Teaching Demo

PowerPoint for Teaching Demo

Demo Packet

Teaching Demo Reflection

First, I am glad that is over.  I was nervous!  Even my hands were sweating, but once I started, it was a familiar saddle.

My demo and Charles’s on PLCs dovetail some.  It was helpful to share some of my students’ work and receive praise/comments about it.  I really am going to see if I can have my PLC review more student work and our teaching of that work.

Overall, I have been delighted with implementing more close reading with my British literature students.  Their analysis has been more in-depth and better supported.  I also like that they are seeing themselves as capable of analyzing poetry and not relying on me to do it.  Sometimes, I am astounded at the insight they have.

Lisa’s observation about her authentic voice and her “academic” voice was interesting to me.  In our English department, we have had a few discussions about this.  Should student papers use I?  Should they be narrative?  In this Brit. class, I feel the pressure to prepare them for college writing and/or AP writing, so our main emphasis is on academic voice.  I am trying to find a balance.

I was worried about the timing of my presentation, but it all worked out.  I am glad I had the vocabulary bonus to offer at the end.

I anxiously await the comments of my fellows.

Thank you,



34 Responses to Teaching Demo

  1. davestuartjr says:

    Kim, your demo rocks and so do you! I wish I could have seen it in person, but it sounds like a great Fall 2013 Fire Up presentation!

    • kimolsen2013 says:

      Thanks. I actually present Thursday. I am sure it will be fine, but I am nervous. Timing will be the issue. I appreciate your kind comments.

      • davestuartjr says:

        Kim, you are going to do something called DOMINATION on Thursday. I’m excited for you. Your slideshow and notes look great!

      • kimolsen2013 says:

        I’ll remember the word change. That will help! You rock! I saw Amy Holmes and Becky Kooi yesterday. They are writing writing camps here at GVSU. Although I love my summers, I work with some very special people. Hug your babies for me.

  2. bbailey7744 says:

    Congratulations on a great presentation! My building was given a copy of Boyles article on Close Reading. I’ve really been trying to incorporate those elements into my classroom. I like how you showed me how to use them. It is much better than just reading about them. I hope to take some things from your presentation. I like how you have students use multiple colors to annotate the passages. I usually have students read the text once as a reader and once like a writer. Instead of making two columns for them to write in, I think I will have them use the colored pencils. I also like how you synthesize reading poetry and writing poetry. The journal entry they write to reflect on what they learned, and what techniques they used, is a great idea. I don’t think I’ve ever had students write about that. I love that idea! Thanks for sharing.

    • kimolsen2013 says:

      Super. I am glad you found it practical. I was surprised when I did research that I couldn’t find a prescribed way. Play with it. Students did love the colored pencils.

  3. tmeinzer says:

    Woop, woop! I just felt like mixing up my congratulations 🙂 Thank you so much for this great demo. I love it when the 75 minutes just fly by like that! I love how you gave your students a very step-by-step approach to close reading. When I was at Grandville, our students were given articles to close read every week. My CT modeled this process for them once, and then just let them at it. A lot of students really struggled, and I think laying out a clearer approach to close reading would have helped many of them. Thank you for sharing that.
    I also liked how you combined close reading with poetry. Today many say reading and studying poetry is a waste of time, but combining it with close reading skills can be an excellent way to justify studying it in the classroom. I will DEFINITELY be using your approach in the fall.
    I have to include a link for you here to a picture that your demo reminded me of. It’s one of those pictures that is made up of many little items. My CT did a cool activity where he had students look at the picture once for like 10 seconds and write down what they saw. He repeated the activity a number of times, and students where shocked by all the things they missed on their first viewing of the picture. This translated great into a lesson on the importance of re-reading informational texts. http://www.puzzlesforsale.com/popup_image.php?type=D&id=22192&title=Juanita%92s%20Bodega&area=C You can take a look at it if you want.
    Thanks again! Close reading is so important with the new common core standards, and I’m always looking for ways to do it well.

  4. hoatlinr says:


    Wonderful job! I am so impressed by the quality of your students’ work. The fact that you can get them to look at poetry in this way is sort of mind blowing to me. This past semester I attempted (pretty pathetically) to have my students write a close reading paper. They could pick whichever genre they wanted, because I didn’t want them to feel boxed in by lack of choice. Now, though I am wondering if they had too much freedom. My assumption was that they knew or would refresh the literary techniques (we spent a day reviewing, but they mostly seemed bored and withdrawn to go over this vocab). However, put in a more finite context (the actual paper that you are going to write) I think my students would have been more interested in reviewing the terminology.

    I also love that you had students write their own poems to practice these techniques. I tried to have students do this with ekphrasis poetry, but that was a little bit of a bust (for some it was really great, but for about a quarter, it didn’t work so well). This protocol has given me something to consider. Digging into poetry might be a really good idea, though I may try to modify just a bit and try something similar with essays or short stories–though admittedly, it would be more difficult to have them mimic the literary devices in an essay or short story. Do you do something similar with longer pieces of literature? I’ll have to think about how to implement this a bit more, but I greatly appreciate the food for thought.

    • kimolsen2013 says:

      Thank you for your kind comments. No, we close read some scenes from Macbeth, but that was it. Close reading is really recommended for shorter pieces, but a short story or article would work too. Play with it. Hopefully, you will find something you can use.

  5. rblutwic says:

    Congratulations, Kim. You did a great job.
    I appreciated the practice with close reading. Even though I don’t often teach literature, I think close reading is a skill that is vital for all readers.
    Thank you also for outlining the steps towards the poetry research project. I think it’s important to see how the students work from reading canonical poetry, to close readings, to writing their own poetry, to writing the poetry research paper.
    One question I have is about the role of outside sources in the research paper. How do you explain the function of quotes from scholars/professionals in the field. Is it to support their own ideas–along the lines of “see–someone else shares this notion?” I imagine it might be difficult for students to effectively incorporate published criticism as it might overshadow their own analyses.
    I am also interested in hearing how students perceive the value of such an assignment, outside of it’s function as prep for the ACT exam. What do your students say about reading/writing/writing about poetry? Are they resistant? Do they see any connection between canonical poetry and their own lives? Can they identify modern poetry in music/rap?
    Thank you so much for your lesson today.

    • kimolsen2013 says:

      Thank you for your kind comments. Yes, their research is usually for support of their ideas. We start by writing poetry in small groups, and that helps them tackle the task of creating without so much fear. We talk of themes of the canonical poetry, and students are surprised about the universal connection. I do use some modern music in my class when it relates, but time is always tight. Thanks for the suggestion.

  6. Erica Beaton says:

    Yay, Kim! Congratulations on your teaching DOMINATION. I think that this is the first time, in all our years together, that I’ve gotten to see you present, and it was fantastic. Well done!

    I was so excited to hear that you were speaking on close reading. As you know, that’s something that I’ve really been focusing on lately, so it was great to hear how you have modified this often messy definition to fit for your classroom. More than anything, I think that I’m most impressed by the quality and high level you get back from your students. It’s incredible to see the growth they have from tenth grade to Brit Lit.

    My main take-away is to introduce the conversation protocol into our 2nd Draft Reading. I think that even with Articles of the Week and multi-source, evidence-based arguments this would really help my kids “pull apart the cotton,” if you will, and expand their analysis. I think this will help the walk away from the one sentence “I Say” and really move into more critical thinking.

    Thanks for all the great ideas! I’m fortunate to work with such a rockstar teacher. 🙂

    • kimolsen2013 says:

      Thank you for your encouragement. Yes, the conversation protocol works well, especially with a second draft writing. I like that every voice is heard too. I plan to use your “pulling apart cotton” analogy! It’s been nice seeing you more this summer.

  7. lcboyle says:

    WHOO HOO! Congrats you’re done 🙂 I loved your presentation. I am glad you chose poetry as your focus for close reading. This was fun to do and I’m sure fun for most students too. In particular I enjoyed seeing your student samples and hearing about how you set up protocols in your classroom. I look forward to stealing your perspective poem idea with my history students next year. The possibilities are endless and will be a fun creative way for them to write and analyze history at the same time.

    Actually, all of your samples are things I will use. Thank you for sharing them. The poetry research assignment is a great way for students to apply the research paper process to something they, themselves have infested in (writing their own pieces). –Your approach is well scaffold.

    I really meant it when I said (earlier) that I wish I had you as my English teacher in HS. Plus, you would have probably laughed if I mentioned “Crabs” or “Dicks” in your class… maybe not, but I would have felt comfortable sharing my thoughts. 😉

    Thank you for sharing your brilliance with us. I even had a chance to quote you again on Twitter (hope you don’t mind). “It can’t be wrong if you notice it.” –Kim Olsen 🙂



    • kimolsen2013 says:

      Thanks for your “noticings!” Trust me plenty of crabs and dicks in my room! I am glad you feel you can use what I presented. I would love to see what you do with it through the history lens.

  8. dtheune says:

    Way to go, Kim. I was very impressed: by both your presentation and your students’ examples.

    First, take a deep breath. It’s over. Feels nice, right?

    In terms of presentation, you have given us a lot of material to have at our fingertips. You allowed us to communicate and play. The presentation was timed well and flowed nicely. Needless to say, I was impressed.

    I enjoyed seeing the kind of analysis you encourage in your students and the language you use (“notice”) is great. I’ll be bringing that to my classroom. They were only able to get to this kind of level by having you take them there. These poems are not easy, yet their understanding is solid.

    You do a nice job of balancing the necessity of the ACT and the standards of understanding poetry (though, is that in the Common Core anymore? I thought I had heard there was no poetry in those standards…that would be sad, huh?) with personal growth and performance. You don’t just take them through analysis and leave it. You allow them to utilize their analysis in their own writing. I wonder how you could get their good work out to a bigger audience. Do you? A blog? Or even a compilation on paper to take home? It could be a fun celebration of their work. Ah–something to consider, I guess.

    It’s certainly not a neccessity to make this unit effective and high quality; it’s already those things.


    • kimolsen2013 says:

      Thank you for your kind words. Steal anything you can use! Yes, there isn’t poetry in the CC–but neither is there British Lit. (Maybe I’ll be out of a job!) The carry over skills are there though.

      No I haven’t blogged before or had a classroom website. I am thinking about trying it though. Maybe with Lisa’s presentation, I’ll learn more. Widening their audience would be beneficial.

  9. nortonlmwp says:

    Kim, great use of time – purposeful and intentional you got it right to the minute – I think this is the first that ended on time? The use of a timer is a good idea – I use one too and it keeps us on track, just like our activity.
    I am not usually a fan of doing student work but I do like hearing the results and it reminds me to be empathetic in what I expect from them.
    The completed examples were impressive; I would have liked to have seen Nick’s analysis – just for comparison.
    Good job of providing pictures of the students with the presentation – it gives it verisimilitude.
    The packet is well designed and will be useful. A suggestion at the end summarizing what you have given to us, the “take-away” is helpful for me, but other than those few suggestions it was a great presentation and that was well prepped.

    • kimolsen2013 says:

      Thanks. Yes, a summary could have been a good way to end. I’ll keep that in mind when I next present.

      Nick’s wasn’t in the packet, but he is a good, thoughtful writer–one of my best–minus the attitude. Soon enough, he will be a small fish in a big pond, and that will, hopefully, change.

      I appreciate your kinds words.

  10. Kim,
    Congratulations on a great demonstration! I loved it – the 75 minutes flew by, which is a sign of total engagement. Now you can relax and know you are done!

    I made the comment to my small group (when we were reading the poem on innocence) that I’m kind of a snob about poetry. Therefore, this was a good demo for me to listen to. I love to write poetry, but most of the time when I read poems other people have written, I think they’re terrible. Like I said, I’m a snob.  It sounds like what you’re doing in your classroom, by showing students that they should do those active multiple readings (first draft, second draft, third draft, annotating with comments, etc.) really will help them to understand and appreciate poems more deeply.

    I think the art of close reading is under-taught, so I will carry from your presentation today the affirmation that it should be more explicitly taught in school, even beginning in younger grades. I didn’t learn about close reading until grade 10. Up until then, I was a “good reader” so only took that first pass, but I had a long way to grow when I got to sophomore year and the texts got more difficult.

    This is how I learned about close reading: I was assigned to read the first chapter of William Faulkner’s Intruder in the Dust. I did at home the night before class, but I didn’t understand a word of it. I thought, oh well, I read it, and I went to school. That was my modus operendi, and it had worked up until grade 10.

    Mr. Stanley (you can tell I’m not over this memory) called on me (shy me!) to answer a simple comprehension question, and I had no idea what the answer was. My face turned bright red and to this day, Mr. Stanley probably thinks I didn’t read the first chapter of Intruder. But I swear I did! I just hadn’t been taught to reread or close read. After that day, I learned to do it and go back if I didn’t understand, etc. There’s a big difference between close reading and just letting the words roll by your eyes once on a page.

    I enjoyed about your demonstration that we got to work in groups to read and dissect the poems. I loved that you shared student examples of poems and then the analysis papers written about them. I think it’s authentic experience and really will prepare your students well – not just for the AP test and the ACT, etc., but for college language arts classes.

    Thank you again for your demonstration, Kim! You have a great presence; I picture you as a wonderful classroom teacher. I think if you had been my English teacher you would have been a favorite. 

    • kimolsen2013 says:

      Thank you for your kind words. I do love my profession. I appreciate your reading experience; it mirrors my own and many of my students. I came up with this when I need a way for them to dig deeper and not depend on me for their thinking. I have enjoyed getting to know you better–and your important work too!

  11. lmwpblog36 says:

    Kim thank you very much for your presentation. GRPS has been really pushing close and critical reading the past several years. I’ve been helping my teachers incorporate into their teaching. I’ve seen good results so far. Your presentation offered me a different perspective. I like the way you incorporated the analyzation of the poem then allowed them to write their own. I’m sure their in-depth analysis helped them create much better poems than they could have written on their own. Thanks again for the great presentation.


    • kimolsen2013 says:

      Thank you for your kind words. Use anything from my demo that you can. Yes, I am glad I added their writing their own poetry and analysis to it. It came about sort of my accident, but it worked great.

  12. Tom Mulder says:

    Hi, Kim!
    Wow, thanks for the packet of materials. You’ve done some serious compiling here!
    First, I appreciate the timer. I’ve always been a too time-fluid teacher with exercises often either running too long or cut too short, and although I wondered about timers, I’d never experienced one in action. I have to try this.
    Gallagher’s “drafts of reading” is a phrase that resonates with me, too. That interplay between reading and writing accentuates what you practice in your teaching: the journal-writing interspersed with students’ multiple readings of poetry, then their writing their own samples, beautifully reinforces the importance of reading-to-write and writing-to-read.
    Your vast variety of templates and activities also reflect the many expressions of poetry and English in general–targeting it from innocence and experience, relating one to another, and assessing their literary merits and techniques.
    Finally, I appreciated the uses of vocabulary with sketches and downloads to teach terminology. That is one I can adopt this afternoon! Thanks!

    • kimolsen2013 says:

      Thanks. I am glad you felt my demo was useful. I call myself “the handout queen,” but I do still like a hard copy of things. The vocab sheets are on my blog. You erase parts to adapt them for your needs.

  13. Susan Mowers says:

    Kim, you tackled a perennially problematic kind of reading and writing — and I thank you! So much of your experience with your lit students resonates with me, and you emphasized the patience it requires to help students (well, except for Nick 🙂 ) believe in the power of multiple readings and marginalia as a way to better unfold a text. The results of such patience — and the power of using a protocol and the layers of “noticings” of so many learners — is abundantly evident in the skillfully written texts your students produced. Wow! I also appreciated unfolding a piece of student poetry with the protocol and the journal entry, and especially the sharing of the journal entries with a partner and the whole group. That kind of encouragement and modeling for writers and thinkers is powerful! The journals were a low-stakes, non-stressful means to dive into our thinking, and a great way to scaffold the bigger paper. Once students have had so much practice, the larger paper is not nearly as daunting!

    Have you read Sheridan Blau’s The Literature Workshop? You might be very interested in his 3-readings workshop, which underscores the skills your own workshop develops in your analytical writers. Thanks for a highly useful demo!

  14. lpalczewl says:

    Kim—I love your confidence and personality. I can tell that you are, with minor adaptations, the same person in and out of the classroom. I would love being one of your students! I can apply your close reading activities in my classes. Close reading applies to any type of reading, not just “literature.” I love the Gallagher quote about thinking of reading in terms of drafts—nice! I also connect to Kittle’s quote about “noticings.” I plan to use the close reading protocol in my developmental writing class this fall. Teaching reading techniques is my newest challenge as a writing teacher, but it is so necessary. Using a student’s paper to demonstrate and practice close reading and analyzing the genre is so smart. That one is now on my to-list also. Have you read any of Foster’s How to Read____Like a Professor books? When you talked about the third color pen focusing on reading like an English teacher, it reminded me of his books. I use How to Read Literature like a Professor in my Popular Literature class. It’s a fun read.

    • kimolsen2013 says:

      Yes, I have the book you mentioned. Good reading. I have shared it with students. Thank you for your kind words about my demo. I am glad you found some applications to your own teaching. It has been nice getting to know you.

  15. Greg Schreur says:

    Congratulations, Kim.

    It felt good to be involved as a student would be and to do so with such a willing crowd. Too often I don’t take the time to go through the things I ask students to do so I can better anticipate what the challenges and obstacles will be for them.

    I sympathize with your reluctance to use the word noticings (in our “walk through” observations we are strictly told to be non-evaluative with our “noticings” and “wonderings”—non-evaluative my ass). But in looking at work, it is a simple, nonthreatening thing to ask students to do: what do you notice? Also, putting in the form of a question involves the students’ brains in ways that telling them, “Underline all the important stuff,” could never do.

    Surprising to hear your class sizes. I’m wondering how long it takes to go through the protocol, hearing from every student, and whether the modeling that comes with that protocol becomes less necessary as students develop their skills. In other words, are you able to gradually release them?

  16. Lindsay E. says:

    Dear Kim,

    Congratulations! You were successful in fostering deep thinking about close reading. (Yes, I was going for parallel word structure there; clearly poetic diction is on the brain). I enjoyed thinking about “The Tyger” and about your students’ poems on innocence and experience. The Tyger raises so many questions, to me, about Homo sapiens’ place among all of God’s other creatures. My thoughts took off: “We could be just a part of the food chain–and if the food chain is a beautiful thing keeping all of the species alive and in balance, why do we see it as evil? God created it and called it good. Maybe this should extend all of God’s creatures, including viruses that feed on us…?!?” As you can see, studying a poem for a few minutes kick-started lots of my own thinking. I loved that. I also began deeply thinking, seeing your students’ ambivalent reactions to close reading three times (which I’ve seen beautifully championed in Sheridan Blau’s The Literature Workshop), about how to help students see new aspects of a poem on each pass by introducing a unique lens or question for each reading. Once at GVSU I taught a class that looked at The Great Gatsby through a variety of lenses: new critical analysis, new historical analysis, feminist analysis, Marxist (class-conflict) analysis, post-colonial analysis etc. The textbook (Critical Theory Today by Lois Tyson) had examples of essays on the novel from each of these angles, which showed students how much meaning could be made out of a text. I haven’t included that skill of rereading through multiple lenses into my other courses, but thinking about close reading today made me wonder if I should. Thanks for leading me into so much learning.

    • kimolsen2013 says:

      I am glad the demo was so thought provoking for you. Susan also recommended Blau’s book. I’ll have to check it out! I love your Gatsby idea through different lenses. I’ll have to check out Tyson’s work. I’ll share this with Erica, as she teaches Gatsby.

      I am glad I joined the institute this summer. I am glad you encouraged me. It has been nice getting to know you and the other fellows. No summer brain slump for me!

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