Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Using the Arts to Teach Reading Comprehension

I love it when things work out!  I love it even more when I can make meaning out of something I'm struggling with and working so hard to find natural connections.  I have a new favorite book, it's called Weaving Through Words, by Roberta Mantione and Sabine Smead.  A little background info....Jean did a LOT of research last summer and convinced me we needed to completely change our teaching styles.  I mean COMPLETELY uproot our classrooms and get rid of name tags on desks. Get rid of a lot of desks....get rid of the idea that students 'own' a space all to themselves....GASP!  Oh yeah, and have nothing but community supplies...oh, and do less paper & pencil work since we'll be using most of the room for Arts Integration on a daily basis---that I could handle without issues....All the other stuff? Hard to get a grip on that...Well here it is March already and WE LOVE IT.  She got me hooked on the Daily Five routine, and infusing the Reading Workshp model.  So while we have changed so much of our traditional daily teaching, the best part of our teaching styles has remained, and we have so much more freedom to infuse all kinds of Arts Integration strategies. Anyway, this book takes specific reading comprehension strategies and demonstrates through anecdotal lessons how a specific arts strategy can be used to directly teach it--by way of multiple modalities.  Once the children have a well developed concept of the strategy, THEN they can transfer it to text.  What an ah-ha moment for me!  Can't wait to mush this with our new CC Framework!  Yippee!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

"It's only an inch!"

Wowie! Jean and I had so much fun last week with our classes!  We have been working on reading and comparing two different articles from two different perspectives.  How do we, as readers, comprehend information from mutliple sources, draw conclusions after summarizing, and communicate the most important ideas both verbally and in writing??? YIKES!  that's a lot to do if you're only 9!  Well, we chose a wonderful topic we've seen in the media lately---Subway's Footlong sandwiches.  Several consumers worldwide have measured and found that their subs have been coming up short!  Since our kids know this advertising jingle and have been to a Subway restaurant before, they were hooked on the idea.  Not only that, but since we're making connnections in math with measurment, this was a perfect fit! We also hit upon point of view, figuartive language, and persuasive writing with powerful words! WHEW! Here are some snapshots of our learning--they are messy, but were created in the moment of teaching.   Here is a link to one of the articles we used:


Monday, February 18, 2013

Kennedy Center Annual Meeting!

Just returned from the Kennedy Center Annual Meeting!  Wow did I learn a lot! Our new thought to keep us going: the pedagogy of joy....So much fun to reconnect with teaching artists, arts organizations, and other like-minded folks.  As I process all my notes and doodles, I'm excited to implement everything in my 'learning laboratory' (aka classroom)!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Children GET it. We need to LET them get it.

Today was one of those great days where everything just mushes all together and we grew and grew in our thinking!  We have been using the book, Freedom Summer, by Deborah Wiles, illustrated by Jerome Lagarrigue, to explore perspective and point of view, author's message and theme and discuss what the nation was experiencing in the 1960's.  Each lesson has had some arts integration componant--for example, during the very first read of the story, I stopped  every now and then to check for comprehension by asking small groups to create a tableau (a frozen picture) of the setting, an event, or even a term that was new to them.  The next lesson focused on the question, "How can your group create a tableau that would describe what John Henry and Joe meant to each other?"   Eventually these frozen pictures were narrated by the group with a sentence or two.  I wrote these sentences on chart paper, and voila!  Here were interpretations of the theme! From there we imagined other points of view from which the story could be told--like the shovel for example.  What might the shovel see, hear, think, feel, and say if it could?  We brainstormed in a circle map some interesting ideas-I wrote down every single one!  We then used a poetry frame we are familiar with and created some GREAT poetry in our small groups.  I'll publish a few here when they are ready!  Tomorrow we're going to write poems individually from the point of view of a chosen object in the story.  I can't wait to hear them!


Friday, January 4, 2013

Happy New Year!

We are so excited to get our blog up and running before we head off to school on Monday.  Please continue to follow our journey through our classrooms as we explore, develop, and integrate the ARTS into the lessons we teach.