Thursday, November 17, 2011

Week 11

After Reading Strategies
Writing after reading has three main purposes:

Integrate: The student integrates the new information into their schema.
Elaborate: The student elaborates on what they have learned.
Apply: The student applies the information they have learned in some practical way.

Formal Writing

The Before-During-After format can be interpreted as a KWL graphic organizer. KWL stands for:

Know: What do I already know?
Want: What questions do I have? What do I want to know?
Learn: What have I learned? How were my questions addressed?

Formal writing allows the opportunity to increase student comprehension by allowing the student to ask serious questions, analyze text, and then interpret meaning. By using a KWL organizer a student has specific goals in mind at the outset of the reading assignment. A KWL chart looks a lot like this:

In the Know column, after a topic has been decided on, a student will write down everything they know, without concern for formatting or chronology. The second step would then be to look for connected ideas. After the connected ideas have been located, the unnecessary details can be removed. Finally, the organized Know column will be complete. 

In the Want column, the student will then post questions pertaining to each area of their organized Know chart in which they have questions. For instance, should there be a break in the logic between two main ideas, the student would look to repair that break. The student then undertakes the task of research in order to answer these questions.

The Learn column would then be the findings from the research that was completed as a result of the questions in the Want column. After all three columns are complete, the student is well prepared for formal writing. The basic steps are as follows:

summarize in an outline
construct sentences

Key to forming good Want questions are the five W's and the H:


Another way to organize information for formal writing is an "I-Chart."

TOPIC        I      Question 1  I    Question 2   I    Question 3
Source 1      I                         I                        I               
Source 2      I                         I                        I     
Source 3      I                         I                         I 

An I-chart could be utilized at the Want and Learned stage and is especially well suited to support projects which require multiple sources. With an I chart the student finds the answers to the same question in multiple sources and then records the answer. This format is especially well suited to research  papers and comparative essays.

There are four types of Formal Writing Strategies that are especially useful, they are:

GRASP ( Guided Reading and Summary Strategy)
KWL     (Know, Want, Learn)
I-Chart   (Graphic organizer for multi-source work)
Multigenre Research (research that incorporates multiple genres of writing)

Creative Writing

Creative writing can be a very useful tool for assessing comprehension and encouraging high order thinking by students. When instructing a student in creative writing it is important to impress upon them the RAFT formula for pre-writing. The RAFT formula is as follows:

Role-         Who are you?
Audience- To whom are you writing?
Format-     What form will your writing take?
Topic-       What will you write about?

RAFT could certainly be used for any style of writing but is especially useful in creative writing as a starting point. Two creative writing assignments that can offer students a great deal of structure and at the same time encourage creativity and critical thinking are Cinquains and Diamantes. Both are poem structures. The Cinquian is five lines long: 
The first line is a singular noun. 
The second contains two adjectives that describe line one. 
The third line has three action words describing line one.
The fourth line is a four word feeling verb phrase.
The fifth line is a single word synonym to line one.
The following is an example of a cinquain poem found on Cinquin examples.
Cinquain Pattern #2
Messy, spicy
Slurping, sliding, falling
Between my plate and mouth
(by Cindy Barden)

The Diamante differs in that it has seven lines. All are the same on lines one through three. However, at line four, something different is required. The reason being is that the seventh line is an antonym to line one and at line four, the poem switches focus from the word in line one to it's opposite in line seven. In this way, a Diamante is a literary reflecting pool where everything in the reflection appears as the opposite of the original. It is fascinating really, because the student reflects upon the reading to determine an important word and then reflects on the word outside of the context of the reading in order to construct the second half of the poem. The student has constructed, at this point, overlapping realms that both contain the same word but in which the word takes on very different connotations.

Relavance to History

Writing for understanding is an imperative part of the History process. In fact, the act of Historicizing is extracting meaning based on documents. Formal writing is important to be sure, but using creative writing offers a student to experience empathy and connect on a more emotional level with their text. The KWL, I-Chart, and RAFT format are all exceptional organizational tools to lower student's affective filters in regard to writing. A well structured essay or story also offers a source of pride to the student who, rather than just taking in information, has taken part in the process of creating something. The act of creation is an act of giving to the great body of literature that grows each day. Students, through writing activities are taking an active role rather than a passive one in regards to the creation of knowledge.

Application in a US History classroom

Students are often instructed to read segments for Upton Sinclair's muckraking novel The Jungle during the study of the early nineteenth century. There are a variety of assignments that could work well after a reading of this type. For a KWL, the students could be asked to write what they know about how hamburgers are made. Everything they could think of would be included in the Know column. Then, they would organize these ideas into a process and, after eliminating unnecessary concepts, identify questions they have. As they read, they could write their answers to their questions in the Learn section of the chart. Armed with the chart, the students could then write an essay on the differences between a consumer's perception of meat packing and the description in the text.

A creative writing assignment could be to have students, after reading the text, imagine themselves as the child of one of the workers and write a story about what it would be like to see one's father coming home maimed and injured from the conditions at work.

There are many possibilities within history for role-playing and exploration. By using these tools teachers can assist students in kick-starting the writing process. The more a student writes, the more comfortable they become with it. Eventually, through critical thinking and analysis, the student becomes a teacher whose subject matter is their own perceptions. When a student reaches this level, it is the joy of the teacher to explore how and why the student learns and experiences the world. To have a student be able to write in such a way that gives the reader an opportunity to see with new eyes is the ultimate reward of instilling a love for reading and writing in our students. 

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Week 10

Writing For Comprehension
While there are certainly many ways to show understanding, writing is perhaps the most comprehensive. Oftentimes, when one hears "writing," the mind can jump immediately to research papers and essays. Essays are, without a doubt, valuable tools but not the only form of writing that can offer students benefits. There are three styles of writing, each with their own merit: formal, informal, and creative.

Formal writing is writing that has a predetermined structure and purpose. Oftentimes formal writing will be revised and edited. Examples of formal writing include articles for publication, novels, business proposals, technical manuals, essays, research papers and dissertations. Even this blog could be considered formal writing. Naturally, not all essays nor blogs are designed the same, but most will consider at least some formal elements.

Informal writing is writing that is loosely structured, not intended for a large audience and does not require the use of traditional grammar rules. Informal writing may be condensed or summarized but is rarely edited. Examples of informal writing include personal journals, notes, outlines, brainstorming, lists, tweets, some emails, and text messages. Informal writing exercises are excellent to use prior to a formal writing exercise. Since a writer is unrestrained by rules of grammar and structure in an informal writing exercise they would be free to get all of their thoughts on paper and organize them afterward. The organization of informal writing into a structure is the transition from informal to formal.

Creative writing is exactly what it sounds like. Creative writing can take on characteristics of both formal and informal writing but is far less concerned with facts and more concerned with imagination. Examples of creative writing include stories, poetry, skits, stream-of-consciousness and imaginative exercises. Creative writing assignments are good for letting a writer discover their own voice without the constraints of being 'right' or 'wrong.' As a writer develops their creativity they will find informal exercises and formal structures useful for strengthening their writing. Creative writing encourages the heart and mind to act as one. 


Each style-formal, informal, and creative- do not exist independently of each other but are complemented by one another. By encouraging students to utilize all three writing styles we, as teachers, offer them opportunities to express themselves more clearly. This expression is just as much to an outside audience as it is to themselves. Through writing we determine how and what we want to say and why we want to say it. Writing gives students a voice. In a world that can oftentimes seem overbearing and confining, giving a student a means by which to develop their identity and express themselves, we are empowering them. Lowering the affective filter between students and writing is a key to their mastery of all subjects. 

Relevance to History

History lends itself to formal writing, ultimately, but leading up to a formal paper it is important to experience all writing styles. Creative writing allows a student to put themselves in the shoes of a character in history. Informal writing is used constantly with note taking, journal entries and all of the tools that help develop a formal paper-such as outlines. In addition to the writing process, the student comes into contact, especially with primary source material, with all of these writing styles in the research process. For instance, Anne Frank's diary was an informal writing by Anne Frank, but is a useful tool for understanding the conditions of Jews in Germany during the second World War. Also, Upton Sinclair's The Jungle is a piece of creative writing but provides keen insight into the types of problems facing the nation during the Progressive Era. History is dependent upon writing and the field only progresses because of the due diligence of good historical writers.

Example of use in a History classroom

Creative writing

Student's would be asked to write a page about an average day in their life. Then, the student would write a version, with the same basic structure, from the point of view of a person their age in the unit that was being studied. The whole unit could be set up so that the role of teenagers was discussed during every time period covered. For instance, during the Progressive Era, child labor could be discussed.

Informal writing

Student's would write a journal that had topics covered during class and their impressions. Additionally, the student's could practice designing outlines for topics. For instance, an outline for benefits of the Railroad would look something like this:

Topic: Railroad
Bias: Benefits

Paragraph I: Introduction
Thesis: The development of the railroads positively influenced the US by...
                  a. speeding up travel
                  b. speeding up communication
                  c. connecting consumers with goods and services
Paragraph II: Travel
                 a. before (average trip time)
                     1. problems
                 b. after    (average trip time)
                     1. benefits
Paragraph III: Coomunication
                 a. what was used  before
                     1. problems with that system
                 b. how railroads were used to facilitate communication
                    1. how the problems from a.1. were solved
Paragraph IV: Enlarged Market
                 a. limitations of markets before railroad
                 b. benefits of railroad in delivering goods and expanding markets
Paragraph V: Conclusion
                 a. place railroads in context of world history
                 b. restate travel, communication, market expansion
                 c. It is clear that railroads were epic wonderful for the furtherment of mankind blah blah blah...
Formal writing

In formal writing the student will use the outlines they have been creating during the semester to begin writing well structured essays. As the semester progresses, essays can become more personal incorporating the creative aspect of role-playing into a historical essay. For instance, the student would answer the prompt "I would most like to live in the time of _____  rather than ____because..." The student would use the formal essays they had written to support their argument as to why the time period they chose would be better than the time period they are arguing against. The student would have the experience of analyzing key characteristics of a time period while simultaneously empathizing with the role of the youth in that particular culture. By identifying with a group, such as youth, the student would be better equipped to relate the experiences of their own life to the lessons they explored in the History classroom.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Week 9

During reading strategies Part II

Graphic organizers are a great way to engage a student during a reading activity, and increase comprehension. Essentially graphic organizers are representations of details and big ideas in such a way that the relationships between them are shown. The risk of reading without an engaging "during" strategy is the student may grasp the big picture but be unable to relate the details that ultimately determined the main idea. Should some of those details fall by the way-side in the recollection process, it would be feasible for a student to gather a completely contrary picture of the main idea of a piece of literature. That being said, there are many types of graphic organizers that can be used. Many of them are good for a variety of uses.

There are essentially two different text structures in any piece of literature. The first is the external text structure. This refers to things that are included with the text to serve as guides or navigation tools, or simply supplements. Table of contents, index, photographs, end-notes, foot-notes, and bibliographies are all examples of external text structures. Internally, text has four basic structures:

1.Description- This style is a classification of information using characteristics, definitions or examples.         a. suitable graphic organizer: web, or mind map

        2.Compare/Contrast: Great for showing similarities and differences. Oftentimes one or the other may be readily seen, but the converse requires more critical thinking and encourages analysis.
        a. Venn diagrams, T-charts and tables are good for representing a compare/contrast text structure.

3. Sequence: Sequences are good for representing text in relation to time. Not to be confused with the next structure, cause and effect.
      a. Timelines, lists and cycles are good for representing sequences.

4. Cause and Effect: This structure is good for showing how one event leads to another. This structure lends itself to representing the influence of one event upon another. Ultimately, seeing things as inter-connected heightens comprehension of all text. 
    a. The Cause/Effect text structure can look very similar to a sequence. The difference is that there is explicit causality in a cause/effect graphic organizer. A sub category of cause/effect is problem/solution.

Application to History

Each of these structures have an important role to play in history. Oftentimes history is portrayed in the simplest format, description. The most important tools are cause/effect and compare and contrast. Understanding the similarities between events and the multiple causality of our rich history is the most direct path to comprehension. 

Example of Graphic Organizer in History Curriculum

Given a piece of text, perhaps on the effects of developments in technology on agriculture in Virginia, a student could interpret that information using a Venn Diagram to compare pre-industrial and post-industrial Virginia. Certainly there would be many similarities and differences. 

Parallel timelines which showed the average population, crop production and developments in technology could be used to show sequences. Then, from those timelines, cause and effect analysis could be used to show the relationships between the three. 

These methods would cause the students to analyze one piece of literature from multiple perspectives. The comprehension of the text would increase exponentially with every examination of the text. Full mastery would be the desired result, naturally. The added bonus of graphic organizers in history is that it gives the teacher a picture into the logic process of the student. In this way a teacher can see, quite directly, where a student may or may not be understanding the material. Much in the same way that a mathematics teacher can pinpoint the line of reasoning that led to an incorrect answer, a history teacher can identify which piece of information led to a false conclusion due to omission or misinterpretation of facts. 

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Week 8

Description of During Reading Part I 
   When assigning a reading assignment, the objective is not merely the act of reading but the comprehension of the text by the reader. Comprehension can best be described as: "The act of constructing meaning." Comprehension is a verb, an action, an activity. As such, it is something that must be demonstrated to students. During comprehension, connections are formed between information and the student. The great question then becomes: "How do we insure our students comprehend?"

   Two good ways are questioning and text structure. In order to ask effective questions, one must be aware of the three states of information. These states are:

Literal: Information that is explicitly stated in the text.
Interpretive: Information that is implicitly conveyed through the text.
Application: Information that is beyond the text.

By formulating questions that address these three types of information, the teacher can gauge the amount of comprehension the student has achieved.

Application in History
    Reading is a fundamental part of the study of history. History without text is merely conjecture. In order for history to be relevant subject matter, it must have direct application to current affairs. Merely being associated with the present by being the past is not enough to warrant the study of history. Events and people in history must have a direct application to events and people in the present. It is through the relationships that develop between man and economy or States and gender or commodities and society that we began to see the multiple causality of events. Multiple causality, relationships, the interrelations of time and space are the real lessons of history. When history is reduced to names and dates it becomes irrelevant and thus expendable. 

In previous blogs I have explored cotton in the construction and destabilization of the South's economy. A literal question would determine whether or not the student had read the material and could locate information within the text. An example follows:

What did Eli Whitney invent?

This question addresses a key component of the text. The answer, the cotton gin, is one of the main topics of the discussions. If the student has not identified the cotton gin within the text then it is necessary to re-teach, re-read, or at the very least, review the material. Literal questions tend to determine levels of retention, but not high level comprehension. 

The next type of question would be interpretive. An example follows:

Did Eli Whitney live in the nineteenth or twentieth century?

The preceding question addresses another key component of the text, the time period. However, the text never explicitly states when Eli Whitney lives. In order to discern this information a student must "read between the lines." Since the text places the invention of the cotton gin before the start of the Civil War and the Civil War was from 1861-1865, the answer would have to be: nineteenth. The purpose of questions like these is that they demonstrate that the student is making connections between various pieces of information in the text that aren't explicitly tied together. Interpretive questions give the teacher the opportunity to explore the level of comprehension the student has achieved and check for understanding. 

The third level is application. An application question asks the student to take a concept, derived from the text, and apply it to another piece of information outside of the text and show the relationship. This is the highest level of comprehension and evidence that the student is fully comprehending the text. An example follows: 

How is the blockade of the South in 1861 similar to the financial and trade embargo enacted by the United States on Cuba in 1961?

This question asks the student to take both literal and interpretive knowledge from their text and compare it to an outside event, in this case: the embargo of Cuba. The purpose of a question like this is to encourage students to think critically and determine relationships between information and concepts. In the case of this particular question, the ties between economy and political stability is explored. The embargo of Cuba, just as the blockade of the South, greatly destabilized the economy. The ultimate effects of both acts was a reconfiguration of the agricultural sector. In Cuba, the commodity was sugar, in the South, cotton. By asking the students to concentrate on the similarities, rather than the differences, the teacher encourages examination, by the student, of "big picture" thinking. 

Ultimately, all three styles of questions are necessary. It is impossible to answer an application question if the literal questions haven't been addressed. By utilizing reading guides that address the three types of comprehension, the teacher can identify and encourage comprehension.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Week 7

Before Reading Strategy (BRS)

Before reading strategies are intended to engage the reader. The BRS also assesses the student's relevant prior knowledge and interests. A BRS can be used to build a common knowledge base for successful reading. By pre-teaching essential vocabulary the teacher can develop concept knowledge and then label that knowledge with the appropriate vocabulary term. The key to all of these benefits, from a common knowledge base, to stimulating schema, is that BRSs engage the learner in the material.

Engagement can be broken into two fields: cognitive and affective. The cognitive aspects concern what goes on in our heads and effects our intellectual interest. The affective aspects center around our motivations. What then engages students? technology, movement, manipulative, relevance, choice, colors, textures, smells, debates, pictures, games, and many other things. Just as the hardest part of moving an object at rest is the initial push, so it is with students and their motivation. The key to the entire lesson rests on the level of engagement that is achieved during the BRS. If students do not see relevance, do not see some value in the activity, then it is unlikely that they will be able to master the material.

There are many types of BRS that can encourage engagement. The following is a brief list of some of my preferred strategies:
Scavenger Hunt
Word SortList-Group-Label
Book bags
Concept map
Opinionairres/ Questionaires
Story Impressions/Text Impressions
Contrast Chart
Picture Map


Application in History
To study history, we are asking the student to travel back in time. The goal is to portray the past in such vivid detail that it is not only understood, but experienced by the student. There is ample research that shows an experience will persist in a person's memory far longer than text. The challenge is to transport a student from the 21st century to the 4th CE, 19th CE, or even 8th century BCE. To do this, the student needs a place to land, and a motivation for traveling. By engaging the student with a BRS, we, as teachers, can insure the student's invest in the lesson. It is only through their cooperation that the lesson can transcend simple information and become an experience. The student needs context, relevance, and an interest in the material being presented. Through a BRS schema can be activated, tying the student's experiences to those of the past. 


Example of Before Reading Strategy in US History

To continue with the general topic form week 6, we can explore a BRS applicable to cotton, Eli Whitney, and the Cotton Gin. A good BRS for describing a process is the Picture Map. Basically, the students draw a series of events that represent the process being studied. For this lesson, I would ask the students to draw the method by which cotton goes from the field to the market. The materials needed are simply pens, markers, crayons or any writing tool and blank paper.

This strategy could begin by creating a master-list of everything that is made from cotton, based on the student's contributions. After creating this list, I would ask the students if they felt that cotton was an important part of their lives. Since they, literally, wouldn't have the clothes on their backs without it, it wouldn't be a far jump to show the relevance of cotton in our current day to day lives. Having established the importance of cotton, the process by which it is transformed would be explored using the Picture Map strategy.

First, the materials would be handed out. The students would be put into groups and asked to draw the process by which cotton goes from field to market. After they have drawn the process they will share with their group their work. After the students have shared with each other, we will determine a master process that I will draw on the board/ overhead based on the contributions of all the students. After we have developed a class process, we will examine the actual process. This youtube video is a great way to bring the ideas together:

Finally, the class could begin reading the article/text on eli whitney, or transition into the vocabulary lesson outlined in this blog in Week 6.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Week 6: Disciplinary Literacy

In order to teach vocabulary effectively it is necessary to remember a few important details. First, use words that are conceptually related. By grouping vocabulary words together by concept (like master cylinder, caliper, and rotor...all have to do with brakes) we can develop a concept specific vocabulary in which the words are all related. This helps build language around things. Second, teach words in context before giving the academic vocabulary. By placing the word in context we are able to see the word as it relates to other words, activities, or ideas. For instance, if I were to say, "The caliper compresses onto the spinning rotor." the reader would already be able to understand that 'caliper' and 'rotor' are related and that the caliper has a movable element to it which can be made to compress, while the rotor is also movable, probably in a circular fashion. With plain definitions, the relationships and the activities between words remains in the frontier of knowledge.

The third idea in teaching vocabulary is to use words which have 'high utility.' 'High utility' refers to the amount with which a person could use the word in their general communications. For instance, 'caliper' would be very useful to someone who worked on car brakes but to a ballerina, practically worthless. When teaching a word with high utility the teacher is awarded the opportunity to use repetition to reinforce the word. The student becomes more comfortable with a word the more they hear it until it becomes a part of their vernacular as well.

The fourth idea is to limit the number of words being taught. My Spanish textbook is an excellent example of this. At the end of every chapter is around 50-80 words. I end up learning the cognates and the high utility words and glossing over the rest. This is not due to an incapacity on my part, but rather the sheer volume of the vocabulary becomes overwhelming and I tend to focus only on those words which have immediate value. The same is true with English vocabulary. By only teaching 3-5 words, or 5-10 words at a time, the likelihood of a student remembering the word is greatly increased. When the teaching of these words are coupled with repetition and introduced in the manner outlined in the preceding paragraphs, success is almost guaranteed.

The final key point is to differentiate between receptive and expressive words. If, as a teacher, one wishes for their students to use their vocabulary terms it is important that they learn expressive terms. This are terms with which students may better express themselves. The process by which a word goes from being unknown to known can be explained through three terms. The word moves from the 'frontier,' to being a receptive word, which means it is understood when other people use it, and finally to expressive- the student uses the word in their everyday life.

A helpful list of vocabulary teaching strategies follows:
Knowledge Rating Chart
Word Ad
Gallery Walk
Word within a word
word web
graphic organizer
ABC works

TOPIC 2: ENGAGEMENT-An Introduction
Engagement is a 'before reading activity' that is used to peak the interest of the readers. It is important because it initiates real learning and comprehension. In order to engage students it is necessary for the activity and the text be related in such a way that relevance is shown to the reader. Engagement activities usually involve the students 'doing' something. By doing, we mean actively engaged, like drawing, using a manipulative or making something. These activities can greatly increase a student's interest and comprehension of textual resources.

An example of an engagement activity is to have students draw the process of something, as best they can. Afterwards, they can present the information to their classmates. Next, the class will collaborate on the most thorough process by using collaboration. Finally, any key elements that were left out can be clarified by the instructor. With the students fully engaged, the lesson can then be moved to a reading assignment. The key to the engagement is that it activates schema, builds upon it, and then introduces new information in the form of text. An invaluable resource to be sure. The technique could be used with any discipline and any lesson.
Vocabulary is vital to understanding historical texts. Having said that, it is necessary to identify the largest challenges facing readers of historical texts: 1. They are extremely academic in language. 2. They can be very, very boring. In order to alleviate these two concerns, engagement, to heighten interest, and the use of vocabulary techniques-to increase understanding- are absolutely vital for teaching history. In the following reflection, I will demonstrate a possible technique for engaging students while teaching vocabulary related to a historical topic. 
It is generally agreed that Eli Whitney changed the world when he invented the cotton gin. To introduce this concept to a class serves as the basis for understanding the economics of the South during the 19th century, events leading to, and effects of, the Civil War, the textile industry and the role it played in the Industrial Revolution and countless other key concepts of American History. The problem is that most students have no frame of reference for cotton except that their Fruit-of-the-looms are made from 100% of it. The vocabulary that is necessary to understand the cotton gin is: 
The engagement activity will allow the teacher to utilize these words repeatedly, in context, before defining them. Basically, cotton bolls will be handed out to the students and they will be put to the task of removing the seed from the fiber. After about five minutes, the students will be asked about their experience, "Was it hard or easy?" "What were the challenges?" "What kind of tools would have helped?" After a brief discussion, the teacher introduces a cotton gin replica (available at Before using the machine, the teacher defines the vocabulary terms. Now that the students have intimate knowledge of the boll and fiber, learning the function of gin will come more naturally. Finally, the teacher demonstrates the removal of the seed from the fiber using the gin. Now the students are ready to read about Eli Whitney and the cotton gin. 

I think this activity would be extremely effective. First, the activity that provides engagement has no wrong answers. The activity would lower affective filters and activate multiple parts of the brain as the students used critical thinking and motor skills to remove the cotton seeds from the cotton boll. Second, any frustration that was experienced during the exercise would only increase the interest in the gin. The students would be able to see the real-world application of the gin and understand how it would save time and labor. Finally, through touching, hearing, talking, and reading the terms, the students would most likely have moved the terms from frontier, where they began, to expressive, as they did during their examination of the engagement activity.

All in all, these two strategies offer great structure and rationale for introducing complex ideas and unusual vocabulary into the classroom environment. Through engagement and structured vocabulary instruction it is possible to combat the number one complaint of students studying history: "Why does it have to be sooooooo boooooring?" Well it doesn't have to be. And now, it never will be again.  

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Week Three

This week we worked with concepts of schema, scaffolding and choosing literature. We traveled to the library and identified books that we may want to use in a project which identifies 5 literary sources.

Analysis: Schema is the previous knowledge a student has. By activating schema at the beginning of an activity one can begin to scaffold to higher learning. Basically scaffolding is building and supporting the student's knowledge framework so that they can attain higher goals. One way to scaffold is to choose diverse literature resources for students to choose from. Children's books and picture books are both good ways to lower affective filters and encourage literacy.

Reflection: I am a huge proponent of multiple sources. Media, graphics, comics, print media, primary sources, and legal documents can all add new insight into a person, concept or event. There is knowledge to be found in every artifact of human existence. I think I will do my literature project on George Boole. As the founder of Boolean Algebra he drastically changed the world from a philosophical perspective which led to massive innovations in the reals of philosophy, technology and science. The concept of dualism is a theme that could be used to explore all of history and work as a jumping off point for understanding every aspect of the socio-economic changes that have taken place over the many thousands of years of human existence.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Week Two

This week was our first week with our cooperating teachers. I was placed in Mrs. Estrada's Pre AP Algebra class.

Analysis: The class was working on a word problem that involved multiple problem solving skills. Mr. Shields and I helped answer questions and guide the students towards solutins to the various levels of the problem.

Reflection: My initial approach to answering the student's questions was a direct approach. However, as the period progressed I felt it wouod have been more suitable for me to use a more socratic approach. For instance, one student asked how to draw a graph utilizing the data that he'd collected. I gave him a direct answer, showing examples and using guidig questions. Anoth approach would have been to use questions like: What do you know about drawing graphs? Can you draw a graph independently of this data?

I feel like I could have guided the students to use more high level, analytic skills to solve their problems rather than just giving them the straight forward approach. In the future I will use this appproach.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

First Week

A good portion of the lesson was used in establishing what Schema is ans how it is used in the classroom and specifically, how it influences one's literaru experience.

Analysis: This was an extremely useful lesson in that it showed culture, history, and exposure as an all-encompassing concept that moves and shapes our every action and reaction. It also pushed us to look deeper into our own motivations as well as that of our students in order to be the best teachers we can.

Reflection: I came to realize over the last few days how intensely schema affects our perceptions and what a delicate matter communocation truly is. I am faced with a monumental task of presemting history to individuals who each have their own unique schema amd to do so about people and places that have completely different schemas. The complexity of the matter is rather intimidating, but exhilirating nonetheless. ait is through schema that the dichotomy of community and individual is played out in technicolor detail. If handled properly, that is to say, with all due respect, schema is a valuable tool for helping each student, and myself achieve our personal bests.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Reading Process

There are multiple approaches and levelsof effectiveness to the reading process. Teh style that is mmost useful depends on the style of the text as well as the preferences and aptitudeo f the individual learner.