What are the strategies that this unit will focus on?
The unit’s strategies will focus on teaching the students how to read and summarize informational articles, and view multiple visual aids to determine meaning. The reading lessons will focus on conducting and building research skills in order for the students to draw conclusions about the text and build knowledge of the events. In addition, the students will learn various strategies for note-taking so that the information that is read or written about can be accurately recorded and paraphrased for the culminating project. Other key strategies include teaching the students how to accurately cite information and use it to effectively elaborate in their I- search papers, or RAFT papers, in addition, to teaching them how to write a bibliography.
Another strategy that is important is teaching students how to use technology effectively. The teacher should show the students which websites are trustworthy for information, and which are not as trustworthy, or valid to draw sources from. The students should also be taught how to generate good questions in order to search the topics easily. If the students generate good questions, then they should be able to search the topic they are interested in more specifically on internet websites like Google or Yahoo.
The third strategy that is helpful in teaching the students how to write an informational paper based on RAFT is to give them a choice about what role they would like to take on, and the topic that they would like to talk about. Student choice is an integral part of the writing because it allows them to pick and choose what it is that they want to write about. Teachers may choose to model one first with the students, read it out loud, and revise it together. Student perspectives will change and force the students to view the characters differently in the story based on the new knowledge that they have gained.
Cooperative learning is another important part of this process. It is supposed to be an enjoyable task, not a chore, so it is suggested that an exercise in team building should be a part of the unit before the students actually get into groups to work on the events of the Spanish-American War. Teamwork is such an important theme in
Secret of the Yellow Death
, and it should be an important part of the task, as it is a theme that is implied throughout the book as seen with the scientists.
Perhaps the last strategy that will be taught has to do with helping the students generate good questions. The questions are the key for learning essential knowledge about the topic of interest. The questions also help to organize their thoughts into categories that they can use later on in their I search papers. Questions can be organized into ideas like: Why is this topic so interesting and what do I need to know about this topic? Questioning the information that is read can also be helpful in making predictions and wondering about what materials are provided for you to make meaning from. The questions will guide the research in many ways. First, the students have a narrow focus, second, they understand the topic they are researching, and thirdly, they can decipher what are the most vital pieces of information that can be taken from the readings and used.