Saturday, March 24, 2012

Notes from Book Club #2

  1. Although all of these Reading and Writing Strategies are interesting and I'm sure effective, do you really think it is feasible for one teacher to utilize such a wide variety of strategies throughout a unit with information to get confusing?  

    • We originally thought that if we did separate strategies for different lessons we could address that issue, but then we thought about how terrible that would be for our students. Then we discussed the idea of a structured class. On the one hand it is good to have an atmosphere where the students know what to expect and know how to complete the tasks at hand, but on the other hand we're not sure if we want our class to get too predictable.  
  2. The quote on page 33 that reads, "writing floats on a sea of talk" brings up an interesting point. How do we as teachers accommodate students who sometimes speak better than they write? How do we assess that knowledge through summative and formative assessments? 

    • For this questions we discussed a lot about my particular experience with my current mentor teacher. She had students answer the same questions for homework and then orally in class the next day. We thought that this could have been better assessed if she had students write down a revision or reflection after the class discussion since their thoughts seemed to be clearer after speaking them aloud. We also discussed Emily's experiences with an ELL student who is eloquent in class but can't seem to translate his thoughts into written English.
  3. Besides practicing DBQ based questions, how can we help students better understand how to use context clues to assist them during class readings?

    • On page 34 of this text, Janet Allen introduces something called the "Questions Game". We think that this is a great way to help students gather context clues and help them strengthen their ability to make connections.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Emily's Response for Chapter 2

Emily C. Tchir
Book Club Posting #2
Chapter 2
Chapter 2 within the book Reading History: A Practical Guide to Improving Literacy by Janet Allen was a lot more about the actual strategies regarding implementation of literacy practices within Social Studies. A lot of the mentioned strategies I have seen within my CDP, experience, linked to the Methods class or was purely intrigued by.
Page 31 has a section where the author asks the question “whose job is it to teach reading” and that seems to be a question that many are grappling with, but Allen had put together a great response regarding this issue. She mentioned that we SHOULD work with reading skills within our subjects because that is where students will see them most, and by understanding how to approach certain materials, students will glean more information. This is a topic that we have mentioned also quite a bit within our Methods class, but overall, I have to give it to Janet Allen for giving the best set of arguments for Social Studies teachers to teach literacy.
The Questions Game on page 33 really caught my attention because it takes the basic exit tick idea of asking students to write a question down from the day’s lesson and takes it up a notch a la Emeril Lagasse. I really like the group learning setting and the encouragement of asking questions. As I often mention, students ability to question has been quleched like a bug on the windshield at a young age, so having an activity like this is a perfect way to introduce the students to higher order thinking questions. This activity brings in scaffolding, some autonomy, and integrates some use of long term memory skills.
I found ReQuest to be a great tool for unit reviews, because many times, I have found, students have a tendency to ask some really good questions that could really be utilized on a test. It was such a relief to see the use of the Word Wall really become integrated into the classroom. I feel like teachers have it ingrained in their minds to NEED to use a word wall, even if they don’t really utilize it to a full potential or really even know WHY they should have one. The options that Allen gave put the words into a historical context and also showed that students should start to think like historians. It is one thing for students to know what a word means, but seeing it in context and then dissecting a sentence can bring so much meaning.
The Words in Context Plus on page 42 was something I more or less fell in love with. I really wish I had a model like this to use for words I was not familiar with. This visual aid helps students break down the word so much that it gets them used to seeing certain words. I can’t wait to use a method like this within the classroom, although I don’t think I would use this on a regular class day, perhaps when there is a substitute or for homework.
One method that had me worried a little bit was the Textbook Activity Guides described on pages 51-53. I have seen so often teachers give the textbook questions that ask for direct answers out of the book and have the students hunting for answers, not actually reading. Within my CDP I have seen this type of activity used and rushed through because students recognize how to “play the game” of these types of sheets. If I was a teacher using this assignment, I would change it up a little bit. I might keep the first three or four questions about context, and then build up (a la Bloom’s Taxonomy) in difficulty. I would not ask from the certain pages or paragraphs but make students infer from the overall reading, making them think more critically and analytically.
I look forward to read what Allen has for us next in Chapter 3.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Sara's Response for March 21st

     On page 33 of Chapter 2, Allen quotes James Britton's idea that "writing floats on a sea of talk". This immediately made me think of my CPD. Yesterday I witnessed my mentor teacher review all of what they had learned so far in her 8th grade class. She had them answer questions for homework, then when they came in and sat down she announced that they would have a Socratic seminar answering the same questions. She said that she knew most of them spoke better than they wrote and she wanted to make sure everyone had a fair shot at expressing their ideas. I originally thought this was great, but after reading this chapter and thinking more critically about this example, I feel like my mentor teacher missed out on a great opportunity. She should have then had her students revise the questions they had wrote. I feel like this would have given students the chance to relate their discussion thoughts back to their pre-discussion thoughts and improve their writing skills.
     I really liked the Questions Game which was also shown on page 33. It is a great way to get students involved in each other's learning. It makes answering peers' questions a game, and the students who can learn together like that will be much more willing to be open with each other in class discussions. Students have to interact with the text multiple times, each time looking for something different. This repetition can only help them.

Week 2!

Friday, March 23- Ch. 2 (Pg 29- 62)

Roles: Sara- Tech Manager, Notetaker Emma- Discussion Director, Emily- Summarizer, Clarifier  (We ALL take the role of connector)

 Emma's post is below.

All entries must be uploaded by Wednesday at midnight.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Emma's Book Club Post #2
March 23, 2012
Chapter 2

               The second chapter from Janet Allen’s, Reading History: A Practical Guide to Improve Literacy also proposed many intriguing ideas and strategies in order to help students truly understand the meaning, vocabulary, and information with a given text.  Whether the text is considered an expository piece, a functional piece, or a narrative piece, it is essential that students come away from reading with useful knowledge and the ability to retain the information.  One strategy in particular that is seen on page 43 of the text in figure 2.5 is an example of Words in Context Plus chart.  Not only do I find this chart to be extremely helpful for students who sometimes confuse or mistake words, I have also seen it in action in my CPD!  My mentor teacher and his cohort, who is also an eighth grade social studies teacher in another wing, decided to try this sort of chart out to see if the students responded positively.  In the first class in which they utilized this graphic, the students responded fantastically, almost every student in the class contributed to the completion of the graph, and my guess is they all walked away with a better understanding of what their vocabulary meant, not only as a vocabulary word, but the concepts behind them.
                   I also found it interesting when on page 45 of the text; Allen begins referring to context clues, and their importance when reading in class.  For our first reading strategy study, Emily and I focused heavily on further developing the students’ abilities to use their context clues.  During our presentation/ lesson, we first gave our students a passage about Greek and Roman history, we then read it aloud as a class, and then asked the students to begin filling out our booklets that then utilized the Four Square strategy.  The students needed to go back into the text, and deduct what they think/ remember the key vocabulary words to mean.  This skill is extremely important, not only in the area of social studies, but in all subject areas.  This skill is most specifically important for almost every New York State Regents Exam.  For Social Studies, English, Science, and Math, there is almost indefinitely some sort of reading required, in which a student would be required to use their context clues to answer a question, or solve a problem.  Certain concepts like this are invaluable.