Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Novel study

Reading is not always fun when you're young but our parents and teachers try their best to encourage to read as much as possible.  I remember my dad nagging me to read all the time so that I could expand my vocabulary and be able to construct good sentences.  I was excited when my co-workers decided to start a reading class at our school, I was more excited that they gave me complete control.  Last year I taught the students a few short stories and fables which were well received. This year we decided to teach the students short novels.  The books that we chose were "Charlie and the Chocolate factory" for our the first graders (7th grade) and "Charlotte's Web" for the second and third graders (8th & 9th grade).  My excitement soon turned into stress when it dawned on me that I had roughly 15 weeks to teach these books to second language students.  But, I accepted the challenged and spent all my free time researching effective strategies for teaching. I coupled the information I found with my six steps for lesson planing and came up with different lessons each week.  I did experience a few hiccups every now and then but I had overall success.

So here's what I did...

Lead-in and elicitation
The lead-in activity is an opportunity for the students to identify the topic using previous knowledge. The pictures, videos or flashcards used will help students create stronger associations. Next, I will ask students to predict and guess what they think the story is about. In a controlled manner I will get them to shout out answers, this will get them excited to read and find out if their predictions were correct.
 For example, during my introductory lesson on Charlie and the Charlie factory I showed the class the trailer from the movie which was actually a lazy move on my part but it seemed to have produced the results I was hoping for. Whereas, for Charlotte's Web I took an entirely different approach.  Since this book was targeted at higher level students I decided to teach an entire lesson on animals...So in effect my lead-in lasted almost 30 minutes; however, seeing as this was my introductory lesson it wasn't altogether bad. 

My class is 45 minutes so I don't have enough time to go through an entire chapter in class.  I also wanted to give the students the opportunity to read independently so I needed to condense my text.  For each lesson I made a summary of the focus chapter which we read together.  Students were instructed to just skim through the short synopsis of the story to get a general idea and not to look for specific details. Afterwards we had  a brief discussion on what they read before moving onto the next task.  At this point of the lesson it's a good idea to discuss new vocabulary and key phrases relevant to the overall understanding of the text.

Controlled practice
For this task the students were giving an activity to test their understanding of the text. each class had a different activity so that the kids were constantly engaged and didn't get too bored by the same book.For example, during our lesson before mid-terms I put the students into groups and they were required to create a mind-map in which they had to fill in specific details such as location, time, people involved etc. I instructed each group to read the synopsis carefully at least 2 times and work as a team to fill in the information.  This task required students to read for detailed information.  During this activity I walked to each group and offered assistance

Freer practice
For the final task, students worked individually and answered comprehension questions.  The questions were related to the text however did not contain the exact words; therefore, students were required to exercise their thinking. This task will work as a strategy of interpretation because students will have to look for clues within the question and draw conclusions. 

After students have read the summary and filled in relevant information into their charts I did a quick review to check their understanding and to explain certain parts of the text that may have caused confusion. We looked at each category specified in the chart and had a brief discussion on each. We also checked the answers to the final task and discussed the students initial predictions on the story. 

Follow-up or homework
As mentioned above, due to time restrictions we were unable to read an entire chapter in class, hence the use of short summaries. As a follow-up activity and for homework students were required to read the full chapter by themselves and to jot down words or phrases they found difficult.  During the start of our next lesson we reviewed the past chapter and covered new vocabulary. 

No comments:

Post a Comment