Monday, July 16, 2007

Reading, Writing and Thinking in all subject areas

He had us from the first moment. “It’s not what you teach, it’s how you teach”. In an engaging way David Hornsby demonstrated that beyond a certain level, anxiety prevents engagement, and thinking skills are not as effective, because students are thinking about something else. Rather the process of activating prior knowledge that students take to the text, their knowledge of history, geography, and terminology positively influences comprehension.

Practical Teaching Strategies
There is work to be done before, during and after reading to aid comprehension. One way of “stirring up” this background knowledge is the agree / disagree charts. This also helps with engagement. Simply write out some statements that are either true or not but that can be verified by reading the text. Before they read the text student tick either agree or disagree.

Agree / disagree Chart

Name of text: e.g. The World of Matter Agree Disagree

1. Most solids have a fixed shape that will not change easily
2. Icecream is a solid
3. etc.

This chart is about making predictions. Students will want to know if they are correct and read differently as a consequence.

Another strategy is the K/W/L chart: what I know, what I want to know and what I have learned. He suggests doing it as a whole class once to teach the procedure and then in future as a group activity. He reminds us that it may take some three or four experiences with the procedure to have the students doing it effectively

David also talked about using literature to engage students in the content areas in subjects such as humanities, science, health and technology as well as English, the Arts, and Languages other than English, to elicit what he called “felt thoughts”. He recommended that teachers read to students so they get an ear for the language. There were a number of books he recommended; picture books and novels as well as teacher references that are listed at the end of this post.

Later David mentioned some spelling strategies we could be teaching our students.
He mentioned 5 main ones:
1. Visual pattern development and visual memory activities such as Look Cover Write Check
2. Morphemic knowledge: knowing the meaning patterns such a s sign, significant, signal, signature, tw = 2 as in two, twin, twice, twelve, twenty, between, twilight
3. Sound strategy
4. Linking strategies: using words you know to help spell words you don't know
5. Referencing: ask someone, look it up, use a spell check (this also needs to be taught)

Explanations of various strategies can be found here.

Some other sayings of David Hornsby
  • Content is a stepping stone into learning
  • To be a good teacher one needs good professional knowledge, lots of commonsense, buckets of humour and a sense of calm
  • You don’t get taller by being measured
  • Activate your prior knowledge

References / books mentioned

Readers and Writers with a Difference by Curt Dudley-Marling and Lynn K. Rhodes

The reading bug and how to catch it by Paul Jennings

Classroom Connections by Kath Murdoch

Novels / picture books
The witch of blackbird pond by Elizabeth George Speare
Refugees by David Miller
The Burnt stick by Anthony Hill
Waiting for May by J. Stoeke
Little Brother by Allan Baillie
Boy Overboard by Morris Gleitzman
Journey to Eureka by Kerry Greenwood.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous8:12 am

    Some further books:
    Faithful Elephants by Yukio Tsuchiya
    My Place by Nadia Wheatley
    The Lorax by Dr Seuss
    Where the Forest Meets the Sea by Jeannie Baker
    When the Wind Blows by Raymond Briggs