VCOP (vocabulary, connectives, openers and punctuation) displays educate students, young or old, about how to improve their writing. Teachers can use various VCOP displays that encourage each student to feel engaged in the classroom. Create one or several writing projects that directly correlate to the VCOP display used in class.
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Using a theme that every student can generally connect with can create a good atmosphere for learning with the VCOP display. For example, a junior high English class could use Barack Obama's presidency as a display idea that helps students understand the importance of vocabulary, connectives, openers and punctuation. Ask the students to pretend they are writing a speech for President Obama that he will give at their school assembly. This gives students a chance to think about how they might choose words and connect sentences for this specific writing project. Give those students who want to share their speech a chance to present it in front of the class.
Create one large blank VCOP display for the classroom. Explain to the students what VCOP means and how it relates to any upcoming projects within the class syllabus. Pass out blank cards (any size, any colour) as a "pretest" about vocabulary. Ask the students: "How do you think vocabulary affects your writing?," "How will you go about expanding your vocabulary?," and "How will you help others with vocabulary?" Repeat this pretest with connectives, openers and punctuation. Have students post their cards on the blank display board, and encourage students to constructively work together to challenge themselves and their peers on evolving VCOP knowledge.
Engage students to use the school's computer lab as a way to illustrate a "virtual VCOP display." Set up an interactive communication network between each student by using a sponsored academic virtual resource such as Blackboard. To use Blackboard as an example, students can use the discussion board feature to create new threads and post on other student threads, thus making the VCOP display a student-created project. If a student created a thread titled "need feedback on possible opening sentences for Mr. Granger's history essay project," any student with access to that thread can post constructive feedback during computer lab time or at home. After the virtual display project has completed, print off all materials (for whichever "virtual display" is used) and display the progress of each student's vocabulary, connectives, openers and punctuation for class reference. Students can create their own miniature VCOP display that explains the importance of a virtual and physical VCOP display for parent-teacher conference attendees.
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