I’m so happy to see such an increase in “making,” and less emphasis solely on verbal-linguistic modes to reveal knowledge and comprehension. Simultaneous use of left and right brains results in powerfully creative and imaginative results. Just love it.
For my post of last semester, check out Baking a Synthesis Cake… on this blog.
This week my current group of preservice teachers revisited familiar texts to synthesize meanings they created from close, deep reading. Following the cake baking strategy, which requires the cook to know what kind of cake is desired before s/he can compile the ingredients, the teachers did the same with their meaning creations. They had rich discussions and decided as small groups at least one powerful meaning created from their chosen text–that was the “cake,”–and the “ingredients” became significant pieces lifted from the text that helped them create meaning. As always, the group work and the opportunity to “create” visuals added to the powerful engagement in the project. Here are their visuals and a list of the texts from which they chose.
“The Flowers,” by Alice Walker “Salvador, Late or Early,” by Sandra Cisneros “Eleven,” by Sandra Cisneros
As my classes leave the text today we focus on the final of the seven strategies–Synthesis. I confess, as a former middle school teacher, that I really do not like the concept of “main idea,” and here is why….I find the following to be true:
…In the search for ONE big thing–ONE main idea, many important ideas are dismissed along the way…. I know we call them “details,” but why can they not also be main things?
…Looking for the main idea seems a “school thing” to kids–something they do for the teacher and not something they do when they plow into a self-selected book they love
I think we can ask kids to reveal meanings created from text, supported with text evidence. I would rather pose the questions: What’s Interesting/What’s Important? and What meaning did you create from this text? rather than What is the Main Idea….?
I like the quote below…and can relate it to comprehension…
No idea is isolated, but is only what it is among all ideas. (Friedrich Von Schlegel)
I know students will meet “main idea” questions on standardized tests, but if they experience many opportunities to have good and targeted conversations about texts, if they read closely and deeply, I feel confident they will be able to choose ONE main idea of a passage presented on any standardized test.
Teach strategically and they will surprise you…just saying
Wonderful pub that I discovered in my Virginia days. Still read it. Free to subscribe, folks.
Again, I had my preservice teachers collaborate to create visuals that portrayed emotional connections to “Eleven” by Sandra Cisneros–a short text about a young girl who experiences her eleventh birthday with hurt and pain as she is wrongly accused (by the teacher and a few classmates) of leaving a raggedy red sweater too long in the cloakroom. The short story is powerful–so much so that invariably a few of my students choose to use this short text with various strategic teaching lessons in their field classrooms.
Here are the visuals they created from “Eleven,” and the link below is to my post of last spring–amazing how art can reveal what words cannot.
She also has a fabulous website http://www.sandracisneros.com
Since I am also a blogger, I know how much time goes into linking, so I really really appreciate this guy’s efforts and thank him tremendously. Lots of great resources here, folks!
What likes What? is an observational writing strategy that I have done for years (see my scratch what likes what notes on my writer’s notebook page)…In the novel Cold Mountain, Ruby tells Ada, in trying to describe how she knows so much about plants, herbs, the natural world: Well, you just have to know what likes what…”...that line spoke to me. So, I have lists, still compiling them and some have become small works of art. This is a good observational suggestion for students–to notice what likes what throughout their day. If you have students do this exercise it will open their eyes to really noticing the world. The world is full of beauty–beauty in the simplest of sights and moments. Here are a few examples of my recent photo shots, to which I have added What likes What jots…Ask your students–What likes What when Autumn comes?
I love when one of my students gives me an idea that I had never before considered. I love when they teach me. In class one day last week we focused on the strategy of Inferring in our class text, Mosaic of Thought. Students keep a Double Entry Journal as they read chapters, to record their personal connections and responses to the text. My student lifted a quote from the text wherein the author stated that each time she read a particular piece of literature it took her to a different place. My student response is as follows, with her unique and powerful idea inserted at the end of her response. I love her thinking!!
I chose this quote because it speaks to the power of literature to take us on journeys to different places. I think it is important to note that the number of times we read a texts does not necessarily affect the impact that it can have on us. I am always amazed at where a text can take me after the third, fourth, or fifth time I have read it. I think that is another way you can tell if a piece of literature is really great. If one keeps coming back to a specific text to dive deeper and deeper into it that is a sign of the quality of literature it is. Another sign is based on the numerous places literature can take you. I think this has a lot to do with what is going on in our lives during this time and how we feel like we relate to the book, as well as the number of inferences and connections we are able to make with the book. Every time we read something our response to it will be influenced by what is going on in life such as current events, what we are reading at the time, and how we are feeling. I think this is important to mention to students because they can read a text one time and not get much out of it or they may respond in a certain way, but when they read it again they are able to get much more out of it and may be able to respond to it in a unique way. When I was thinking about this quote I thought it would be cool to do something like this in a classroom someday where my class is given a piece of small literature to read at the beginning, middle, and end of the year. The piece would be the same for each period and then I would have them respond after each time. It would then be interesting to have them compare and contrast their responses after each time to see where the literature took them.
(thank you, J!!)