Literacy Strategies for the Multi-Ability Classroom: Part II

Teachers responded well to my tri-fold guide for struggling readers: Non-Reader, Word Caller and Turned-Off Reader. See: Literacy Strategies for the Multi-Ability Classroom, Part I

To help teachers incorporate literacy strategies in their classrooms, Pat Martin and I went on to develop a series of targeted kits for critical skill development: Tools for the Word Caller (440kb pdf) and Tools for the Turned-Off Reader (460kb pdf). Each kit features eleven tools gathered from research-based practice. The kits feature a guide for the teacher with suggestions on how they can modify each strategy to support even more rigorous and relevant instruction. A reproducible student organizer gives scaffolded responsibility for learning to the student. Students are invited to make each skill part of their reader’s toolbox and reflect on how it improves their comprehension. I’ll be using the kits at teacher’s workshops this month to get feedback from the field. If you use one, let me know how it went. For more resources see my website: Content Reading Strategies that Work

So why aren’t your students publishing their own books?

We all struggle to create authentic writing experiences for our students. Imagine if they had an opportunity to see their work in print – and we’re talking about a real paperback.  Let them go through the process of writing, co-editing, illustrating and designing a book. Rigor and relevance meets motivation and self-directed study. I’ve gotten so excited by the results that I’ve done workshops to train teachers. You can see material and sample student books at my website Read > Think > Write > Publish.

I recently discovered Lulu.com – a print-on-demand publisher. I’ve used it to publish five books for a dear friend and author – Abe Rothberg. He wrote the manuscripts. I formated them in Word and converted them to a PDFs. I designed the covers in Photoshop and converted them to a PDFs. I uploaded the PDF files to the Lulu website. Cost so far – nothing!

Lulu doesn’t actually produce any books until one is ordered. Then the magic starts – Lulu takes my PDF files and produces a perfect-bound book and ships it to the buyer.

The money side at Lulu is pretty straightforward. No charge for uploading a book. (If you want to give it an ISBN number, that’s $35). Book production costs are $4.53 per book plus .02 per page black and white (.15 per page color). Example: a 50 page book with b/w text would cost you $.5.53 plus shipping. No costs are incurred until a book is ordered.  As a book author you can limit sales to only yourself, and buy unlimited books at cost (with a break on author’s orders of more than 25).  If you want to offer the books for sale to the public, you can set the price. You get 80% of the mark up over production cost. Lulu keeps 20% and sends you the royalty checks. They will also host your book as a downloadable e-Book for free.

BTW -  Abe has had a distinguished career as a journalist, university professor and author of seven published novels, two books of history, a collection of short stories, two children’s books, and a volume of literary criticism. His previous work was published by mainstream publishers and has been favorably reviewed in NY Times, Harper’s, Time Magazine, and Publishers Weekly. He’s also a dear friend and mentor whose previous work had gone out of print. We decided to cut out the middle man. For more on Abe go to his website – Abraham Rothberg

PS – I don’t work for Lulu

What did Europeans see when they looked at the New World and the Native Americans?

beavers-build-a-dam-herman-moll-1732
Beavers Build a Dam ~ Herman Moll 1732 – click to enlarge

This lesson improves content reading comprehension and critical thinking skills with an engaging array of source documents – including journal entries, letters, maps, and illustrations. It examines European views of Native American and the New World in the Age of Exploration. While it is a rather one-sided account, the documents also reveal a great deal about the cultural “lenses” that the Europeans “looked though.”I developed this lesson to assist high school history teachers working with struggling readers. I wanted to show them how they could scaffold learning so that all students could participate in doing the work of historians. I built the lesson around a theme which was central to their curriculum. It was designed as an essential question that would engage students in reflection about how they allowed prejudice to color their perceptions. I selected images which could be “decoded” by students with a minimum of background knowledge.

The source material contains twenty-five documents in text and image formats. I modernized historic accounts at two reading levels – 5th and 8th grade. Each contains the same twenty five documents.  A series of six exercises accompanies the lesson to guide students through the process of extracting information from the documents and constructing their own answers to the essential question. Link to Lesson


Image credit: Library of Congress gm71005441

A new and exact map of the dominions of the King of Great Britain on ye continent of North America, containing Newfoundland, New Scotland, New England, New York, New Jersey, Pensilvania, Maryland, Virginia and Carolina. Herman Moll 1732.

Literacy Strategies for the Multi-Ability Classroom: Part I

I recently presented a workshop for teachers from the New York State Office of Children and Family Services. The goal was to share strategies for working with struggling readers in multi-ability classrooms in juvenile detention facilities around the state. I used reader profiles to guide teachers through identification of struggling readers and appropriate learning strategies. Here are tri-folds of three types of struggling reader. Non-Reader, Word Caller and Turned Off. (each a 200kb pdf) Print them out back to back. Developed with Pat Martin. Reference: Differentiated Instructional Strategies for Reading in the Content Area, Carolyn Chapman and Rita King

I was joined by Suzanne Suor, a learning specialist who focuses on motivating struggling readers through the use of student publication projects. This spring we will be working with OCFS teachers from across the state in staff development training. We plan to collect samples of student work to review the impact of our literacy strategies in the classroom. We’ll combine strategies, student work and teacher reflection in publications to share with the students and their families. 

This dedicated group of teachers has a commitment to helping their students build motivation, positive self image and academic skills. They already have many great project ideas for student publications – example teen fathers writing and publishing their own books for their children. For more on professional development with a product see PowerPoint overview. (400kb pdf)

For more strategies see: Literacy Strategies for the Multi-Ability Classroom: Part II

Picturing Ourselves: Teaching with Visual Documents

MAG-workshop featured

I recently worked with educators from across the Rochester NY area in a workshop titled “Picturing Ourselves: Teaching with Visual Documents”  at a workshop held at the Memorial Art Gallery.

We looked at strategies for using visual document to create student-centered lessons that invite students to construct their own meaning. Our focus included – the relevance of essential questions, higher order thinking skills, and linking visual literacy with listening and reading skills. Presentation Notes (4 mb) pdf.

Most importantly, we considered choosing images that contain information that is not overly dependant on background knowledge. This enables students of all ability level to successfully “do the work of the historian.”

Use this guide (9 kb) pdf to compare these two images (446 kb) pdf. The first is a famous photo of the linking of the transcontinental railroad. Without background knowledge, students merely see a group of men standing around two trains. Contrast with the second photo from the Stone Collection of a 1910 street scene in Rochester NY. Without much background knowledge students see autos, bicycles, electric trolleys, horse-draw wagons and pedestrians. Independently they can use this image to construct their own understanding of the changes in transportation in the early 20th century.

“Homefront America” is a lesson designed to improve content reading comprehension with an engaging array of source documents – including journals, maps, photos, posters, cartoons, historic data and artifacts. I developed it to serve as a model for blending essential questions, higher order thinking and visual interpretation.

For more ideas go to my websites Teaching with Documents  and Content Reading Strategies that Work For more images from the Stone Collection of the Rochester Museum and Science Center as well as images of Rochester and New York State try The Rochester Image Project. The Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Collection can be searched here.

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