Currently, I am digging deeper into cross-discipline literacy strategies to support the educators I serve. Many non-ELA educators find teaching and modeling literacy skills to students a daunting task. It is my goal to break-down common barriers that teachers face, and to equip them with research-backed strategies to implement into their own classroom.
Currently, I am reading, Improving Adolescent Literacy: Content Area Strategies at Work (Fisher and Frey), which I would recommend as an excellent resource with practical strategies, including supporting struggling readers and ELL students.
In the chapter entitled, “Attention Getters: Anticipatory Activities to Inspire Learning,” Fisher and Frey state that anticipatory activities should not be focused on behavior, for example, bell ringers, time-bound, but instead should be tied to the introduction of a new concept. Anticipatory activities should elicit curiosity, provoke questions, and evoke recall and activate background knowledge. These activities are not intended to provide entertainment, but instead, to scaffold learning so that the responsibility shifts to the student. In fact, they suggest to ground new learning in meaning-based inquiry.
- Display a theory, concept, or phenomenon
- An interesting demonstration does not replace the need for deep exploration of a concept
- Also important to tell students the “Why”
- Technology Tip: Connect with Experts via Social Media and connect with experts for demonstrations, guest speakers, or other classrooms. Check out G+ for “hangouts” and communities (my students connected with poets to learn from and share with the poems they wrote)
2. Discrepant Events
- Surprising or startling to command students’ attention
- Staged performance
- Powerful to aid in memory – emotional connection
- Include music, art, dramatic play
- Technology Tip: Students are passionate about censorship, bullying, etc. Use iphoneFakeText to create a fictitious conversation between two students or you and the principal to evoke an emotional connection and introduce a concept.
3. Visual Displays
- Visual tools to construct knowledge
- Active participation by the learner because of the interactive nature of “technoliteracies”
- Construct, share, and interact with information
- Technology Tip: Use Google Maps to view pictures pre and post a natural disaster, such as a tornado, tsunami, or fire. Let students experience the devastation, visually.
4. Thought-Provoking Questions
- This helps to assist students in organizing information
- Meant to appeal to emotional channels of learning
- May be general (KWLSH) or more specific to the unit and encourage interdisciplinary examination “What is a hero?”
- Driving or essential questions
- Technology Tip: Use Popplet to have students mind-map and organize components to a specific concept.
Each of these instructional strategies can be used to introduce a new concept and provide meaningful work for students! And although these strategies may not be considered new, they provide a specific reason of what, why and possibly why. The best part… they are not content-specific and can be applied across grade levels and content area.