Any successful educator engages the students in the learning process and makes accommodations and adjustments as needed. There are four steps to learning that I will utilize in order to teach an effective unit. First, know your audience. The audience must be established initially in order to know how to approach teaching the lessons to the students. I intend to teach this unit in the second or third marking period of the year so that by that time I will have established a rapport with students, students will be familiar with their peers and the class will have created an environment conducive to addressing such issues as gender. Second, by this time I should know the ability level of each student and to what extent that is what they are capable of producing, as well as their comfort level, their strengths and weaknesses will let me know how much I need to modify or simplify the material. Third, I will present the information in a creative, enthusiastic manner. I have learned that if I am passionate about a topic it reflects in the manner that I convey the material to my students. If I am not interested in the topic why the students should and believe me they know if I am not interested. What I mean by creativity and adjustment is applying Howard Gardner's Multiple Intelligences to the unit so that each student can be successful even if they don't necessarily fall into the dominant category of learning verbally or mathematically. This means, providing alternatives and options with each activity, giving the students a choice on how they want to respond. Lastly, I will personalize the material by making a connection with the topic "I remember when..., have you ever had a friend that...can you think of a time when... so that students can make sense of the information and understand how it applies to them.
In writing workshops, pre-writing activities are highly encouraged. I like to model many of my lessons from Nancie Atwell's
Lessons that Changed Writers
because it synthesizes the material and is teacher friendly. In order to pre-write, students must brainstorm. I will try different strategies to obtain information like graphic organizers, listing, mapping. Any of the above strategies work as long as they generate thinking about the topic and getting the information down on paper. This step is the first in the process and I do not ask the students to organize their thinking at this point only to get some ideas together.
is an activity I learned during a Connecticut Writing Project seminar. It is a method for introducing a topic and gaining prior knowledge from the students. The teacher will place a word or a phrase on the board and have students take turns writing a comment, example, question or description. After, each student has written as much as they can on the topic or time has elapsed the teacher will discuss the class findings.
initiate thinking about a topic or question that the teacher wishes to pose to the student. Journals can be used to engage the students into the lesson as well as practice the writing process in an informal venue.
is made up of statements that interest the students. The anticipation guide asks the student to agree or disagree with the statements presented. Generally, the statements are controversial and will spark a debate. The purpose is to get students thinking about the issues that will appear later in the text as the read.
is a strategy that uses lines from the text to make predictions and inferences about meaning. This activity is called Tea Party because students are out of their desks interacting with each other and reading the lines provided similar to a party in which participants engage in conversation or mingle with others exchanging information. The lines from the text are presented to the students before they view a whole copy of the text, so the students are not familiar with the material they are just asked to take the lines they receive and share them with their classmates. After students share information they will attempt to organize the information and read the organized lines to make predictions and inferences about what they will read.
can be effective strategies for teaching grammar and spelling. The teacher can get ideas for possible mini-lessons by reading the student journals, published papers or through routine observation of student needs. For example, if I notice that students have a tendency to use
in their writing repetitively I might teach a mini-lesson replacing the word
with action verbs. Also, word usage can be a valuable mini-lesson such as the difference between: there, their and they're. Another idea for a mini-lesson on inferences. In order to review inferences with students, I will distribute cartoon comic strips to the students and ask them to read them and decipher what is happening in the picture. As students respond, I will ask them how they know if the words were not describing exactly what was happening in order to introduce inferences.
allows the student to
about the topic and write their individual response,
up with a partner closest to them and
their responses. This strategy allows the class to gain instant peer feedback in a smaller group setting with may be less intimidating than larger cooperative learning groups or whole class discussion where some students might feel reluctant to share their work.
are effective strategies for modeling fluency and voice. Reluctant readers benefit from hearing skilled readers read aloud. The teacher will read the chosen text to the students in whole class instruction. I have discovered that students enjoy being read to regardless of their age. Picture books are good resources for read alouds
is a strategy that increases comprehension and develops fluency through multiple readings. Poetry is an excellent genre for administering the point reading strategy. Before I introduce this strategy I like to give the students a justification for re-reading a text by making a connection to their interests. For example, I might ask the students about their favorite movie and ask them how many times they have viewed this particular movie. This line of questioning gets students excited about their movie and leads into a discussion about multiple viewing and multiple reading. At this time, I will explain to students that when you read you visualize similar to creating a movie in your head. Also, when you see a movie more than once you notice things that you would not have necessarily noticed had you only viewed the movie once. To use the point reading strategy first, the teacher will read the text one time while the students follow along. Next, the teacher will read the text again while the student highlights or underlines words, phrase, or lines that are significant to the meaning of the text. After, the teacher will read the text and the students will join in with the reading when they get to the point they have highlighted. After, the teacher will create a list from the students' responses and narrow down the list to the most important one. This strategy is used as a method for interpreting the text and comprehending the meaning.
is helpful for student's to gain feedback from their peers in addition to the knowledge about their strengths and weaknesses from their teacher. During adolescence, students are peer centered so it is helpful to direct the social aspect of this age group towards meaningful class instructional time.
are necessary to monitor student progress from start to finish. When drafts are maintained students can observe the writing process and reflect upon their growth.
Dialogue with a Text
has been an extremely helpful questioning method
because it prompts students to think critically about the text.
provides questioning methods that build upon prior knowledge to initiate higher order thinking skills.
I often justify the above strategies I use to my students because I want the students to know the purpose or the objective for the lessons. I find that when I explain my rationale to the students they are more responsive because they are active participants in their education. Stating the rationale gives the students ownership and many times alleviates their initial reluctance to participate in the lessons.