Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Keys to Literacy continues in the BHS World Language Department

March 28, 2017
This year, the World Language Department has been excited to implement the strategies that the Keys to Literacy program offers.  Last year, BHS began working with Keys to Literacy trainers and the World Language Department discovered that the resources they have to offer complement our daily lesson plans in meaningful ways.
Spanish teachers, Ms. Duhamel, Mrs. DiCroce and Profesora De Sousa, have experimented with Top Down Webs in their Spanish III classes.  Students were presented with a vocabulary theme that focused on reflexive verbs and daily routines.  After reinforcing the vocabulary using resources, such as two column notes, students read a short story about two kids named Débora, a Puerto Rican, and Hipólito, a Bolivian.  To organize the information read in the target language, Spanish teachers modeled the use of Top Down Webs.  They created a Top Down Web exemplar that outlined the daily routine of Niko, a character from a video that acts out his actions during typical day, and, then students completed the web based off of the notes that they took while watching the video (see student Top Down Web example: la-rutina-de-niko-1).  In sum, the Top Down Web helped students organize information and compare it to their own daily routine.
In addition, Spanish teacher Mrs. DiCroce examined the literature of Débora and Hipólito using Bloom’s Taxonomy.  Students created questions based off of the reading using the various levels of the Bloom’s Taxonomy ladder, ranging from remembering information to creating new details or ideas.   Using the various stages of Bloom’s Taxonomy taught students how to enhance their level of reading comprehension through applying information to daily life, analyzing the concepts through comparisons and contrasts as well as creating alternate scenarios. (see student Bloom’s Taxonomy example: la rutina de Débora).
Also, Profesora De Sousa continues to explore the use of Two-Column Notes in her Spanish classes.  For example, her Spanish II classes have begun organizing their grammar concepts, such as the present tense of -AR, -ER, and -IR verbs using the Two-Column Notes template.  In class, her students organized and categorized the important information pertaining to each idea while using colors to compare examples.  (Check out the example: repaso-1-apuntes-de-2-columnas)
Lastly, Ms. Mirabella taught Top Down Webs and two column notes to her 7th and 8th grade Spanish classes at MSMS. 7th graders were introduced to Top Down Webs in her Spanish class with a general example (a daily routine), and after, students were told they would use webs with their unit on Spanish speaking countries. After Ms. Mirabella created a blank web with only regions listed (i.e. North America, South America, etc.), students filled in the countries that speak Spanish under each region. Students used these webs as part of their study guide for their unit quiz on this concept.
In 8th grade Spanish classes, Ms. Mirabella introduced the family members vocabulary. Students first filled out a “green light, yellow light, red light” work checklist (Word Knowledge Checklist). On this sheet, students noted how much knowledge they had about each vocabulary word about members of the family in Spanish. If they knew what a word meant in English, they wrote the definition in the green light column. If students had heard the word before or have seen it, they wrote whatever they knew about that word (i.e. noun) in the yellow light column. If students had never heard or seen the word before, they simply checked the red light column. After discussing the results of the worksheet, the vocabulary was formally introduced. Next, students completed Two-Column Notes with this vocabulary. In the left side of the notes, students wrote the word in Spanish, and drew a small picture underneath. Across from that on the right side of the page, students filled in what the word meant in English, any synonyms and antonyms for the word, and then used the word in a sentence in Spanish. Overall, students were interested in trying these new strategies, and will continue to use them throughout the year in future units and chapters!
Many of the strategies presented during the Keys to Literacy workshops last spring and this fall have motivated the World Language teachers to explore the resources and collaborate with each other to recognize which tools best support our language students.  Most notably, the strategies that the students are developing in their language class will support them in all classes throughout their learning experience at BHS and beyond.

By: Renee Dacey, Daniela De Sousa, Christina DiCroce, and Gabriella Mirabella

Thursday, March 16, 2017

To Two-Column or Not to Two-Column: That is the Question!!!!! Keys to Literacy strategies can be very effective in the science classroom. However, it does not mean that you always have to use a 2-column note! To quote Renee, “you do not have to fit a square peg in a round hole!” We are going to give you some examples of an effective use of two-column notes and when’s it best to stick with another method! Currently, the BHS Biology classes are on the topic of DNA processes including replication, transcription, and translation. The 3 processes are independent processes but all connect to each other. It can be very confusing for students to sort out the independent details but see the big picture at the same time! Each process can be discussed individually as 2-column notes. Each process can be studied by examining the steps and the “central players”: Replication:

Transcription and Translation:

When comparing and contrasting the 3 process to see the big picture, 2-column notes are not the most effective strategy. Creating a comparison table and a hands-on model of the processes are the most effective methods for this big topic:

Comparing the major ideas of each process in a table.
Creating a visual map of the inter-relationship of the 3 processes As you can see from the above examples, 2-column notes have their place! Where it naturally fits, use it!!! Where it doesn’t fit, don’t force it!
- Brianna Cheever and Jill Graham

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

KTL Test Review
by: Emily Bularzik
I’m always looking for ways to help my students study for tests that engage them, encourage independence, and don’t result in too much review-game madness. Keys to Literacy strategies are great for helping students study for tests both in class and at home.
I recommend setting up stations in the classroom a few days before a test and having students rotate between stations that encourage them to use different strategies. I might set up 3 different studying stations and have students spend 15 minutes at each. Other times, I might have 6 different stations and let students spend 10 minutes each at 4 stations of their choice.
The day before a test, I might require students to come in with evidence of having completed a Keys to Literacy study strategy. When students’ homework is “Study!” that can look like a free night to some of them, and requiring strategy use both makes studying an expectation and ensures that students are studying efficiently.
Here are how some of the KTL strategies can help for review:
Top-Down Web
If you give your students top-down webs to outline the major ideas of a unit, this is the opposite. Provide students with important terms—either on cut-out pieces of paper they can arrange or as a list that they can rewrite—and have them organize these into a web.
My students do this to study literary terms, with the term “literary terms” branching into categories such as “comparisons,” “sound devices,” “structural devices,” which then branch into more specific categories. While the definitions of the literary terms don’t appear on the web, students need to internalize the definitions, including their nuances, to place them correctly.
This activity can be performed with some teacher-provided categories already on the web, with all terms provided but not yet placed, or with students developing their own terms and categories.
If terms are provided on small pieces of paper, students can glue these on and keep their own copies, or they can simply take a picture to study from when finished, leaving the station intact for the next group. This depends on how much cutting you want to do to prepare—one set per student or just a few sets total. (Of course, students can also do their own cutting; this just takes a bit more class time.)
Categorizing can be used in the same way as a top-down web, with students placing terms into categories (either self-developed or provided).
I also like using categorizing to help students identify concepts that they have mastered, ones they need to review a little, and ones they need to review a lot. My buckets for these are labeled with emojis, :-) for mastery, :-| for some knowledge, and :-( for no familiarity, and students take pictures of the concepts they’ve put in each category when they’re finished. They then develop a plan for studying the concepts they need to focus on, and they can allocate their studying time effectively.
Two-Column Notes
Working with two-column notes is a great way to review notes that pushes students beyond just re-reading and highlighting. Students can convert any content information that is not already in two-column notes format into two-column notes. If students already have two-column notes that just have phrases on the left, they can add main idea sentences as well.
Finally, students can test, consolidate, and share their knowledge by filling in parts of a giant class version of two-column notes. For example, before my midterm exam, I organized my whiteboard as a giant two-column note titled “Types of Characterization.” As one station, students filled in the types of characterization and their definitions on the left and reminders and examples on the right. As students entered the station, they revised and added to what previous groups had produced. By the time all students had rotated through that station, we had a complete set of notes that everyone took a picture of to study from.
Bloom’s Taxonomy
When students develop Bloom’s Taxonomy questions to review for a test, they are identifying important concepts and thinking about how they will respond to test questions.
The key to using Bloom’s Taxonomy for test review is to encourage students to ask the questions that matter most. They should narrow in on the content that matters and develop questions about these topics. Students can each be asked to develop a full set of Bloom’s Taxonomy questions on a important single topic, so that they are exploring that topic in depth rather than grasping for topics that might easily fit certain question types.
Thinking about test content in terms of Bloom’s Taxonomy will also help prepare students to respond to critical thinking questions on the test. If asked, “What is the effect of comparing Scout’s education to a treadmill?” students need to recognize that question as an “analyzing” question, not simply as a request to apply and define a literary device. Using Bloom’s to study prepares them for this.
Finally, students’ questions can be shared with each other for review. If students are also given studying options as homework, a great one is for students to respond to the questions that their classmates have developed.
Study Habits and Independence
Possibly the best part of using KTL as test review is that students aren’t reliant on a teacher putting together a complicated review game or fill-in-the-blanks study guide. While there is preparation involved in putting together stations, most of that preparation simply involves matching content to strategies, setting out materials, and sometimes a bit of cutting. Students become more independent over time, and the eventual goal is for students to learn to select and use these strategies independently, even if the homework board just says “Study!”