Greetings from my adopted home state of Florida. I was glad to come back to a house that was not flooded or damaged by any wind--I guess that I dodged the bullet on this storm but I also know what August and September are capable of bringing. After an eleven hour trans-Atlantic flight from Rome (and then a connecting flight) with a restless one year old and an energetic five year old I am joyful to be back home. Although shopping at a big box store after being overseas was a bit of a disappointment yesterday, I was grateful for the wonderful customer service that the Stars and Stripes typically has to offer us.
I hope that you all have a wonderful week of the 4th and that you have some time to reflect on all of the great things that our nation has to offer--no matter what side of the aisle you are on. For our Canadian friends, Happy Canada Day! If you are somewhere else on planet have a super one as well.
Part A (Choose 1 question)
Please respond to one of the following questions:
1. On page 35 Willingham writes, "[i]f you want to be exposed to new vocabulary and new ideas, the places to go are books, magazines, and newspapers. Television, video games, and the sorts of Internet content that students lean towards (for example, social networking sites, music sites, and the like) are for the most part unhelpful...Books, newspaper, and magazines are singularly helpful in introducing new ideas and new vocabulary to students."
What are you doing in your classroom to address this issue? In addition, how would you define your role and responsibility as a teacher of digital literacy?
2. One thing that particularly caught my attention was at the top of page 38 where Willingham writes about the school librarian. I have always had a cordial relationship with the school librarian/media specialist but I believe that I guilty of not leaning on her expertise in a manner that would best help my students. In addition, I have seen her role shift from more of a research librarian to that of a tech person.
"The school librarian should be a tremendous and ally in helping children learn to love reading, and she is arguably the most important person in any school when it comes to reading."
In what ways are you working with your school librarian/media specialist to assist your students with literacy? What is the role of the librarian/media specialist at your school?
Part B (ALL)
Based on your reading of this chapter (which focuses heavily on building background knowledge) what is one new thing that you will try with your students in the coming school year or what will you fine tune or tweak to foster student learning?
I agree that all three are important skills, Lisa. Here is a lesson I came up with to introduce inference checking to my students. http://www.classroomtools.com/infer.htm
If you have students read material in a web browser, have you tried having them install a dictionary that will present a definition when any word is clicked on? (Here is a link to the browser tools M-W provides: http://www.merriam-webster.com/downloads/index.htm) If you don't know it, there is an iOS app called Tap Dictionary (http://appshopper.com/reference/tap-dictionary) that provides the same ability for iOS browsers. Then, of course, there is the definition capabilities built into Kindle apps and iBooks. If any of you have been able to put any of these to work with your students, I'd really like to hear the positives and negatives you've observed.
Shauna, working in a virtual school, I imagine that you post assignments, readings, etc. online. Have you ever linked vocabulary words you anticipate might be problematic to Merriam-Webster's online dictionary. Something like this: debilitating Click on that and see what you get.
For the course that I am presently working on I have identified works that I thought would be problematic Social Studies (including "foreign" names) and just general terms and we have created audio definition rollovers. So a student can click on the word, hear it read correctly and listen to the definition. It was a lot of work to organize but students will absolutely benefit.
That is impressive, Shauna. I should have known that you'd be at least a step ahead of me. Do you have a public link that you could post here so that we can see how that works?
Hoping to have a preview link soon--we have not yet fully released. I hope that the preview will come in the near future and at that point I will share.
No--I am no queen of HTML 5. Someone else takes care of that!
Bill - thanks for the dictionary tip.
Here is a Google Dictionary for those of us who use Google Chrome.
Thanks Robert. Somehow I missed this until tonight. That is a really nice addition to Chrome.
Thank you for the idea about highlighting vocabulary terms. What a great technique!
You're welcome Elizabeth. Once you put it to work, let us know how it works out for you and your students.
1. Vocabulary is the first step in reading any primary source in my World history class. I work with students on a active reading format early in the year. Step one is to scan and look for any words that they may not understand. In class we go over the words for the first few sources. As time goes on we have students write the words on the board before we discuss. As I move toward more digital resources I find that the students naturally check these words following the same procedures we used in class. These frame works have been helpful especially to students who aren't avid readers and would otherwise skip the words they don't know. For me this is important because as words become more complex they carry a much more subtle nuance. Getting the students to understand and identify such nuance can make historical readings so much more interesting. Whatever the methods may be teachers who incorporate them are doing huge favor to students who begin class without the benefit of such processes.
2. I think that it key for students to relate what we are learning directly to experiences in their own lives (one type of background knowledge that they all possess). Having students relate these together as a group is a good starting point. I have always wanted to get a large bulletin board and post the unit in the center of it. Then I want to have student bring in articles, post thoughts on post-its, share pictures that they in some way connect to class. This always happens informally in my class but i would love to see the process formalized. In the end the result would be huge visualization of all of the thoughts and connections we have made during that unit. I also think it would be cool to use pins and string to literally connect ideas that are connected on the board. Unfortunately I move to many different classrooms which make curating a problem. I am determined to make this kind of a working connections mind map a reality one day.