persuasive essays.

-Tying visual elements into descriptive writing, asking students to describe a photo or illustrate a written description.

-Creating a unit around punctuation, with the unifying idea of a punctuation “map” that could be displayed in the room with “paths to good writing” that would feature various punctuation marks as X-marks-the-spot symbols on the map.

I was so excited to have this chance to present one of my ideas and to hear those of others. My room was pleasantly overflowing with knowledge: there were pre-service educators, other first-year teachers, experienced and veteran teachers, and post-secondary teachers in attendance.  It was my absolute pleasure to serve as the leader for a great activity and discussion. Many thanks to all that were there! It was an incredible day for me–I was recognized as the WCTE 2009 Outstanding Student Teacher and gave a successful workshop for my colleagues! It doesn’t get much better than that.

Do you need more ideas about how to utilize grammar in context, visual arts, or BOTH into real life teaching? Check out the last two slides of my Powerpoint for my list, and share your own by leaving a comment and continuing the conversation!

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