When teaching my preservice teachers methods of making quality use of benign textbooks (when they must use them)..I give them a chapter from a middle school History textbook. Benign because…dense text, voiceless, boring….I ask them to read it as groups and then summarize the chapter with hashtags. No rules other than that. Here is one from last semester—can’t wait to see what this semester group does:
The chapter below focused on the Pilgrims.
Here are their hashtags:
#Mayflower #pilstruggs #missingthemotherland #demWampananagos #originalThanksgiving #churnthatbutter #Jesus4life #Squantowho? #workingafarm #wigwams4ever #seriouslongwinter #allinaday #nomoreboattripsplease #Plymouthrockrocks #BFFSquanto #worstcasescenario #thankfulforSquanto #sickonaship #praytheedontkillus #holierthanthou
Results: Well, for starters there is always a whole bunch of laughter and fun. But, they do get it. We ask kids to summarize, summarize, summarize. When it is not so important that they write ample amounts, why not allow some levity and have groups hashtag summarize short texts? They will capture the critical points and their hashtags can launch class discussion.
So, today in my Hope College class of preservice teachers we engaged in the Tell Me strategy to express thoughts about the first two chapters in our course text, Mosaic of thought: The power of comprehension strategy instruction, Ed 2, by Ellin Oliver Keene and Susan Zimmerman.. The teaching profession is “hot” today with strategies to help students to comprehend “complex texts,” and for the students in the class, Mosaic is indeed a complex text. They respond individually to me through Double Entry Journals, but the Tell Me strategy allows them a structure within which to mingle their voices in small groups–to share their thoughts and to listen to the thoughts of their classmates.
I engage them in use of strategies they will eventually use themselves as teachers. Tell Me is socially-driven, which is so beneficial to middle schoolers. So, here is how the strategy plays out:
There are three “Sharings” of focused thoughts about the text they read (in this case, first two chapters of our class text).
First Sharing: Enthusiasms What rocked you? Made you think, wow, that’s cool. Got you excited?
Second Sharing: Puzzlements, Wondering, Difficulties What places in the text made you stop and question–what’s this about? Or, were there statements or passages with which you disagreed? Were there passages or concepts that you didn’t quite get?
Third Sharing: Connections How did you connect to your lived experiences? To other things you have read? To life, in schools or otherwise?
They worked in small groups, each member contributing to all three Sharings. Then, we came back together as a whole group to share.
I cannot take credit for this strategy–I have adapted it over time from an unknown source. All I do know, is it works!! I hope you give it atry!