Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Finding Microsoft Word's Worth

I have the wonderful opportunity of not only teaching my writing classes in our new language arts laptop classroom, but I also have one of my 9th grade classes there as well. What I have found so incredibly useful is the comment feature. Students are annotating, commenting, questioning, and really connecting with the text.

With Edgar Allan Poe's "The Cask of Amontillado," I felt the text was too challenging to turn them completely loose with annotations, so we annotated the story together in class. I had students find vocabulary they wanted to know and we used our iGoogle page that has several dictionary options. The kids also made inferences from statements and descriptions. Through all of this, they learned how to use the Reviewing Toolbar (highlighting, adding comments) and the Drawing Toolbar (they drew Fortunato's carnival hat and used the text box to write additional notes).

Today, then, students are using the annotated notes to assist them in this next task. They are to read "The Story Behind 'The Cask of Amontillado'" and then decide which story (the carnival setting that is fictionalized or the army/card-playing setting of the real story) is more effective. Students will use their notes to compare and contrast the fictionalized story to the real story arguing which one they like better and proving it with textual evidence.

Now, I know that students could have used sticky notes, but Word allows them to very easily send it home to review and to even make changes or additions to their observations. Plus, they will be able to save the document, instead of losing the sticky notes or throwing them away, the students can reuse them for papers and future critical thinking.
Summation: Yah for Microsoft Word reviewing toolbars!
Request: I would love to hear how others have used Word to advocate critical thinking.
P.S. I have placed the documents for review on my web page here. Click on "The Cask of Amontillado" annotated and Poe assessment.

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