Real-World Tasks in the ELA Classroom: Goodreads

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“In this the-more-assessments-the-better culture, can teachers still create real-world learning experiences in their classrooms? You better believe it!

One of the best professional development workshops I attended was a technology session with Dr. Zachary Walker (@lastbackpack). Since technology permeates the 21st century classroom–as well as the world in which our students dwell, Walker observed, “if we’re preparing our students correctly, the last day of school should be exactly like their first day out of school.”

Gulp.

This forced me to rethink just about everything I do in my room. Since a colleague, Chris (@cjgosselin), and I share the professional goal of fostering a love of reading within our students, we began thinking of engaging, real-world tasks we could assign that adult bibliophiles do in their everyday lives.

Enter Goodreads.

If you are unfamiliar with Goodreads, it is a social network where over 40 million bibliophiles are already cataloging, discussing, reviewing, and sharing great books. Here is how we implemented this real-world experience within our high school classes.

1. CREATING AN ACCOUNT. We asked our students to create a free account (for those who were not already members). Because our students are all minors, we always suggest that their usernames consist of their first name and last initial only (for cyber safety).”  Read the entire piece here

Check out the rest of the author’s blog here. 

How Much Text Complexity Can Teachers Scaffold?

flickr photo by basheem http://flickr.com/photos/bastian/2270463815 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-ND) license

Professor Timothy Shanahan writes an excellent blog on literacy. His latest post, “How Much Text Complexity Can Teachers Scaffold?” is a great and thoughtful read.

“How much of a “gap” can be compensated through differentiation? If my readers are at a 400 Lexile level, is there an effective way to use a 820 level chapter book? 

            This is a great question. (Have you ever noticed that usually means the responder thinks he has an answer).

            For years, teachers were told that students had to be taught with books that matched their ability, or learning would be reduced. As a teacher I bought into those notions. I tested every one of my students with informal reading inventories, one-on-one, and then tried to orchestrate multiple groups with multiple book levels. This was prior to the availability of lots of short paperback books that had been computer scored for F & P levels or Lexiles, so I worked with various basal readers to make this work.

            However, a careful look at the research shows me that almost no studies have found any benefits from such matching. In fact, if one sets aside those studies that focused on children who were reading no higher than a Grade 1 level, then the only results supporting specific student-text matches are those arguing for placing students at what we would have traditionally called their frustration level.”

Read the entire piece here.

Recommended Blog ~ Two Writing Teachers

xoxo

If you are a teacher of writing, you’re going to want to take a peek at the blog, Two Writing Teachers. On their mission page they state:

Good teaching is good teaching. Too often we get caught up in what’s happening in our own classroom walls or in the faculty lounge of our own school building. This blog is a place that erases all of those barriers and focuses simply on teaching kids to write and catching minds in the midst. It’s happening in cities, in suburbs, and in small towns all over the globe.  

TWO WRITING TEACHERS is a place:

For teachers to be fueled with a passion for teaching, writing, and living.
For teachers to see the latest in research and ways to apply it in their classrooms.
For us to “practice what we preach” by sharing our own writing.
To bring writing teachers together to share ideas and stretch each other’s thinking.
To reflect on our teaching — celebrating when it goes well and working it out when it doesn’t.”

Scroll down to the bottom of the page and dip into the extensive categories they have written about.

xoxo