Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Informational Text: Literacy in the Social Studies Classroom

We are officially working in our Social Studies Department PLC this year on the goal of raising standardized test scores in the informational text strand for a selected target population group.  Holy smokes!  Our goal is to help 75% of our identified students become proficient in this by the end of the school year.  Why?!? (I often need to remind myself of the why, as this is quite the process…)

I am lucky to work with a group of teachers that firmly believe that they too are teachers of reading in their secondary content area classes.  We do not just teach students dates, places, and battles!  Our team integrates literacy within social studies to help students use text evidence to support their arguments, summarize main ideas and central messages, evaluate how word choices and structure contribute to the author’s purpose, and offer deep analysis regarding context and audience.  At least this is what we are trying to do, anyway :)

Everyone should go get a MEd in Reading and Literacy!  The things I have learned over the past fourteen months have made me ten times more effective as a teacher.  Not that I am counting down, but only eight more months to go! When a get a free minute (ha!) I will share some specific activities my 7th grade kiddos have been working on this year that integrate literacy and American History.

How are you integrating literacy into your secondary content area class?

-Mrs. K

Monday, October 14, 2013

Literacy in Math Class

Last week, I had the opportunity to attend a presentation on literacy in the classroom hosted by a professional development speaker. Initially I was apprehensive about the presentation; what ideas could I apply to my math class from a speech about literacy? As in any good professional development seminar, I walked away with many things to ponder and new ideas I wanted to try in my classroom.

Over the course of the presentation, the speaker addressed the different types of reading students need to be competent in. She also demonstrated how students can organize their thoughts and writing with graphic organizers and how it is important to incorporate reading and writing strategies across all disciplines. I started to think about what reading and writing I currently bring into my math classes. This year, we have been writing more in my classes by practicing extended response problems. I observed that most of my students fit into four major categories when working on word problems:

1. A few students cannot get past reading the problem. After reading, they have no idea where to start or what answers need to be found.
2. Many students can read the problem and understand where they should end up, but lack the critical thinking and problem solving skills needed to reach the answer.
3. The students that do have the critical thinking skills to solve the problem can not explain why they do each step.
4. Then, there is the student who can solve and explain the problem and answer before most of the class even reads the problem.

I made a new graphic organizer (shown below) to help my students solve and explain these extended response problems. Most of my students are at level two or three and will be able to meet my objective of solving and explaining extended response questions through classroom instruction. My level four students will receive challenge problems to help them stay engaged and challenged as I walk through the organizer with the rest of the class. After the class looks at it, I will make sure to pay special attention to my level one students as we go through more examples and utilize pull out groups if necessary. I realize these strategies may need some adjustments, but I am excited to work putting these ideas into practice in my classes this week.

Ms. H