Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Top Down Webs
By: Treacy Janis
FW, grade 4

Students read the core book “The One and Only Ivan.”  Students shared character traits of each main character in the story and evidence to support the trait.  Students shared their traits and evidence and posted it under the correct character throughout the novel.  At the end of the novel, students selected 1 character and wrote about the character’s trait using the evidence in their writing.

Main Idea Activity

Students were given a photo copied National Geographic article about pollinators.  The headings of each section were cut off and the article was cut up too; even the pictures.  The students worked in small groups reading each section, They had to decide which of the cut up headings matched each section.  Once they did that, students had to recreate the article from beginning, middle and end and glue them on construction paper with the pictures that matched each section.

After the “Pollinator Parade,”  Students sorted notecards to create the Top Down Topic Web.  This can be used as an assessment. Facts about pollinators were written on notecards,  Students worked in groups to create the TDTW.
Students used an ice cream parlor menu to create Bloom’s Taxonomy questions about the menu.  They used a “Cheat sheet” to help familiarize them with the correct vocabulary for each question.  Once each group wrote a question for each level, they were dispersed among the groups so each group had 6 new questions.  Once everyone is done, the group would read aloud their question and share what level the question is and the vocabulary they used to make them decide what level Blooms the question is.  I shared the Bloom’s questions with another teacher to introduce Bloom’s to her class.

Students read an article in National Geographic about different kinds of giraffes.  We did this activity as a whole group. We discussed how we could organize the information and facts we read in a TDTW.  The class decided the heading is giraffes because that’s what the article is about. Then they discussed what the next level should be and they decided the types of giraffes.  Then students worked in small groups to find details about each type of giraffe and they shared the details on the rug and I wrote the details down. We also discussed the different shapes and colors to use in the TDTW.
Sentence Sort

Each student wrote 4 sentences (one of each kind of sentences) without an end mark.  The sentences were then put into a pile. Each student got 4 new sentences. They had to read each of their sentences aloud and then they had to add the correct punctuation and place it under the correct heading, either exclamatory, declarative, interrogative or imperative.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Nicole Mondello

Memorial, Grade 2

Students sort and categorize pictures words and objects across the curriculum and from the very start of Kindergarten. This year’s KTL training gave me a deeper understanding of how learning to organizing words and discussing the connections between and among a group of words is the beginning of implied main idea. When a child can articulate the connection within a group of details they begin the process of finding a main idea.

In this activity, we asked a second grade group of students with experience in categorizing words into previously labeled buckets, (labels) to sort then identify the labels for the buckets. The discussion groups got right to work sorting and determining how to organize the words. At first glance kids impulsively sorted into two clear categories, winter and summer then hit a roadblock with nouns that were places, like TD Garden and Fenway Park.

Eventually paired groups brought their category labels to the rug where our larger debate happened. The final two labels given were Bruins hockey essentials and Red Sox Baseball essentials. This was engaging and only took about 15 minutes.


Friday, June 8, 2018

KTL and Literature Circles
Nicole Mondello, Mary Kathryn Conceison

Grade 5 ELA

Main idea, categorizing, top down topic webs, summarizing and more, what a year of trying to use KTL strategies to build comprehension for our fourth and fifth graders! As the eleventh hour of June rolls around ELA teacher, Mary Kathryn Conceison, and I planned a final exercise for students. We decided that Literature Circles seemed like an exciting and interactive way to maintain engagement, release responsibility to students as they become independent middle school students. What we weren’t expecting- how easily KTL strategies fit into almost every literature circle role.

You get the idea…

Word Wizard, uses two column notes for recording and defining new vocabulary.
Bloom’s Question Generator, generates a question from each level of Bloom’s Taxonomy at the end
of specific chapters.
Note Taker, keeps track of the plot of the story using Two column notes.
Summarizer, “Goldilocks” the main idea of a section of reading.
Connector Leader, keeps track of the accountable talk.

The point, KTL fits into what we already do. Here is a link to the packet.Literature Circles

Margie Johnson

Grade 3

I have been working with third grade students on KTL strategies for a few months now. They have had numerous opportunities to categorize, starting with everyday, familiar vocabulary such as sorting appropriate vs. inappropriate behaviors in reading class which we used as a review of the class behaviors they had generated, as well as types of food, basic vocabulary to review nouns, verbs and adjectives, and so on.

Students have also had experience using top-down webs to organize their ideas for writing a paragraph, and have also been guided through generating details for scaffolded 2-column notes on short stories and Newsela articles.

One of the core books for third graders is Helen Keller. This book is a challenge for this group of students, so using KTL strategies was certainly helpful. First, we did an adjectives word sort to describe Annie Sullivan and Helen Keller. We read the the words to them and discussed their meaning. Then, students worked with a partner to sort the words. The discussions that evolved around this word sort led to a much deeper understanding of the characters particularly since several words could have applied to each of the characters for different reasons. Students were able to support their reasons with examples from the test.

After reading a chapter, students worked with a partner to sort sentences from two paragraphs which told about two different events in the text then wrote the main idea of each paragraph.

Most students were able to write what the paragraphs were about but some needed more discussion...a work in progress.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Question Generation
By: Tom Regan

The Mathematics Department at BHS has been actively looking for ways to implement KTL comprehension strategies as a continuation of our learning. Of late, we have been discussing methods of expanding our students’ skills with respect to Question Generation. Our last PD day with Shauna & Renee focused on this and we followed up with some good discussion and sharing of ideas over the next couple of department meetings.

As we self reflected, we concluded that we spend a lot of time in the asking the students to remember, understand, and apply levels. How do we get them to analyzing, evaluating, and creating levels more often? We put this to task over the next several weeks.

Lauren Mc. put together an extensive activity that walks the student step by step through the uses of the Quadratic Formula. This is a good way to both introduce the students to the idea of delving deeper as well as remind the teacher of the need to encourage the student to reach further.

A frequent complaint about word problems is how unrealistic they are in context. Katie flipped this around and gave a scenario of information without the final question. She then asked students to share something they “Wonder” about the situation. This led to asking students to generate what they thought the question could/should be. While their responses can be equally unrealistic, the conversation is owned by them. This creates more student buy-in.

Jeanne gave students a list of all the functions they had learned. They then had to find all the characteristics of the functions. This was followed by them teaching the rest of the class. As they did this, they had to come up with their own examples.

Brighid asked students to write questions that they thought would be good test questions on area under a curve/definite integration. To facilitate this, she gave categories for the questions that nudged the student to reach a higher level of questioning.

In response to students providing incorrect answers for a given problem, Brian flipped this back onto the students. While this certainly requires a great deal of anticipation, especially in a class you haven’t taught recently, he had students change the original question so that the wrong answer they provided is correct in a different context.

There are a lot of good ideas being shared as we look to add this aspect of KTL to our repertoire. Our conversations within the department meetings have encouraged this and fostered a willingness to try something new.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Jenna Harlow
Fourth Grade
Memorial Elementary
2-column Notes

Students in fourth grade learn about the five geographical regions of the United States. They are expected to know states, capitals, geography, and how the regions differ from one another. We use the online program called Teach TCI so students can access this information on their iPads. I decided the best way for my students to understand each region is to read/listen to each section and use 2-column notes to write the most important facts. Students that struggle with what to write can use the “main idea” tool which highlights the most important facts. Each student writes the facts in their own words using abbreviations, as needed. I also allow for students to draw pictures of these facts, if necessary.

To set up their 2-column note, I have students fold their papers or create the lines based on the ⅓:⅔ ratio. Then they label the topic of their section. In this case, students labeled their notes as “The Southeast Region”. The ⅓ section, or main idea, is usually labeled based on what city or town they are researching and why. For example, the first section of the southwest region is called Monument Valley - Home of the Navajo, therefore students will write Monument Valley, Utah - Navajo Indian Reservation. On the ⅔ side, students will write anywhere between 3-4 facts about Monument Valley.

Once students finish all of the sections for the Southwest, they will use their 2-column notes to write a summary. I have taught the regions for a few years now and found that using 2-column notes and turning them into a summary is the best strategy to make the information stick. Students are also learning a skill that will carry over when completing research projects that will require them to only include necessary information. I have used this strategy since the beginning of the year and can now say that most of my students are at an independent level.

Two-Column Notes in Middle School Math
by: Cheryl Mantia and Kristin MacCurtain

“Hate to admit it…”

In the two years that we have been using 2-column notes regularly in the math classroom, students have demonstrated a better understanding of math topics and developed more independence in their problem-solving. They still sometimes say, “Wait, how do I do this?” but our responses are often “Look in your 2-column notes and see if you can answer the question yourself.” More often than not, students can answer their own questions.

Students, themselves, find the emphasis on structured note-taking and note-creation, helpful. This was evident as early as during the first week of school when students wrote their “mathography.” In their mathographies, students write about their previous experiences in math, including telling us about strategies that help them learn math better. In the words of one of my students: “Hate to admit it, but taking notes.” A majority of students listed writing notes as one of the strategies that helps them learn math more effectively.

We use 2-column notes primarily in following ways: one, we generate the notes as a class while learning a new topic and two, students create their own notes. When we generate notes as a class, we sometimes, as teachers, provide the students with all the elements including the heading, main ideas on the left, and details on the right. Other times, we provide some of the elements and the class brainstorms others. When students generate their own notes, especially for review purposes, they may work independently or in groups, both as class and homework assignments. During one such class activity when students worked in partners to generate notes summarizing a chapter, one student asked, “Is this making our study guide?” (yes) and another commented, “We have some of these details in our earlier notes. Can we use them?” (Yes, again)

In conclusion, 2-column notes have helped our students understand and retain math concepts in a better and more useful way. It helps that they also use 2-column notes in their other core subjects, so when we ask them to take their notebooks out, they automatically draw a line to split the paper into ⅓ and ⅔. Hopefully with the implementation of KTL in the elementary grades this will be a skill that they will continue to use regularly to increase their understanding and their retention of math concepts. We have attached some student examples of 2-column notes.