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LiteracyInquiryProject.model3

LiteracyInquiryProject.model3

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Published by: sherrymi on Mar 22, 2011
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Stuart Dent
Literacy InquiryTE 802 (12)September 14, 2007
My Students as Readers, Writers, & Learners of English Language Arts:
Using “Lived Curriculum” to Develop “Delivered Curriculum”
Introduction
As anyone who has taken years of teaching classes knows, assessment plays an enormous part in theday to day activity of effective educators. We must be able to assess our students on many differentlevels in order to make sure information is sinking in, standards and benchmarks are being met, andto ensure that students will be able to perform on standardized tests. We assess our studentsformatively by asking them questions during class, observing them as they work, and grading short-term assignments. We assess our students summatively by addressing big questions, and giving finaltests and projects. While these forms of assessment are extremely important, there is another formof assessment that is especially critical to the experience of students in a learning environment. Thisform of assessment involves looking at the literacy practices of students in order to learn whatteaching practices, methods, and activities will work best in the classroom for each particular groupof kids. While one group of students may benefit from a certain classroom environment and from acertain set of activities, another set of students may benefit from something different.Many teachers perform the assessment of their students’ literacy practices subconsciously. We oftenlook at the outside lives of our students in order to develop ways in which to reach them. Commonteaching practices include talking to students about their home lives or attending activities such asschool dances and athletic events in order to see students in an out-of-classroom setting. Thesestrategies are often used in order to gain information about students, helping to develop actives thatwill appeal to them in the classroom. If we can find out what students really like and put what wefind to work in our classrooms, students may be able to connect more to the material we present
 
.While chatting with students and attending outside events is very helpful, a more structuredapproach can also be beneficial in order to learn about our students’ literacy practices and interests.In an English Language Arts class it is helpful to understand who our students are as readers,writers, and learners of English Language Arts. Once we understand these things, we can get toknow our students better and teach in such a way that appeals to what they already know and useseffective methods to challenge them to learn more. Like most teachers, English Language Artseducators attempt to teach with an end in mind. We plan our lessons and units to meet major goals,whether set by our personal values, by the government, or by school districts. Only when we startto understand our students’ “lived curriculum”
1
(literacy practices inside and outside of school) canwe develop a “delivered curriculum”
2
that is effective and meets our goals. Using simple surveys,making observations in class, and having conversations with students and other teachers can oftenhelp us with this task.
1
Yancey.
Literacy and the Curriculum,
172.
2
Ibid, 172.
 
Comment [1]:
Clear rationale for the project!
Comment [2]:
This gets at what students Value— how might one learn about what they need in order to Expect to succeed?
 
2
Part I – “The Lived Curriculum”: My Students’ Literacy Practices
Before discussing the literacy practices of my students, it will be helpful to describe the focus class inwhich my study took place. The class, which is made up of 31 sixteen and seventeen year oldeleventh grade students, is centered on British Literature and some aspects of the writing process.My students come from a variety of different backgrounds and the class itself is extremely diverse.It is made up of Caucasians, African Americans, Cambodians, Koreans, Bosnians, Latinos andLatinas. Students come from a wide range of socioeconomic backgrounds and most of them knew each other from previous years at the high school.In order to find out about the literacy practices of my students, I:
 
Observed my students during beginning of the year activities and first lessons
 
Talked with my mentor teacher, Rita Buch
 
Had conversations with teachers who had some of my students previously, and
 
Conducted a survey study of my students’ literacy practices at school and at home
Observations of Students 
During the first few days of school, my mentor teacher and I decided that we would orchestrate anumber of community-building activities instead of jumping right into the curriculum. We askedstudents to write an “I am From…” poem modeled after “Where I’m From” by George Ella Lyons.Students were given a number of different helping questions in order to brainstorm (see AppendixA), and ended up writing some excellent poems. During the “I am From” activity, I was able tomake my first observations about the literacy practices of students. Students in my class seemed to
 
be very competent in unstructured writing. Tracey and I told students that they could write thepoem any way they wanted, and that they did not have to worry about correct spelling orpunctuation in the poems. We wanted them to have fun, and I could immediately tell that thishelped relieve tension that would normally be felt during a more structured assignment.While I was not sure if students would use our list of brainstorming ideas, most ended up doing so.While observing,
 
I could tell that this also really helped students focus their thinking on the aspectsof their lives that they found especially important.
 
In their poems, they were able to integrate
 
quotations, common phrases heard around their household, street names, and even genealogy.Students also wrote about real issues from their lives, such as gang involvement, the temptationsfaced by teens, broken home, divorce, single-parenthood, violence, love, and loss. I was even moreimpressed when several students from my class offered to read their poems aloud, which led to animpromptu poetry session.After the first week of community building activities, I was able to observe my students as I startedthe unit on Sophocles’
Oedipus the King 
. During the opening lessons of this unit, students displayed
 
critical thinking as they completed journals regarding violence in the media, and completed anexercise made up of several entertainment clips that depicted positive and negative aspects of American culture and values.
Discussions with My Mentor Teacher 
Comment [3]:
What did you see and hear that letyou know this?
Comment [4]:
See previous comment
Comment [5]:
See previous
Comment [6]:
Specific, concrete, and tellingdetails that speak to the comfort level produced bythis assignment, topic, and classroom interaction!
Comment [7]:
What did you see and hear that letyou know this?
 
3
In order to find out about my students’ literacy practices, I also spoke with my mentor teacher, RitaBuch. When I told her about the literacy inquiry I was working on, Rita told me about herexperience with similar eleventh grade classes and with some students that she had already taught inprevious years. Rita said that many students detest reading, and do not read or write at home. Many students have trouble with both tasks, and are well below the reading level for their age and grade.However, Rita also told me that of her students participated in extracurricular activities, such assports, theatre, improvisational theatre, cheerleading, and band
 
.
Conversations with Teachers Who Had My Students Previously 
On the first few days of school, I also spoke to several teachers who had some of my students inyears past. Several teachers came into the classroom and gave us advice about certain students.They spoke of behavioral problems but also of 
 
disabilities that certain students had. They gaveadvice about how to help these students, and tried to help us know what to expect. For example,another teacher informed Tracey and I that a boy in our class “had a lot of trouble with writing.”She said, “He will start of strong, but his work will slowly decline in quality 
 
.” I was surprised to hearthis, since this particular boy had created an absolutely amazing “I am From” poem. I was glad toget the advice to help me learn about he and other students, but I also made sure not to pre-judgethis student
 
.
Survey Study of My Students’ Literacy Practices at Home & at School 
I also conducted a survey in order to learn about my students’ literacy practices and who they are asreaders, writers, and learners. While my observations and conversations were helpful, I predictedthat this survey would be the most straightforward method of study. The survey I gave the studentsin my focus class consisted of two different parts, some aspects of which were modeled after thesurvey used in the sample Literacy Inquiry we studied in TE 802. The first part of my survey lists anumber of different literacy events in order to learn about the literacy practices of my students. Oneexample of a literacy event on my survey is “Read a book”. Students were to place a check mark next to an event that they participated in, and then indicate whether they practiced this event athome, at school, or both at home and at school. The second part of my survey asked students moredetailed questions about their practices, such as “How much do you read or write?”, “Do you likereading?”, Does anyone in your household read or write?”, “What is your favorite thing to read?”,and “In your own words, what does it mean to be ‘literate’?”. The following pages include a samplecompleted survey. A synthesis of what I learned about my students’ literacy practices throughobservations, conversations, and this survey follows. Also included are different representations of who my students are as readers, writers, and learners.
 
Comment [8]:
Did she suggest why this might bethe case?
Comment [9]:
So perhaps there are manystudents with high levels of Musical andBodily/Kinesthetic Intelligence?
Comment [10]:
Any examples?
Comment [11]:
Strange comment—did she saywhy?
Comment [12]:
Good thinking—did you applythe same qualification to your other sources?

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