The Missouri Reader WINTER ISSUE Vol. 44, Issue 1 - Page 16

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Special STEM Section

Example #3: Strategic Reading

This lesson involved upper elementary grade students reading a novel independently. Students read assigned chunks of the novel and then either completed a literature response or demonstrated evidence of their thinking using a discussion board format. In this particular class, the students did not have access to print copies of the novel, so the teacher chose an electronic book from Tumble Book Library®. After doing the assigned reading, each student selected and recorded a quote from the novel that they deemed essential to the understanding of the story. After that each student posed an “I wonder” question. For example, after reading Peg Kehret’s The Ghost Grave, one student posed: “I wonder why Willie never learned to let go of the past?” In addition to selecting a quote, the students had to record two talking points related to the assigned reading. The quote, the “I wonder” question and the talking points were posted on the discussion board and later used as part of a live literature conversation with the entire class. Some students were able to complete the task after reading the entire novel, but some were not. In order to differentiate for struggling students, the teacher guided the students’ rereading of one particular chapter rather than the whole book, and had the students do the assignment based on one chapter. For the few students who continued to struggle beyond the chapter level work, the teacher used guided questioning to elicit their oral selection of a quote and a question. Those oral responses were recorded and shared during the class discussion of the book. Every student was able to cogently respond to the reading of Kehret’s book.

Example #4: Science

Scholastic’s Super Science Magazine® (on-line and print) was a valuable resource for the upper elementary grades. The magazine provides short videos to build background knowledge and vocabulary. Most students were able to read, write, and talk about the science topics according to their assignments. However, the written and oral responses of students who experienced difficulty were provided with additional visual aids and a list of key words so that they could complete the requirements of the assignment. This resource enabled teachers to weave reading and writing through the content areas while exposing children to science content. (Vacca, R. T., Vacca, J. L. & Mraz, M., 2014).

Example #5: Integrated Curriculum

In one school, an excellent art teacher created a weekly plan for integrating the arts. The art topics/projects related to the grade-level content topics that the classroom teacher would introduce or review at that time. The art teacher coordinated with the music, physical education, and library teachers to include videos, assigned activities, and suggested related readings. For example, one of the topics was titled "Building Communities."The art teacher had students create mini-communities using recyclable materials. Each of the structures in the community was named and its importance to the community was stated. Students took pictures and/or videos of their community contributions and posted them on a discussion board for peers to view and comment. Because each student’s project was created according to their individual skill set and the resources they selected, this assignment provided differentiation of instruction as well as student responses. Posting of the projects also allowed for teacher assessment.

Family Considerations

The seriousness of the pandemic and the responsibility of facilitating at-home remote learning for their children was impactful for parents. Parents had to adjust to not only working remotely from home, but also to serving as substitute teachers who helped to juggle work life, emergency teaching, and coordinating schedules for screen time for their children’s synchronous and asynchronous learning. Some families faced issues such as unreliable Wi-Fi, having only one device for a family with multiple people requiring Internet access, and having challenges finding information on the school’s or teacher’s webpages. The authors acknowledge that the additional at home responsibilities were not easy for parents and congratulate them on their diligence with assisting their children throughout remote learning.

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