Friday, January 15, 2010

"Marginalia" for Writing

So far this year, I have implemented the think-aloud, read-aloud, even dozen, and marginalia strategies that were modeled at the iTune into Literacy Conference. Marginalia has been most effective for responding to text in my writing classes. I introduced this technique with a couple of model essays; students wrote comments and questions in the margins as they read and then discussed their thoughts with a partner. Recently, my students composed a compare and contrast essay. I had them peer review using Marginalia. They were required to write at least one commendation, one question, and one recommendation on their partner's paper. I plan to continue modifying this strategy to use as we approach our SOL test in March.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Literacy Tools Aid the Order of Operations

I am willing to admit that when I "volunteered" to go to the literacy sessions this summer I was wondering how it I would integrate what we learned into an already filled math curriculum. Never one to give up on a task, I immediately set out to find a way to unclude story books in the pre-algebra and algebra math classes. Our classes were very receptive to having stories read to them - we even brought in another teacher's classes to share in our story time. Then the fun really began. The story we chose to start with was "The Journey of Al and Gebra". Some students chose to illustrate the story to help them remember key points, others wrote letters to friends from the viewpoint of one of the children who had met Al and Gebra while discovering the order of operations. Several students created their own mnemonics - and decorated them - covering the walls with "PEMDAS" sayings. One group took the assignment a step further and wrote their own rap, recorded it then posted it on TeacherTube. It was quite interesting to see how one short story read to a class could be taken in so many different directions and still stay on the task of teaching a math standard. What started out as a required assignment for me spread throughout the entire eighth grade and most of the seventh grade at our school. The students were able to integrate art, math, music, and literature all in one assignment. Everyone came out a winner in this example and I know we will be doing things like this more as the year progresses.