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Mindful Mosaic: Insightful snapshots of my world

The "Daily Lens"


While I have always known the value of frequent writing, I became particularly inspired to incorporate more creative writing experiences after hearing Kelly Gallagher speak about his book, 180 Days: Two Teachers and the Quest to Engage and Empower Adolescents. Furthermore, I complete a course titled, Getting Ready to Go Beyond Literary Analysis, which widened my perspective on writing: writing is writing, and not all writing has to be in the form of an essay!


I developed what I call the “Daily Lens” which allows students a creative opportunity to write for 10 minutes at the start of the period. While I always included daily musings to start my class, my prompts were often about the class content. When I started incorporating fun, thoughtful, creative, comical, personal, and insightful prompts to the start of my class, I realized that even my quiet and reserved students wanted to volunteer their responses!


Student Evaluation:


In their end of the year course evaluation, students always comment with positive feedback about the Daily Lens. For the record, I do not have a specific question in my survey about the Daily Lens – these students responded to the questions: What was your favorite part of class? What would your recommend for me to improve my class? The fact that students reflect on the Daily Lens without being prompted indicates their effectiveness. Some of the quote reflections I’ve receive are:

- "The Daily Lens was my favorite part of class - it opens up fun discussion"

- "I really liked how the daily lens allowed for creative writing that I never get to do!"

- "I love hearing how my friends respond to the lens"

- "If I could recommend one thing, don't get rid of the Daily Lens! For ten-minutes, I feel like I can escape, and I think all students could use that."

These evaluative quotes are some of my favorites, because I think they accurately depict what students need: escape, fun, relationships, and creativity. I always allow a few minutes after writing for students to volunteer responses. I don’t have them read their full response, but rather I have them provide a summary of what they wrote. This is another useful skill as they are learning to capture their thinking in a succinct manner. When students respond, my classroom is often filled with laughter and students wanting to “piggy back” off other students’ responses, which creates an overall positive mindset for my class.


Examples of Daily Lens Submissions:


I teach our lowest academic level English (Grade 10), creative writing (grades 9-12), and I also teach AP Language and Composition (Grade 11). Below, in the sample writing examples, you cannot tell the difference between the levels. I have found that when students enjoy what they are writing, they write with creativity, eloquence, and excitement.


Example #1


Daily Lens Prompt

A fortune cookie comes true!

The cookie opened with little more ceremony than a crack and crumble. Fortunes. I’d always hated them. Hated being told what would happen to me. People always think they’re so meaningful, but those little scraps of paper with blue font are just glorified garbage. The people who write them use a dictionary and write as many lofty, pretty words as they can find, stuffing it into the beige shell of a cookie. Don’t even get me started on the numerology. 
Anyways. I opened the cookie, and seriously considered crumpling up the fortune and throwing it out. But something tugged at me, like waves receding into the ocean. Like I had to read it. So I did.
You will become a star.
Huh. I tore it into little pieces and watched them fall into the trash like snowflakes.
The next day, I got a call.
“Look, your set is hilarious. Management loved you, so we want you to headline for us tonight. What do you say?” 
I blinked. The Brick Club was the best comedy club in town. When did they see my set? I only perform at dim restaurants and measly bars.
I thought of the fortune cookie. Lucky coincidence. Just a wild, wild coincidence. 
“I’d love to perform,” I said. “When should I start?”

Example # 2


Daily Lens Prompt



	"You look tasty.” 
Again. The Eaters must have left the window open again, to let in the cool summer breeze. And all the bugs. 
“Don’t you dare,” the banana muttered. 
“I’m so hungry,” the fly said, buzzing in lazy circles around the banana. “You’re so ripe…” 
“I’m full of poison. You’ll die if you eat me.” 
“You’re lying.”
“Want to test it out?” 
The fly landed on the counter. 
“I’ll be back.” 
It buzzed out the open window, into the porcelain blue sky. It did come back the next day, and the next. A small brown spot began to spread on the banana, something it felt greatly conscious of.
“I think it’s pretty. It looks like a cloud,” the fly said. “But you aren’t going to be ripe for very long… I wonder which one of us will outlast the other.” 
“Do you eat other fruit? To stay alive?” The banana asked. 
The fly was silent, and careened out the window with the grace of an elephant.
It didn’t come back the next day. 
The banana grew spots like infections, spreading and darkening with every passing hour. The fly didn’t come back, and the banana become pockmarked and dull and tired. The fly didn’t come back, and the banana was thrown in the trash. The fly didn’t come back, and the trash was thrown in a dumpster.
The dumpster was swarming with flies. 

Example # 3


Daily Lens Prompt

Joe, Frank, Bill and Tony are zebras at the river witnessing a murder, they are part of a secret experiment to try and read animal’s thoughts. the following dialog is highly secret and is for the CIA only.

Frank- what is the lion doing?
Joe- eating that gazelle
Bill- bruh
Tony and Frank- What
Bill- “bruh”, I heard a human say it one time
Tony- that’s kind of a silly human thing to say
Joe- yeah
Bill- no its not, anyways what’s for dinner?
Frank- probably grass… again….
Tony- is it just me or is that lion looking at us?
Frank- yeah I think it is…
Bill- bruh
Joe- stopping saying that
Bill-  no
Joe- yes
Bill - no
Frank- look the lion is walking over here…
Joe - (teeth chattering)
Tony- oh no
Bill - (to the lion) Bruh...what's up?
Lion - (raises eyebrows)
Joe- RRRRUUUUUUNNN

*end of dialog*


Example # 4


Daily Lens Prompt

Example A
Hot red plastic in the sun 
I pull them on and then I run
I run over fields so green
I run and run my boots and me
I jump and splash within the creek
Through the woods I love to peak
But mother says I must wear boots
Something that I would not choose 
At least back when mom was alive 
Now I wear my boots with pride  

Example B
“An Ode to Boots”
Darkness in the street
This was where the young kids would meet
Cratered pathway along thick grass 
This was where the kids were last

Rain falling from the sky 
All these people driving by
Little boots on the place where they played the games
This is where they would all stay

Colored balls and sticks and stones
All these kids played now its just wood bones
This place was a park many years ago 
The moss on the plaques grow so slow

Like a business people come but 1 shall stay
Others go and live on 
Until they day the meet their time 
They go back to the park of time.

The little boots still in the puddle
Sitting their just like all the others 
The boots wont age their made of rubber 
But everyone else will go on. Yeah 

Example # 5


Daily Lens Prompt

- Asks about zodiac signs on the 1st date
- Is a major Taylor swift fan 
- Wearing a shirt from a band without knowing a single song from that band 
- Uses an android 
- Says their favorite type of dog is like the small crusty white dog
- Cant make a matching outfit if they try, every outfit doesn’t match 
- Has a very oddly specific favorite color 
- Drives an small eco mode car (eco mode always on only)
- Taller than me
- A vampire or without blood
- Still heartbroken from past relationships
- Can bench press more than me

Example # 6

Daily Lens Prompt

Example A
1) snow globes-as small keepsakes to remember people or trips
2) Postcards/mail-important things you’ve been sent 
3) Money (extra change)-you never know when you might need it
4) Stamps-collectible items you don’t want to loose
5) Small toys-incase you need something to fidget with 
6) Pictures-to remember special moments 
7) Receipts-from important things you’ve bought, maybe things you’ve got for the first time or you bought yourself 
8) Gift cards-where else would you keep them?
9) Unmatched socks-you don’t want to get rid of them incase your find their other half 
10) Candy-yum, for when I am hungry

Example B
1. Nail clippers, mankind’s greatest household invention
2. My ginormous President Obama 44th president inauguration pin I got from being a junior park ranger at 6 years old
3. Headphones, multiple sets 
4. “OH the Places you’ll go” but the version that my 2nd grade classmates signed for me for when I moved
5. Bouncy egg
6. Another bouncy egg 
7. Notebook I will never write in 
8. Stray money, coins and bills
9. Random orange batteries from a convenience store in Croatia 
10. Drying paint pens

Format for Writing


When I first started the Daily Lens, I encouraged students to hand-write their responses, and I collected them two times each quarter. During the oddities of hybrid learning during the pandemic, I shifted to One Note responses, because I could monitor their writing without the unwieldy process of taking photos and submitting. This year, back in the classroom, I gave students a choice of digital or hand-written. All students chose to write in their One Note journal. One Note is a terrific program to monitor student writing, because I can quickly access their work as soon as they write it, and I can provide feedback with ease. Furthermore, sometimes students want me to share their work on the projector, and I can easily access their work from my computer and allow the class to view the sample writing.


Grading:

Realizing that the Daily Lens is for personal writing, I grade for quality and consistency. I look through their journal entries and choose two different entries for which to make comments. I count the number of entries, so if we had 25 total entries and the student only has 17, I deduct points. I usually make a range for grading:


Rubric for Daily Lens

You can download my rubric here:


Conclusion:


The success of the Daily Lens over the last few years has proven to me the worth of creative writing in all classes. Students need outlets that allow them to think differently, and the Daily Lens is a simple way to encourage innovative thought. When I first started my classes with a Daily Lens, I was nervous about the 10 minutes of class time that could have been filled with instruction, but then I remember that to be a teacher is not about what I need to get done, but it is about the students and what they need for self-development. [Side note: this type of paradigm shift – moving from “I” to “them” – also helped me rework my homework methodology, which you can read about in my research tab]. After great success, I no longer question the 10-minutes, and instead, I look forward to hearing their responses. Finally, the Daily Lens has significantly helped with the current state of anxiety and social detachment that I have noticed in my classes post-pandemic; the light-hearted responses allow students to laugh, find escape, and collaborate in a comfortable setting.


To purchase over 200 Daily Lens slides, please consider accessing my store or Teachers Pay Teachers.


1 commento


Ospite
03 ago 2023

I wanted to pin this on Pinterest, so I created a pin on my board. I gave you full credit. Please let me know if this is not ok with you and I will take it down.

I linked directly to this blog post. Thanks!


Mi piace
IMG_0304_edited.jpg

Hi, thanks for stopping by!

I am a passionate high school English and Digital Media teacher whose lifelong purpose is to ignite creativity and critical thought in young minds. With an unwavering commitment to nurturing imagination and fostering intellectual curiosity, I thrive on embracing each student's unique voice and I hope to inspire other teachers with my own journey.

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