Friday, November 1, 2013

My practicum's journey #2

When I first started my practicum I had a little conversation with my master teacher about academic words. He told me that whenever he says “Do you know what (this word) means?” then that means this word is important and it is one of the academic words. This made me aware of the context that he will put these academics word in.
The 7th grade academic words differ from the 8th grade academic words. In the seventh grade, the unit is about culture, so the academic words include culture, stereotype,etc. The teacher explained the word stereotype by telling the students a story of him playing Bridge with a lady from China. He assumed that she would win simply because Chinese are believed to be good at numbers. He asked the students to name the word for when people make assumptions of other cultures. I could see that the teacher was trying to engage the students into the conversation by getting examples from them. For instance, he asked for examples of stereotypes. Students responded by saying that Chinese moms are mean and that Singapore is clean.  The teacher also taught the students the word convert by asking, “ What do we call it if we change our religion?” Moreover, I noticed him using the technique that we talked about in our second lecture at USD: he said an unfamiliar word, and waited to see the students’ reactions and assess whether they understood it or not.

In the 8th grade the students were studying about writing persuasive essays. The teacher explained the academic word plagiarism when he asked the students to give him the word that stands for “when people borrow the same exact words from each other.” He also explained the word “master degree” as he introduced me. This word might be obvious to adults but may not be clear to 8th graders. I can also see that the school is building their vocabulary from year to year. For example the word “persuasive” is no longer an academic word for the 8th graders because the students were introduced to it in the 7th grade. In both classes the students learn the academic words over the course of the semester by using the previously-mentioned techniques.

Furthermore, David also uses visible academic assistance for his students. For example, he told me that he will be using  note cards and games later on in the year before the students take their vocabulary test. He also hung posters on the wall. Some of the posters were world maps. He uses them to teach students the countries’ locations as they are learning about different cultures. For example, in the seventh grade, the teacher asked the students to walk to the map and locate Kuwait. Another group of  posters was for the 8th grade. It included pictures related to the American revolution and related articles such as “Colonial Kids” and “Liberty for All”. The teacher might use them as he explains the units that they are related to. Additionally, a group of posters that was for both classes had pictures and articles that were related to Shakespeare. I would like to suggest an additional way that can also help students to better understand the academic words, is divide the students in subgroups, give each group the  academic words that they have trouble with and ask them to teach us more about it. Either by showing us a youtube videos or making a short movie explaining it,etc.

The students were being productive most of the time as I was observing. They had the time to speak out and say what they were thinking of even if they were in the middle of writing. I also like that they were taking enough time to be productive in writing as David gave them four periods to write a persuasive essay.while writing the essay they were allowed to use other resources and get help from online research to support their point without plagiarism. Allowing them to use these resources prepares them to develop their writing abilities and teach them how real writing is done making it authentic. As for the receptive part the teacher is doing mini lessons which are about 10 min. These mini lessons are about important grammatical rules the students need to know.  As for reading they will be reading novels and shakespearean plays. The strategy of the children’s school is to make learning collaborative and to engage the students.

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