Rebeca Delgado - Commonplace Entry #2


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Rebeca Delgado - Commonplace Entry #2

  1. 1. Talking, Typing, Teaching: Helping Students Overcome Challenging Texts Rebeca B. Delgado | Commonplace Entry #2
  2. 2. I recently had this conversation with my best friend from high school:
  3. 3. It made me sad to think that his English teacher did not give the students the confidence and tools to engage in the reading.
  4. 4. My friend’s plight with Paradise Lost made me wonder what his teacher could have done to make the story accessible.
  5. 5. Looking over Beach and Wiggins, I found that: talking about the text, creating interesting forms of writing responses, & clearly explaining how you want the students to understand the literature are all valuable ways in assisting students with challenging texts.
  6. 6. TALKING Beach (2012) explains that one of the most integral roles that an English teacher plays is that of a discussion starter. Getting students to talk about the text helps them to externalize their thoughts or questions and demonstrate understanding. Dialogic discussions, as mentioned by Beach (2012), contribute to ensuring that students do not fall into limiting I-R-E discussions that offer only closed questions (questions with only one answer) that the teacher facilitates. However, having students talk to one another about the text and ensuring them that literary analysis supports many understandings and interpretations will encourage students to look at the text with new perspectives. According to Wiggins & McTighe (2005), it is important that teachers explain to students that the study of literature is not finite and that “learning is an unending quest for findings”.
  7. 7. TYPING Another fear that many students share from junior high to university is the dreaded essay. But what if teachers considered other methods of writing responses?
  8. 8. TYPING Beach (2012) explains that students can become engaged with newfound writing activities through reading and creating comic books. One such work that is optimal for study in a high school setting is Art Spiegelman’s MAUS (1986). Students may also construct narratives in response to texts by writing their own drama scripts (Beach, 2012). These works could expand upon the text or simply be a creative writing activity on their own. This writing can help students view the core elements of the story in new light as they work to adapt the plot into another format.
  9. 9. TEACHING As previously mentioned, being clear about what students are supposed to understand from a text is helpful in dismantling dense works. Beach (2012) discusses the importance of evaluating students’ work through formative assessments that give students consistent feedback about their progress and results. Another form is the “feed-up” formative assessment that asks students to “continually clarify their purposes and expectations for what they want to accomplish” (Beach, p. 237).
  10. 10. TEACHING Another important element to consider as an English teacher is the likelihood of students’ encountering hurdles in the reading. Wiggins (2012) explains that this “awareness of predictable misunderstandings” will help teachers better prepare lessons that cater to the “rough spots” so that students are effectively guided through them. A way to achieve clarity in explaining expectations for reading and writing to students is to use rubrics (Wiggins, 2012). Rubrics provide a visual breakdown of the exact criteria that the teacher expects the student to meet. As Wiggins (2012) writes, rubrics help to explain that understanding is “a matter of degree on a continuum” and answers key assessment questions that students may have.
  11. 11. In reconsidering my friend’s story after completing the readings from the past three weeks, I have found that there are many tools and activities that his teacher could have utilized to better prepare the class for Paradise Lost. By teaching with clear goals, getting students to talk about the text & write in creative formats, teachers can better help their students overcome dense and intimidating texts with confidence and clarity.
  12. 12. REFERENCES • Beach, R., Thein, A. H., & Webb, A. (2012). Teaching to exceed the English language arts Common Core State Standards: A literacy practices approach for 6-12 classrooms. New York, NY: Taylor & Francis. • Wiggins, G., & McTighe, J. (2005). Understanding by design (expanded 2nd ed.). Alexandria, VA: Merrill Education/ASCD.