Saturday, January 19, 2008

Be The Molotov Cocktail III: After Strategies

KEY PRINCIPLE: Beyond Answer The Questions

We took a strong path into the text, filled with front-loading of relevant content and priming interest, supported readers during the text with active reader strategies and strong questions, and suddenly we're done. So, uh, now what?

Turn the page and answer questions 1-6. Write a two paragraph summary, using appropriate transition words. Have a discussion.

I'm not feeling any of that. All of those things have their place, I suppose, but the reality of urban literacy programs is a series of short readings, completed on a more or less weekly cycle, (maybe more, maybe less), which results in a ton of post-reading assessment. If we're doing the same stuff, or if our stuff is of relatively low impact and low quality, we're in trouble. And the kids are in even more trouble than we.

Comprehension/ Application

■ Summary without words: Students produce, in poster or comic strip form, a summary of the text that uses no words, just images and pictures. This is a nice language-neutral assessment, strong visualizing activity, hits at those multiple intelligences I keep hearing about, and can also function as a pre-writing activity to a more formal summarizing activity

Diary entry: Pen a series of diary entries from the P.O.V. of a supporting character. Emphasis text interpretation from this other perspective. Different portions of text can be assigned to different groups/ individuals to ensure the totality of plot is adequately and accurately represented.

Answer book: Students create books that feature images and questions from the text on each page. The answer to each question is represented by the image and title at the front of the book. Here is an example from Paul Fleishman's Seedfolks, but the non-fiction applications are huge here.

Page #2

Page #4

The answer to the questions posed by these pages is the title of the book, created by a student who understood the character she was assigned was a middle-aged African-American, but did not understand the identity of the secretary of state:

Interactive Powerpoint: I've written about these before, but sometimes we have to answer questions. Sometimes I'm out of ideas, or the text didn't lend itself to much of anything, sometimes we don't have time for the big project we could embark on, given unlimited time and far less limited skills, and so we just need to answer questions. This question answering doesn't have to suck. I created Powerpoint presentations with questions and images and large box marked answers where kids type, uh, answers. They learn how to download, and save, and use USB drives, improve their typing, and never guess they've actually just answering questions, like they have a million times before.

Big Paper: We talked about this before, right? Text-related images on big paper, kids move around writing questions, anticipating the text. Once you're done reading, throw the same images back up, but this time, kids go around writing answers, facts, interpretations, and so on. No questions anymore. You've got the answers.

Extension/ Enrichment

Now you do it: This is the generic category in my head for the times when I ask kids to create their own version of what we read. Whether this is a two-week novella entitled The House on [my] Street after finishing Sandra Cisneros's novel, or a one-day creation of a mural after reading about Diego Rivera, I try to work in as many quick now-you-do-its as I can for post text completion personal relevance building. Or whatever.
Wanted poster: All fiction involves one or more character acting badly. Groups or individuals create old-West style wanted posters that demonstrate understanding of what those characters that caused or contributed to our central conflict.
Sequel/ Prequel/ New ending: Self-explanatory, I think, always fun, always lurid.
Dr. Phil: Read about it here. This activity used to be called "Jerry Springer," but this established behavior expectations that are not conducive to learning, not at all.
I'm not sure what my big finish is to all this. If this were live, I'd read the masthead of this blog, that lengthy statement of purpose, and hope that no one there thought I was being trite or lame. Maybe you can go back and read those three sentences and we'll call it a good day's work.
[Blogger is just absolutely killing me with the lay-out of this stuff. Now, I kinda suck at all this, but I don't suck as much as the design of this post would suggest.]


Blogger Jenny said...

Thanks for sharing all of these strategies. Figuring out what to do after reading a text is the hardest part for me. As a reader, when I finish a text I might reflect on it or chat about it with friends, but I don't do any answering of comprehension questions or other things I did in school. I want my students to have genuine reading experiences, but I also need to assess their understanding and help them dig deeper than they would independently. So, these ideas are incredibly helpful.

5:27 PM  
Blogger Dr Pezz said...

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Keep up the excellent work.

2:17 PM  
Anonymous Gretchen said...

Ryan and I have played the Irregular Past Tense Verb Game 3 times now. I've won them all. He should stick to the math thing he does.
Great seeing you this weekend! Keep fighting the good fight!

3:17 PM  
Blogger TMAO said...

Hey Gretchen: The semi-finals and finals are tomorrow. It's gonna be huge. Next week we've got the Final Four from one class taking on the Final Four from another class, all for the right to face... ME.

Nice seeing you as well. If we win this fight of ours, does that make your current job easier, or put you out of a job altogether?

10:10 PM  
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11:54 PM  

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