So here’s what I do in the classroom

Posted: September 30, 2010 in Uncategorized

**No student names are displayed in any examples and the examples provided are a mix from several semesters in order to help protect students’ identity**

I have chosen to focus on the overall theme of poverty this semester.

To prepare students for a reading in their textbook about a singe mother on welfare who complains about being discriminated against and who claims that she receives more benefits for her children through welfare than through working (so she does not work), we discuss some general questions about poverty.

I hand out sheets of paper that have one question. Students write their response and then pass the sheet to the next student, and we continue the process for 5-10 minutes. Example (I know the images are kind of difficult to see, but you can click on them to see an enlarged version):

Example 2:

After discussing several of the sheets, I collect them and place them in a class binder that students will be able to view later.

Then, we read the article on the welfare mom aloud together. The students find the article interesting, so they eagerly volunteer to read aloud (I never make students read aloud. Sometimes I will go around the room and tell students that when their turn comes, if they don’t want to read they can just look at the person next to them).

We discuss the article and many students participate in the discussion because welfare and poverty are topics that many of my students can relate to. Women in the class begin talking about not receiving child support, and a male in the class asks, “Can women pay child support?” After finding out that yes, they can, another male remarks that it would be interesting to find the statistics that show how many males are required to pay child support compared with how many woman are required to do so.

These questions and comments show that students are engaged in the discussion and are thinking critically.

The next class, we read an true article written by a social worker who tells about a seventeen-year-old female who is pregnant with her second child, while her first child is already living in foster care. By the end of the article, we discover that the girl has given the second child to foster care and is pregnant yet again. The social worker discusses the impact that magazine advertisements have on teenage girls and contributes to their promiscuity.

Students enjoy the reading but struggle with several of the paragraphs and it becomes apparent to me that some students really have a difficult time decoding and pronouncing certain words. I notice students replacing words with different words that start with the same letter and continue on reading. Most of the time, no one in the class makes any correction. If I am going to make any corrections, I wait until the reader has finished his or her section, and then as I help to summarize the difficult parts, I will say the word correctly.

For our next activity, I rip advertisements from magazines and have students make inferences on what they are able to observe from the photographs and phrases. Several examples are below:

After reviewing their responses, I will put the photograph and several responses on a Power Point and go over them in class. Examples of responses I have included in Power Points include:

“This ad gives men the sense that if they wear this fragrance that they could have the confidence that this man does.”

“That this is the best selling cologne for men and smells better than any others.”

I also give an example of a response that is not an inference (usually I will choose a response from another class so that no one is embarrassed that their incorrect response is displayed):

Is this an inference? –> “Wearing Kenneth Cole Reaction you will live, love, create, and get a good reaction.”
~~
Second example:
Inferences students have made:
“The significance of having a celebrity promote their clothing line is so it could send sale margins through the roof.”
“If you wear H&M you might get Rihanna’s swagger.”
Third example:
Inferences:
“That the Gap rocks!”
“Making it look like the clothes will pop out when you buy the product and it seems like you will enjoy it.”
Example of something that cannot be inferred:
“Buying Gap clothes saves a lot of money for you.”
The lesson continues…but I’ll post more later.
My point in posting this is to show that this type of information will be very helpful in showcasing exactly what teachers are doing in the classroom and how effective the teaching is. I’m not saying my ideas are perfect, but I feel that this type of reporting is necessary in addition to standardized testing.
*Note* I’m not saying that we do away completely with standardized testing. I’m saying that standardized testing alone is not nearly enough.
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