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Topics - lthorson

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Postreading Activities / Reader's Theater as a post-reading tool
« on: May 14, 2016, 07:12:34 AM »
 I have always been interested in helping students with their reading skills, and sometimes I don't think just reading a text silently and doing comprehension activities is enough to help students with this, so I have always been interested in Readers Theater. The way that I would use it is an extension of a reading that they have done previously, and the students are not supposed to modify the original text too much. Below I have answered some questions people might have about Readers Theater.

What is Readers Theater and why do it?
Readers Theater is a way for students to build reading fluency through the practice of reading scripts. Readers Theater can also help students with word and phrase recognition, vocabulary, comprehension of text, and eventually their reading speed.
A group of students prepares a script ahead of their presentation time, practicing reading through the dialogue and going through the unfamiliar vocabulary with their group mates. In doing this, the students re-read a text multiple times and work through the structure of their lines, the pronunciation of words, as well as their reading speed and fluency, which can all benefit students in the long run.
What Readers Theater is not
Readers Theater is not a performance. The text is not memorized by the students as the goal of doing Readers Theater is for students to practice their reading, not to memorize their lines. Nothing is acted out. This is not a play, just students reading a text they prepared to the teacher and other students of the class.
How does this benefit the listeners?
While their classmates are reading the script out loud, the listeners are reading the script silently, following along with their classmates. Reading silently at a spoken pace can help with reading fluency, as the silent reader cannot stop at unfamiliar words and puzzle out the meaning. By following along with the spoken text, the reader works at a steady pace, which can also aid comprehension.

What kind of text should be used?
[/size] Not just any text should be used when doing Readers Theater. In fact, it is simple enough to re-format something the students have already read into a script. By doing this, students are already familiar with the language and vocabulary of the text as well as the content of the reading.
To change a reading text into a script, there are several things that should happen. First, the writer of the script should come up with logical characters for the setting, usually in an interview format. Second, most of the information from the text should be kept. The writer should only add words that help make the information into a conversation. Finally, questions can be added that to help transition from one idea of the text to another idea.
How do I apply this in my classroom?
Because Readers Theater involves many different skills, this kind of activity can be applied in several different ways. In a reading classroom, students can do this activity somewhat regularly to practice reading fluency and work on their reading speed. Higher level reading/writing classes can create their own script and analyze which words or transitions they used in order to transform a text into a script. Even pronunciation classes can do something similar, listening to how students pronounce their words when they read aloud to the class.

Grammar - Error Correction / Error correction video
« on: May 14, 2016, 06:59:36 AM »
I am posting a link to a video that I think is super interesting about using grammar correction and corrective feedback in a real life setting. Watching this video changed my entire view about error correction and corrective feedback.

This video does many things, but one of the most important things about it is that it shows different kinds of error correction. The students are all esl students, and the teacher has been working with them for a while, so she knows what they can do better with, and who to kind of sit back on. You can tell she pushes students differently depending on who they are. It is also very useful because she pauses and explains her thinking occasionally.

I know that it may seem a bit much to some teachers, and my error correction use in the classroom is not even close to the extent in which she does it, but you can tell that the students are learning a lot and that they they have co-created a space that is comfortable enough for error correction to take place to this extent.

Getting to Know You Activities / The card ice breaker activity
« on: May 14, 2016, 06:52:37 AM »
I have had many groups of students who on the first day really do not want to talk to each other, so in order to start the semester right and create a safe environment for my students throughout the semester, I always start the same way, and that is with the card ice breaker activity.

What this entails is the teacher takes a deck of cards and takes out some of the cards with the numbers 2-10. Then, they distribute one card to each student. The purpose of this activity is to tell your classmates facts about yourself, but the amount of information you give depends on the number on your card. Let's say that you have the number 4 on your card, that means you have to tell your partner 4 facts about yourself. If your partner has the number 9 on their card, they have to tell you 9 facts about theirself.

This is not the end, however. As soon as you are done telling your facts, you switch cards with your partner and go and find someone else. So, in the next round, you now have to tell a different partner 9 facts. This keeps going on until you have talked with everybody, or until the teacher has seen that too much time has passed.

The reason I like this activity is because it is a little different than the "tell 3 facts about yourself" activities. It is also amusing to see students frustrated over receiving a high card, and then relieved when their partner has a low card. The teacher also plays an important role in this activity. Usually, I will participate as well in order to create a friendly relationship with my students, but if there is an even amount of people, I usually stay back and only step in when there are groups that finish quickly and need someone new to talk to.

If you don't have cards, you can always play it in a different way. One semester, I had students pick their own fate. I didn't tell them why, but I told them to write a number 1-8 on a piece of paper. Then, when I revealed what they had to do, they realize what they did to their self, and then feel relieved when they have to switch numbers. Overall, it is just a fun activity and a little different than usual and it gets students off of their butt and walking and talking with their classmates.

General Reading Links / VOA and reading along while listening
« on: April 07, 2016, 03:17:43 PM »

This is a website I have been keeping my eye on for several years. I know people who use it for pronunciation or vocabulary practice, however I use it to help students practice reading, as well as listening. Especially for students who have trouble with reading because of their own reading pace, or because they don't understand the words, because they are more oral learners and understand more spoken than written English, reading along while someone reads the text can be very helpful, especially if it is the second or third time the student is reading the text.

On this website, there are literally hundreds of news articles, stories, etc. with text and voice accompaniment, and in many different categories. I believe that this website would be useful for classes with mixed backgrounds who have different interests and different fields. It can also be very helpful for reading logs. Most of the articles/stories are at an intermediate/low advanced level, and reading the article several times, then listening while reading, can be very helpful for comprehension, and allows them to interact with the text in a new way.

I know people have mixed feelings about reading and listening, but I think it can be very useful to all students to help with reading comprehension and fluency. Reading fluency is also important, but something most teachers don't really teach, but VOA can help with that.

Assessment of Reading / Reading Response Notebooks
« on: April 07, 2016, 02:24:53 PM »
I came across an interesting idea about assessing reading. In a reading response notebook, the assessment is not about what questions the teacher might ask, but it is all student lead. How it works is that while reading, the students will write down anything they thought was important, or that they had questions about. Then, they interact with what they wrote by writing out ideas, or solutions. They can also do research to answer questions. It can also be used as a vocabulary list. This is for them to remember what happens every chapter, or for everything they are reading.

The reason I believe this pertains to assessment, is that a teacher can collect these notebooks periodically and check that the students are interacting with the material, and questioning it. A teacher can see if the student understands the material based on what they wrote, and knows what students are having trouble with based on the questions they write. These pre-class responses can also help guide the classes, and make material more student-run, which I think is very important.

Also, even though the students are writing in their journals, they aren't answering questions, and there are no comprehension questions either. It is based solely on what they understand, or what they didn't understand, and what they don't write is just as telling as what they do write. I like this idea of formal, yet informal assessment at the same time, and I think it can be very useful for students at all levels.

Harry Potter Lessons! / Harry Potter Lesson - Kokoro, Evan, Lourdra
« on: February 04, 2016, 03:15:09 PM »
 Lesson – Harry Potter Chapter 1
Pre-class activity: Shared google doc new word list
  • -          While reading the chapter, any words the student does not understand, they will write down in the word list. This will be for the entire book, eventually
Part 1: Character Analysis Chart
  • -      See the attached document
Part 2: Draw a part of the first chapter
  • -          Understand the language in the scene
  • -          Present the drawing to the class - What is happening in the scene? Why did you draw this scene? Explain you reasons.
Part 3: Comparing and Contrasting Cultures
  • -          Re-write the first 8 pages of the first chapter with regards to your own culture
  • -          Go over Mr. Dursley’s situation (upper-middle class, works in a company, etc…)
  • -          How will the characters and their relationships change based on the change in culture?
Part 4: Writing sentences with new vocabulary
  • -          Go back to the word list and write sentences using 5 or 10 words that you don’t know

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