RAFT Finale

February 22, 2008 at 10:55 pm | Posted in uncategorized | 8 Comments

You are a job candidate meeting with an interview committee.  Reply to the interview question, “You have a heterogeneous group of learners in your classroom.  How will you specifically use literacy skills to develop their content understandings?”



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  1. In order to reach all of my students I would try first model all of the strategies that I use. By modeling the procedure with my students first, I could easily transition them into their own levels of learning. I could start with a pre-reading strategy that front loads them with a lot of information. For example, if I chose a Guide-O-Rama first, I would walk through the guide with my students the first time they saw it. The second time, we may work through a few of the prompts together, and at any point where students feel comfortable he or she may work on their own.

    For a During Reading strategy, I would definitely start with the Think Aloud so students see me modeling how I read and think about the text. Again, the first time going through, I would use many prompts and try and explicitly explain what I am thinking and ask students questions about what they are thinking. Again, as time goes on and students feel more comfortable, I would ask students to read aloud and explain to the class what they are thinking.

    For a Post-Reading strategy I would have students first work as a whole class and then divide them into groups once they feel more comfortable and understand the assignment and its purpose. Since the post-reading strategy focuses on collaboration, I would not keep minimizing the group to an individual, but we could split into pairs or into different groups depending on how comfortable students feel. These groups would also resemble a Vygotskian scaffolding situation in which students can work together and bring each other up in their levels of understanding. Since I cannot reach every single student at every single moment, students working in groups can help each other even more than I could.

  2. All learners are different. They come into our classrooms with different background knowledge and experiences. They have different learning styles and are engaged and interested by different kinds of activities.

    The one thing these students really do have in common is the need to be literate. (Of course, they will come into our classrooms with different reading/writing ability levels, but they all need to be literate). Literacy includes reading, writing, speaking, listening and the newfound technological literacy (among other things). Students need to be able to locate, skim/read, comprehend and evaluate all different kinds of texts. They should be able to creatively express their ideas and communicate their thoughts effectively.

    As teachers, we need to give our students appropriate strategies to be successful at doing this. Pre-reading strategies are essential for our students. They will help to activate our students’ prior knowledge and beliefs and provide a purpose for reading. When our students have an idea of what they are in for, they are more prepared to dive in and look for important information. Some pre-reading strategies include an anticipation guide, KWL, and text feature analysis.

    There are strategies we can give our students to use during their reading as well. It is important to not overload them here, because you do not want to distract from their reading- just enhance their interaction with the text. My favorite during reading strategies are text coding, and the think aloud. These strategies are so important for math students, in particular, because they need to be able to break apart word problems, determine what the question is asking and decide what to do next! The think aloud encourages/teaches students to think logically about any given situation.

    Post reading strategies are valuable for students to reflect upon what they have read and summarize given material. Class discussions like the fishbowl and Socratic seminars allow students to become active participants. Activities like the Last Word and graphic organizers help students to synthesize and organize their learning.

    One neat strategy teachers can use for writing is to have their students write RAFTS. RAFTS stands for Role, Audience, Format, Topic and Strong Verb. RAFTS take normal essays or reflection writing assignments and add an aspect of creativity. When students can be creative, or respond to neat scenarios or hypothetical situations, they are oftentimes more likely to put in that extra effort.

    The last type of strategy essential for our classrooms are the vocabulary strategies. We should encourage our students, on a daily basis, to speak with the appropriate language for our content areas. I strive to have my students communicate mathematically and have actually banned the word “it” from my classroom. Vocabulary terms need to be introduced and then reinforced throughout the unit and course of the year. When words are used in context, students are able to develop meaning and are more likely to use and remember the words. A few helpful ways to teach vocabulary (beyond dictionary definitions) include: the frayer model, word sorts, and drawing pictures/acting out words.

    When it all comes down to it, the list of strategies is endless. Always remember our students are different and as teachers, we need to use a variety of strategies in order to meet the diverse needs of our students. Whether you are an English Language Arts teacher or not, your students will need to be literate in your own content area. It is our job as educators to ensure our students become literate, productive members of society.

  3. Another way I could address my heterogeneous class is to present my content in different modes. By using multiple alternative text sources students will see different view points of a subject and are required to synthesize their own interpretations. They can also be more engaged in a non-fiction book, magazine, or website than they would be in just a plain old textbook.

    Using RAFT in the classroom would also present and more importantly assess my content in different modes. Just as Tracy said, by differing the assignment by ability and by interest students can incorporate creativity into their writings and deepen their understanding for the material. RAFT can also facilitate a freedom of choice for students. They can prepare their assessment according to the multiple intelligence that suites them best by giving them a choice in the format of the written assignment.

    In addition to modeling each of the literacy strategies I’ve already mentioned in a previous posting, it is also important to use different strategies to address different students’ needs. Using the same one over and over again will bore some students or completely confuse others who are struggling with it. I don’t suggest using all of the strategies that we have learned this semester, but rather pick and choose a couple that will fit nicely into the curriculum and also give students a variety. That way students will be able to take one or two strategies from my class that worked well for them and use them in their future.

    There are hundreds of different literacy strategies, we must as teachers be able to assess the level of each of students and develop the best literacy strategy to work for the best situation. Whether it be an anticipation guide, KWL, or text analysis, a text coding or think mark, or even a Last Word or Fish bowl, we as teachers must understand the importance of literacy and all of the different ways that we can bring literacy to our students.

  4. Through my education, I have learned many different literacy skills and strategies. I feel it is very important for my students to have good literacy skills in order for them to be successful in my classroom, as well as any classroom. The reading strategies I will have my students use will be so helpful in their learning and understanding. One great strategy I know of is the Think-Aloud strategy. To me, this would benefit any learner. This strategy keeps the students focused and also helps them see the key points I want them to get from the reading. It also can be used to help the students reflect and bring in outside examples of what they’ve read.
    Another great strategy along the lines of the think aloud is the think mark. This too helps the students pick up key points from the reading. I also believe that coding text is so important. It lets the student show when they have questions and also when they really find a point imortant.
    One strategy I could use at the beginning of the year is the text book scavenger hunt. I want the students to know about the text they are reading. With this scavenger hunt, the students will find things about the text book that could really benefit them, such as before chapter outlines. This is a great tool for students because to some, a text book is a scary thing. This scavenger hunt allows them to see all of the book’s benefits.
    I also like the fishbowl strategy. This strategy allows for everyone to make comments and also get help with what they dont understand. Students can learn from one another this way!
    A great strategy that can help with any subject is the graphic organizer. This can be so helpful for kids who get overwhelmed with notes and material. It puts all the information in one place and its easy to read and study from. I know when I was in undergrad, I loved using graphic organizers. It helped my studying alot.
    Vocabulary is a hard thing for students. That why I really like the concept card strategy. This strategy allows the students to really focus on those words they are having trouble with. Not only do they help at the time of trouble, but they can be used for review as well. The concept cards allow for students to do many things such as putting the words in their own sentences, and also giving examples of the new vocab word. It just works great for any student.
    I also want my students to be able to use the technology that comes along with today’s literacy. But with this I want them to know when they have found good information, and when they have found bad information. I want my students in my Biology classroom to be scientifically literate. There are alot of online tools that can be used that keep the kids engaged. Some examples are video conferencing and podcasting. Also, my students can blog. This can be done just between the students, or with other students around the country. It is a great way for students to communicate and interact with one another.
    I really feel literacy is important no matter what subject you are teaching. All of these strategies I have talked about can be used in any content area, but I know they will especially work in my Biology classroom. There are always new techniques coming about, and I am very open mided to try anything that I think will help my students with their literacy.

  5. In order to reach all the students I would utilize a strategies to evaluate levels of prior knowledge. As a pre-reading strategy I would discuss topics to be covered. I would utilize an anticipation guide or some other type of pre-reading strategy to assess prior knowledge.
    Based on these results, I would taylor my during reading lessons using a Guide-o-Rama to help the students read through the material. I would also show them some type of coding format so they can highlight parts of the text they need to recall. Once the material has been completed I may break the class into various discussion groups assigning variuos important topics from the material to each group. I would have them record important points fropm thier groups and then have each groupd break up and disseminate into different groups to exchange information on the different topics.
    For a post-reading activity, I may use a graphic organizer and ask groups of student to present what they have learned about the topic using on a poster presentation.
    As the school year progressed, I would monitor progress through evalution techniques and adjust my lesson strategies to meet the needs of the class as the year progressed.

  6. Laurie made a huge point in my opinion. Alternate text sources are such a great way to keep your kids engaged and not bored with what they are learning. Lets say we give our students an article from a magazine. The fact that what I am teaching them is important enough to be in a magazine holds very strong for some students. Also, these different articles give them different graphics, and outside of the classroom connections. All of the factors about alternate text sources are so beneficial in helping with our students literacy.
    I also agree that in order for our strategies to work successfully, we have to keep switching it up. We cant just use the same strategy over and over again. We must use different strategies daily for it to benefit all of our different students who learn differently. If we do this, our students may (hopefully) learn these strategies and like them so much that they use them in other classes throughout their academic career!

  7. To start off, textbooks provide inert facts, but little else, so their value towards developing understanding is limited. However, textbooks still have use as a reference, so students need at least a basic understanding of how to navigate a textbook, and find the information they are looking for. The understanding required for using textbooks is similar to that needed to efficiently find information on the internet, so its a worthwhile skill regardless. I intend to use a variety of authentic alternative text sources for content instruction. Through literacy in these alternative text sources (websites, journal articles, fiction novels, etc.), I hope to expose students to the science they will encounter in their every-day lives, while developing content understanding.
    Literacy is no longer just reading and writing. Literacy includes the non-linear texts of the Internet. Used properly, the Internet is an invaluable tool for content instruction. Because of the variety of media used online, it is almost impossible to not find a certain media for content material that doesn’t appeal to a learner. Auditory learners can find a song about natural diversity, in the genre of music they prefer no less. Learners who need to be more active and hands on can find different experiments they can preform to examine heart rates and breathing. The list continues on and on, with specific examples for any learning style.
    Specifically, I intend to give students choices. I will avoid narrowing projects and activities to just one mode. By allowing students to pursue their own ideas and interests within the content, I’ll to see higher levels of achievement and understanding from my students.

  8. The first thing that I would stress would be the classes lack of dependence on the textbook. I would still use the textbook as a resource, but multiple other sources such as magazines, newspapers, online articles, etc. would be used regularly.

    When reading anything I would evaluate the material and choose either a pre-reading, during reading or post-reading exercise for the students to guide their understanding. I think that pre-reading exercises would be the most widely used because it is imperative to activate prior knowledge before teaching. This could be accomplished by using something like an anticipation guide or simply by showing pictures that evoke thoughts and ideas in the students. I would also focus during reading on a technique called coding text. It is a very simple thing to do and allows the reader to continue reading basically uninterrupted while still making a note. This may take some time for it to come naturally, but eventually the students will use it frequently without being prompted. I would also use a variety of post-reading activities to spark classroom discussion after readings.

    Not only will I focus on reading, but on other forms of literacy too. I want students to feel comfortable and creative when they write so I will have them complete RAFTs. These writing exercises are used to have students creatively display understanding of the material. Along with writing I hope to start a blog page for my students. They will be able to access it at any time and share their thoughts and other information with the class. Since it will be on the internet it will hopefully give the students a global sense of awareness. This is one of the major ways I hope to incorporate technological literacy into my classroom.

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