Effectively teaching reading skills

Great recent blog post from Grant Wiggins who (again) argues against using formulaic “strategies” for teaching reading. He argues that the very word “strategy” is used in a sloppy way too often. We’d get better results from teaching the student to choose whatever techniques, strategies, tactics or skills would dissect the reading most effectively. Read more for the details here.

Creative Writing Prompts For Your Classroom

Hello everyone! 

I’m Allison Best, 7VWP’s intern for the semester! Dr. Franke asked me to post for this blog daily, so in my first post, I’m going to talk a little bit about what got me inspired and interested in writing and link to a site with some of my favorite writing exercises!

Here’s the website: http://www.warren-wilson.edu/~creativewriting/Prompts.php

What I love about this collection of writing prompts is it’s a combination of all of my favorite ones from throughout my educational career. The one thing that I always dreaded, especially in High School, was when we’d begin class with a free-write. Sometimes it was for a grade; sometimes it was just to warm us up before class started.  It was overwhelming to write about anything I wanted. I’d psych myself out — is this worth writing about? Is this even interesting? Should I talk about my morning? What’s the point? Unless I was feeling particularly inspired that morning, I would slack off and either write nothing or nothing that I cared about. 

My teachers would say that to have a free-write was to remove the stress, the pressure, to just get the feel for writing down. The thing that got me inspired as a young writer, however, wasn’t the freedom to write; it was the interesting, quirky, and sometimes restrictive writing exercises. Like writing a story with only monosyllabic words; writing about a given person, an item, and an activity (my favorite story was about a man waiting in line with a single pearl earring in his pocket).  Using details to describe people – “what’s the name of an old lady who volunteers at an animal shelter, who wins a million dollars on a scratch off?”; “what’s the desk look like of a person six months sober?”.

These things inspired me. And talking about the writing exercises pushed me to look at the world, my environment, my books, my life for all the little subtleties and nuances that make writing so profound and exciting and fresh. My teachers let me write about how chores suck, about my boyfriend of one month (and soon after, my new ex-boyfriend), about my rollercoaster relationship with my sister, about friends using drugs and having sex. They let me write what was pertinent to me, but they made me do it differently. They pushed and prodded and didn’t accept average.

Not even with my writing exercises.


I hope you enjoy the list!


Oh, and something else that’s cool? A link that shows you how to make your own quill pen! This is pretty awesome too! 

Grant Wiggins’ blog
He is excellent, check him out!!

Grant Wiggins’ blog

He is excellent, check him out!!


Tags: 7VWP Writing

How-To Guide for Tumblr

Tumblr How-To Guide


To change anything about the blog: Log into Tumblr, click on the cog symbol in the top right corner.

Changes (Cog Symbol)

To change: the layout of the blog, the About Me section, the name of the blog, the aesthetics of the blog, and to add tabs onto the top of the page of the blog:    Click on the “7VWP” tab on the left side of the page (under Account, Dashboard, etc.) when you click the cog symbol, then under the “Theme” grouping click “Customize”, you will be re-directed to an editing page.

To change the add tabs to the page: After clicking “Customize” in the Cog section, scroll down the editing tab on the left side of the screen until you find the “pages” section. Click “+ Add a page”. To add a URL to this specific tab on your blog, add a name after the http://seven-valleys-writing-project.tumblr.com/ automatically inputted into the “Page URL” box. To add a Page Title (title for the tab you are adding to your blog), type it into the “Page Title” box. Input any information that you want included on your new tab (“new page”) into the body section of the same window, and/or add a photo using the “Upload photo” option to the right of the  “Body” section. Create page to add the new tab (“new page”) onto your blog.


Dashboard vs. Blog View:

When you first log into Tumblr, it will take you to a page known as the dashboard. what the dashboard does is shows you posts that have been made by the other blogs you are following.

So for example, if I was following the 7VWP blog and they posted information about a new event coming up, it would show up on my dashboard (kind of like the “Home” tab on Facebook). On the dashboard page, if you click on the picture in the very top left corner, or the URL in the top right, it will take you to your personal blog. This page is what others will see and it contains everything you post and reblog (kind of like the “Profile” tab you click on Facebook to get to your page,. To get back to your dashboard, simply click on the bar in the top right corner of the page labeled “dashboard”.

Finding Blogs, following blogs, and exploring tags

Finding blogs: In the Dashboard view, click on the “find blogs” tab on the right side of the page (top right corner of the page, below the “7VWP, Posts, and Followers” tabs). The click will take you to a webpage that will show you all kinds of blogs.

On the right side of the page after clicking “find blogs” from your Dashboard, you will see a listing of different genres of Tumblr blogs that you can browse through. This leads us to our next topic:

Following blogs: Once you have clicked onto the link of a blog, it sends you to the webpage of that blog. When you are at the very top of the blog’s page, in the upper right hand corner you will see “Follow” and “Dashboard”. If you click on “follow”, your blog (in this case, 7VWP’s blog) will be following that person/group’s blog. Once you have followed that individual’s blog, it will say “Un-follow” and “Dashboard” in the top right hand corner of the screen.

So say I was on the blog of a Michael Jordan fan who only posted quotes from and pictures of retired basketball player Michael Jordan, when that individual posts content to their Tumblr account the content will pop up in my Dashboard (kind of like how when you are in the “home” tab of Facebook you will see content posted by your Facebook friends).


Likes and Re-Blogs

To like a post when it is in your Dashboard: Click the un-filled heart accompanying the post in the top right corner of the post, the heart will fill in with red (meaning you have liked this post). When you like a post, you can always find it again in the top right corner of the Dashboard in the new category (created by your “like” of a post) “Liked ___ post(s)”. If you then click on “Liked __ post(s)” Tumblr will show you all of the posts that you have liked in the past.

**Note**-Content from other’s blogs that you have “liked” does NOT show up on your blog’s page unless you have changed that setting in the settings part of your Tumblr.


Re-blogging/liking a post when on another person’s Tumblr account: The option to like/re-blog a post can be found in a variety of different ways depending on that person’s blog, but the most popular location for that option is when you click on the post’s date or picture (if that post has a picture. When you click on the date or picture of the post you are re-directed to a page showing that post, the option to “Like” or “Re-blog” will be given. The 2 arrows pointing in opposite directions is the symbol for re-blogging, the heart as mentioned before stands for “liking” the post.

When you click on the re-blog button you will be re-directed to a new page that will automatically copy all of the content, and give you the option to edit the post. You can delete the caption created by the original author, though the link will still be attributed to their blog. You can add/customize a caption for the photo and add tags on the right side of the post, which leads us to our next topic.


Posting original content on Tumblr:Go to the Dashboard of your Tumblr blog, once you are there you must first decide which type of post you are going to make. I am going to walk you through the “Photo” posting, because it includes the most universal features for posting types on Tumblr.

First you decide how you are uploading the photo, which you can do by choosing a file from your computer/device (“Choose File”), use a URL instead (copy and paste the URL of the webpage with that photo into the textbox after you have clicked “use a URL instead”), or you can take a photo.

Once you have uploaded a photo, you can add any text that you want, it will appear underneath the picture when the post is created. The text can be bulleted, boldened, italicized, etc. by clicking the features above the Caption textbox. You can attribute the source of the content by adding a URL into the “content source” textbox in the right side of the add post page, or you can copy and paste this URL into the “set a click-through link” textbox created by clicking on “set a click-through link” option underneath the “Caption” textbox. This click-through link will take the viewer from your blog’s page to the page of the origin of the content whose URL you posted into the “set a click-through link” textbox. So say I posted “nfl.com” into the “set a click-through link” textbox, when a visitor to my blog clicked on the picture of the NFL logo that I posted they would be re-directed to http://www.nfl.com.

Tagging a post: On the right side of the page while creating a post on Tumblr you will see a “tags” textbox section, tags on Tumblr are like hash-tagging on Twitter (ex: #7VWP, #Education). Tags send your content into the Tumblr blogosphere, so the more useful tags that you use the more widespread your post will be.

Say I was posting a picture of a boy reading a book under a tree and added a caption underneath about the importance of young students reading, I could tag that post with popular tags like: Education, Reading, English, Educational Skills, etc. Don’t include quotation marks when adding tags to a post, Tumblr funnels them to the right place. Press the enter bar on your computer after creating a tag, so that they are separate. Don’t type in educationreadingenglish, because that will obviously not be a popular tag.

Posting to Facebook/Twitter: Because the 7VWP’s Tumblr account is linked to the 7VWP Twitter and Facebook accounts, any post created on the Tumblr page will automatically be duplicated to the Facebook and Twitter pages with a hyperlink to the Tumblr post.

To disable this action when creating a Tumblr post: Look to the right of the “caption” textbox and you will see the filled-in logos of Facebook and Twitter (The Twitter symbol is a white bird in a light-blue background, the Facebook symbol is a lowercase “f” in a dark blue background). If you want this posting to only go onto the SVWP Tumblr account, click on the 2 logos once apiece so that the symbols are color-less. The posting will now only go to Tumblr.

**Note**-When one of the logos is filled in with color the Tumblr posting will be duplicated onto that social media page, and it is possible to post to one of the additional social media accounts and not the other (though the post will obviously still be posted to the Tumblr account).

Exploring tags on Tumblr: Go to the Dashboard page of your Tumblr account, in the top right corner there will be a textbox that says “search tags”, type something in that box.

For example, I type in “basketball” into the “search tags” textbox and hit enter on my keyboard, I am re-directed to a page that shows content from the basketball genre’s top contributors. One of the “basketball” tag’s top contributors is a blog called “flight-time”, so a few examples of the “flight-time” blog will show up onto my screen when I search that tag.

To the right of the word “basketball” right now in the “search tags” textbox Tumblr gives me an option to “track” the basketball tag. I click “track”, and now my Tumblr blog is tracking the content in the basketball tag so now whenever I click into the “search tags” textbox the “basketball” tag will pop up along with any other terms that I am tracking. To un-track that term I refresh the webpage and click the blue “track” button again in the “search tags” textbox in the top right hand corner of the screen, now I have un-tracked that tag on my Tumblr account.

When I first input the tag “basketball” and am redirected to that page, related tags and related contributors that often use that tag will be shown below the “search tags” textbox. I will see tags like “sports” which will bring me to a page with posts from Tumblr tagged as “sports” or from Top Editors/Contributors for the “sports” tag. Other tags are now included on the right side of the screen with related tags such as “football”, “basketball”, and “soccer”.

**Note**- When viewing posts in your Dashboard, underneath the picture/link/article/text of the content you will see the tags which the author of that content used. For example: If I am scrolling through my Dashboard and see a picture of Muhammad Ali boxing Joe Frazier, underneath the picture of the boxing match I will see tags such as #Muhammad Ali #boxing #vintage. If I click on any of these tags, I will be re-directed to a page with similar content.

Logging out: To log out of Tumblr you must first go to your Dashboard. Once you are on the Dashboard page, in the top right corner of the page next to the search tags section you will see a “power-on, power-off” symbol. The log-off symbol is the last in the set of symbols at the top of the Dashboard page, to the right of the cog symbol.


Additional Help: Check out the information shared in this Tumblr tutorial blog!


Tags: 7VWP

Tags: Writing 7VWP

Gell House Writing Retreat Pictures!! (April 2012)
(Click on post to view the album)

Gell House Writing Retreat Pictures!! (April 2012)

(Click on post to view the album)

Tags: 7VWP

Tags: 7VWP

Interesting perspective!!

Our Spring Dates for PD for 7VWP and Candor!!!

Our Spring Dates for PD for 7VWP and Candor!!!