Sunday, February 22, 2015

Learning literacy strategies in authentic contexts

Children should learn literacy metacognitive and comprehension strategies in meaningful contexts. When we give our students the chance to refine their use of these strategies in authentic and relevant contexts, they'll more deeply understand why they're using them and the will more likely use them independently, out of the context they were originally learned.

In the Primary Years Programme, we are obligated to contextualize our students' learning by organizing all our curriculum into six transdisciplinary units of inquiry. How lucky we are that the PYP framework requires us to teach in a way that has been proven to be best practice. What is more, when PYP educators teach literacy strategies in the context of the Unit of Inquiry, they're able to cut through an overcrowded curriculum.

For more information on transdisciplinary learning and learning literacy strategies in relevant contexts see:
In second grade, students are busily investigating how people influence the world. During this unit, students inquire into the knowledge concepts of hero, making a difference, and personal strengths. During this unit, they are also learning the literacy strategy of summarizing. 

To help students explore both of the big ideas of hero (a knowledge concept) and summarizing (a process concept), the teacher met with guided reading groups to work with texts that were best suited for the students' developmental reading level.

To start, the students in different guided reading groups read a book about a particular hero. To support the students through one of their first times summarizing, the teacher just had the students write one important detail from the text on a post-it note. She then copied those details on the left-inside page of a folded piece of paper. Then, making sure to include all those details, the students told the teacher a summary of the book, while the teacher notated the students' thinking on the opposite-inside page.

Below are two examples.

Next, students were ready to write their own summaries. Below are two examples: 

The back cover of Carlos's summary book offers the reader a teaser to what the book will be about.

This student decided to highlight important vocabulary on the front cover of her summary book.

This student's summary took the form of a listicle of influences, accomplishments, and personality traits (next picture).

After reading about how this teacher taught a literacy strategy in the context of learning concepts from the unit of inquiry, how could you or have you taught students literacy strategies in meaningful, authentic, and relevant contexts?

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