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.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Two Column Notes and BrainPop
By: Carrie Casey
Grade 5, FW

While watching a BrainPop video about poetry, grade 5 students took two-column notes to gain information.  They were allowed to use their notes while completing a multiple-choice quiz about the video. They were able to find important details that went with each section about the video including: prose, poetry, meter and rhyme. This is an important skill to learn as many people now get their information from on-line videos, YouTube, etc.


Friday, April 6, 2018

Using Two-Column Notes for Researching & Writing from Sources
By: Callie Graham

When it comes to analytical research papers, students often struggle with dissecting complex secondary sources. Solid research-based writing, though, necessitates not only that students comprehend critical articles, but also that they can synthesize the ideas from them with their own analysis of the primary source. Two-column notes provide students with an entry point into secondary texts by focusing their reading. Such notes are also a quick and effective way to evaluate students’ comprehension and to identify students’ misconceptions.

Mrs. Shalkoski’s junior English class, for instance, used secondary source information to enhance their examination of “John Proctor as the Tragic Hero in The Crucible.” In their two-column notes, they recorded key tragic hero traits, which could later be turned into topic sentences, on the left. We then modeled a think aloud for the first two paragraphs of a critical article, having students identify text-features and select quotes that could fit the right-hand-side of the chart. Students then collaborated in groups, annotating their texts, discussing “big ideas” and key points, and recording salient details. Doing so allowed them to draw connections, synthesize ideas, and substantiate their arguments. Ultimately, they used their two-column notes as a starting point for their analytical essays.
Recording research in two-column notes also helps students to clearly organize their points to develop summary writing. In Ms. Duhamel’s Spanish I class, students used two-column notes to research and record the characteristic of animals, which they then turned into cohesive summaries written in Spanish. Similarly, her class relied on two-column notes in investigating a famous Spanish speaking individual of their choice. They then presented a biography of their individual to their class in Spanish using Google slide presentations. Selected individuals included Paco de Lucia, Julia de Burgos, Octavio Paz, Pablo Picasso, and Roberto Clemente, among others. Duhamel noted how these projects pushed students to learn and utilize vocabulary and grammar structures in their writing and speaking that they typically might not encounter until Spanish II or III.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Question Generator
Carrie Casey
Francis Wyman
Grade 5

After watching my colleague, Laura Agostino, do a lesson with her Reading class, I decided to do the same lesson with my Reading class with some modifications.  
In small guided reading groups, students were introduced to Bloom’s Question Terms. They created a Top Down web to include terms that made sense to them.

Later, in small guided reading groups the students used these organizers to help them come up with 6 questions about the book Hatchet.  They wrote a question for each type of question.

Bloom’s Questions
A. Shaikh

List some character traits how Brian was before the crash.
Summarize the first chapter.
Illustrate what you think Brian’s shelter looks like.
Compare the porcupine attack to the skunk attack.
After reading Hatchet, rate how you think the book was and support with reasons.
Make a before and after of how Brian’s hatchet looked (2D or 3D).

Question Generator
Laura Agostino, Fifth Grade
Francis Wyman Elementary School

Students made top down topic webs based on Bloom's taxonomy questions. We worked together to come up with questions as examples using a take out pizza menu. The next day, the students worked in groups to create questions based on the book Gossamer for each level of Bloom's. They also answered the other groups' questions. As a follow-up, students will write questions based on the book they are reading for their literature circle group to answer. 




Sunday, March 18, 2018

Getting Creative with Question Generation
By: Sally Del Llano

Without a doubt, question generation is my favorite Keys to Literacy Comprehension Strategy. While this can partially be attributed to my natural inclination to ask too many unanswerable questions, the deeper reason I enjoy question generation is the enthusiasm it elicits from students.

Recently my English co-teacher and fellow KTL coach, Emily, and I decided to reintroduce the question generation technique to our 9th grade College Prep classes. After spending a generous amount of time during quarters one and two implementing main idea and summary writing as a means of assessing reading comprehension, we decided it was time to mix things up for To Kill A Mockingbird. We began by reviewing each level of Bloom’s Taxonomy as a large group discussion, and asked students to generate questions for each level using the object of a smartphone. Students were then encouraged to share their questions. This process was a very beneficial one, as it preempted students to examine how and why questions fit a particular level. Once we felt students had a decent grasp on the different levels, we assigned students in groups of 3-4, and had them generate 2 questions per level about a character from the novel. Questions were focused on whether or not this character is a good person. For the first part of this exercise, we asked to students to only generate questions, not answer them. During this activity, students were engaged and lively. I have found this to be the case when the pressure of needing to find a “correct” answer is removed. Students seem to feel freer to ask questions and discuss them when they know they are not being formally assessed.

Since this lesson, we have used question generation as a method of assessing students’ reading comprehension after each chapter. In response to the quality of their questions, we have chosen for some chapters to require only Analyzing and Evaluating question generation. With others we, (as the teachers) have asked students to answer pre-generated Remembering and Understanding questions, then in groups asked them to generate questions for Applying and Creating and swap with other groups to answer the questions. There is a lot of freedom and flexibility with question generation. Incorporating this strategy into our instruction in this capacity has been a fun, energizing way to assess our students’ reading comprehension and critical thinking skills.