For our book club, we agreed to read chapters 3 and 4 from the book Reading History by Janet Allen. This section was, as Sara aptly mentioned, a cumulative review of what we have been learning throughout this class and also the Methods course we are in. I have really learned that literacy is not just about reading and writing basic sentences, but that there are various forms of it, and that there are many ways that we don’t automatically associate as literacy learning.
On page 65, there is a mention of outlining, and honestly don’t like it at all. Outlining chapters was something my 8th grade teacher would have us do to teach us. He rarely taught in class, and to cover his own butt he would have us basically teach ourselves. There were never discussions or connections to the text within class, so overall by the end of the year we had a final exam, but the only thing we had to show was our outlines. I don’t think I’ll be making my students do this type of activity because while I learned, I did not enjoy or make connections, it probably explains my lack of connection to American History till today.
The next method, the Mapping/ Webbing I have had a chance to see in my CPD and really saw students review and gain knowledge through this, especially when they have to explain their thought process and connections. There is a new application through Triptico that is still in BETA version that works with hexagons, and the students had a chance to connect the hexagons relating to their unit. Students had a fun time and even taught each other/ explained to their classmates why it would be a good answer. Granted this type of activity does not have to have a right answer, it just makes the students more aware of the various perspectives and ways of drawing connections.
The use of R.E.A.P is another method that I found interesting especially since the P asks the students to “ponder” and develop questions. This is something I can connect to Frederick Drake, someone we were introduced within our Method’s class, because he always mentions the importance of creating a laboratory classroom that always has questions present. I’ve said it before and will say it again, we almost beat the questioning out of students during elementary and middle school, so by the time we get them in high school, they are afraid to form questions. This is a good method to counter-act that.
The Multiple Sources was another method that had me think back to how much better my previous classes could have been if the organizer that Allen introduces, had been used. So often we ask students to look up the other side, but we don’t take the next step and have them write about it. It doesn’t even have to be the graphic organizer, but just to write a paragraph with a reaction or opinion about it would be great because it can get the students to start questioning and researching.
The Alphabet Book is something that I have seen used within my CPD and have actually really wanted to use in the future. It was not exactly my mentor who used it, but another teacher would use my mentor’s classroom for his literacy class. Students would be asked to read a book and create an Alphabet Book on it. Students also had to make a connection/ explanation with it because some of the letters needed explaining. Students had to go out and do additional research for their presentations. This could be easily used within Social Studies for certain time periods.
I feel like that outline of “best practices” in chapter four was a checklist for both our TCH courses this semester on what we had learned and what we should take away. I look forward to integrating some of Janet Allen’s ideas within a classroom.