First off, this chapter was easy to relate to, because I also grew up going to Kings Island, talk about making connections! Now down to business… I have to admit I have had the same thought as McGregor, “I thought that because many of them had never stepped outside the boundaries of the county in which they lived…” (pg 30). It’s nice to know I’m not the only one who’s had that though.
I love the lint roller idea, and would take it a step further by having each student make their own, then glue it into their notebooks. I would do the same with the Concentric Circles on Connections (The Text Target); copy a small version and have students fill it in for their notebooks! I can see myself using all of McGregor ideas! I can see myself “begging” for wordless picture books.
Once again I am guilty of thinking I don't have enough time to allow students to make connections and talk about them. I often do a short intro (with me doing the talking again) and/or take a little time for students to share. This chapter made me realize I'm cheating my students by doing this. I love the concrete example with the lint roller and I like the One-Minute Schema Determiner that does have a time limit in place. A fear of giving students time to share is that they won't use the time to talk about what you want them to. How do we make sure that happens? So often I ask my students if they have any questions and it turns into them telling a 5 minute story! :)
I have the same concerns about making sure that kids are "turning and talking" about the correct topics. I have eighth graders--who love to talk about anything that is not on topic. OR they don't like the person they sit next to in class. I think one way to at least combat this is by doing this in small groups. At least that's how I am going to do it--starting off.
I love the explanation of schema and spider webs. Students can even write extended metaphors and such with this.
Prior to reading this chapter, I know I spend a lot of time in my classroom building schema and prior knowledge of the topic of our readings or skills. However, I think I spend too much time and often get side tracked! Yes, I'm building connections with my students but I think I miss the real connection with the text.
I LOVE the concentric circles. In fact, I have this page highlighted and starred. This is another lesson that I plan on doing at the beginning of the year. Each student will have their own pack of post-its and as we go through readings and texts, they will (hopefully) be able to make these connections on their own.
I also like the idea of using Rockwell's paintings on building scheme and text connections. I was thinking of doing a "Rockwell Museum" where kids walk around the room and put post its on the pictures. Does anyone have any idea where I can get some of these paintings in big copies?
To the question of not losing time to lengthy stories. I love the thought of using a timer, the idea of turn and talk which allows all students to tell their stories, and the idea of allowing students to write or draw about their own experiences. I really think these approaches will allow students to share more and have there experiences valued in the classroom. In addition, I think posting students writing and drawing around the classroom or in the hallway provides additional opportunities for the students to share about themselves. I think this is a very respectful way to honor the students and pay more attention to them individually as they are learning. This summer, I am helping in the garden and pulling weeds... I was thinking about the connections between student sharing and pulling weeds. You have to be careful to find the good plants and pull the weeds carefully so as to not disturb the vegetables that you want to prosper. So to in guiding discussion. I want to be careful to inspire and honor students stories, and teach them to be respectful of classroom time. So, the timer would be helpful, but also talking about expectations for keeping whole class stories short and saving more lengthy stories for turn and talk or puting these stories in writing.
Using the turn and talk definitely gives the students the chance to share - and more easily done with the younger ones - less likely to stray from the topic. Guiding them to feelings and experiences that are not exactly what they will be reading about will hopefully help them grow as they read a variety of literature. We don't live in the settings of our books but have plenty of experience dealing with characters like those we encounter in them. I like the lint roller too - what a great way to provide that concrete understanding of our schema. As to finding the Rockwell prints - I would keep an eye out at calendar booths (at malls) or places that sell a variety of calendars - thinking you might find something useful there - even if it is not Rockwell. Green Valley and Barnes and Noble after the calendar rush might be good places to look.
I love the ideas in this chapter to help students understand schema. The lint roller idea is so basic but so powerful…..even my first graders would love this activity. I have found that over the years helping my first graders to make connections has been difficult for them. They can often make connections to their own lives…but making connections to other texts or the world around them has definitely been more difficult. I think that part of it may be that I often wait too long into the year to throw the idea of text to world and text to text connections out there. I need to remember to model the idea of making connections (all three different kinds) to text from the very beginning of the year. I also have to remember that allowing time within my lesson plan for talking amongst the students will help these connections take place as well. Just offering more time for my students to talk and think about their learning will aid in these connections being made.
I know in being a first grade teacher….long stories often happen throughout the day as students are trying to make their own connections to the text. I like the idea of a timer….but also the turn and talk idea always seems to work. It allows all students to share with someone in a short amount of time.
I want to work really hard this year to allow more time for my students to talk with one another and I want to be sure that I model making connections to text from the very beginning.
How do you keep students from getting caught up in long stories, always making their own text-to-self connections, which can get the class side-tracked?
Only seeing students once a week causes me to be more conscious about timing. I use a simple timer on the iPad to help keep the "turn and talk" with a neighbor about the topic at hand. This seems to help keep us on track.
Megan, The Picturing America Art prints would be a great option for using post-it notes for making connections.http://picturingamerica.neh.gov
Kimber TateCoordinator of English, Reading and Libraries