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In This Issue (20)

STEM: Bringing Engineering into the Science Classroom

Observing Best Practices in a Mathematics Classroom

Poetry Please

In This Issue (20)

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In This Issue (20)

german.ramos @ May 18, 2016

STEM: Bringing Engineering into the Science Classroom

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AUTHOR: Shawna Wiebusch, Secondary Science Education Specialist

Science courses are often grouped into the category of STEM, including in the STEM endorsement for graduation from Texas public schools. Science teachers attest to the value of math in the field of science and many have embraced the accuracy, precision, and increased student engagement that technology brings to the classroom. However, science teachers often hesitate when asked how they incorporate engineering into their classrooms. While our content based TEKS get most of the focus, our process standards are often an afterthought in planning. Through the lens of engineering design, teachers can integrate the teaching of process standards and content standards.

The engineering design process consists of a series of steps that can be thought of as a cycle. Depending on your source, there are approximately 7 steps. From the Teach Engineering website the steps are as follows:

1) Ask – Identify the need and constraints

2) Research the problem

3) Imagine: Develop possible solutions

4) Plan: Select a Promising solution

5) Create: Build a prototype

6) Test and Evaluate prototype

7) Improve: Redesign as needed

In a science classroom, these steps lead students to use the content they are expected to learn to solve a problem. A physics teacher might ask their students to design and model a house that uses series and parallel circuits to light 4 rooms with a specific current and voltage. A biology teacher might ask their students to determine what barriers a cell would have to overcome in order to duplicate itself successfully and come up with potential solutions to those barriers (and in the process, teach the concept of mitosis). An 8th grade teacher might ask students to determine the causes of and potential solutions for the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. In each of the examples listed above, students should also communicate their designs to their peers and use feedback in order to improve their initial models.

So now that you’ve seen a few examples, let’s explore exactly how the science process TEKS fit into the engineering design process.

In elementary school, students are expected to propose solutions to problems in Kindergarten through third grade (K.3A, 1.3A, 2.3A, 3.2A). This is the foundation of the engineering process and needs to be emphasized in the younger grades so that those skills are developed and practiced throughout a child’s education.

At every grade level, at least one student expectation touches on the use of models. In 7th grade, students are expected to “use models to represent aspects of the natural world…” (7.3b) and “identify advantages and disadvantages of models such as size, scale, properties, and materials” (7.3c). In the engineering design process, prototypes are the models. Students can use models to test out their ideas and explain them to other students and to the teacher. The important part of this is that the students are making and using the models more than the teachers.

At all grade levels, students are expected to “communicate valid results”. From third grade on, they are expected to “critique scientific explanations”. In Engineering Design, this falls under Test and Evaluate the prototype. Part of the evaluation comes from peer review. Students need the opportunity to bounce their ideas off of each other before being graded on them. The peer review process gives students that chance. Not only will they come away with ideas on how to improve their own models and ideas, but they will have practice in the art of constructive criticism and analyzing the work of others.

These are just a few places where the Science process standards overlap with principles behind Engineering Design. Engineering doesn’t have to be its own unit. It can be easily embedded in the work we already do with students and will give them opportunities to take ownership of their own learning.

References:

Engineering Design Process. (n.d.). Retrieved April 07, 2016, from https://www.teachengineering.org/engrdesignprocess.php

 

german.ramos @ May 18, 2016

Observing Best Practices in a Mathematics Classroom

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AUTHOR: Virginia Keasler, Secondary Math Specialist

Walking into a math classroom, an observer of the lesson may view many modes of instruction. The list may include:

  • Teacher shows students step by step problem solving and expects students to do problems in the way they are instructed
  • Students sitting quietly in rows
  • Students rotating around stations exploring challenging problems
  • Students are working on a problem together in groups, some individually, not necessarily doing exactly the same thing
  • Students engaged in critical thinking
  • A few students working at the board while others watch
  • Students who have completed their work and are waiting for the next problem
  • Teacher asking probing questions about the way students are attempting to answer questions

Generally you may see one or both of the two prevalent approaches to mathematics instruction. In the more traditional approach of instruction, skills-based, teachers may focus on how to solve the problem, show that problem solving strategy, and then require the students to quickly repeat that strategy. This method focuses on developing computational skills.

In concepts-based instruction, teachers have students solve a problem in a way that makes sense to them and then explain how they solved their problem. This method helps students be aware that there is more than one way to solve a problem.

You may be trying to decide what is the best way, but most researchers (e.g., Grouws, 2004) agree that both approaches are important, that teachers should strive for procedural fluency that is grounded in conceptual understanding.

There are three critical components to effective mathematics instruction (Shellard & Moyer, 2002):

  • Teaching for conceptual understanding
  • Developing procedural literacy
  • Promoting strategic competence through meaningful problem-solving investigations.

In an effective classroom an observer may see the teacher

  • Accepting students solutions to challenging problem which includes their explanation how they found their solution and the reason they chose to try their method.
  • Posing interesting questions to students to spur their interest in the problem.
  • Encouraging students to see that problems are challenging and that you sometimes have to search more than one method to find the answer.  
  • Instilling the belief that the goal of answering the question is attainable and worthwhile and can even be “cool”.  

In an effective classroom an observer may see the student

  • Solving the problem themselves and not just “mimicking” the procedure shown to them by others.
  • Challenging themselves to investigate a meaningful question.
  • Sharing their ideas with each other and as a group
  • Using various ways to show their work
  • Conducting an experiment by analysing data and coming to a conclusion
  • Are using calculators where appropriate
  • Using manipulatives to engage in problem solving to help form a concrete understanding of the concept where needed.

The National Center for Educational Achievement (NCEA, 2009) examined higher performing schools in five states (California, Florida, Massachusetts, Michigan, and Texas) and determined that in terms of instructional strategies, higher performing middle and high schools use mathematical instructional strategies that include classroom activities which:

  • Have a high level of student engagement
  • Demand higher-order thinking
  • Follow an inquiry-based model of instruction – including a combination of cooperative learning, direct instruction, labs or hands-on investigations, and manipulatives
  • Connect to students’ prior knowledge to make meaningful real-world applications
  • Integrate literacy activities into the courses – including content-based reading strategies and academic vocabulary development

Additionally, NCEA researchers found that it was important for teachers to create classrooms that foster an environment where students “feel safe trying to answer questions, make presentations, and do experiments, even if they make a mistake” (p. 24).

In summary, while both methods are important, teachers must reach students where they are and in the method that works best for each of their students.  While procedural learning is important to learn math facts and algorithms, students still need to be challenged, allowed to learn by exploring, and encouraged to keep trying knowing that math is meaningful and a huge part of the environment around us everyday.

References

The Education Alliance. (2006). Closing the Achievement Gap: Best Practices in Teaching Mathematics. Charleston, WV: The Education Alliance.

Grouws, D. (2004). “Chapter 7: Mathematics.” In Cawelti, G, ed., Handbook of Research on Improving Student Achievement. Arlington, VA: Educational Research Service.

National Center for Educational Achievement. (2009). Core Practices in Math and Science: An Investigation of Consistently Higher Performing Schools in Five States.  Austin, TX: National Center for Educational Achievement.

Shellard, E. & Moyer, P.S. (2002). What Principals Need to Know about Teaching Math. Alexandria, VA: National Association of Elementary School Principals and Education Research Service.

german.ramos @ May 18, 2016

Poetry Please

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AUTHOR: Laura Lee Stroud, Elementary ELAR Specialist

An Abandoned Tool

Past U.S. Poet Laureate, Billy Collins says “High school is where poetry goes to die” because it is there that many students inadvertently learn that poetry isn’t relevant to their lives. Oftentimes in working with these teachers we find that poetry remains buried and absent from their instruction, until, that is STAAR is over and we pick up poetry as a fun filler. But poetry is a powerful, emotionally clad, succinct genre teachers can use to helps students express themselves, make their words come alive and synthesize their thinking.

Building Community Through Poetry

Nowadays, in order for our students to care enough to invest in writing and reading, we must take the time to create spaces of trust. Writers thrive in spaces they can take risks, feel valued, receive feedback and learn how to write from models and mentors. Writers need to understand that an investment in learning to write well will yield lifelong returns. Creating a writing community inside of a classroom means that as teachers we must let go of some control in order to empower our student writers to make decisions about their writing.

Cultivating a writing community doesn’t happen with a week or two of “getting to know you” activities but thoughtful planning and commitment. Taking time to read and discuss thought provoking ideas, problem solving together and planned inquiry of ourselves and families, all work to build spaces our students can thrive in as writers. Students must know that their thinking, their words, their perspectives matter and without it, our goal of meaningful learning remains unaccomplished. Weaving poetry through instruction works to create this communal space. Finding poetry models your students will love and allowing them to experience reading and rereading it together, can serve as a tunnel to bonding. Repeated readings promote fluency, boost vocabulary and engage students.

Give this a try:

  1. Show a spoken word poem. Button Poetry is a great place to begin mining for poetry. Just like any other text you would select for your students, it is critical that you preview the videos for instructional objectives that align with your purpose and that you are sure the content is appropriate for your students.
  2. Pass out the words. Joshua Bennett’s Tamara’s Opus is a poem eighth grade students’ love.
  3. Play the poem again.
  4. Allow students to discuss what they liked about the poem in small groups. The purpose of letting students identify what they like about the poem is that they are able to highlight the language that appealed to them without having to identify the academic labels in the beginning stages. Remember, our goal is building community with poetry. As you give your students the opportunity to discuss poetry in this way, academic language will emerge.
  5. Have students highlight their favorite lines.[4]  Read the poem aloud to students and when their highlighted line appears, they read that line aloud along with you (and the others that have selected this line). A chorus of voices will rise to the occasion.
  6. Invite students to bring in poems they love for community viewing/reading.

Poetry in Tiny Packages

Lucy Calkins speaks of poetry as powerful thoughts in “tiny packages.”   Tiny packages allow even struggling writers the ability to write powerful poems. Jeff Anderson agrees and teaches us that even a sentence can serve as a mentor text. We can focus on what is beautiful or empowering in one sentence.  If students can feel successful writing one beautiful sentence or phrase, they can become poets. By starting out the

year with these tiny packages, all will feel successful.

Creating Community to Boost Reading and Writing Performance

As Kelly Gallagher says, “Writing instruction should be a non-negotiable core value” (2015).  If we are looking to raise our performance and learning outcomes, we must ask if sound writing instruction and time spent writing are “core values” in our schools?

Sound writing instruction is not the same as test preparation. In fact, when test preparation replaces writing instruction, test scores are not likely to improve as evidenced by researchers like Judith Langer (2000).

Research Base

Remember that the power of poetry to teach reading and writing skills is well documented in the literature. The authors of Inside Out, (Kirby and Liner, 2004) teach us how the writing of poetry contributes to good writing:

In poetry, as in all writing, the technical aspects of the poem are really of secondary importance; good writing is honest writing. The writer risks feelings with us, and we respond to the words because they touch our feelings through shared human experiences. (p.74)

Such honesty and confidence can come into play through many different writing tasks. For example, if students are able to tap into their everyday experiences, they will be able to write short stories, personal narratives and, of course, write the deep development demanded on the expository essay.

Through poetry we can teach students not only come to understand the written word more deeply, but also make more meaningful connections to text. Therefore, if we are going to teach writing, we must include poetry. Poetry has been called “the great equalizer for both the reading and writing workshop” (Dorfman and Cappelli).

Revisiting Poetry for Different Purposes

The rich language and ability to engage readers make poems the perfect choice for teaching students to deepen comprehension through analyzing and comparing texts, citing evidence, offering opinions, drawing conclusions, and talking about main ideas and themes (Dorfman and Cappelli).  When we teach poetry, we offer multiple opportunities for practicing reading comprehension that will prove beneficial to reading in other genres.  Through the  analysis of different types of literature, we  promote cognitive development and give students an opportunity to apply such skills and strategies, as identifying themes discussed in one genre–fiction, for example–to other genres like poetry, reports, descriptive pieces, and plays (Smith, 1991). And last but not least, poetry is an often-tested genre on STAAR.  As responsible writing teachers, we cannot omit poetry!

Let’s encourage our professional learning communities to take up this often abandoned genre and find new ways to teach reading and writing this summer. One way to begin a new exploration of poetry, is to register and join us for Linda Christensen’s workshop on May 18.  She will discuss her journey into poetry as a powerful genre that changes not only students’ reading and writing skills, but their lives as well.  We would love to be a part of your continued journey with poetry!

Works Cited:

Smith, C. B. (1994). Helping Children Understand Literary Genres. Retrieved April 18, 2016, from http://www.ericdigests.org/1994/genres.htm

Langer, J. A. (2000, May). Guidelines for Teaching Middle and High School Students to Read and Write Well Six Features of Effective Instruction. Retrieved April 18, 2016, from http://www.albany.edu/cela/publication/brochure/guidelines.pdf

Worsham, S. (2001). Essential ingredients: Recipes for teaching writing. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Gallagher, K. (2015). In the best interest of students: Staying true to what works in the ELA classroom.

Kirby, D. L., Crovitz, D., & Kirby, D. (2013). Inside out: Strategies for teaching writing. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann

german.ramos @ May 18, 2016

Ways to Instantly Use Primary Sources

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AUTHOR: Courtney Webster, Social Studies Specialist

Primary resources prove the details of our existence. Without them, historians would not be able to research the past.  Primary documents are used by those who want to understand the person, the place or the event to verify or determine what happened.  History if taught with fidelity can be considered a social science, where students look at various sources whether primary or secondary to research, discuss and validate historic events as accurate or not. As teachers, we would love to use resources in our classrooms but some barriers can make it difficult, including: reading difficulties of students, challenging vocabulary, traditional cursive writing and access to sources that are relevant to students.  From records, interviews, images, articles and maps, all primary documents can be useful to social studies courses.  According to Wineburg and Martin, “[h]istory in sourceless classrooms becomes limited to the textbook, effectively silencing the rich chorus of voices that could speak to contemporary readers.”[1] And although new textbooks have incorporated more primary sources into their covers, oftentimes it is more important for students to examine, inquire and analyze the value and importance of such sources through touch and observation. This allows for them to both connect the student understandings, as well as, the context of the event. Whether you are teaching elementary, middle, high school or college, your students should be learning the skills it takes to comprehend historical content through original documentation.  Here are three ways to make the use of primary sources happen in your class today.

  • Create anchor text with major documents.  The United States Constitution is mentioned significantly in the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills for courses 5, 8, 11 and Government. Naturally, we do not expect students of various grade levels or reading abilities to approach the document the same. However, they should all have access to the writing and language of the original and an opportunity for understanding the basis and evolution of its interpretation. Even more helpful would be if students had a modified version of the Constitution along with the text of the original Constitution. This would support students in seeing how text is summarized and reworded for simplicity. This foundational document should grow in meaning with students each passing year. Using the United States Constitution as an anchor text.  An anchor can be used in multiple ways but the basis of creating an anchor text is for students to revisit the text for deepening their knowledge. A teacher could place the constitution as a working anchor chart on the wall or by including the text in student’s interactive notebook.  The Constitution with its principles and changes are approached in every era of American History.  However, we as teachers allow students to see the document typically during their civics unit only.  Instead, this foundational document should be revisited as much as possible and treated as a mentor text (even though mentor text implies that the text is chosen by the student to help them explore the information further).  Regardless to how the anchor text is viewed, with a close reading strategy and multiple points of reference, the acquisition of this document would be helpful to students, providing them with an opportunity to revisit topics, inquire about meaning and apply context to content with their current unit.  Informational text along with other sources and books can remind students of their civil liberties back to our Democratic Republic playbook with all of the rules, changes and challenges of our great country.

Identify, yet tamper with the evidence.

The word tampering can have a negative connotation, however, both Dr. Wineburg and Dr. Martin use the word tampering to really mean adapt. By adapting, the authors are really saying, accommodate the language of the article.  In fact, “[they] urge teachers to physically alter sources: to change their syntax and vocabulary; to conventionalize their spelling, capitalization and punctuation- even rearranging sentence sequences if necessary…”[2] This particular piece can be time consuming however there are resources that can get you started.  When looking for how to teach primary documents, as well as, for documents that are already modified, go to Teaching History.org[3] Documents and tools are segmented into elementary, middle and high school categories.  Also, there is TexQuest[4]  which has several databases to teachers to use and find sources. Inside many of the databases, you can receive access to modified documents and there is a reading link for students use to listen to the documents as well. To determine whether or not your district has access to TexQuest contact your campus librarian for more details.

Conduct historical inquiry based on a single document

Dr. Wineburg states, “…history reminds us to start with basic questions.”[5]  Students are inquisitive about the people, places and events of the world, however, they are not keen on answering questions because that often times requires the right answer. Students, in our information age, must learn how to form questions to better understand new information beyond the facts.  One can encourage students to build questions by using the PBL “Needs to Know” method. This can happen by allowing students to look at a primary document and simply asking the question, what do we need to know to understand this text or image?  Once students have developed a list of ideas, encourage them to categorize their statements and ask questions based on their list. Another method used to build inquiry is the Question Formulation Technique (QFT).  This is a way of building inquiry was developed by the Right Question Institute[6] founders Dan Rothstein and Luz Santana. Their book Make Just One Change deals with the complexity getting students to think by generating questions. By introducing the QFT technique, teachers are molding students to think about concepts instead of recite facts.

Regardless to whether you are stepping into the classroom for the first time or meeting a new group of students for the twenty fifth time, take a new approach to primary documents and have fun watching your students explore social studies with more depth through authentic instruction and text.

[1] Wineburg, S., & Martin, D. (2009, September). Tampering with History: Adapting Primary Sources for Struggling Readers. Social Education, 73(5), 212-216.

[2] Wineburg, S., & Martin, D. (2009, September). Tampering with History: Adapting Primary Sources for Struggling Readers. Social Education, 73(5), 212-216.

[3] Teaching History.org, home of the National History Education Clearinghouse. (n.d.). Retrieved May 01, 2016, from http://teachinghistory.org/

[4] TexQuest  . (n.d.). Retrieved May 05, 2016, from http://texquest.net/welcome

[5] Wineburg, S., D. Martin and C. Monte-Sano. Reading Like a Historian: Teaching Literacy in Middle & High School History Classrooms. 2013.

[6] The Right Question Institute. (n.d.). Retrieved May 01, 2016, from http://rightquestion.org/

german.ramos @ May 18, 2016

Intentional Teaching in Pre-K

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AUTHOR: Erika Pozo, Early Childhood Education Specialist

Research on best teaching practices is very clear and consistent. Teachers who are thoughtful about what they teach and how they teach it are better able to help children acquire skills needed to succeed in school and in life. Intentional teaching requires teachers to be purposeful and effective in their instructional strategies at all times. This means that teachers take an active role in the learning process and facilitate children’s learning based on skill development, individual needs, and goals of students in the class. Intentional teachers recognize and respond to every opportunity to engage in, and extend, children’s learning, whether that learning is child-initiated, teacher-initiated, routine, planned, or unexpected (Epstein, 2007).

A key element of intentional teaching is listening; listening to what children say to the teacher, to their peers, and in their self-talk. Equally important is the response (or lack of response) teachers give to children when they do talk. Children identify a teacher as a good listener when the teacher:

∙ makes eye contact appropriately;

∙ is patient and does not interrupt;

∙ asks questions in a nonthreatening tone;

∙ is responsive both verbally and nonverbally; and,

∙ prepares for listening by removing other distractions (Jalongo, 2008).

Intentional teaching requires teachers to understand the needs of each child as an individual, unique learner. Likewise, teachers must have a strong sense of how and when to support child-guided learning experiences verses teacher-guided (or directed) learning experiences. To teach with intention, teachers must:

∙ Create a learning environment rich in materials, experiences, and interactions;

∙ Encourage children to explore materials, experiences, relationships, and ideas;

∙ Speak respectfully, reciprocally, and frequently with children;

∙ Consciously promote all areas of learning and development;

∙ Match content with children’s developmental levels and emerging abilities; and,

∙ Carefully observe children to determine their interests and level of understanding.

Intentional teaching does not happen by chance; it is planful, thoughtful, and purposeful.

To learn more about intentional teaching in the early childhood classroom, check out Ann S. Epstein’s book titled The Intentional Teacher: Choosing the Best Strategies for Young Children’s Learning. An excerpt from the book is available here.

References

Epstein, A. S. (2007). The intentional teacher: Choosing the best strategies for young children’s learning. Washington, DC: NAYEC

Jalongo, M. (2008). Learning to listen, listening to learn: Building essential skills in young children. Washington. DC: NAEYC

german.ramos @ May 18, 2016

The Need for Bilingual Education in Texas Today

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AUTHOR: Trish Flores, Coordinator, Curriculum and Instruction

Bilingual education is a high needs area felt by many school districts across the country.  In particular, it is a high needs area for Texas due to the increase of second language learners migrating to this area of the country. Many people may ask themselves, why do we need to provide bilingual education for these students?  What do students gain from participating in this “type” of instruction?  And how does it really support students in meeting today’s high stake assessments?  To answer these questions and many more, it is necessary to start by investigating what bilingual education is and why we need to make it accessible to students.

Background:  How language programs became a law

Before 1968, bilingual education was not required to be implemented in schools but instead was a voluntary program.  This all changed in 1981 when a lawsuit was brought against the state of Texas resulting  in the requirement of bilingual education programs in the elementary grades, English as a second language (ESL) or bilingual programs at post-elementary grades through eighth grade, and ESL programs in high school.  The new legislation also outlined specific procedures for the identification and exiting of students.

What is Bilingual education?

Bilingual education is teaching academic content through two languages, the native language and a secondary language, with varying degrees of support that are commensurate with the student’s proficiency levels in both languages.  Instructing students through the use of their native language enables them to access new content and build upon what they already know.  Students will be successful in “bridging” ideas and information from one language to the next when the content and processes are first mastered in the native language.  Throughout these interactions, students are learning English in a non-stressful environment leading to individuals who are able to meet the academic rigor of today’s standards and assessments.

Benefits of Bilingual Education

There are many benefits that student’s gain from participating in bilingual programs.  They include:

  • Cognitive Ability: Students are able to enhance brain flexibility in the areas of mathematics, logic, reasoning and problem solving.
  • Social/Emotional:  Students who participate in bilingual programs have a higher level of self-esteem than students who do not because Spanish if valued.
  • Educational Advancement:  Studies have shown that it takes 5-7 years to acquire academic English. If a student is not in a bilingual program they are more likely to miss critical instruction due to their inability to process content presented in English.
  • Family:  Students who retain their native language are able to communicate with family members thus resulting positive relationships.
  • Health:  Increased brain activity has been shown to decrease the onset of dementia and other debilitating brain diseases.  Students who are bilingual have increased brain activity as they navigate between two languages.

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Bilingual education is required by the state of Texas as means to educate students whose first language is not English.  Countless studies have shown the effectiveness of language programs for students.  It is imperative that the educators and communities in Texas see these benefits as gains not only for the students and their families, but for the future of Texas as a whole.

Originally published on VOXXI as Bilingual education: Why gutting it hurts us all

©2008, IDRA. This article originally appeared in the IDRA Newsletter by the Intercultural Development Research Association. –

german.ramos @ May 18, 2016

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german.ramos @ February 25, 2016

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german.ramos @ December 7, 2015

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german.ramos @ September 25, 2015

The Global Read Aloud: Connecting Through a Love of Literature

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AUTHOR: Leslie Barrett, Education Specialist: Technology & Library Media Services

The Global Read Aloud is a project started by a Wisconsin teacher looking to create connections between her students and other students around the world through the love of literature and the power of a really good book. Over the past 5 years the Global Read Aloud (GRA) has grown from a small project that included a few hundred students and one book to an initiative that impacts over 500,000 students and includes an author study component and age specific title selections.

To participate a teacher would sign up via the Global Read Aloud website. The teacher chooses which title to read to his/her students, and can also choose a method to connect with other teachers/classrooms reading the same book. Teachers can connect via Edmodo, Facebook, and Twitter. Through these connections, teachers can set up video conferencing sessions between classes via Skype or Google Hangouts, or they may choose to post student work on the Global Read Aloud wiki.

This year’s Global Read Aloud officially runs from October 6, 2015 to November 16, 2015. There will be a schedule posted on the Global Read Aloud wiki to help teachers keep pace with the 6 week project and to prevent any unintentional spoilers. Teachers can read to their class daily during each week, or designate one day during each of the 6 weeks as a GRA day. While reading, teachers can incorporate higher level reading comprehension skills by asking students to make predictions about what may happen next in the story, analyzing character traits and motivation, and examining elements of author’s craft.

Here are a few examples of ways classrooms have participated in the Global Read Aloud in the past.

  • Check out this example from 2014 where students used the tool Padlet to share their initial predictions prior to reading each of the titles included in the Peter H. Reynolds author study.
  • While reading The One and Only Ivan during the 2012 GRA, Fifth Graders in Buenos Aires, Argentina were inspired to create protest signs that corresponded with the story and share them via the video creation tool Animoto.
  • Mrs. Moore’s 3rd grade class in Arizona shared their thinking about 2014’s The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane via their class blog.

If you are reading this article after the 2015 deadline for participation you can be thinking ahead to how you might like to participate in 2016, or you may consider how you could recreate this event at a local campus, district, or state level. Perhaps you have a colleague that teaches in another state or country who would be interested in collaborating with you on a smaller scale project. The main goal is to connect with other classrooms to share the joy of reading, but the real beauty of the Global Read Aloud lies in the natural integration of technology tools for communication, collaboration, and creativity into an engaging academic event that supports literacy. Students are able to connect digitally and share ideas, thinking, and interpretations with other students under the safe guidance of their teacher. It is also a wonderful way to begin (or continue) classroom conversations around the digital citizenship concepts of internet safety and curation of an appropriate and respectful digital presence.

german.ramos @ September 25, 2015

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Leslie Barrett @ April 20, 2015

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Leslie Barrett @ October 24, 2013

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Leslie Barrett @ September 20, 2013

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Leslie Barrett @ March 29, 2013

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Leslie Barrett @ January 24, 2013

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ESC Region XIII @ November 2, 2012

The 5E Model: Does it still relate to cognitive principles for the current classroom?

Posted in: *SY 2015-2016, Instructional Strategies, *SY 2015-2016, Issue 19, Science | Comments Off on The 5E Model: Does it still relate to cognitive principles for the current classroom?

AUTHOR: Cynthia Holcomb, Education Specialist: Elementary Science

The 5E Model, originally designed for science instruction, describes a teaching sequence for specific units and individual lessons. The Biological Science Curriculum Study, a team led by Principal Investigator Roger Bybee, developed an instructional model for constructivism using the terms Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate, and Evaluate in 1987.

How can we assure that a model developed almost 30 years ago will be effective for the students we teach today? A recently released report, The Science of Learning summarizes the cognitive science related to how students learn. Let’s look at the principles from that report applied to the components of the 5E Model.

Engage

The first E, Engage, is what we use to “hook” students, to capture their attention, to get them interested in the topic. This is a quick activity and may include an anecdote, a cartoon, a short video clip, a demonstration, or a thought-provoking question. Without citing research, I think we can all agree that getting students interested in learning is a valuable classroom practice.

Explore

But what about Explore? This stage provides students with an chance to build their own understanding. The students have the opportunity to get directly involved with phenomena and materials. They work together in teams, build a set of common experiences which prompts sharing and communicating, and start building background for new content. The teacher acts as a facilitator rather than an instructor at this stage, since the purpose is for STUDENTS to find new connections.

The Science of Learning Report states that “a well-sequenced curriculum is important to ensure that students have the prior knowledge they need to master new ideas.” This means that teachers should provide students with opportunities to build background knowledge needed for understanding new content. In essence, the Explore stage is still a valid and valuable part of instructional sequence.

Explain

Explain is the stage at which learners begin to communicate what they have learned. Communication occurs between peers, with the teacher, and through the reflective process. The teacher now takes on a more active role by helping students make connections and clarifying misconceptions.

The Science of Learning Report explains that, in order to help students focus on the meaning of content, we need to assign tasks that require explanations, determine causes and effects, and require students to meaningfully organize material. In a nutshell, this step reinforces the Explain stage through specific examples of student tasks.

Elaborate

The purpose for the Elaborate stage is to allow students to use their new knowledge and continue to explore its implications. At this stage students expand on the concepts they have learned, make connections to other related concepts, and apply their understandings to the world around them in new ways.

The Science of Learning Report explains that a carefully sequenced curriculum can build student knowledge over the course of a school career, enabling students to solve increasingly complex problems. When students have the opportunity to transfer a set of learned skills or content to a new situation instead of keeping the learned information in isolation, they are able to take on more challenging problems. This building of connections is at the heart of the Elaborate stage, and reinforces the power of giving students opportunities to apply what they have learned rather than just memorize and recall information.

Evaluate

The Evaluate stage is designed for both students and teachers to determine how much learning and understanding has taken place. Evaluation and assessment can occur at all points along the continuum of the instructional process. Some of the tools that assist in this diagnostic process are rubrics, teacher observation, student interviews, portfolios, and project and problem-based learning products.

In Texas, we often think of STAAR as the high-stakes evaluation piece. But in The Science of Learning Report, findings encourage teachers to also use low- or no-stakes quizzes in class to evaluate the learning process. Effective feedback is often essential to acquiring new knowledge and skills, and a low-stakes evaluation can help students see in which areas they need assistance without the pressure of a major exam.

So there you have it — a model from the 1980s reviewed under the lens of a 2015 study. While the 5E Model was developed during the era of shoulder pads, big hair, and New Wave music, its sequence is still a powerful approach for instructional delivery of cognitive principles in the current classroom.

References:

Deans for Impact (2015). The Science of Learning. Austin, TX: Deans for Impact.

 

german.ramos @ February 25, 2016