We all know that modeling is a best practice, but it's more difficult to implement than it seems. I find that modeling in front of the whole class can make me feel like a negligent teacher. When I don't have eyes on the 26 bodies in my room and side conversations have sprung up while I'm writing and discussing with the 7-10 students who are actually paying attention, I have a hard time feeling like I'm being effective. I have also struggled to model when I have student teachers or practicum students in the room because modeling isn't always "fun" and "new"- sometimes it seems like the most boring part of the class period (the equivalent of taking notes in a history class).
With that being said, I love the suggestions Gallagher makes in terms of when to model, how to model, and not to over-model. Creating expectations for behavior and student response while modeling writing at the start of the school year will help my own feelings of inadequacy as well.
Modeling for independent reading is easy- read while students read and discuss what we're reading regularly. When it comes to inferring, discussing, and thinking about reading, Gallagher gives some excellent suggestions as to how to lead our students down the right path. I plan to use many of his reading strategies to try to develop deeper thinkers.
I have a fluctuating relationship with modeling. I know, on one level, that kids need models and benefit from them. Another part of me, however, resists providing models because I don't want students to feel that they must (or want) to copy exactly what I've shown them. Some of the best results I've seen from assignments have come when I've been intentionally vague and kids have had to work through that ambiguity.
I like, therefore, Gallagher's balanced approach to modeling. I do think that (1) finding a model and (2) following it represents a valuable skill for students--that's what I want them to be able to do in life when there won't be a teacher they can ask, "So what do I need to do?" The ideas he talks about in "Mentor Sentences" (132-34) are great--he's providing varied models and allowing *students* to determine the lessons they're gathering from those models. This approach and the idea that we can provide models for SIMILAR assignments/topics rather than the same assignment topic address some of the reservations I've had about using models well.
One more thing: Gallagher's reflections in the "I want students to consider their reading in the context of their worlds" are just beautiful to me. :)
Loved this chapter... am I saying that for every chapter???? I have started a notebook of ideas I am taking from this book, and I'm going to spend a few days revamping quite a few of my reading and writing activities for next year because of Kelly Gallagher and this book. I LOVED the "Kakapo" activity, where he gives his students a word they don't know and have them draw what they think it is... to show that we need to model the writing task before we ask our students to write or we'll end up with a bunch of writing that is NOT what we're hoping to get.
I agree with Lindsey's and Jen's thoughts on using models for writing in the classroom... I don't think I do enough using my own writing because I feel like I'll lose my students or that I'll somehow mess up when trying to model for them, but I like his comment about how it makes us appear human to our students. :-p I do really like using models from literature and nonfiction, though... and I use Scholastic Scope a lot to show students what good writing looks like as well as what active reading looks like.
I really like his draft A and draft B activity as well, and I already do that with the released papers from "understanding scoring"- I show students different drafts, and they spend time finding errors and making comments, and then they assign a score based on the draft.
LOVE the ideas about helping students make inferences. Teaching inference is one of my favorite units, and I cover it pretty early in the year. I found "google search stories" a few years ago online and use those short video clips with my students. They watch them and make inferences about what is happening based on someone's search on google... and some of them are pretty funny, so they keep my students' attention really well. LOVE the idea of using National Geographic pictures and paintings, and I ordered the book "One-Minute Mystery" by Silverthorne and Warner after Gallagher mentioned it. I'd love to have my students use some of these activities as bell ringers next year-- like have a photo on the screen as my students walk in and they have to write a prediction or inference paragraph about what is happening in the picture OR have a one minute mystery up on the screen and my students have to try to solve it and write about what they think is going on. I always have some type of bell ringer (beginning activity) up on the screen as my students walk into the classroom, but it was usually some type of grammar work or SOL question... and I think the ideas that I'm getting from this chapter will be a lot more interesting and engaging to my students.
Finally, I also really liked Gallagher's idea of having students read the first paragraph of a novel and then using that paragraph to make inferences and make predictions about what might happen next... I can partner this with some book talks and book passes at the beginning of the year to start getting my students interested in the novels in my classroom library.
I feel like this book is a huge reminder to me to allow my students to take ownership in their own learning and in their success as readers and writers... I feel like I'm being reminded as I read that I need to allow my students to come up with their own themes and deeper understanding of what they are reading a little more independent of me. I usually try to guide a little too much to make sure my students understand central themes in novels and other selections we are reading... and I need to let go of some of that control and allow my students to get there on their own a little more.
This past year I completely bought into the Google Docs thing & I think my students benefitted greatly from feedback from me as they worked during class. I have already thought of more ideas of how to take this further next year.
I agree that Gallagher's ideas are so much more interesting & engaging than anything I can ever come up with on my own. Can I take his class for a week?
My students always complain (I hope somewhat facetiously) when I ask them to WRITE about something they already had to READ. How dare I? So I really liked Gallagher's section on thinking about reading via writing. And yes, Jen: "I want students to consider their reading in the context of their worlds." Perfectly stated.
The new word is "mentor text," but models have always been an invaluable tool for teaching writers. Gallagher has a great book (this one we are reading is an amalgam of his others) called Write Like This, which everyone should own and read. He teaches kids to analyze and then model text structures, sentences, style, etc. It's "flexing their writing muscles" or "putting tools in their box" teaching, which is great fun. Check out his more in-depth book on this....worth the money.
I honestly don’t model as much as I should, and we don’t write as much as we should. My focus is to get my below-grade-level-readers to read more. Our writing is often limited to a short response to what we’ve read and responses are usually written with a very structured frame. I suppose that my frame is a model of sorts – without it my students would most likely give a one-word answer. I do sometimes write my own response and share it with my students.
Writing is very valuable for my students, but the small amount of time I have is always a concern for me. I know that my students need to read more in class (because they are reading less outside of class), but I also know that I need to make writing about the reading a bigger part of my instruction.
I really appreciate everyone’s comments and suggestions! In writing, I liked how he compared the drafts of a paper. My first response was that most of my students wouldn’t be able to make major changes in their own drafts. However, I think they would benefit from seeing it modeled, and maybe I will be surprised by what they are able to do.
In reading, I noticed that many of his topics overlapped with those in The Café Book and The Daily 5. His comment that, “Readers have to know stuff to read stuff” really struck a chord with me. I have noticed that often my lower readers also lack some background knowledge and experiences that other students have. My students really like Scholastic News which helps build prior knowledge.
Instead of having students look at big ideas throughout a book, I plan to start with having students track their thinking about the main character and how he/she changes. I haven’t done as much with character development as I could. I also agree with Gallagher that we need to be careful of too much teacher thinking and not allowing students to generate ideas and discussion.
I am wondering if students could think/write about their reading on a Google Spreadsheet. I may try assigning each student in a group a different tab. After students have the opportunity to write they could take turns responding to other students responses.
Kimber Tate, Coordinator of English, Reading and Libraries