In the course of creating most of my own curriculum, I end up creating a lot of new words, phrases, and concepts. I intend to describe each of these on this page. You can access this page directly from the navigation bar, but you will mostly be directed to this page from the curriculum map pages when a new term is coined or referenced.

  • AR+

AR Plus is the reading program that I use to suppliment the in-class reading that my students do. My personal belief about reading is that it should be based primarily upon student choice. Any program that aims to limit student choice of reading material is a program that is not flexible enough to meet the needs of all students. I have taken the baseline Accelerated Reader program and added to it in order to ensure a greater level of student choice. Along with the books (mostly novels) that Cresthill has bought the tests for, students can read web pages, AIM conversations, poetry, newspapers, magazines, and all books that are not covered by AR tests. AR Plus also asks students to actively engage with their reading through discussion and writing. If you are interested in how I created this supplimental curriculum for the AR program go here.

  • SAP (Social Action Plan)

The concept of a Social Action Plan presented itself when I first taught a study of Race and Gender to Mixed Ability 8th graders. Near the end of our study, I was struggling to find a way of wrapping up all of the great ideas we had come up with as a class as to the effects of race and gender on the individual and society. I finally decided that the best way to test our theories was to have some real world practice with changing people's biased attitudes toward race and gender for the better. Thus the SAP was born. All students who create an SAP find a problem around them concerning race or gender bias, stereotyping, or outright descrimination. Their SAP aims to raise their particular issue and at least attempt to resolve it. The SAP process is outlined in the following handouts which can be viewed online or downloaded:

  • Write-Ons

A Write-On is the question that I pose at the beginning of class to my students. My students then write for 5-10 minutes on this subject in any way that they would like. Generally, we discuss their ideas for another 5-10 minutes before going on to the larger lesson of the day. Also in most cases, the questions anticipate the key piece of learning that the students will be entertaining for the day. I have written elsewhere, "I try to make sure that these questions have multiple enterences with many different "right" answers. I would consider most of them to be interpretive in nature, and so they require quite a bit of thought from the students. These questions are called Write-Ons because they asks the students to write on a particular topic, but because they are interpretive questions, they are not prompts in the traditional sense. Prompts seemingly have one right way of attacking them, whereas Write-Ons can be answered flippantly or seriously, as a story or an essay. A Write-On only asks students to engage with the topic in someway, to transform it into words that mean something to them." I also use similar terms: Think-On, Share-On, Discuss-On, and Draw-On when I think a question would be better suited to disciplines other than writing. You can visit all of the questions that I have asked over the past few years here.

  • Authentic Writing (aka Real Writing)

Authentic Writing at its most basic is writing that has a real audience and a real purpose.

Now to define the two new terms I have just created. A "real audience" is one that is not only the teacher. The teacher and the self can be part of a real audience, but rarely do they make up it entirely. A real audience is made up of people who are genuinly interested in the writing for what it has to say not because they are forced to be interested. A real audience is one that is likely to listen to, comment on, or attach value to a piece of student writing. Equally likely for a real audience is the posibility of using the writing to create something new. Finally, a real audience is one that does not require perfection to find importance.

A "real purpose" is one that has some intrinsic value to the writer. Getting better at writing can be a real purpose, but it is not (and should not be) the only one. A real purpose is determined by the context of a student's life. It is made up of what the student wants to do or would benefit from doing (making a grocery list, writing a passionate eulogy, getting out some teenage angst) rather than what he/she has to do. Writing with a real purpose is a social act; it is connected to the self and to others without any educational manuvers or imagination on the part of the writer (i.e. Write a letter to your congressperson about spending a million dollars).

To further illistrate the point of Authentic Writing, here is a chart of what constitutes Inauthentic Writing versus its Authentic counterparts:
Authentic Writing
Inauthentic Writing
A grocery list
A CSAP prompt
A blog post
A research paper on a teacher-selected topic
An intellectual passion paper
A form poem that is only seen by the teacher
Student-selected creative non-fiction
An essay that does not relate to the student or the current curriculum

  • Parallel Poem/Story/Essay

A parallel poem/story/essay is a student generated piece of writing that takes some element of a published work (the style, the rhythm, the theme, etc.) and mirrors it while making unique all other parts of the writing. This type of writing helps to fully explore/understand a difficult poem or story.