Written on February 8, 2014 – 10:00 pm | by Catina Chapman
My last blog post was from last school year. This school year is halfway over. Why has it taken so long to write a post?
I’ve gone back into the classroom.
I missed teaching. I loved working with colleagues, but after eight years out of the classroom, the pull to return was too strong. So now I teach seventh grade English.
When I returned, I wasn’t sure what direction this blog would take. I’m still not sure. I have to share what my students did this past week, though.
Our students learned about text features this week. They have to “use textual features to make predictions and enhance comprehension, including boldface and/or italics type; type set in color; underlining; indentation; sidebars; illustrations, graphics, and photographs; headings and subheadings; and footnotes and annotations” according to Virginia’s Curriculum Framework. My colleagues and I started by having students identify each; next week, we will read a section from their history book and a section on sharks from their literature book and use the text features to aid comprehension.
First, we took some notes on what each was. Then, students tried to find them in print at home or a Scholastic Book order (not the best example of nonfiction, but it did have many of the features) for homework. Many brought in books with sticky notes labeling their text. A couple others messaged me pictures of text features on My Big Campus. They only had to find three.
The next day, I showed them examples and they jotted down what they thought each was. We checked their answers as a class. The following day, my librarian and I cotaught on a lesson in textmapping. Students were put into pairs and were given a key of how to mark a laminated Time for Kids article with dry erase markers. Students collaborated, and with some prodding, were able to find many, if not all, text features. They then read the article.
Then I modeled how to take notes in bullet form from the beginning of the article. In a couple weeks, we’ll refer back to it as an example of enumeration. They also answered questions that came with the edition of Time for Kids. Each answer came from the captions, map, or sidebar in the article.
The following day, students went on a “Text Feature Scavenger Hunt” type test where they found each and uploaded it into My Big Campus using our school’s iPads. Originally, it was a cut and paste from periodicals activity, but I modified it a bit. Using the iPads meant less little snippets all over the room, meant they could use books as well, and also meant I could grade them from my phone that evening. I panicked too early in my first class, thinking that the pictures were not really showing. It turns out they show up on my account after students hit “submit”. Another tidbit: some students hit “Don’t Allow” when MyBigCampus asked if it was allowed access to photos, so the ITRT and I had to go to Settings and allow them. Another tidbit: the ITRT suggested students take the photograph with their pencils pointing to the word(s) with the text feature. This proved to be really helpful in assessing. I had some very good grades on this assignment, and look forward to applying how those text features help authors create meaning.