Saturday, November 30, 2013

Close Reading with Diigo

Guiding Question: How can we slow down our reading pace with nonfiction text to understand more deeply?

Grade 8 will soon start research for Peace One day, a day of speeches by students about various global issues.

Jan Krömer

Before beginning the full research process of finding topics, formulating questions, and so forth, my cooperating teacher and I wanted to give students practice in deep, close reading. The students spend a lot of time in their literature class analyzing text to find greater meaning. We wanted to show them how to read in a similar way for nonfiction text.

Since our students already use diigo for bookmarking, we showed them how to use it to document their thinking as they read. Working with an article from Dogo News, we modeled the process by noting thoughts using diigo's digital sticky notes. These notes stay with the article as a record of the thinking; this will be so helpful later when students revisit their saved articles.

First, we modeled these "Talk Back" notes, ways to think about small sections of text:

Questioning - all titles and headings should spark a question
Confirming or Challenging - how does the text fit or not fit with our background knowledge?
Rewording - can we say it in our words?
Inferring - take bits of information and put it together for ourselves
Concluding - by the end, what main ideas come through?

We used some of these articles:
'Pop-Up' Schools in Kenya
Insect Protein to feed the World
Will 3-D Printers End World Hunger?
Amazon Rainforest Destruction Shows Positive Trends
Coral Reefs and Climate Change

Diigo screen-shot. Notes and highlighted sections stay with the text.

Here's a quick breakdown of the lesson:
1) Intro the idea of deep reading for nonfiction and the "talk back" notes
2) Model annotating one article in diigo (prompt students for their comments)
3) Students finish the article in pairs, continuing the process of looking at small sections and making notes
4) Whole class discussion about students' thinking
* Note: the class discussion served as our assessment to see how deeply they thought on their own.

Follow up lesson: 
Students choose an article, based on their own interests, annotate it and share it with their teacher.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Want to be busy? Make it mini.

Discovery Education's Clip Art
by Mark A. Hicks, illustrator
One of the challenges of a flexible schedule for librarians is getting time in teachers' schedules. It's hard to show how you can add value to a lesson or unit if you can't get in the door.

One strategy I use: mini-lessons. 
When a teacher first hints about working with me, I start thinking about how many mini-lessons I can offer. If the mini-lessons are part of a work session, I stay for the whole class to help students one-on-one. 

Mini-lessons are quick (anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes), so teachers can fit them in easily, and they are value-added since I'm offering a concrete tip that students need right away. The trick is teaching research skills in short bits as often as possible. 

Last week, I worked with ninth graders researching for a Renaissance magazine project. Their teacher wanted basic research tips and citation help. 

That request turned into four mini-lessons:

1. Review of basic skills (what's a database, digital encyclopedia, finding books/websites via our catalog)
2. Creating a "Works Cited" page (using EasyBib, grabbing from Britannica or our catalog)
3. In-text citations (How and when to use them)
4. Follow up to answer questions, check progress

That request equaled 16 teaching sessions for me last week.

Was I busy? Yes...just they way I like it! 
And if that teacher found value in those mini-lessons, I'll be invited back.