Archive of ‘English’ category

Paragraphs – a Rubric

Rating Descriptions
0 – The use of cohesive devices is limited, making it difficult for the reader to follow the line of argument.

1 – The writer has followed a clear structure, but needs to deal with a single topic/ idea in each one. More connectives (e.g. in other words, consequently, finally, furthermore, for example, on the other hand) will also make the text more cohesive.

2 – The writer has followed a clear structure in each paragraph, using openers, closers and connectives effectively, and each paragraph deals with a single topic/ idea. Work at the sentence level (theme at the beginning of sentence) and at the word level (antonyms, synonyms, repetition) will help to make this text more cohesive.

3 – The structure, paragraphs, sentences, vocabulary, and use of connectives make this a very cohesive and coherent text so that the reader could easily follow the line of argument and be persuaded.

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Text Dependent Questions

What does the text say? (General understanding and key details)
How does the text work? (vocabulary, structure, and author’s craft)
What does the text mean? Logical inferences and intertextual connections)
What does the text inspire you to do? (write, investigate, present, debate)

Nancy Frey and Douglas Fisher San Diego State University, USA

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Differentiation and Explicit Teaching

This one looks great for providing clear explanation of explicit teaching and differentiation in the areas of Spelling, Reading, and Punctuation and Grammar. We have identified the need at our school for more focus on explicit teaching in terms of sentence structure, and differentiation is continually an important factor in meeting the wide ranging needs of individuals and cohorts within any class.

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Text Complexity

Novice readers are unable to recognise when to access prior knowledge. Explicit teaching of this skill required. Here meta cognitive thinking is really important – thinking about one’s thinking.
A key aspect of meta cognition is self-management – which consists of: evaluation, planning and regulation. Evaluation refers to analysing the task characteristics and personal abilities that affect comprehension. “Planning involves the selection of particular strategies to reach the goals that have been set or chosen. Regulation is the monitoring and redirection of one’s activities during the course of reading to reach the desired goals.”
Instruction about meta cognitive thinking led to increased comprehension and performance.

By providing reading materials related to field trips or current areas of study, a student’s field of knowledge about that topic can be expanded.

Exploring the task
Selection of texts will depend on what the teacher is expecting students to do with the text. If independent reading is required then the text needs to be something matched to their performance level. If teachers want students to access more complex texts they have to teach the text. The Australian Curriculum is about increasing the rigor of what students can read through high-quality instruction. The teacher has an important role here – not just setting the work.

Explicit teaching and a supportive framework is required. Opportunities for students to practice strategies with others, discuss ideas and listen to how more able readers interpret and think about texts, and then apply these strategies (gradually) more independently are really important factors in a quality teaching program.

Teacher-Led Tasks
As apprentices, students need to have thinking made visible. There are a number of components that can be modelled, including comprehension, word solving, text structures, and text features.
Comprehension – teachers can model- visualising, inferring, summering, predicting, questioning or monitoring. These should be used as appropriate to the text being explored not curricular used with a certain number of weeks allocated to each strategy. Readers have to learn to notice clues that trigger specific, useful cognitive strategies. Students need to see these as problem solving strategies to be used when meaning breaks down.

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Text Complexity – Notes and Relections

Motivation is a very powerful factor. The following factors impact motivation positively:
1. Relevance
2. Choice
3. Success
4. Collaboration
5. Thematic units

Avoid these 5 practices because they have a negative effect:
1. Nonrelevance
2. Excessive control
3. Difficult lessons
4. Frequent individual work
5. Disconnected units

Two other factors that teachers have a high degree of control over are: curricular organisation and social interactions. The first helps ground relevance by establishing purpose in lessons, design of units and choice within investigations are important. “To propel learning forward we need students to engage in incrementally more demanding (but not impossible) tasks – in the company of others who are learning and with expert guidance close at hand when the group gets stuck.”
Goal setting is another dimension that can impact strongly on learning. Teachers can promote deliberate practice through goal setting with students when they link goal-setting activities back to the established purposes. Goal setting should be a regular part of the instructional design process.

“Thinking about one’s thinking is essential for pairing the known with the unknown and us a critical factor in distinguishing a novice from an expert.

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