March 23, 2012
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.