Sunday, October 12, 2014

Reading and Practice

I'm reflecting on summer reading through the first quarter. There are two posts
left in this Sunday series. 
Join the conversation, add a link to your post in comments
I forgot my work at school. I pulled student samples of summer reading assignments that I wanted to write about and reflect on and I left them sitting next to the computer at school. It's been a busy two weeks with a common assessment essay assignment for tenth graders and a county-mandated essay. For me that meant scoring 300 essays in ten days using new Florida Standards Assessment rubric as well as maintaining the instructional momentum of our class' weekly reading journals, Socratic discussions and other written work (but that's another post).

Instead of writing about summer reading work, I'm going to share a student's reading journal entry. This particular student is enjoying content-area literature circles in her AP Environmental science class. She's been reading Hiaasen's Chomp, discussing it with her book group in science class and writing about it in her reading journal in my class. Cross-over course work makes such a difference in students' literacy lives. Instead of seeing such work as double dipping, I tend to see it as double time. be It works. The students who have rich reading and writing routines in courses other than English get the kind of practice they need to be successful on challenging assessments.

This quarter  students are practicing close reading and argument writing in their reading journals. Some students photo copy a passage from their independent novels,  others write a short passage or a collection of quotes on the left side of the entry. On the right students practice analysis and argument. I ask students to sustain their analysis or argument for two, front pages.  This is weekly practice work. More authentic than decontextualized worksheets, but less authentic than the writing workshop pieces students choose, craft and share. My student writers need both.  Once the practice has made the routine or thinking permanent, it will go away. I will release students' from the responsibility of writing in the reading journal. Until then, we work together on it.

In this writer's practice I can see purposeful annotation: cause and effect, sound imagery and notes about decisions the characters are making. On the right, the writer starts with a claim about the need for good decision making skills. She supports her assertion by paraphrasing a decision made in the passage she pulled for close reading practice. I can see the writer using a mix of paraphrase, summary and direct quotations. When we talked about the entry I praised her close reading and reviewed when page numbers are needed in text and when they are not. In the last paragraph on the page she used a parenthetical citation for a paraphrase but not the direct quote. Understanding how to cite work in text is a lesson that spans genres and weeks in my room. This is just an initial practice and I'm pleased to see the concept forming in this writer's work.

We are off to the beach this afternoon. There is a tropical storm off shore and good waves are a guarantee. Time to get some surf time in.

Have a great week!
Lee Ann

1 comment:

  1. Excellent post that shows how we can give students choice while teaching argument. I've long believed that the best writing about literature focuses on a specific passage, and this was the focus of many English classes, both undergrad and grad level, I've taken. I like the way your post works w/ mine, which is about writing reviews using the ALAN Review style: