March 2009 Volume 5, Issue 7
Scott Voss (651)683-6969 #93409 Reading Coordinator AVHS
“Education is, at
least, the endeavor to get people to do things they could not previously do, to understand things they did not previously understand, and perhaps, to become the people they did not expect to become.” -- Sockett, 1988 “Education and Will: Aspects of Personal Capability”
Teacher See, Teacher Do
watch a middle school math teacher, who was doing some very unique things with reading comprehension skills. Once again, I got to see her not only navigate a room of 30 plus energetic middle schoolers, I got to see the layout of her room, the resources she had available to her students, and the general set-up of her class period. Really, their examples confirmed what I had been reading in textbooks and research on teaching. In the back of my mind, though, I always said, “Sure, but would this really work with a room of 30 screaming high school students?” These two teachers showed me what the books could not, that these set-ups, these activities could be done in class. Conversations with Q-Comp Leaders have confirmed this. In fact, probationary teachers get the chance to visit a classroom with a leader and watch a teacher for a day. Then following those observations, they have a chance to share what they saw, to discuss it and learn from the experience. If you are looking for something fresh and new, but aren’t sure where to go for inspiration, if you are wondering what a particular style of teaching or activity would look like, if you are curious about how certain teachers seem to reach students in innovative ways, then perhaps you would enjoy a half-day observation opportunity. We are currently setting up a specific process that would essentially pay for a half-day sub for you ( and potentially a second teacher) to have this chance. It could fulfill a Q-Comp goal, or be part of a PLC or department goal as well. Just stop by Room 132 and give me your thoughts on what you would like to see, and I’ll begin arranging something for you.
In a recent Literacy Planning Committee Meeting, here at Apple Valley High School, we started to talk about how meaningful it would be to watch other teachers. Many on the committee discussed experiences they have had where they were able to watch another teacher and learn from what they did. And so, we began to look at potentially setting up an opportunity for teachers to observe other teachers teach with the hopes of learning something new. Of course many of us have had to observe classrooms to get our teaching certification. A few years ago, to get a degree as “Reading Specialist” I was required to visit elementary and middle school reading classes, and it was probably the single most important part of my licensure process. I specifically remember a third grade class where a phenomenal teacher was able to orchestrate 30 students through a reading lesson. I was shocked and a little inspired to see how she was able to move from activity to activity relatively seamlessly. Despite a low buzz, students seemed to be pretty focused on their various tasks. A group of 5 or 6 sat with her at the front of the room for a guided reading lesson. Others were working on the their notebooks, and still others were reading independently. And when she somehow was able to sense that someone was not doing what they were supposed to, she would briefly stop her group work, give a gentle reminder, and continue with her discussion group. I couldn’t help but think, “If she could make this happen with 30 energetic third graders, surely I could simulate something like this with high school students.” Five years later, I am still working to attain the atmosphere she had created, but I learned how important it is to have everyone somehow involved. Three years later, I had another opportunity to
Testing Season: MCA Writing and Math, 4/14. MCA Reading 4/14 and 4/15. Professional Development Opportunity: Are you interested in attending an excellent day of professional development for literacy. See me about attending this years International Reading Association Conference here in Minneapolis.
Looking for something interactive, exciting, new, and fun. Give thought to a digital reader’s theatre. A digital reader’s theatre is an activity where you choose a text for the class who divides it up into various parts, and then records it digitally. From there, it can be edited and mixed with images and music to create a pretty dynamic, full class project. Here’s how it works. 1. Choose a text. 2. Explain the project and the text to your class. Give them a context and background on the reading they are about to do. 3. Tell students to read the assigned text and to mark sections they would like to perform. 4. Discuss the text and walk through it assigning lines to various students—everyone should be assigned at least one turn for speaking. 5. Walk through the text with the class, being sure everyone knows how to read their assigned section. Rehearse it 2-3 times. 6. Record the reading. (I use my lap top which has all of the necessary recording equipment already installed.) For best effect, ask the ITC to help you hook up a sound board and mics for you. 7. Once it is recorded, tell students that they are responsible for finding images (still) that would best fit their particular assigned lines. Go to the lab and have them find images. Have the students get the image to you digitally some how. 8. Let the class discuss and vote for an appropriate song to go with the text. 9. Throw it all into IMovie or Garageband and edit it. Or, better yet, allow a few students to put it all together. A few notes: - It can be pretty technological, but be patient and have faith in your students and their ability to help you figure it out. - Choose just a section or excerpt of text, versus an entire text. (Presentations should be about 35 minutes long, otherwise they are a little dry to watch.) - When you come to a road block or obstacle, simply ask students for help. Tell them you are new to this and you are not sure how to work it out. I’ve had a few classes pull together on these occasions to form a cohesive team. -Find a way to publish the final product. Upload it to TeacherTube or our school’s X-Server so that others beyond our classrooms can watch and enjoy it. I’ve seen this done with poetry, The Declaration of Human Rights, and The Declaration of Independence. I’ve done it with Martin Luther King’s I Have a Dream and President Obama’s Inaugural address. I’ve even done it with a cool Nike Ad.