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. 

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for letting this teacher see your perceptions and thereby become the learner! Being able to see my teaching through your eyes is a humbling, gratifying experience which allows me to construct once again what it is I know and do.

    May I link to this blog in the future?