When thinking about the current writing crisis in America, there seems to be a dis-connect. From our readings in Content-Area Writing: Every Teacher’s Guide, it gives two perspectives. On one hand, the students of the current generation are prolific writers in instant messaging, email, Facebook, blogging, chatrooms, etc. (3). On the other hand, standardized writing exams and employers looking for employees who can write well, say that we have a writing crisis on our hands (2).
How can we as teachers use writing to get our students to learn? Here is a strategy that we can use in our classrooms. It is to take writing breaks. In the strategy, we want the students to think and then get their thinking down on paper. Pick a good time to have the students stop and write in response to a question. The question could be, “What information so far stands out to you and why?” Or they could just write what they are thinking of right now.
I observed my colleagues 7th grade English class last week. After reading A Midsummer’s Nights Dream and discussing it, each student was assigned a part of the book and wrote it as a script for a play in their own words. It was compiled and now they are performing this play. This strategy encourages students to write the learned information in their own words and this is also a tool that can be used in all content areas.
Daniels, Zemelman, & Steneke, Content-Area Writing: Every Teacher’s Guide, 2007 Edition.
Daniels, Zemelman, & Steneke, Content-Area Writing: Every Teacher’s Guide, 2007 Edition.
Secondary students struggle with reading and comprehending the science textbook for many reasons. Some of my students are reading a text in English and they just began reading English or are not proficient. How can I help my students who struggle or those who I want to challenge to get more out of the text? Daniels and Zemelman give us a combination of cognitive and instructional activities to help our secondary students (87).
One pre-reading strategy is frontloading with images. This strategy involves showing the students images about the unit or text before the students read it. We are studying the digestive system in one of my classes, so I could show images of a mouth, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, villi and large intestine. I could also show an animation of a food particle going through these organs. Another strategy involves visual prompts during reading. While students are reading a text, they will stop and draw a simple picture to illustrate what they are reading. This will help students visualize what they are reading (131). An example of this strategy can be used with my students reading about the digestive system. After they read about the job of the stomach in digestion, they would stop and draw a picture of a stomach and also symbols that reflect mechanical digestion and chemical digestion.
Daniels & Zemelman. Subjects Matter, Second Edition: Exceeding Standards Through Powerful Content-Area Reading, 2014 edition.
The problem with American textbooks is simple. Most textbooks are not engaging and may I say, even boring. Daniels and Zemelman state it well, “When we assign students to read pages 234–245 in the textbook and answer the questions at the end of the chapter, they hardly ever get on a bus and go share their learning with fellow citizens across town” (13). Even if students do read their textbooks and answer the questions at the end of the chapter, how much of the information is retained?
One solution is to incorporate articles, books, and other primary sources in the content area. I have used this in the beginning of my class time with a hook of a “Science Alert”, a new discovery in the field of science or an answer to a question a student had from the previous class. These articles are interesting and have a cool picture to go with them. I also have used Ted Talks or other videos from YouTube to introduce or reinforce the content we are covering. A fellow art teacher from a previous class introduced the idea of going on virtual tours of museums from around the world. I look forward to incorporating more interesting literature that will excite and engage my students in science.
Daniels & Zemelman. Subjects Matter, First Edition: Exceeding Standards Through Powerful Content-Area Reading, 2007 edition.
P4 – Practice the integration of appropriate technology with instruction. To me, P4 means that I will be exploring and trying new technology that will enhance student learning in my classroom.
As I look back in my syllabus for EDTC 6433, the goal of the class is, “to improve your proficiency with current and emerging educational technologies that can enhance your instruction, assessment, and professional productivity”. I can say that this class has achieved this goal and increased my proficiency and knowledge in technology in the area of education.
First, our class was in a Google plus community, sharing questions and resources on each of the ISTE Standards. I will be able to go back and access these resources at any time. Also, we were assigned a project for this course and we could choose a Digital Storytelling project or a WebQuest. I choose to do a WebQuest as I thought it related to my field of science and would be a project I would assign in one of my classes. The link to my WebQuest is: http://questgarden.com/179/22/5/150307003327/
The last area we looked at was online professional communities. Resources and tools on the internet can be so overwhelming, so these communities are a great place to connect with others in our content areas. I know I will be using the things I have learned in this class to enhance my instruction and I also have the courage to try new things and explore more communities on the internet. Thank you EDTC 6433!
E2 – Exemplify collaboration within the school. To me, E2 means that the staff are in communication and work together to have a positive impact on student learning.
In my internship seminar class, one of my assignments was to write a “Family Engagement Plan” and I would like to highlight one of those experiences from my internship. In December, one of my colleagues organized a student intervention meeting with a parent and student. This particular student was falling behind in his work and was having some behavioral issues with other students. I, along with his other teachers, was invited to speak and interact with the parent at this meeting.
The meeting began confirming that this was organized because we want to see this student succeed and we want to do all we can to make this happen. Because of this attitude and atmosphere, the meeting was successful and ended with a plan of what this student will work on with the help of his teachers. Below is an excerpt of the summary of the meeting sent to his parents.
I learned that it is good to collaborate with fellow teachers if there are issues with a student. If one of us is having issues, it is most likely that others are as well. Calling a meeting with the parents is positive because they see that we care and want to see their child succeed. Because of this meeting, this student has caught up on his work and we are continuing to monitor his behavior with the other students. Because of this positive experience, I will not hesitate in the future, to be a part of this type of meeting.
H1 – Honor student diversity and development. To me, H1 means respecting each of my students for who they are as a person and helping them to grow.
Because I teach at an international school, my students and their backgrounds are very diverse. Through my coursework and preparing for edTPA, I have been learning to incorporate student background and interest into my lesson plans. This helps to engage my students with the content material and honor their experiences as they share them with the class.
In one of my lesson plans, I am introducing my students to the nervous system of different animals. I begin by asking them, “Who has a pet dog?” Many of them raise their hand and I will ask them their dogs’ names. I choose one of these dogs as an example of what this dog does as he hears a car pull into the driveway. The response of the dog is all about the interaction of his nervous system. When I began the lesson this way, the students were immediately engaged and enjoyed learning about their classmates’ dogs. I then continued to use this as an example throughout the lesson as we learned about the 3 types of neurons and their interaction with one another. Below is an excerpt from this lesson plan.
I learned that using personal examples or experiences from my students engages them in the lesson and content. It helps them to relate what they are learning in the classroom to their personal lives and so increases the potential for retaining this information. I will continue to use this strategy for classroom instruction.
I am currently involved in the online science community on Edmodo. When I signed up for Edmodo, I joined this community at the beginning of the school year.
Daily I receive posts that show new resources or questions others have regarding science education. I have been led to great resources from this community and will continue to be involved.