Tuesday, March 19, 2013

What is it like- to be a frustrated learner?

I practiced the following prescribed activity in order to put myself at the frustrational level of a student who is experiencing difficulties with reading, comprehension, vocabulary etc. I found it in
Bringing Words to Life: Robust Vocabulary Instruction (Isabel L. Beck PhD)

She recommends this practice: 

Select from an excerpt from a magazine, 10 target words. Block out target words, ask adults to figure out what the missing words are.  I tried this on my own using  a BBC article on government sequester.  It was next to impossible to know what words were missing.  I tried again, hoping to share this with my colleagues in an upcoming meeting.  In this reading there are no directives that help students understand the context of the word in relation to the context of the sentence. No appositives to direct students toward greater meaning of the term.  I wonder if teachers, put on the spot could define all the terms highlighted in the excerpt below?

here is the difficult article: BBC News.
Tunisian Prime Minister-designate Ali Larayedh says he has presented the line-up of a new coalition government to President Moncef Marzouki.The new cabinet will be led by the Islamist Ennahda party, backed by two secular parties and some independents.Tunisia has been in turmoil since the killing of opposition leader Chokri Belaid on 6 February.The BBC's Jim Muir in Tunis says the announcement of the new government marked another failure, as the three main secular opposition groups which took part in intensive negotiations over the past two weeks all pulled out.This left leaving Ennahda back where it started - with two small coalition partners and a slight majority in the constituent assembly.

If I use this current events story for my sophomores I would rewrite it.  I would need students to define terms and use them on their own as they engage in a class activity.
And then I would give them the original to read.  I would ask them to rate the difficulty of the reading and then rate/evaluate themselves on ability to understand.  I might follow it up with a similar difficult text and ask them to decode it.

this sort of lesson emphasizes: activation of prior knowledge, fluency and familiarity, use of a term in different texts for building comprehension, take home work or class and independent uses.
It prevents: misdirection, non directive reading, general contexts without progress towards deeper understanding.  It emphasizes this new mantra I am following:

Must read enough text to encounter lots of words
Must read text of difficulty to include words unfamiliar
Develop skill to infer word meaning from context they read.

Notes for next time: 
Learning is defined as "owning a new word". Learn 3-7 words a day

Tier II words- can be left to teacher discretion with some broad guidelines

Frequent appearance- wide variety of text, does student already have a way to express concepts
Would students be able to explain words using words already known to them?

Vocabulary shouldWorked into variety of situations- need rich representations and multiple nuances?
General concept and precision/ specificity

When choosing vocab for a unit, set a limit # of words they must learn but allow students some choice
words as well. Research into students making up words.  Stop using a dictionary, start creating one?

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