In the 8th grade the students are studying about the American revolution, the book that they are using is History of U.S. ( The new nation 1789 - 1850 ) By Joy Hakim. The students do not use this book every day. The teacher will hand out copies of the book when they need it. The book includes pictures and primary texts that reflects the genre the book is talking about. Some of these pictures comes in transparencies, which the teacher could use on the projector. The teacher told me that this book as well as most historical books are written for older kids. This book is written for students in the 9th grade which will cause some difficulties in understanding its language. While using this books students take notes and for those who struggle the teacher will give them his notes and they have to track them with a highlighter. The teacher said that this allows the student to comprehend the text and to participate making them more confident in themselves. In the past, when the teacher gave a struggling student written notes he was still struggling with the text so the teacher scaffolded this student with an audio DVD that comes with the book. The teacher told me that the students will also go sometimes to the poster s of the American revolution on the wall and have a small discussion of the picture that he is referring to.
The 8th grade students are reading one of Shakespeare’s plays, which is authentic to the discipline of literature. They are reading now an adapted version as an introduction to this genre, but as they finish it they will read one of Shakespeare's original plays.
Since in the 7th grade history class the students are studying about different cultures, the teacher will expose the students and give them different texts and articles. I find this ties with what Latter is discussing in his book. He encourages teachers to expose students to multiple sources and contexts.The teacher also told me that he will showing them videos to more support their cultural learning.
Moreover, in the 7th grade the students have to choose a novel that is related to the culture they are studying to better understand the culture through literature. I think some of the novels do not reflect exactly what the culture is about. The teacher’s first assignment for the students is to read the front, back, and introduction of the book. I liked the assignment because usually we tend to read the first page and skip the introduction which tends to be an important piece of the book. He also wanted to open up their imagination and make them sense what the book is going to be about. Following their reading of the assigned chapters at home, students have to answer some questions of those chapters.
As for grammar, the teacher is using the Write Source 2000. It has the teacher version and student version. The students’ books did not arrive yet so the teacher is photocopying the practices from his book until they receive their books. The teacher practices will only be used for quizzes.
Another tool that the teacher uses for both classes is the class blog post. The teacher posts academic knowledge to the class blog post. For example, he posted the instructions that students should follow when they write their persuasive essay assignment.
To give the students more support understanding the context I suggest that the teacher will first give a brief explanation of the context of the piece they will be reading and then start reading it. This will help students to comprehend the information more. Another way is to read an idea from the book and then ask the students to discuss the book’s idea in pairs. After that the information they read will be discussed with the whole class.