Monday, December 2, 2013

December: Reading and Writing

Yes, the students are excited for a break for holidays, but we are still focused on our objectives. All grades are reading and writing responses to questions, learning to ask their own questions as well as teacher questions. Click here to learn more about questioning. The focus for students is to based responses on the text. Many times our students know the answers, but only summarize the gist of the evidence. Unfortunately, the tests students take require them to quote the text to support that summary. So I have devised a couple of strategies to help students.

The first strategy is ABC: Answer the question, Back it up with evidence, Conclude with your main idea answer. That helped students to go back to the text to quote the evidence. However, soon students were just writing the quote, not their answer. So we started QAE: Question restatement, Answer the question, Explain with evidence from the text. Now that students are writing interpretive essays for our Junior Great Books program [JGB], it is imperative that students include both evidence and explanation of the evidence. We've started to think of our paragraph responses as TS, EV, EX, EV, EX or TS, EV, EV, EX.  TS means topic sentence; EV means evidence; EX means explain. I hope these strategies help them succeed in responding to our deeper questions, "Think and Search," which require analysis of the facts, synthesis of the information, inference to connect ideas, and evaluation of the best response from that critical thinking. As I've said: our students know how to read; they know the answers; they simply need to provide the evidence and explanation to show it.

Students respond to questions in our whole class or small group discussions. Students begin our book discussions with an thoughtful question, then begin reading and asking their own questions. From those questions, we choose the ones important to the story to discuss and discover what the text means together. Here are our guidelines:

This process allows students to take control, proving to each other what the text means. When students write their own responses, they will have had the opportunity of gathering ideas from their colleagues and thinking through each idea together.

The written responses provide our writing class content. Are you writing information -- on topic, clear, with details and vocabulary? Are you writing arguments -- on topic, stating your claim with supporting evidence with details and vocabulary? Are you editing for capitals, spelling, paragraphing, and punctuation?

Although the seventh and eighth grade are reading our JGB, sixth grade students also read for similar purposes and write to be clear. However the sixth grade students are also learning about Text Structure, how texts are organized depending on their purpose: problem/solution, cause/effect, compare/contrast, sequence/chronology, description/spatial. We will focus on problem/solution, cause/effect, compare/contrast. Students will determine the structure of texts they read, pull the information out into a graphic organizer, and rewrite the information in paragraphs of their own. We have several lessons, including this one. Below is our class practice of pulling out information from a paragraph into a graphic organizer.

As always, if you have questions please let me know. December... come and learn all you can...

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Please remember this is a family and school related site. Please post and comment appropriately. Please contact Ms Edwards if you have any questions or to report any inappropriate activity. Thank you. sheri at nsdeagles dot org