Friday, December 18, 2009
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
1) Reading with a Purpose: I used to give reading assignments with no clear-cut objectives. Now I've placed objectives ( what to find, read as a certain person, or summarizing)
2) GIST Statements - Each week, I have the students write a statement in 25 words or less explaining a certain position or job (president, chief justice, Senator). From this statement, I can evaluate mastering of the topic.
3) Picture Voc. - The students must produce voc. with their own definitions and a picture for each.
4) Read Aloud - Truthfully, I was against read alouds and now use them as an introduction to the unit to provide students with general background knowledge on the material. In addition to reading, I'll ask questions on important points I discussed during the reading.
5) Hands On Activities - The students have participated in several activities this year where they where the center of the activity. The responsibility aspect caused to deeply learn the content and not just memorize terms and concepts.
As I mentioned, there where many strategies that I picked up from the SURN conference and lecture. These were some of the many methods that I Incorporated in my lesson planning. Thanks for the opportunity to partake in this opportunity!
Monday, December 7, 2009
Thursday, December 3, 2009
After the power tools conference this summer I was really excited about finding more quality literature to use in my math class. I was surprised to find so many books for math. The challenging part was finding books for advanced concepts. There are plenty of books for elementary math concepts. One book that I would recommend to any math 8 or even geometry teachers is "What's Your Angle, Pythagoras" by Julie Ellis. This book is engaging and informative. The illustrations are beautiful and the mathematics in the book is elegantly laid out. I am going to share the story with my students on Monday when we begin our lesson on the Pythagorean Theorem.
For those of us who attended the SURN mathematics workshop at KFMS, the book has a perfect tie in to a hands on activity Dr. Mason showed us using the knotted rope! The knotted rope has a role in the book. How cool is it going to be to read about using the knotted rope to make right triangles and then have the kids use the knotted rope in class to make 3, 4, 5 triangles? I am going to share the book on Monday with my class. I know they are going to love story time and the rope activity!
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Monday, November 23, 2009
During the first month, I introduced the Making Connections Strategy as a part of reading in math and now they readily respond when I ask how the text connects to them, the world around them, or something they’ve studied before? This has helped them to access prior knowledge and connect new concepts to older concepts in a more natural way. By using picture books like Fraction Action as an introduction to our unit on fractions, my math class has taken on a less formal tone without being chaotic.
During October, we viewed three pod casts from the The Mathtrain TV Podcasts collection. My special needs students were able to see how other middle school students tackled and explained some of the concepts we were studying. They really enjoyed watching the pod casts on using LCD to add fractions, turning fractions into decimals, and multiplying mixed numbers. They offered constructive suggestions on how to make a pod cast more enjoyable and expressed the desire to “do one.” So as a part of their review process for the 2nd nine weeks midpoint test, they will have a choice of making a video, a PowerPoint presentation, or leading a peer tutoring session for selected math SOLs. All and all we had a great 9 weeks!
Sunday, November 15, 2009
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Monday, November 2, 2009
I hope everybody is off to a great year with their literacy strategies in place!! I know that I have been using quite a few and they seem to be going very well. I was overwhelmed at first but once I started using them I got the hang of it and everything seems to be moving in the right direction.
The kids are really getting a kick out of MAGINALIA!!! They just love when that term is used! This strategy has helped so much in helping the students identify the important concepts in science literature. I have also used the Role Cards in a lesson to help students see different concepts from different perspectives. Marking the text is another biggie!!
All I can say is that I am very excited for my students that they have something that sparks their interest and they don't have to listen to long drawn out lectures with no differentiation!!
Thanks SURN Team for sharing these very positive strategies to help students with literacy!!!
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
I had the opportunity to observe one of these literacy strategies being used by a colleague in a world geography class. It was amazing to see how eighth graders could get so engrossed in a picture book.
Monday, October 19, 2009
Friday, October 16, 2009
Monday, October 12, 2009
As I diligently work to ensure that I provide these opportunities, I've found strategies from the Power Tools for Adolescent Literacy helpful. In my efforts to provide opportunities for my students to read and write in all classes and to connect to their real lives, with the assistance of our building's gifted education specialist, Lynne Barrett, I've used the RAFT writing technique as the format for an Earth's Biome project. This is strategy 5.7 in the text.
The workshop that inspired this blog and led to these postings is being offered November 16-17, 2009 in Williamsburg, VA. The blog authors have already attended and gained much from their time with the Dynamic Duo of Jan Rozzelle and Carol Scearce. Consider registering for the workshop, Power Tools in Adolescent Literacy.
If you have already been to the workshop, share the "best" aspect of the workshop with others in this blog and encourage others to attend.
Sunday, October 4, 2009
Just wanted to let you all know that I did implement my Literacy Lesson on Matter last Thursday and Friday. It went great!
We focused on the Mag 7 (Asking Questions). I read a poem from the picture book Science Verse entitled, What's the Matter? and the kids loved it. We went through and form questions about each one of the stanzas and then I gave them a graphic organizer called Main Idea/Detail Chart in which they took notes on about Matter and its states. Upon completion of our notetaking on Matter, we then went back to our poem and answered the questions that they formed.
The lesson ended up with the students creating a 3 flap foldable on Matter's States-Solids, Liquids, and Gases while listening to the song Shake, Rattle and Roll on an iPod download. The song Shake, Rattle, and Roll help the kids to remember what the particle movement was like within a solid, liquid, or gas.
It was definitely an experience and I know my kids got much more understanding from using the strategy of Asking Questions!!
Thursday, October 1, 2009
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
As the new school year geared up, I used some of the get-to-know-you activities, such as People Hunt, SWBS. I also downloaded music to my Ipod and as the students are working on an assignment, I play the music (old school hits, of course). My 8th grade administrator has come in several times and she has shared with the rest of the 8th grade teachers the music I use and how focused the students are on their lesson.
When I do a lab with my students, I will let them know that they have to finish the lab in 2 -3 songs. What a great way to actually keep them focused.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Eventhough, I hadn't tried an entire lesson as of yet, I have been using some of the strategies such as; Marginalia, SWBS, People Hunt for Grouping. Everything has worked marvelous thus far!
I am planning to do my entire lesson on Matter using a whole literacy lesson plan on Friday of this week!! Wish me luck!!
I am really enjoying this!
Monday, September 28, 2009
I have been teaching math for 30 years plus and sometimes I find myself in a glorious sea of numbers. Yet, I have also been guilty of thinking that my math rules the world. Silly, silly me! Now I am seeing things from a different perspective and I know that it is not about the content, but about the thinking. This became quite clear and obvious during the three days I attended the Content Literacy Academy in August. This academy had an awesome influential impact on me. I participated in many activities while there and learned new strategies that I wanted to implement into my classes. Actually, I was rather anxious to start the school year.
I walked away knowing that my thinking had been redirected and my instructional practices were definitely going to be enhanced and geared just as much toward literacy as math. This year Huntington Middle School has implemented a 20-minute school-wide literacy initiative. As a result of this initiative, there has been an enormous amount of new learning experiences in all classes.
In math we are tuning to literacy. We tune to FM MAG7 (the Magnificent Seven Comprehension Strategies) daily. This is our #1 station. As a matter of the fact, the only station we tune to in math. During week 1, we had a great time jumping to the first strategy we implemented which was Making Connections. We used the Comprehension Strategies Instruction (CSI) Kit.
The math classes read the narrative play, Making Allowances. We had five 20 minute lessons planned and effectively used. Our students made many connections while tuning to FM MAG7. They became an active part of the narrative text as they made text-to-self, text-to-text, and text-to-world connections. These three connections were all real life connections.
The text-to-self connections were easy of course. The text-to-text required some explanations and I had to make it seem real to them by asking them to think about textbooks read. Students asked if movies could be included. So we went into having students to make connections to movies seen, songs heard, and sports played or interested in playing, etc. This seemed to capture students even more and they began to tune more into making connections. They actually, “pumped up the volume.” So when we got into text-to-world, they were so involved that the connections they were making were astonishing, even thought provoking to me. But they were “tuned” into the right station.
Of course, we had to talk math, so we did. As a culminating activity, to connect with text title, every student received an allowance (play money and checks) based on participation points. We gathered the data and found the mean, median, mode of the allowances. We also discussed how other data displays can represent the allowances given.
Twenty minutes a day for math to tune in to literacy isn’t enough time. Once the students start making connections there is no switching gears. When you walk into math classes it is obvious that Math iTunes to Literacy at Huntington Middle School.
Sunday, September 27, 2009
1. Read and write in all classes
2. Connect learning to their real lives
3. Demonstrate higher level thinking skills when problem solving
4. Justify their answers
5. Analyze and track own data to measure learning and growth
Teachers were surveyed to gauge their comfort levels with each strategy. Staff development was provided to assist teachers. Rubrics were shared to show what a classroom implementing each strategy should look like.
At first, most teachers were skeptical and uncomfortable; change is difficult. They reluctantly participated in training at the school level. Slowly, they transformed themselves into a committed learning community.The implementation of the power strategies became a natural part of collegial conversations, lesson plans, and classroom observations.
Our school has come a very long way in a year! That’s why when we were selected to send a team to participate in the Adolescent Literacy for Vertical Teams Initiative Conference, it seemed a natural progression for us. The Magnificent Seven Comprehension Strategies are not new ones to reading instructors, but the focus on explicitly teaching them and making the “invisible visible” is powerful.
After the SURN conference, our leadership team was given an overview of the conference components. Our administrators used one of the synthesis strategies, Even Dozen, to engage us in thinking about what our school did well during the last year.
During pre-service week, our faculty also participated in an overview. Our principal purchased a copy of Power Tools for Adolescent Literacy for every core content teacher in the building! The original SURN participants decided collectively to focus the first month on the strategy of making inferences and predictions, which solidified the whole school’s mission.
As a resource teacher with the opportunity to plan with many different content teams, I have watched colleagues pulling ideas from the book, enlarging the Magnificent Seven posters and hanging them in their rooms. Several have already used the Even Dozen activity with their students.
I am a witness to how our school adopted five power strategies last year that have transformed our school; teaching the seven comprehension strategies in every classroom will be equally fulfilling for our faculty and ultimately rewarding for our students!
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
All of our teachers are in professional learning communities. Marcia Little and Rosalyn Price are the facilitators for science teachers; Karen Hinton, and Sallie Herndon, are the facilitators for social studies teachers; Valerie Banks, and Vanessa Stephens are the facilitators for math teachers; and Arleatrice Winters and I, Alice M. Alexander, are the facilitators for English teachers. Our first week of Literacy Excel was a big success!
Monday, September 21, 2009
Sunday, September 20, 2009
Friday, September 18, 2009
It was a normal day at its best. Each class was truly engaged in the before reading warm-up where they explained what they saw when I said the word, "treasure." I increased the questioning level little by little until we were differentiating between the literal and figurative definitions of "treasure." This being the case, I was not prepared for what I uncovered
during my students first exposure to a think aloud.
Wow! As I read and made the invisible(my thoughts) visible, my students struggled to put what I was doing into words. One child said, "comprehending," a possible regurgitation of what I had explained I would be doing. Several other students said things like "adding words." I had done this activity already with my honors bells who quickly identified that I was "connecting my experiences to the text," "inferring," "asking questions," "self-correcting when I had misunderstood something earlier in the text" (an intentional flaw so as to model for them my ability to catch my mistakes), but I was at a loss seeing my regular ed. students unable to connect to what was happening in my mind as I read. In fact, it took even my volunteers several tries before they were able to read the text aloud as I did, and somewhat share their thought processes.
I see now that truly these students are not engaging the text. They seem to have trouble even recognizing "visualizing" and " asking questions" let alone attempting it. All this to say, I am looking forward even more so now, to teaching our comprehension strategies one at a time.
(Post note: For those of you teaching highly challenging classes, you can do it. With the unique mix of autistic children, the farsighted child who is too embarrassed to where his glasses, many children who I am finally realizing are unable to afford supplies for my class, and two emotionally challenged students who have already manifested to the chagrin of the onslaught of troublemakers, yet I see children many or most of whom have missed the joy of comprehending and connecting with a text. All things are possible! (to him/her who believes.))
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
During the 2009 Summer Literacy Academy, participants received iPod Nano to encourage them to use the web to identify instructionally appropriate videos and audio/video podcasts to bring into the classroom.
Many years ago, I took an American 20th century history class (yes it was still the 20th century) in which the professor said that all too often US history classes struggle to finish in the current day. So he started with the end of World War I and went forward. The professor used a variety of video clips and laser disc clips (remember those huge disks-thank heavens for the advent of the cd-rom) throughout each class period. We'd talk history, see history, hear history, and have the opportunity to interact in ways that made our readings and discussions more meaningful. Clips were a few seconds to minutes long and helped contextualize the events.The retrospective on 20th century history that uses Billy Joel's We Didn't Start the Fire could have been an engaging way to introduce such a history class.
The upcoming issue of Edutopia has an article on using videos in the classroom. The author observed that “teachers all across the country are finding that judiciously chosen videos help students engage more deeply with the subject matter, and recall the information they’ve learned longer.” The article highlights several websites that teachers may find helpful for getting videos. The article also includes a “primer” to YouTube.
Scholastics' 10 Podcasts for Teachers and Kids provides 10 recommended podcast sources that address core content areas, ESL, and/or are regularly produced by students.
Just yesterday, I was looking up information on Jamestown and came across the Settlement center's podcast collection. Couple with other sources from NPR to NASA to TeacherTube and YouTube there is a plethora of material available. So let's share our favorites.
If you use online videos or audio podcasts in your classroom, are sites that you recommend and share a particular video or audio podcast?
Sunday, August 30, 2009
Thursday, August 20, 2009
These strategies from Power Tools for Adolescent Literacy will help your students prepare to read their texts this year.
“Let Your Fingers Do the Walking” (pgs.18-19): introduces the text; generates some interest and excitement.
“Scavenger Hunt” (pgs. 66-67): leads students to see important features of the text including reference sections, the table of contents, and the index.
“Passage Prediction” (pg. 69): introduces new words and teaches prediction.
Bring students’ attention to text features before they begin to read. Show students how to change titles, headings and subheadings into questions. Use these questions to set a purpose for reading.
Each time that you assign reading from the text, direct students to practice using one of the “Magnificant Seven Comprehension Strategies” (pgs. 40-43) while they read.
If your students leave you having learned content and carrying a tool box full of reading strategies, you will have served them well. Have a great year!
The first step in the new year will be to set routines and procedures in your classroom. As Shannon reminded us, the "Getting To Know You" activities would be one of the first steps to take in implementing the use of Power Tools. My advice from there would be to take at least 1 strategy per week and incorporate it into your lessons. Starting small will help to build not only student confidence but yours as well. Good luck to everyone! I hope you are as excited about the new year and all the new ideas you are going back to school with!
Monday, August 17, 2009
Saturday, August 15, 2009
There were two books read by the class in the movie: Durango Street and The Diary of Anne Frank. Choose a book that you would like to suggest strategies for...then...using your Power Tools book, complete the following:
- Choose one of the Magnificent 7 comprehension strategies and describe what that would look like in your classroom!
- Choose either a before, a during or after reading strategy and describe how you would use that with the book.
If you haven't read either of the books, you don't have to! Just offer a general idea of how you would use the strategies with them.