Reading Responses: The ISAAC Method

How many times have you been asked to “respond to” something you have to read, whether in school, at work, or in some other scenario? I found at the beginning of the school year that I was expecting my students to be able to respond thoughtfully and deeply to articles that I thought would be naturally thought-provoking (and they likely were, but I wasn’t able to properly evaluate whether my students were thinking about the ideas on the reflective level I was aiming for.) I realized I may need to teach critical analysis more overtly. I designed the following checklist for reading responses. We practice this 2-3 times a week in our high school Planning and English classes.

I made it clear that the student does not need to complete every single item on the checklist, but that they should include at least one item from each section. I evaluate their responses by marking when I see each of the I, S, An, Ad, and C sections, and respond with a comment or two to their writing.

If you’d like to try this in your own class, you are welcome to try this method. Let me know if you have success or suggestions for improvement.

☐Provide context for the big idea of this passage.
☐Introduce significant topics, themes, settings, and characters.

☐Concisely summarize or restate the main points. Don’t restate large sections of the article; keep it brief.

☐Interpret literary devices or poetic devices (metaphor, symbol, personification, allusion, hyperbole, simile).
☐Reflect on the topics, themes, settings, and actions mentioned.
☐State what you believe the author’s intent for writing is.

☐Make connections between the text and yourself, between the text and the world, or between the text and another text.
☐Respond with your own questions about the text.
☐Pose a question of your own.

☐Give an overall recap of the big idea.

An Illustrated Guide to Educ Hashtags on Twitter

A beautifully designed guide to education hashtags on Twitter.

Twitter has taken the Education world by storm, but how to track all that’s going on? Here’s a beautifully laid-out guide to some of the best and brightest Twitter hashtags that will point educators and students to resources and tips.

Kindness-based School

After watching this video, I am inspired and encouraged.

Kicking off the year with my grade 10 Personal Planning class, we’re examining the story of Pay It Forward and thinking of practical projects we can do in our community.

Also related is this fantastic list of kindness ideas, which will ensure no student is without one:

Dear new TWU student

Dear new TWU student,

I don’t know you, and you don’t know me. But as a person who has travelled ahead of you on the journey you have begun, I wanted to write to wish you a happy O-day and welcome you to the campus I once affectionately called home. I hope you’ll find it life-giving.

If you like, give me just a moment of your time for a couple pointers.

First things first. Fruit. It’s highly overpriced at the cafeteria. Get it from Willowbrook Farm Market in Walnut Grove. Soup is cheap and sometimes worth the savings so you can stock up on ice cream at opportune times like November when it rains the whole time. But it’s actually way better to just keep exercising. The gym isn’t far compared to other university campuses, even in the rain.

If you sleep well on those sad excuses for mattresses, I admire you. Extra foam mats?

I’m gonna sound like a parent here. That’s because parents have lots of hindsight. In this situation, so do I. If you do your pre-readings for class you won’t look or feel lost; confidence is half the battle: how will you ever feel good about learning if you haven’t applied yourself to your end of the bargain? Finish some papers early and the benefits are amazing. You’re less stressed and you have more time for refining it into work you can be proud of. My roommate created a clever schedule of his papers and dispersed them throughout the semester, successfully avoiding any all-nighters. Every percent actually counts. I didn’t graduate with distinction, but knowing I could have was a bit of a sore spot on graduation day; a mistake I won’t make again if I take further education.

Lastly, don’t give into the tendency to take your environment for granted. Look around – life is beautiful. Don’t allow yourself to complain: you have the most freedom you’ve had in your life up until this point, hopefully you’re studying something you’re interested in, and you’re part of the world’s 2% most privileged demographic. Keep perspective!

Have a blast. I look forward to hearing some stories one day.

Recommended classes:

The beauty of TWU is its liberal arts approach. You get to take a smattering of great electives!

POLS 101 – Intro to Political Thinking (Cal Townsend)

SOC 101 – Intro to Sociology (Gordon Chutter)

RELS 102 – New Testament (“RELS 102 with Kent Clarke changed everything for me.” – Jonathan Gibson) Prepare to have your faith cross-examined by a professor who won’t let you take your beliefs lightly.

ENG ___ (Holly Nelson / Lynn Szabo). The entire English faculty are world-class. Plus, they teach you how to write well, which pays off in every other course you will ever take, and for the rest of your life.

RELS 465 – Christian Thinkers of the Western Tradition (Cal Townsend)

HIST 403 – Engendered History (Robynne Healey). All the history professors at TWU are outstanding. You will have your eyes opened to the world like never before.

BUSI 280, 342, 377 (recommended by Business Administration student Jeremy Cockrill) I (Craig) didn’t take business, but I really wish I had.

Honor The Treaties [Film]

“We are numb to things because there is so much white noise, but art can remind people they need to care.”

– Shepherd Fairey, artist

This is a moving insider look at the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota, with help from photojournalist Aaron Huey, artist Shepherd Fairey, and videographer Eric Becker.

Honor the Treaties | The Film from eric becker on Vimeo.

I failed, for a long time…in not telling the story right. In some ways, poor places are easy to photograph. It’s a sad thing because I think that’s why people don’t go very deep, because you can go into a place that’s in rough shape and make pretty textural photographs. That’s what a lot of the stories about Pine Ridge are: pretty pictures about ugly things like gangs and violence. No one looks into how we got there.

– Aaron Huey, photojournalist