Monday, April 30, 2007

Comprehension Activites

This morning I wrote a little something about my thoughts on 'Teaching Comprehension' to a newsgroup I belong to. I then thought I'd make it my blog post and maybe soon get around to making a webpage for the other two strategies.

(Adrian B mounts his soapbox)

Hi All,

In my experience 'comprehension activities' often amount to worksheets that require students to 'find answers' on the page. (yes I know that all generalisations are evil).

I propose that teachers need to be aware of 3 main strategies that actually
teach children how to comprehend what they are reading and what they have read.

1. Reciprocal Teaching -
(you can download the cue cards here to make this an independent activity)

This is an excellent resource for teaching in information texts. It is a bit dry but if you discuss the metacognition behind it you get good results. The kids also like to 'race' who can find a fact/place/definition fastest between traditional atlases/ dictionaries etc and Google Earth Wikipedia etc

2. Three Level Questioning - I use the terms 'Here Questions' - you can put your finger on the part of the text where the answer is. ' Hidden Questions' where the answer is often hidden in the text but you will have to think about it a bit' NB 'Hidden' often involve inference - 'not stated but highly likely' and 'Head Questions' - the answer is in your head.

Found a pfd on a quick search
but there is a fair bit more to it.

Get the kids generating the questions for their classmates - I use, 'I want you to generate a Head question' etc and then have the children ask their question to the rest of the reading group.

3. My modifications to Visualising / Verbalising programs - fantastic for narrative texts - Mmmm, can't find a quick article - crux is - you discuss how visual images in your mind are much more powerful than text in your mind - explore how people visualise - some lucky people see whole movies in their mind. Continuous and in colour. Myself I see the images as brief flashes but in colour. It is said that some people see the images in black and white but this is getting less since the advent of colour TV and some people see know images at all but these are a very small minority. Discuss pulling up those images and using words to describe them.

Over the next few weeks I read for 15 minutes every morning and have the kids have their eyes closed with the intention of using clues from the text to build vivid images in their minds. I then spend 15 minutes discussing the images from chapter level, to page level to paragraph level all the way to sentence level.

Each day after the 15 minute reading I get the students into pairs and they must retell the mornings reading. I then get one pair to stand and do a paired story of the morning's reading. (this keeps them on their toes and stops them having a little sleep) I sometimes give different question stems that the groups have to make questions for.

(Adrian dismounts his soapbox and feels somewhat cleansed)


Adrian B

PS Make sure you ask, 'Am I teaching them how to comprehend or simply testing if they can find answers in a text?'

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Thursday, April 26, 2007

Jackson Pollock Without the Mess

I find that you can get a great deal of learning about what Art means to a student by exploring the work of Jackson Pollock. There are even online sites that let you create artworks like this one without even getting paint on your classroom floor.

Yes I know that paint on the floor and the walls and the shoes and the socks is all part of the fun, but hey... don't get the cleaners or the parents off side ;)



Lamenting the Passing of My Ipod

Today my Ipod has died :( It is no more and I will miss it so.

No more podcast listening in the car on the way to work. No more listening to music while working late into the night. Oh the pain of having to get up and put on a CD ;)

But just what does one do with a dead Ipod?



Friday, April 20, 2007

Symmetry Everywhere :)

My Symmetry Webquest site is one of the most popular parts of my site. It has over 10 000 page hits a day from all over the world. Today I added a new experimental feature. I've included photos directly from Flickr tagged 'Symmetry' via my Pageflakes account. I'm hoping all will go fine :)

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Friday, April 13, 2007

Are Teachers Really 'Writers'?

One of my dearest friends and I have been discussing (for almost 20 years now) the fact that teachers are required to teach 'Writing' to our classes, but seldom could we be classed as "writers" in any other sense than 'functionally literate' individuals. It is an interesting debate that I'm sure we will continue tomorrow night at his birthday party ;) esp given that his dad (an ex-principal) will have more than just a little input.

Aside to Sean... So dear friend, happy birthday (it is just a number... albeit a large one) and I look forward to many other discussions that may arise from your birthday present from me. A 3 day pass to the Byron Writers' Festival.

NB I've cleared it with your wife and you are free to attend the festival and then bunk down at my place.



PS (Do you think I use brackets too much?)

Thursday, April 12, 2007

To Sleep Perchance to Dream

Last night Ginsberg was reading Beat Poetry to a disinterested porcelain cat who wished only to be known as Bono while Tom Waits (who'd been drinking again) was smashing my dinner plates into the sink ;)

I love having students keep a dream diary for a week or two as homework. The dream recordings can be used for song lyrics, poetry, art, creative writing or even just the discussion relating to Psychology, Science or even Dream Interpretation.

Give it a go as this task can generate a great deal of discussion.



Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Children as Life Coaches

Here's an activity where I ask the children to become life coaches and produce a 5 panel comic strip of a fable that they think would be a valuable 'life lesson' for a member of our class. NB No one is allowed to mention names ;)

I'm always amazed at what they come up with.

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The Story of My Birth

Having the children interview their parents about the day of their birth makes for some really pleasant and interesting reading.

Check out the tips and tricks section for a few hints on this activity.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Online Magnetic Poetry

You can get some really creative poetry results by using online magnetic poetry generating sites.

Check out my tips and tricks for using these magnetic poetry sites.

The students love them much more than you would imagine :)

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