Pittsburgh, Sentence Structure, and Hashtags: An Update on Mrs. Kloehn’s Sabbatical

Olivia Baker In the small community of the Latin School, our trends on Twitter as of late have consisted of hashtags about sentence patterns and punctuation. Wondering why? Interestingly enough, Mrs. Kloehn, the 8th and 12th grade Writer’s Workshop teacher, is responsible for this grammar and social media overlap. For those who do not know, Mrs. Kloehn is on sabbatical for the 2015-2016 school year. Though not at Latin at the moment, she is directly connecting with students in Ms. L-C’s Writer’s Workshop course, teaching them lessons on sentence structure, word choice, and other important aspects of writing. Unlike many teachers who relax during their sabbaticals, Mrs. Kloehn is doing quite the opposite. Currently in Pittsburgh, she is researching at Carnegie Mellon University for the Open Learning Initiative, a program that “develops course design and technology that uses scientific research to build courses that are significantly different than a traditional online learning environment…[and] gathers data on how people learn.” Her research is specifically geared towards advancement in writing and communication skills. “It’s super exciting, but sometimes frustrating,” said Mrs. Kloehn on the topic of collecting data. “There’s lots of technology out there, and some of it is excellent. Others, not so much.” With her new knowledge of technological education, Mrs. Kloehn plans to “enhance” the way she teaches her students, not to replace it. Although Mrs. Kloehn is at an early stage in her research, she has already begun improving her methods of teaching by utilizing her twitter account to teach sentence fluency and variety in writing. In Ms. L-C’s Writer’s Workshop course, her students view videos regarding sentence structure, tweet out a sentence with the same pattern and the corresponding hashtag, and receive a similarly constructed sentence from Mrs. Kloehn. And then they have a “slightly goofy Twitter conversation.” Mrs. Kloehn came up with this unique concept while doing research over the summer. With the rise of teenagers’ usage of social media, what better way to connect with her students than through this medium? Mrs. Kloehn believes that social media “gives students a great place to practice writing good sentences.” With all of the work that she is doing, it is hard to believe that Mrs. Kloehn is actually napping often (“a great gift of the sabbatical”), trying new foods, making an attempt at recipes she hadn’t seen before, writing profusely, and running among the hills of Pennsylvania— “elevation is a revelation” said Mrs. Kloehn, compared to the urban flatland of Chicago. Yet, she still misses Latin and Chicago, from the deep dish pizza, to her friends and family, to the “inordinate amount of laughing,” to the smell of our library. But wherever she is, in Pittsburgh or “[basking] in the Chicago glow,” she continues to impact her students. And even in a different state, Mrs. Kloehn can always find her home here at Latin.   If you need to learn, or master for that matter, sentence variety and grammar, follow Mrs. Kloehn @msverb on Twitter because #mrskloehnisthegrammarqueen.]]>