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Engaging Students with Texts

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Joanna Beyer

on 1 June 2012

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Transcript of Engaging Students with Texts

Classroom Context:
6th Grade Language Arts Common Core Standard for Literature:
Determine theme or central idea of a text and how it is conveyed through particular details Central Text:
"Eleven"
by Sandra Cisneros Learning Objective #2

Students will locate examples of symbolism and figurative language (specifically simile and metaphor) in a work of poetry, and will articulate the effect these literary devices have on the overall theme and message of the text. Learning Objective #1

Students will recognize and identify a universal theme that appears in more than one genre of literature. Students will cite specific details and narrator traits that represent this universal theme. Joanna M. Beyer
University of Southern California
EDUC 505
May 28, 2012
Dr. Laura Liu “Eleven,” by Sandra Cisneros

Cisneros, S. (2003). Eleven. In Prentice Hall Literature, copper level (pp. 465-468). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

This short story deals with the topic of bullying and a broader “coming-of-age” theme that explores the idea that growing older often involves challenging and frustrating experiences. Literacy skills developed in this unit include interpreting figurative language, recognizing and understanding symbolism, and identifying a “universal theme” in literature. In “Eleven,” Cisneros tells the semi-autobiographical story of her narrator Rachel, who is embarrassed by her teacher and demeaned by another student in class on her eleventh birthday. With the use of powerful imagery and metaphors, Cisneros paints a picture of aging that we can all relate to. Even though Rachel knows that she is getting older, wiser, and stronger, she still feels like a little girl inside when she is bullied. Additionally, the story provides insight into the experiences of students who, like Cisneros herself, struggle to fit in with their peers when they move to America from another country as children. Reading Strategy #1

Students will construct a Venn Diagram comparing the poem and the short story, demonstrating their understanding of the differences and commonalities between the two narrators’ attitudes and both texts’ messages. In the center section of their Venn Diagram, students will recognize the presence of a universal theme in both the poem and the story, and they will identify this theme as dealing with the struggles of coming of age. Rationale for Strategy

Angelou’s short poem shares common themes of bullying and coming-of-age struggles with “Eleven.” However, it is written on a lower reading level and contains concrete and literal language (with the exception of one instance of imagery), which makes its message more accessible for readers who struggle with the English language or with multiple meanings and hidden or veiled meanings of vocabulary terms. Paired with Cisneros’ short story, and contrasted in key ways with it, the poem will help to provide insight into the mind of a narrator who is bullied but who resolves to stay strong and believe in herself.

Students who have trouble recognizing the universal theme in "Eleven" may find the same theme more evident and accessible in "Life Doesn't Frighten Me." In this way, the poem serves as a scaffold toward understanding the message of the story, and toward accomplishing the learning objective. Theory Supporting Strategy

Social Cognitive Theory is applied when teacher models the use and set-up of the Venn Diagram.

Social Constructivist Theory is involved as students work in pairs or teams to complete Venn Diagrams and when they share their finished products with other classmates.

Sociocultural learning theory informs the use of the Venn Diagram and "Life Doesn't Frighten Me" as scaffolds whose purpose is to contribute to students' understanding of the overarching theme and enduring message of "Eleven," the central text of the unit. Supplemental Text #1


“Life Doesn’t Frighten Me,”
by Maya Angelou

Angelou, M. (2003). Life doesn’t frighten me. In Prentice Hall Literature, copper level (pp. 304-305). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall. Supplemental Text #2

“My Name,” by
Sandra Cisneros

Cisneros, S. (1991). My name. In The House on Mango Street. Retrieved
May 22, 2012, from http://www.sd129.org/
teachers/kbdirck/downloads/Name%20assignment.pdf Reading Strategy #2

Using the Writing to Learn format of R.A.F.T. writing (Role, Audience, Format, and Topic), students will write their own version of the "My Name" free verse poetry piece after reading Cisneros' version.

In their RAFT product, students may incorporate prose, free verse, or rhyming poetry. They must demonstrate that they understand the terms symbolism, simile, and metaphor by using at least one example of all three techniques in their "My Name" composition.

The piece students create should contain information, thoughts, and attitudes about the origin of their name, the meaning of their name, and the symbolic nature of their name and/or names in general. Rationale for Strategy

Writing to Learn techniques strengthen students' reading and writing skills simultaneously by allowing students to place themselves in the role of "author." In this case, the learning objective dealing with symbolism and figurative language is best realized when students must use these strategies in their own writing.

Ultimately, this activity should heighten students' understanding of the more subtle figurative language at play in the central text for this unit, "Eleven." Theory Supporting Strategy

RAFT Writing, like all Writing to Learn strategies, helps students to work within Vygotsky's zone of proximal development by providing them with a scaffolded framework for writing and thinking about content. Therefore, Sociocultural learning theory informs this section of the lesson.

If peer editing of "My Name" compositions or sharing aloud of finished products also takes place, tenets of Social Constructivist theory are incorporated. Students can construct knowledge of figurative language techniques together, and will build off of the expertise and examples provided by their classmates. References

Ormrod, J. E. (2011). Educational psychology: Developing learners (7th ed.). Boston, MA:
Allyn & Bacon.

Vacca, R. T., Vacca, J. L., & Mraz, M. (2011). Content area reading: Literacy and learning
across the curriculum. (10th ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon. Learning Objective #3

Students will recognize and articulate relevant connections between the coming of age themes in "Eleven" and events that they have witnessed and experienced in their own lives. Supplemental
Text #3


Youtube Video: “President Obama Releases Anti-Bullying Message”



Associated Press (Producer). (2010). President Obama releases anti-bullying message [Video file]. Retrieved
May 22, 2012, from http://www.youtube.
com/watch?v=IYOeQsLszvU Reading Strategy #2

Using a POVG (Point of View Guide) after viewing and discussing President Obama's video speech, students will complete a written dialogue or oral role-play activity in which they imagine how Rachel’s attitudes and self-confidence might change if she watched President Obama’s video.

Additionally or alternatively, students may be asked to contemplate how viewing this video might impact the behavior and thoughts of the Sylvia, the class bully who torments Rachel. In their POVG, students should demonstrate their understanding that Sylvia may not have realized how much her behavior was negatively affecting others until she watched President Obama's video address. Rationale for Strategy

Many students have had the experience of witnessing bullying, being bullied, or even participating as a member of a group of students who bully others in school. When students' prior knowledge and life experiences surrounding the issue of bullying are tapped, their understanding of characters' motivations in "Eleven" becomes deeper and more meaningful. President Obama's video message, and the POVG that follows, allow students to achieve the learning objective in an engaging, reflective, and purposeful way.

President Obama's testimony relating to his own childhood experience of being bullied also provides an powerful embedded example of the reflective process necessary for this activity, while encouraging students to think about characters like Rachel and Sylvia in new and unexpected ways. Theory Supporting Strategy

The nature of this assignment requires refection on the sociocultural forces and motivations present in the school setting, and causes students to consider the various factors that drive some students to bully others.

Sociocultural learning theory informs the POVG strategy, which encourages students to place characters from the text into a larger social framework and to view the universal theme of "Eleven" as one that transcends literature and is also present in the day-to-day activities of our normal lives.

This assignment, in the context of the larger unit surrounding it, has the potential to transform students' thought processes and attitudes about the issue of bullying. In this way, this section of the lesson provides a meaningful learning experience. Meaningful learning is a concept informed by Cognitive Theory in which students truly access enduring understandings instead of simply memorizing content.

NAME:
4/3
2/1Your Comments (Justification for self-assessment)Score
Description of how literacy is integrated into content areaIntegration clearly and explicitly uses literacy concepts/strategies for promotion of students’ construction of content understanding(s)Integration of literacy is unclear or not explicitThe three literacy strategies I have chosen are informed by theory and the literature we have read in class.
Strategies for engagementEach of 3 strategies is explicitly described in detailStrategies are vagueMy descriptions of the strategies include information about how they are engaging and relevant to students.
Learning Outcomes (LOs)Each of 3 LOs has a clear cognitively engaging process (verb) and aligns with the strategy with which it is associated LOs focus on lower-level thinking skills and/or are not aligned with the strategiesI believe that I have achieved this goal and that my learning objectives are clearly stated.
RationaleRationale for each of the strategieselected explicitly describes how content will be understood, as opposed to following a standard or transmitting informationRationale for each of the strategies is not clear as to how it will promote content understandingI believe that my rationale is clear that that it ties in with strategy research that we have read.
Learning TheoryLearning Theory is used to explain each strategyLearning theory is noted tangentially Information and guiding concepts from Ormrod (2011) informed my explanations in this section.
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