Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Lesson plans

So, I have a lesson plan I have been working on for a few months now and I am finally going to get the chance to teach it this Friday in a senior creative writing class. There are two sessions of the class and I am unsure if I am going to be able to make it to teach the 2nd one because I have class. Anyway, I am so excited! I will finally get to see this plan in action. I will also find out if it is too far out in LA LA land. After all, I am assuming this plan will engage the seniors. Here it is:

Unit: Writing About Other Cultures
Subject: Language Arts and/or Social Studies Grade Levels: 9-10
Topic: Multicultural Creative Writing: Character Development
Time Allotted:1-90 min period and 60 min of the following period
Objectives: Students will learn how to develop multicultural and diverse characters for fictional writing though the use of prompts, research, group work, writing exercises and pictures. They will use information/knowledge gained to create a biographical sketch of a character from another country and use peer review literacy strategy adopted from the Critical Literacy Response strategy on page 243 of Reading and Learning Strategies.

EL.HS.WR.02 Discuss ideas for writing with classmates, teachers, and other writers, and
develop drafts alone and collaboratively.

EL.HS.WR.21 Write biographical or autobiographical narratives or short stories.

Essential Question:

What do we need to know about people from other cultures?

Curriculum Framing Question: Why is it important to learn how to write about other cultures?

Introduction 10 min: Various portraits of people from all backgrounds and ages will be posted around the room as the student enters the class. Also posted around the room will be photos of homes and places from around the world.

Desks will be arranged in groups of 3-5.
· Start: 5 min small group discussion: “What do we need to know about a character?” (age, sex, occupation, family…ect) “What about a person from another country?” Think about what really makes us "us," these are the things that go beyond just our age, occuptation, ect...

· 5 min large group discussion, write answers from each group on board. “Did knowing your character was from another country change your answers? Why?”

Biographical Prompts Activity, 30 min: Teacher introduction to topic: Think of what makes us, “us.” Things that are not on that list (see board) like our quirks, dreams, fears, morals, religions and values. Our personal histories that have shaped how we see the world. When we write characters for our stories, we must think beyond those items (sex, age, ect) to the person beneath. Today we are going to develop fictional characters from other countries, we are going to design their quirks and beliefs and turn those into a biographical sketch of a fictional character.
· Each Student will be encouraged to get up and take 3 pictures down off the walls, one portrait, one home, and one place. 1 min.
· Students will then be asked to use classroom materials to research as much as they can about the country their character is from. Materials will include mainly cultural information as opposed to country statistics. 15 min.
· Pass out handout with prompts (see end of lesson). Tell students that the 3 pictures each represent a character, that character’s home, and where that home is located. Answer questions on prompt sheet. 5 min.
· Share answers with group. 5 min.
· Begin group sharing. “What did you notice about your answers?” “Would anyone like to share their answers or share something you liked about a group member’s answer?” 3-5 min.
Individual Writing Time, 10 min.:
· Students will create a biographical sketch of their character using the information from the answered prompts and/or the prompts they came up with as a group. “Tell me about your character….” Sketch and sheet with answered prompts will be turned in for grading (at the end of the second day of the lesson) based on creativity and quality of cultural information.
Sharing Time, 30 min (timed one min per student):
· Each student will be asked to display their 3 pictures and then read their paper or, if they choose, simply tell us about what they wrote.

Day Two of Lesson plan:
In Class Writing time, 20 min:
Ø Individual Writing time to expand or edit their character biography sketch.

Peer review and literacy strategy incorporation, 20 min:
Ø Distribute Critical Literary Response Worksheet. Give instructions.

Ø Rational for literacy strategy. This strategy will help hone critical reading skills in the genre of literature. By asking students to review each other’s character sketches, they will gain valuable insight into what other students are doing (and possibly get some ideas of their own.) They will have to think about the sketch in detail and answer questions that will help their peer in editing their paper as well as practice critical reading. They are also asked to tie this multicultural character to their own lives and will have to dig deep into the text to find an answer. Because this strategy draws on reader response theory it is ideal for use in a writing class that asks students to write about the unfamiliar (as in this lesson).
Discuss worksheet answers with peer, 5 min per student, 10 min total.
Group discussion of literacy strategy worksheet. Socratic seminar (see Key Questions below), 10 min.
Conclusion, 5 min:
· Encouragements and summing up. Student input and feedback on lesson plan. Ask key questions.
Key Questions:
· Did you notice any commonalities between your own lives and the lives you created for your characters?
· Why is writing about somebody from another country more difficult? What does this tell you about diversity in America?
1. 35 Pictures of people.
2. 35 Pictures of homes.
3. 35 Pictures of places.
4. Prompts worksheet.
5. Cultural materials, such as various culture boxes.
Assessment: Students will be assessed on their abilities to write about another culture from a fictional point of view and on their class discussion participation.
Possible adaptations:
· Rather than writing out a biographical sketch, the student will be given an option of creating a collage or drawing of their character-as long as it demonstrates that the student has thought through the details of their character.

PROMPTS HANDOUT WILL INCLUDE THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS: (students will be encouraged to pick and choose their answers, rather than be forced to answer all of them. Answers should be 1-3 sentences at most and at least 3 questions must be answered.

1. Your character just grew wings, where will she/he fly to first? Why?
2. What is your character most afraid of?
3. What was high school like for them?
4. What issues are they passionate about?
5. What does she/he like to read?
6. Tell me about your character’s home. Why is it in this location? What drew him/her there?
7. What is their family like?
8. Where has your character travelled?
9. What is their religion? Where they raised within that religious structure?
10. If your character won the lottery, what would they do?

Peer’s name_____________________ Their Character’s name______________________
After looking at the pictures and reading your peer’s biographical sketch, please answer questions and thoughtfully and thoroughly as possible.
Do you think this character is multidimensional? Why or why not?
What questions would you want to ask this character if you were face to face? List at least 3.
What surprised you about this character?
What about this character can you relate to?
Write a statement about the possible worldview of this character.
Where do you see this character in 10 years? Explain your answer.

Sunday, November 8, 2009


I can't believe it has been so long since I have updated. I guess I got sick of posting the whole medical issue crap. I have been at my placement for a month now and I am loving it. I am in my element and it feels so right and natural for me to be in a classroom. My university supervisor came to watch me teach my second lesson last week and gave me the best compliment, he said my lesson was one of the best he has ever seen done by a student teacher, especially considering it was only my second time at the head of the classroom. I am learning a lot and have really been made to feel at home. There have been issues come up, but I just roll with them and work it out. In fact, I am amazed at how NOT stressed I am when I am there. I have had a kid tell me to F off several times and leave the classroom knocking over papers and trash cans on his way out-all because I asked him to sit and read during SSR. He had been loud and using really bad language and pretty much refused to listen, so I told him to go to the office. The whole episode didn't bother me or leave me shaken, which really seems to be the opposit of what I would expect from myself.

I lost another friend last month and seem to be taking it pretty well, keeping busy is really helping deal with the stress of one death after another this year. I am thankful I have such an amazing support network!

Back to the homework grind.....TTFN

Monday, September 14, 2009

I have to do this again!?!

Well, after a super-fun day of bowel prep yesterday, it didn't *take*. So my colonoscopy with Dr. J has been rescheduled for Thursday. I am going in for a CT scan today though, hopefully this ubber-radiologist will spot what others have not. Dr. J requested this guy specifically. I am determined not to let this get me down, but it is getting harder and harder. I was in the ER again on Friday night and they talked about admitting me, but decided against it (thank GOD!). I can handle the pain but what I can't handle is the bills that keep rolling in.

I did some art journal work on Thursday and it was a good relase for me. I was able to get all that negative juju out and away from me to allow my body to heal. After 5 surgeries in 4 years, I am ready to call it quits and try a new route. I feel like things are getting worse, not better.

I still don't have a teaching placement,which at this point is good because I can keep my days open to work on healing, doc visits, tests, ect. Another part of me is anxious to get into a classroom, though. I want to be there learning and teaching and sharing with the students.

The best medicine is laughter and my daughter has been giving me a lot of giggles lately. She, at 3 1/2, is reading and sounding out words better than I could have expected and she is the happiest little thing and it is hard not to be joyful when she is so stinkin adorable! She kisses my stomach and tells me I am all better and when she looks at me with those big amazing eyes, I have to admit that she does make me feel better. :)

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


Was there again last night, but on a positive note, the ER doc pushed the gastroenterologist to get me in ASAP, so I saw him today and I explained my rush. Not only am I in constant pain and trying to avoid another pain med addiction, but I may be called to my student teaching placment at any time. So he got me into do an endoscopy this Friday. My relaxing vacation has been anything but. However, I am utterly grateful that this is happening now as opposed to while classes are in session. There is always a bright side and I am trying to find it. :) Right now my daughter is singing to me and making me a birthday cake in her kitchen (it isn't my birthday). And that is just toooo cute and sweet for me not to be in a good mood. She keeps me sane and happy in spite of everything. It is funny that a 3 year old is my rock sometimes, but when you think about it, it is wonderful that my daughter feels needed. Everynight I tell her she makes my heart happy, and it is true. Ok, before you throw up, I will also mention that I have written the first chapter of my book. YAY!

Monday, August 31, 2009


Frustration doesn't even BEGIN to explain how I feel. I am in pain. I have been to the ER twice now and all I am told is to eat bland foods. The percocet was helping, but I am hoarding them because I only have two left from the latest ER visit. Last night I threw up and the pain was so severe I actually passed out, I could not even yell out for help. The pain in my chest is getting worse and has not let up in 15 days, yet I can't get help. I had an upper GI last week and I still don't know the results. I am refusing to give up, I have to get this fixed before classes start again. Yet I am at a loss as to what I can do, going to the ER doesn't help and my surgeon's office says to go see this other doc, who won't help with the pain because he has not seen me yet. I am functioning at a pathetic level and need some stinkin' help already!!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Such is life...

My spirits are up in spite of the pain trying to get the best of me. I had most of my speech function today with only slight delay when I was talking for more than a min. or so. My cohort classmates signed a card for me and it had such a wonderful affect on me. I was reminded why I am pushing through all my issues. I created an awesome lesson plan with Melissa (thank you, girl!) who came over so I could stay home and on pain meds. My daughter was wonderful this evening in letting me get things done. Joy is out of the hospital today (yes, already!). I got a wonderful book from about using young adult literature and Gardner's Multiple Intelligences. All in all, I will be up til about 2 am writing a paper, but I have to admit....I am going to love writing this one because I get to use my new book. Well, enough of that...back to work....

Monday, August 17, 2009

More ER

Because I felt that enough crap wasn't happening in my life, I up and had to go to the ER yesterday. Same old stuff. Ulcers acting up big time, possible twist in the bowel again. I see my surgeon on Thursday. This routine is so familiar, I could do it with my eyes closed. Once again, I am on Percocets. PEACHY! I feel as though there is too much going wrong for my life to even be real now, as if some twisted writer is making it all up, poorly, as he writes. At what point does the main character get to heal or learn to deal with stress without ending up in the ER? I am soo frustrated with myself and my own inability to cope like a rational person. Instead, I get bleeding ulcers, go back on pain pills only to find myself right back where I started a few months later. I feel so utterly alone because so much is going on that I feel like I can't bother people with my issues because they are simply too out there. Buck up TROOPER BRANDI!! Right? How am I supposed to function when I am such a mess? Too much too soon too close together. I haven't even had the time to art journal this stuff so I lay it out here and send it out into the cosmos to be healed and dealt with and sent back to me as warm fuzzies, back rubs, and giggles.
Waiting to Exhale-

Friday, August 14, 2009


Well, they did not operate on Joy yesterday because she refused treatment, even knowing she would be gone within 3-5 days...yes days!! So after my nap, I went to OHSU to try to get her to go ahead and have the mass removed. She agreed and her surgery is just a few hours. I am waiting for the phone call letting me know she came out of it ok. And until then, I can't seem to function. It has been a rough few days.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Yet again

I lost a friend yesterday. Tried to go to school today, sat through half a class and just could not home now and I am going to take a nap and have some art time for Jax a little later tonight. We also have other friends who are hurting; Wade and his wife, Joy, who suffers from cancer went to the ER yesterday where they found a mass in her brain and she was taken to OHSU from Good Sam for surgery this morning. It doesn't look good for her. I am tired....I see people go on about their day as if the world didn't stop for a while yesterday. They don't know....they just don't know and I resent that.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Taking a break

I am taking a break from my homework to get my thoughts out so I can begin to focus once more. First off, I am slammed!! Whew!! Second, I am loving nearly every second of it. I am collecting a lot of valuable information, yet I find myself hungry for the action, the practical applications of what I am learning. The last month has put a wedding band on my finger in Maui, my mother in the hospital, and has seen both my husband and my daughter sick sick sick. I am continuing along the path laid out before me with gusto and praying I will not get sick. I presented my art journal project today in class, but didn’t get much feedback, so I am hoping to get more once I get out there. Art journaling is such an important part of who I am and has had such a profound impact in my life, I just can’t wait to see what it can do as a tool for learning, understanding, and loving literature and poetry.
I sat in the park blocks today at lunch and read, for the first time, my first art journal from beginning to end. Something happened as I did that. I realized I was good at this writing stuff and that some of the things I said were so intimate and profound that I can’t help but be proud. Then something else happened; almost before I could stop the thought, it occurred to me that maybe, just maybe, I could publish parts of it along with a autobiographical account of the entries and prompts for people to do there own. Then, as if by magic, I am walking to my next class and there is the best professor in the world (hi, Susan!) and I start in telling her how excited I am at my discovery. Before I tell her my thought, she tells me I could publish my journal! How groovy is that? Of course, why stop at that? I wonder if I could take my story to teachers and get them to integrate journaling into their classrooms. I wonder if I could use my own experience with my own students as research for my dissertation? The gears are grinding…..
Ok…maybe now I can focus.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Copyright Question for GTEP

So......for an assignment I am posing a question and would love your input. I need at least three people to respond (hint hint). Should teachers be allowed to disregard copyright laws for educational purposes? In other words...photocopy chapters of books, play movies, entire songs??? Input? I am withholding my own thoughts here, but I would encourage you to speak freely. :) In your response it would be helpful if you put your occupation or let me know if you work with copyright issues regularly or not. I am sending invites to answer this question to a variety of people. Anyway.....Thankx!!!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

What day is this?

To say that I am a tad bit overwhelmed would be the understatement of the century. I imagined grad school to be different. Different how??? I will let you know, but for now, let me just say it isn't what I imagined. For some reason, and I hope I am not alone in this, nothing is clear in any of my classes. Constant changes and vague assignments seem to be the norm. That being said, I like (a lot) 4 out of my 5 classes. I find myself getting confused at the same time though. I am up late every night doing some sort of assignment. I need so badly to do a photography outing, I am thinking Eagle Creek. Maybe I can make it there over the weekend. I do some of my best thinking while taking pictures or making art.
My sweet little Sydney has strep throat, but she is on the mend now, but my heart breaks when she comes up to me saying she is sick. Her eyes just looked so tired and out of it. Shelby, my wonderful husband, is pretty much recovered from his heart attack and is showing vast improvements in his attitude and outlook on life. I, too, am healing well from my surgery in March, and am totally off the pain meds and the withdrawal is over. I wish that those dozens of ER docs over the last year would have given me a heads up about those pills though. Guess that is it for now.....I leave you with pics of my trip to Hawaii once more. :)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Holy Moly

Well, the last few weeks has been a whirlwind. One week ago today Shelby and I were standing on the beach on Maui getting ourselves hitched. Mom ended up in the hospital on Friday morning but was released today. And only 2 short days ago I started Grad School. I am pretty sure I am not going to make it through without some sort of breakdown. I haven't hardly seen my daughter except to take her to daycare and pick her up from my sister's house, I then take her home and put her to bed. It makes my heart ache to think of what I am missing out on. Don't get me wrong, I want to go through this, I just wasn't expected the anxiety attacks to start so early, yesterday I had to leave class to go vomit in the bathroom. I am trying to manage it, but I feel as though I am not doing a very good job. The week is almost over, the school week, that is. So I know if I can only make it to the weekend that I can get ahead on my homework and able to sleep the rest of the week instead of staying up past midnight. The pictures I am including are from Hawaii because when I look at them I can still feel the breeze and I let myself relax. :)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Newest journal entries

Have been able to make some art this week!! It is good for the soul!!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Fun at the gorge

To celebrate the last day of classes (before final's week), Shelby and I took Sydney "Fairy Hunting" in the gorge. Here are a few of those shots....