August 1, 2014 | Tim Nethers |
“Literacy includes reading, writing, and the creative and analytical acts involved in producing and comprehending text “ (Kentucky Department of Education & Kentucky Reading Association, 2008). I have always perceived this as the predominant responsibility of the language arts teacher. As a Middle School math instructor and Math Department Chair I know that all content-area teachers must participate in this process. This involves taking my content-area and infusing a rich diet of reading, writing, and engagement in the text therefore giving the student tools to have mastery of the content. Educators are charged with creating a classroom that engages students and causes them to grow academically. As I consider what should be implemented in classrooms my first thought must be what is best for the learner.
Tweet the Text is an example of a strategy that allows students to summarize concepts and enrich their ability to personalize and internalize content. The 140-character rule for tweeting creates a familiar boundary for students to summarize concisely. Math textbooks, for example, often cover multiple methods in one lesson. For students to be able to synthesize their thoughts into 140 words would assist them in developing a clear understanding of the steps or processes involved to solve complex problems. Tweeting the Text also allows a student to re-teach a concept to a student. Students must be able to decipher central thoughts, themes, and ideas from a text and then analyze and summarize it. Tweet the Text also crosses the barrier between the classroom and the students’ life outside of school. This helps them understand that academic growth and development is important for future success.
Teacher-student correspondence grows relationship with my students and creates an emotionally safe classroom. Within a few moments I am able to create relationship and personal connection with my students when written communication is added to students’ math journals. When students have a known forum to state their concerns about the class or about what is going on in their world I know that my connections with my students will be enhanced. When there is a personal connection students will make academic gains.
Word Walls create an environment of review and connection in the classroom. Vocabulary in a text is what allows the student to connect and comprehend what is being taught. When students actively participate in creating the word wall there is great power in it and they will use it for reference and review. Using an alphabetical arrangement gives the students an easy framework to add words as we cover concepts and helps them make connections between the different concepts.
As educators our focus is on our students. Our desire it to create an environment that grows our students as a whole child, engaging them in their own learning process. While it will take diligence, perseverance, and determination to implement the referenced strategies in my classroom I understand the value for each of my students when I do. It is the learner that I have the greatest concern for. Each strategy enriches the learning process and deepens the students’ level of mastery. Far from my initial notion that they take away from my content, they will actually strengthen the content I am responsible for. I will loose less academic time re-teaching because the students will develop a deeper level of comprehension of the content. They will have an avenue to ask questions, re-teach to their peers, review, collaborate, summarize, and organize their thoughts. This creates an engaged learner who is actively participating in his or her own learning. If our goal is truly what is best for all students that enter our classroom then we must engage them on every level.