reading

Evaluating using the WWWDOT Framework

Yesterday I came across this Edutopia article on the WWWDOT framework. I find that teaching students to be critical consumers of the information they read on the internet is a large task in Grade 6 so I am always looking for different strategies to help them with this process.

I decided to turn the 6 questions or steps into an infographic that I can display in my classroom or provide to students. I used a new to me tool, Venngage.com. It was pretty easy to pick up fairly quickly and the library of images and templates was excellent considering it is a free website.

Here is my finished product:

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https://infograph.venngage.com/p/137187/wwwdot-framework

Source: Zhang, S., Duke, N. K. and Jiménez, L. M. (2011), The WWWDOT Approach to Improving Students’ Critical Evaluation of Websites. Read Teach, 65: 150–158.
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Developing as Learners Through Transdisciplinary Learning

One of my favourite resources this school year has been Newsela, a website that provides a variety of non-fiction articles and the ability to adapt them to various Lexile scores (reading levels). Through Newsela I have found a number of articles that have directed related to our units of inquiry, and provided natural connections to real world topics and events.

Currently, we are looking at informative writing and our sharing the planet unit of inquiry. Today, I selected a Newela article on starfish that were dying in the Pacific Ocean. As our focus has been on informative writing, the students were using their ‘informative writing checklist’ to analyze the article and identify the strategies the author had utilized. This is a fairly standard learning activity that we have done before but today I got an interesting response after the lesson.

One student noticed that through that activity we had utilized our reading strategies (while reading the article, making predictions, etc.), our writing strategies by identify strategies the author gad utilize, and our inquiry skills as they were thinking about how the unit connected to our unity of inquiry and concepts! For me, that the student was able to articulate the different learning skills they were using was evidence that they are developing as learners!

Discovering a love of reading (as an adult)

One of my new favourite things to do in the summer is to read, and not just read for 20 minutes here and there, but actually sit on the deck and read a whole book cover to cover. There is something about reading a complete work, in a concentrated amount of time that brings it to life for me. I know that might seem strange, but I have only recently discovered this.

Confession time: to be frankly quite honest, I have never considered myself to be much of a reader.Don’t get my wrong, I have done my fair share of reading over the years, but I had never really fallen in ‘love’ with reading. I remember thinking about the other students in elementary school that would have a book hidden in their desk during the lessons and wondering what they found so interesting. I was always the kid that would be grabbing a new book every time we had ‘silent reading’ and just flipping through the pages – not really reading – just passing time.

When I think back to my own reading instruction, I only have memories of learning the mechanics of reading and answering straight forward multiple choice comprehension questions. I am sure that there was some instruction, but it wasn’t until my final years of university when I started working at the reading clinic at my university (for students who had reading difficulties) that I realize  I had never really been taught the ‘strategies’ of reading. Although I had informally picked up these skills up over time, it was like someone had flicked a switch in my brain when I learned about them and reading all of a sudden changed for me. I still didn’t ‘love’ reading, but I quickly became a much better and more confident reader.

As a teacher, I clearly know the importance of developing strong reading skills and encouraging students to enjoy reading; however, I felt a little bit like a hypocrite trying to encourage my students to love reading – and spend more time doing it, instead of playing on their electronics, when in actual fact it wasn’t something I clearly loved or was doing on any regular basis other than what I needed to read. I loved math and science – areas of study that I had originally thought were black and white, there were rules and laws, not shades of grey (although now I realize that isn’t always the case)!

Kids are pretty smart and I wasn’t doing a very good job of this so I knew I needed to step up my game. I needed to learn to love reading if I was going to have any luck convincing my students that it was something they should love too.

Over the past few years, I have been fortunate to follow some amazing people on Twitter that clearly LOVE reading including @MrSchuReads, @PernilleRipp founder of the Global Read Aloud Project, and a K-12 librarian @ShannonMiller. Through them, I have been able to find some amazing books to read out loud to my class including The One and Only Ivan, Wonder, and The Ascendance Trilogy (The False Prince, The Runaway King, and The Shadow Throne). I have also found GoodReads, which does a fantastic job of connecting you with other books you might enjoy based on your reading history.

Through reading these amazing books, not only have I truly been able to inspire a love of reading in my students, but I have also found a love of reading myself. I now know what the kids who are hiding books in their desk are feeling, and why they are doing it. I get it.

With just over a week into my summer break and 7 books down, I have enjoyed just letting my brain take me on an adventure. There is a level of self-gratification that accompanies completing a good read that just makes you feel good inside – and that is important.

 

 

The Benefits of Author Visits

Today, we welcomed Mike Wade author of the “And Then It Happened” series of books to the Lower School. Every year around this time of year we try to have an author come to visit, and share their personal experience with the students. If you are looking for an author – Mike’s presentations are funny and inspiring to all students. He quickly relates to all students discussing his experience in school and shares some of his tricks of the trade with students.

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There are many benefits of welcoming an author into your school, and each author has their own message or theme to their presentation. Today, the message was that anyone can be a writer – something that resonates with me as a teacher and inspires the students to keep writing. For some reason, it doesn’t take much before students believe that they are not a writer! I have to admit, I never considered myself much of a writer and it has taken a lot of work to develop a mindset that I can improve my writing skills.

Through bringing in an author, students are reminded of the writing process – and that every book on the shelf in the library represents the love, sweat, and tears of an author! This is something that is easy to forget when our libraries are filled with thousands of books by authors from around the world. Today, Mike mentioned that each of his books takes usually 7 complete rewrites! This fact really stuck with me because getting students to edit and revise their work is always a challenge. Having a real live author, who has had books published tell the students he actually does this seems to have a different impact on my students!

Authors also have a way of kick starting reading! Usually, authors will bring copies of their books for sale and many times students will purchase them and read them very quickly after the author has left. As they have a real person to associate with who has created this book, it seems to get them motivated in a different way! They also seem to want to check the authors other books out of the library!