3 Words

October 23, 2010 at 9:43 am | Posted in uncategorized | 11 Comments

To summarize our work, choose 3 words from our collectively brainstormed list of terms related to content area literacy.  Use your learning and experiences throughout the course to justify your word choices.

motivation, activating background knowledge, vocabulary, application, reading, writing, community, current relevance, usefulness, connections, levels of difficulty, big concepts, gaps, strategies, citizenship, knowledge, wonder, resources, reading materials, comprehending, visualization,  format, word problems, formulas, pre vs. post knowledge, technology, pleasure reading, technical, discussion, “big picture”



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  1. Use your learning and experiences throughout the course to justify your word choices.

    Numeracy- Understanding and comprehending number and math ideas is very challenging. The students in Math AIS seems to really struggle with numeracy.(this took place during the course)

    Vocabulary- Again during math ais, I found this to be a huge hurdle for the students. This vocabulary is not just common english words, but related to our content at hand.

    Activating backrground knowledge – The student need to connect ideas and activites to past experiences. This activitation adds both meaning and purpose for the students.

  2. The three words I chose vocabulary, activating background knowledge, and strategies.

    I chose vocabulary because science can be a very terminology heavy subject. I remember in eighth grade often feeling lost by the vocabulary. The only thing the teacher had us do was to copy definitions from the glossary and add it to our notebooks. From this course I have learned many new ways to introduce and reinforce vocabulary.

    I chose activating background knowledge because it definitely helps with motivation. I know that I am more likely to engage with a reading if I know something about it prior to reading it and it connects to me in some way. In this course, we have learned many ways, such as anticipation guides, to activate this knowledge.

    The last word I chose was strategies. I never knew how many strategies were out there to help students, or even how many I already knew. Taking this course, I realized what I can do to help students with these strategies.

  3. For my 3 words, I chose motivation, activating background knowledge, and vocabulary.

    I chose motivation because it is important for students to have a motivation for learning about a certain content. If students are motivated to learn a particular content they tend to do better in that content area. At least this was always true for me in school.

    I chose activating background knowledge because without background knowledge, it is very hard for students to engage with a topic. If a student has background knowledge, or the teacher can give the student experiences to create background knowledge, the student will be more likely to engage with the topic.

    I chose vocabulary because so much of biology is based on vocabulary. If a student can master the vocabulary of biology, they are doing pretty well. Mastering vocabulary will also help student make connections between big ideas in the material.

  4. Strategy, activation background knowledge, and vocabulary.

    I think the most important thing i got out of this class is the strategies that we can use to help students learn how to use in our content area. For any struggling student, any strategy that we can teach them to learn how to become a more active and efficient will improve their comprehension of any text.

    I didn’t realize how important activating background knowledge is for students to read a text. Sometimes when I read a text, I read it, but I don’t understand it and sometimes I get really frustrated. I don’t know why I’m not understanding the text when I understand all of the words in the text. This changes my view on how I will be teaching my students how to read in science because now I know that I have to activate background knowledge for my students.

    Vocabulary is inevitable in science literature. If they don’t understand the vocabulary used in the main points in the text, students will be missing out a lot of information. Using the vocabulary strategies, I think I can better help my students learn vocabulary rather than just memorizing and full comprehending the word.

  5. Technology- The use of technology in a classroom is key to students learning. Students can use hands on materials to learn basic ideas taught in a textbook. A SMART Board is a good use of technology to convey ideas through interesting ways.

    Vocabulary- Students need to know vocabulary from the text they will be learning. I feel this should be done before reading or learning the material so students can comprehend the context of the reading when they encounter these words. It is important to use different strategies to help students learn the vocab words.

    Reading materials-The use of different reading materials in a classroom is a good way to differieniate the materials. Taping into different resources besides textbooks will allow students to learn the material easier. Newspapers, magazines, journals, tv shows, youtube, or any other resource will help assist students comprehend the material.

  6. Pleasure Reading: It is important to allow students time to read content reading for pleasure. These means that they can choose their own text but it has to relate somehow to the content area. This allows students to get away from the standard textbook style reading assignments and seek out the type of reading that interests them most.

    Diversity of Text: To go along with pleasure reading it is important to incorporate a diverse selection of text that students can read. Allowing students the choice in a type of text might allow them to become more engaged with the reading as well as take ownership of the reading. It is not only boring to only read from a text book but it is also not a type of text that students are apt to encounter in the ‘real world’.

    Activating Previous Knowledge: This can be accomplished by pre-reading strategies. These are important because it allows students to incorporate what they are learning into their educational mind frame, in line with constructivist learning. It is also a helpful tool to engage students early on in the lesson. If students are not able to see a purpose or relevancy to what they are about to learn they will tend to be less engaged and uninterested in the learning.

  7. My three words reflect on the idea that a curriculum needs to be student centered. If our students are not engaged than it does not matter what else we do in the classroom, our students are not learning. So my first word is “motivation.” We can not make students motivated, but by picking interesting texts, giving them effective pre-reading strategies and adding elements of fun to the curriculum, we can encourage and engage our students.

    A large part of building a student’s motivation is introducing a literacy text by “activating background knowledge.” If students start out on the wrong foot, it will be hard to pull them back in with during and post- reading strategies. By engaging the students from the beginning of a unit, we will benefit our students.

    And so, my final word is “strategies.” I want students to have a diverse array of strategies at their disposal in order to help them with their content area literacy. Not everything works for everybody, and the more tools that a student has, the better learner they will be, and the better classroom a teacher will have.

  8. I have learned that content area literacy is critical for student success in and out of the classroom. The 3 words I believe best exemplify what I learned are: Community, Application, and Wonder.

    Community fosters engagement and learning through social interaction. I believe one of a teacher’s greatest responsibilities is creating a community of learners where each student feels safe to explore academic content and their own metacognitive habits. In this way, students can learn both from the teacher and from each other.

    Students who are content literate have the capacity to apply what they have learned in innovative ways. I believe that one of the goals of content area literacy should be to not only enhance learning, but maximize a student’s ability to apply what he or she has learned in the real world. Teachers must support students in this regard, and make every effort to ensure that they are not simply learning content, but also learning how they can use the content to succeed when they are out of school.

    I am a firm believer that learning should be enjoyed. Teachers must utilize the principals and strategies taught in the class to instill wonder in their students. Using these strategies, teachers can enhance student enjoyment, making learning fun. This will help students to become passionate learners that will likely carry over other life endeavors.

  9. Motivation- Students need motivation in order to fully comprehend a text. As a teacher we must find articles and material that interests our students. If students are interested in an article then they will want to read and try to construct meaning from the text.
    Background knowledge- In order for students to comprehend an article, we must activate their prior background knowedge. If students do not have any background knowledge related to the text, then we as teachers must give them ample information before they read the text. If we need to provide background information, then we must do it in a unique, creative, and engaging way. It would also be helpful to discuss the new background information to ensure that students understand what the article will be about.
    Vocabulary- It is essential to understand vocabulary in math. Many times students can do a problem when it is just numbers and operations, but they struggle when that same problem is written in word form. Before beginning word problems, it is important for teachers to go over the meanings in word form before application. In school, I had to figure most of the meanings out on my own. When I was at Fairport, the teachers took a whole class period going over the meaning of written words separately, and then putting the words together. The students were given a reference sheet to use while they started doing applications.

  10. For my three words, I chose Big Picture, Current Relevance, and Gaps.

    This was partially motivated by the fact that the list had already been erased and those were the three words that I could make out the best.

    But that being said:

    Big Picture: The big picture in this class was that literacy is a human system. I used to read as an escape, or because I could be alone with my thoughts, or in a fantasy world, but reading is part of a culture. Other people enjoy reading as well, and it gives them (and me) logical and emotional skills which are useful outside of just ourselves. Community is the basis on which culture is built, and I really responded to the community-building exercises, particularly the book talks and final presentations.

    Current Relevance: An impact NOW is necessary to keep people involved. Even if the knowledge is of extreme importance later (even an hour later,) energizing and engaging writing is a must. Document choice is important.

    Gaps: Everyone suffers gaps in knowledge, understanding, analysis, and preparation. There is much to be said about preparation and reducing gaps, but also in dealing with gaps that are there when a literacy activity is at hand. Helping another person overcome a lack of understanding helps the instructor to overcome his or her own. It also keeps the instructor from being too self-centered.

  11. How do we encourage young students to be both content literate as well as encourage them to become lifelong readers? I would start at a point which is a recurring problem of students across disciplines: motivation. Motivation is often a question of relevancy. If a teacher provides material that is relevant and engaging for their students they are more apt to hold their motivation over time. There needs to be a hook. Students often internally (and sometimes verbally) ask “why do we need to learn this stuff.” If the subject matter is engaging and relevant it is applicable to the child’s own life. This process fosters the child to make connections and ultimately affords them a deeper understanding of the subject. Vocabulary, while important, is often just a means to an end. It helps students to take the test at the end of the year (whether that is the regents or another high stakes test). I would argue that vocabulary doesn’t need to be taught until right before the exam at the end of the year.

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