By: Jennifer McCormick, Middle School Assistant Principal; Mike Jordan, Assistant Teacher; Kai Blackwood, Kindergarten Teacher; and Elizabeth Leboo, ELL Teacher
In a 4th grade classroom, the teachers have planned a close reading task on anthropology, in preparation for the fall expedition. Knowing that their students have a variety of reading levels, they have anticipated some challenges that students may have with understanding the original text. They write a synthesis text, including much of the content specific vocabulary the students need, but simplifying the language so that the text is not overwhelmingly technical. Taking learning styles into account, and knowing that their students benefit from using text features to comprehend, they include some carefully evaluated visuals to enhance comprehension. Since the students will be asked to make a claim about what an anthropologist does based on in-depth understanding of the text, they create a chart for kids to notice and record unfamiliar words. The chart steered kids to the text and context, and provided an activity in making meaning based on using these clues. When students still struggled in understanding, teachers used careful, probing questions to redirect kids to the parts of the text where the word meanings were more explicit. Later on, students listened to each other during share and debrief, and were able to get clarity on any unfamiliar words that they were still unsure about.
Are the many steps to this activity really necessary? Why not just pass out the text and have students read it?