February 24, 2012
The first chapter in Reading History: A Practical Guide to Improving Literacy written by Janet Allen, proposed a lot of interesting strategies for teachers to ensure that their students have a deeper understanding of the information that is being thrown at them. Many of the problems that this chapter poses are problems that I have seen frequently throughout my experiences in my CPD. In order for a modern day student to be interested in studying a historical individual who, most likely died quite a long time ago, the teacher must incorporate present day experiences into the lesson, while connecting them to experiences that historical individual might also have had. If a student sees that people from all cultures, ethnic backgrounds, and time periods have had similar experiences, perhaps that will stimulate a student’s interest, and want to learn more on their own. I have seen both of my mentor teachers struggle with making these connections meaningful for the students. In almost every class I have observed and participated in, the students seem to actually want to make these types of connections to their daily lives, in that way, the class and the material instantly becomes easier and more understandable for them.
The same difficulty goes for a teacher’s ability to make sure students have the proper background knowledge about any given subject before delving deeper into material. I really loved the way the teacher, Christine, incorporated so many different types of texts into her curriculum and lesson plans of all different topics. This obviously helps the students to make their own connections and assumptions as to what they will be learning about, and what they should be prepared for. The example on pages four and five in which Christine did an entire lesson just off of the simple idea of the movie Titanic directed by James Cameron was a novel idea. Not only did it incorporate modern day cinema into the classroom, which I’m sure got the kids excited, but it allowed the students to take on personal roles of people during that time period. Because of this, students such as the one described in this lesson, Ebony, appreciate the history behind a story more than just facts and dates, but they see history through the eyes of people living at that time period.
I know that I will personally try to use strategies from this reading into my teaching. I am already trying to incorporate the Anticipation Guide strategy or the Here And Now strategy into assignments that I currently have for Professor Kava!