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Engaging Students with Text

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Moritza Termin

on 4 November 2013

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Transcript of Engaging Students with Text

Text 2
Holy Grail by Jay-Z is a popular song that uses figurative language in a novel way. This text is moderately accessible for most students but may prove more difficult for students who are not familiar with connotative meaning.
Text 3
Making and Revising Predictions
The chapter I analyzed in my first paper focused on making inferences and revising predictions within a text. In my observation class, the teacher did not use any of the textbook resources except for the short story "The Monkey's Paw". The following texts are supplemental to this story and expand upon the concepts of prediction and interpretation by presenting the topic in multiple ways that provide access for students.
Text 1
Common Core Standard
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.5 Make strategic use of digital media (e.g., textual, graphical, audio, visual, and interactive elements) in presentations to enhance understanding of findings, reasoning, and evidence and to add interest.
Common Core Standard
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative, connotative, and technical meanings; analyze the cumulative impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone (e.g., how the language of a court opinion differs from that of a newspaper).
Common Core Standard
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.WHST.9-10.1 Write arguments focused on discipline-specific content.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.WHST.9-10.1a Introduce precise claim(s), distinguish the claim(s) from alternate or opposing claims, and create an organization that establishes clear relationships among the claim(s), counterclaims, reasons, and evidence.
Learning Outcome
By the end of this lesson, students will be able to
Interpret the meaning of an image in context and apply that knowledge to the process of making predictions about a text
Evaluate an image and infer whether it augments or detracts from the overall purpose of the story
Produce a presentation that utilizes supplementary images to expand comprehension and extend meaning
Learning Outcome
By the end of this lesson, students will be able to:
Utilize contextual clues to identify and infer the significance of expressions within a text
Evaluate how an author uses figurative language to enhance their point and explain how word choice influences meaning
Generate a professional e-mail that is based on a logical argument and discuss how figurative language is used to accentuate a point
Learning Outcome
By the end of this lesson students will be able to:
Compose and support a claim based on inference and make predictions about character outcome
Explain and substantiate a position using descriptive proof from the text
Establish relationships between the characters based on organized connections and evidence found within the text
Rationale: why?
I chose this text because it provides students the opportunity to focus on the effect images have on a reader's perception and how pictures effect predictions. By analyzing the relevance of images and how they relate to the overall purpose of a text, students will be better equipped to use visual media that enhances their presentations. Considering the impact images have on the plot of a story causes a reader to be critically aware that illustrations can help convey complex ideas. This text in particular focuses on the power an image has to convey meaning and contains only a few words throughout the book. Since there is no text that tells the "reader" what is occurring in the story, he or she must examine each picture in context to infer what is going on and make predictions of what will happen. Due to the fact that this book is almost purely visual, it is accessible to learners on multiple levels while still emphasizing important inference and prediction skills.
Rationale: Why?
Songs often use connotative language to depict mood, tone, and highlight a theme. By choosing a song that is prominent within popular culture, I hope to show students that interpreting and employing connotative language is not isolated to English class. When analyzing the figurative language used in lyrics, students must activate prior knowledge to make predictions and inferences about what is occurring in the verses. In particular, this song uses metaphor, hyperbole, personification, idioms and cliches to tell a story about a "holy grail" but never directly tells the listener what the holy grail is. This causes students to constantly make and revise predictions and inferences as the song progresses, incorporating new information as it is presented before generating a final claim. I think this activity shows students that academic vocabulary and concepts commonly associated with English Language Arts are transferable to other content areas and applicable in everyday life. Once students recognize the prevalence of figurative language in the world around them, they will be less intimidated by the concept and able to utilize multiple meanings of words to make their own writing more interesting. Developing a clear sense of figurative language also improves reading comprehension skills because it shows students that sometimes they must transcend literal thought to unearth the true meaning of a passage.
Rationale: Why?
This animated short is a perfect opportunity for students to make inferences and predictions about a text in a non-confrontational way. Though there are no words within this video, the images and soundtrack provide students with ample information to ascertain the author's intention and create a claim. Despite this, many of the literary aspects of the story, such as the setting, theme, and character attributes, depend on background knowledge and which details the viewer focuses on. The animation within this video is very stylized and visually appealing and the storyline contains enough action to keep the audience engaged while watching. The circular nature of the plot also provides many chances to make predictions about the characters' futures and draw conclusions about possible motives.
Reciprocal Teaching
Check for Understanding
The teacher checks for understanding through observing class interaction and asking probing and open-ended questions through out the lesson. The teacher will interact with students and provide guidance and feedback only when necessary. The email at the end of class will be formally assessed by the teacher and assessed based on attention to the role of the author, audience, format, and topic.
Learning Theory
Reciprocal teaching and RAFT were selected because they advocate a cooperative learning situation where students are first provided a teacher model that illustrates how to interact with a text to invoke comprehension and then encouraged to interact with the text on a more personal basis. This type of structure allows students to construct a response that is conscientious of tone and word choice, but still based on socially constructed inference and predictions. If some of the figurative language within the song is difficult for some students to process, the dialogue created by the students acts as a support system giving where the students authority and to construct and clarify meaning as a group. This is possible because many of the students will already be aware of the song and basic concepts of figurative language. These students will bring their knowledge to the group and act as additional experts that scaffold the learning if students are having additional problems. The RAFT strategy allows the teacher to incorporate a tiered approach to learning that gives students autonomy over how they present their understandings of the text. This freedom helps students take ownership of their learning because they are active co-creators of the process.
Learning Theory
Reciprocal teaching is based on the sociocultural concept of apprentice learning because it allows students to share authority over a text to construct meaning. This strategy is similar to a think aloud as it addresses comprehension through questioning, clarifying, summarizing, and predicting, but instead of the teacher modeling the strategy and the students observing, the students and create a dialogue with the text that the teacher scaffolds only when needed. If a student is having difficulty with comprehending an concept, peers can provide additional support and the teacher can lower the cognitive demands of a task until the student can continue. This differentiation is the reason I decided to include the RAFT strategy as well. RAFT allows students to interact with the text in a way that is sensitive to individual learning styles. Though the teacher presents the guidelines of the interaction, students are empowered to decide how they communicate their understanding. The RAFT strategy also gives students an easily remembered mnemonic tool that assists students when writing independently.
Though think alouds are often used with written texts, I think this technique would be useful with picture based texts as well. Generally, students are asked to read words and then visualize the images they conjure. In my application of a think aloud, students would be asked to do the opposite: take the pictures that constitute the text and imagine the words that pair with them. This guides students toward their learning outcome because they learn that images and various forms of media aggrandize meaning. I also think this strategy is useful because it acts as a warm-up to visually-based interpretation. A wordless text may be unfamiliar to high school students so they might not know how to begin making meaning of it. If the teacher models the process and references contextual clues within the images to make connections, students will be exposed to a possible template they can pattern their thinking after until they figure out their own cognitive methods. When the teacher verbally states the steps he or she goes through in order to make logical sense of a text, students will observe that in order to extrapolate the maximum amount of meaning from each image, readers must slow down and examine the text by interacting with it through questioning. clarifying, summarizing and predicting.
Learning Theory
Think alouds provide live modeling and scaffolding that is consistent with social cognitive theory. As the think aloud is being conducted, students observe the teacher and vicariously experience what it is like to cognitively interact with the text. When students begin to experiment with the think aloud strategy, they reveal their inner cognitive processes and become aware of how they decipher a text. Since students are exposed to different interpretations during group time, they also become aware of sociocultural factors that effect how people experience a text. For example, if a student has a background in fairytales, he or she may see a picture of a girl kissing a frog and predict that the frog may become a prince. Ultimately, think alouds are an exercise in metacognition that promotes cognitive awareness and eventually leads to self-monitoring. When students practice self-monitoring, they are able to modify their approach and adapt their thinking to the task at hand. Examining tasks in this way causes students to have reasonable expectations for themselves and promote self-regulation by creating small achievable goals. Completing these goals leads to high self-efficacy and increases internal motivation to learn.
DR-TA guides the reading of a text through open ended inquiry and inference. This process cultivates critical thinking and awareness when making predictions and judgements.
Directed Reading-Thinking Activity (DR-TA)

Think Aloud

For homework, students will compile a collection of 4-6 sequenced images that summarize what they believe will happen on Wednesday. After selecting images, students will write a paragraph that contains a short synopsis of why the images were selected and how they communicate the student's intended meaning.
Check for Understanding
Student understanding, involvement, and feedback is vital to successful interpretation of this text. Throughout the lesson, the teacher will observe interactions and informally ask students questions in order to clear up misconceptions and scaffold their thought process.
The teacher models how to use comprehension strategies of generating questions, summarizing, predicting, and clarifying. As students build a relationship with the text, the teacher acts as a facilitator
Original Text
When I evaluated the textbook in the 10th grade classroom I observed, I formed several opinions about the understandability, usability, and interestability of the text. While I found the textbook easy to use and understand, I felt that the author did not present the content in an interesting way. Involving diverse media literacies that are culturally responsive to student need would augment this deficiency and make the subject matter more intriguing for students.
Tuesday by David Weisner is a story told through intricate illustrations and limited captions. It is easily accessible for most students.
Rationale: How?
The teacher will ask students to define the terms prediction and inference in their own words (How are they similar? How do they differ?). After formulating a class definition of the terms, students will be asked how one goes about making a prediction or inference (What do you base a prediction/inference on?). This discussion is very important because it puts students in the correct frame of mind to apply their prior knowledge of predictions and inferences to their interpretation of the book.
The teacher will model a think aloud to the group for about five pages of the book. Throughout this activity, the teacher will be verbally relaying his or her cognitive processes while looking at the pictures, exemplifying what students should be doing as they interact with the text. During this time, the students will observe the teacher's interaction with the text.
The students will analyze the remaining 25 pages of the book by thinking aloud in groups of four. Before breaking into groups, the teacher and students will develop a series of questions to guide students as they "read". Each group is responsible for making at least one inference, one prediction, one revision, and one summary statement for every page of the book.
The students will discuss what they think happened in the book and compare their groups' ideas with the rest of the class. How are they alike? How are they different?
For homework, students will be asked to predict individually what happens on Wednesday based on what they have inferred from their group and class work.
Rationale: How?
The teacher will review common terms associated with figurative language such as hyperbole, metaphor, personification, simile, cliche, and idioms and discuss with the class how these terms differ from literal meaning. The class will also examine when authors use these terms and how they impact meaning.
The teacher will guide students in making a concept web related to what they think of when they hear the word holy grail. The teacher will ask open-ended and probing questions as to why certain attributes/characteristics were selected and address misconceptions as they occur.
After students have explored possible meanings for the term holy grail, they will be presented with the lyrics of Jay-Z's Holy Grail and listen to the song, highlighting instances of figurative language with a pen or highlighter.
The teacher will model comprehension strategies (making inferences, predictions, summarizing, ect.) for students initially and then fade to the role of facilitator as the whole class expounds on the effectiveness of Jay-Z's word choice and how it influences the mood of the song.
At the end of class, students will individually generate an e-mail to Jay-Z focusing on word choice (at least two examples of figurative language) and how it effects the mood of the song. Students will also predict what they think the holy grail is and support it with evidence from the lyrics and ask any unresolved questions. When writing, students will pay attention to their role, audience, format, and topic.
rationale: How?
At the start of class, students will briefly journal about what they would consider the greatest reward of all and why. This activity will allow students to draw from their past experiences and reflect on what it means to be rewarded.
After journaling, students will be asked to share about their journal entry and discuss the concept of reward. The teacher will use this as a way to examine the idea that rewards differ depending on the person receiving it.
As students watch the video, they will use the left side of a double entry journal to take notes about indisputable facts (what a character is wearing, what the background looks like, observable character actions).
The teacher will stop the video periodically to ask open ended questions about what is going on and ask students to make predictions about what is will happen next based on what they observe. Students will keep track of their predictions in the right hand column and revise them as necessary.
At the end of class, students will complete (and hand in) an "one minute summary" about their reactions to the video and formal essay for homework.
To further check for understanding, students can choose another activity off of a teacher-created RAFT chart. For example, students can create a verse for an upcoming remix to the song that will be presented to the record company with the purpose of getting a record deal.
Using a double entry journal and DR-TA are both based in both constructivist and sociocultural theories. In order to create a double entry journal, students construct meaning from the text by building upon their background knowledge. When completing the double entry journal, students must be creative and aware that their interaction with the text is based upon concepts that they are already familiar with. Acknowledging this link will allow students to become active participants in their learning and increase retention. The teacher also assists students in making connections through questions aligned with DR-TA that are based on the influence of cultural experiences. These links are discussed as a whole class and corroborated or refuted through social interaction. Throughout the process, the teacher acts as a facilitator to student discussion and interacts with students via the structuring of the learning event and by emphasizing student-centered inquiry.
Double Entry Journals
Double entry journals improve comprehension and retention by activating prior knowledge and organizing thoughts. This strategy causes students to make connections between recorded details from the text and personal reactions.
The teacher will check for understanding by asking open-ended questions and informally assessing progress through discussion. The teacher will be mindful of non-verbal cues and circulate through the classroom. The teacher will scan students' "one minute essay" and provide feedback to clear up misunderstandings.
Check for Understanding
Students will produce a two to four paragraph written response that answers the following questions: 1) What was the reward? and 2) What happened to the new owners of the map? Each questions will be answered with a claim and validated by information that was collected during the video.
I think that using DR-TA and a Double Entry Journal together recognizes the importance of teacher and student structuring within the learning process. These strategies work very well together because the teacher can promote equitable learning by guiding students through questioning. The Double Entry Journal acts as a graphic organizer and helps students distinguish between observable evidence and their reactions/predictions. When providing evidence to support a claim, it is necessary for students to know the difference between fact and opinion. In this instance, the predictions function as the claims, and the students support their assertions by using concrete examples and descriptions found on the left hand side of their Double Entry Journal. This organizational technique combined with open-ended questioning causes students to examine the relationship between ideas and make connections.
This animated short incorporates video and audio to tell a story. Students are challenged when interpreting this text, but the task is not overwhelming
A think aloud is a strategy used at the beginning of a lesson that allows a teacher to model good reading comprehension skills to the class. As the teacher reads to the class, he or she stops periodically to verbally relay his or her thought process. This includes asking questions, making connections, inferences, and predictions based on the text.

When writing students consider their role as an author, the audience, the format, and the topic being discussed. This writing strategy helps focus writers on what type of language to use and the ultimate purpose of their writing. Teachers can create RAFT charts with various roles, genres, formats and topics to differentiate instructions for students of various backgrounds.
(Ormrod, 2011)
(Ormrod, 2011)
(Ormrod, 2011)
(Wiggins & McTighe, 2005)
(Wiggins & McTighe, 2005)
(Wiggins & McTighe, 2005)
(Vacca, Vacca, & Mraz, 2011)
(Vacca, Vacca, & Mraz, 2011)
(Vacca, Vacca, & Mraz, 2011)
(National Governors Association for Best Practices, 2010)
(National Governors Association for Best Practices, 2010)
(National Governors Association for Best Practices, 2010)
(Anderson & Krathwohl, 2001)
(Anderson & Krathwohl, 2001)
(Anderson & Krathwohl, 2001)
Engaging Students with Texts
Moritza L. Termin
EDUC 505
Dr. Liza Bearman
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