Thursday, November 13, 2014

In chapter 3 of Buehl, they discuss how there may be problems bridging the gap between students with gaps in their academic knowledge. For science they talk about misconceptions, which we've discussed many times and they bring up how students bring experiences to the classroom to be used in guiding cirriculum. We have discussed this as far as trying to plan around student's individual experiences. This can be beneficial because it allows them to enter science easier, as well as making it relevant and important to the students.

In chapter 4 of Buehl, they discuss how reading in science is important. I was happy to have read this because my lessons that I have planned and been a part of this year in teaching has been focused on having the students explore outside resources. Instead of providing info for them directly after, I lead discussion where students present the knowledge they gained from the reading and then I elaborate on their ideas and answer their inquisitive questions. This was a very reassuring chapter.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Teaching to the Match

          Chapters 3 and 4 of Developing Readers in the Academic Disciplines speak to many of the themes we've been working with this semester.  Buehl refers to the importance of informal education as a determining factor in a student's capacity to understand academic texts and experiences.  I think that Braund and Reiss would agree with the value of grounding abstract formal knowledge and reading with life experiences,  effectively guiding the knowledge students gain outside the classroom and lending formal learning more context and intrinsic value to the student's lives, instead of separating the realms of home and academia.  
            In Buehl's discussion of application, I really enjoyed his attention to specific strategies throughout chapter 4.  While some of them seem more applicable to my practice than others, it was nice to read through all the options and pick and choose elements that could easily fit into the biology curriculum and support foundational knowledge.  I also enjoyed the incorporation of reading complex texts into the modeling cycle so I could see how I could achieve the inquiry and discovery approach Im hoping to use and simultaneously support my student's foundational knowledge and literacy.  

Buehl & Reading Comprehension

The two Buehl sections we read for this week addressed the various amounts of access to content knowledge and processing abilities that characterize students' reading comprehension proficiency, and strategies for reinforcing comprehension of content area texts for classrooms comprised of similarly or dissimilarly proficient students.

In sections of chapter 3, the author characterizes students by using a three-tiered scale. One axis of the scale represents a student's access to academic texts outside of the classroom, and the other denotes a student's ability to process new academic texts. The scale presents nine prototypical students who could comprise a hypothetical classroom. The author then discusses how the needs of each prototype might differ, and how they might be addressed in the context of a science classroom. He talks about 'matching' texts to students, and providing students with opportunities to make connections between themselves and texts, texts and other texts, and texts and the outside world. Science texts ought to do more, he says, to capitalize upon students' previous experiences and challenge them to make meaningful text-to-self connections based upon their status as 'natural scientists'. I find the author's discussion of the difference between topic and domain knowledge particularly useful, because it provides me with the means of characterizing students' prior knowledge both in terms of their formal science instruction and their personal experiences with natural phenomena.

In chapter 4, the author presents various strategies for improving students' comprehension of disciplinary texts based on the makeup of the classroom, all of which he places under the umbrella of 'frontloading'. He says the classroom can be made up mostly of students who only need a bit of review before grappling with a new science text, mostly of students who have little experience with the topic in question and who therefore require more substantial frontloading, or of students with mixed ability levels and amounts of prior knowledge. He describes many useful structures for eliciting student thinking before reading and for channeling student thinking during reading. These include familiar structures, like the KWL chart and the concept map (love concept maps), and unfamiliar structures, like story impressions and 'jigsawing' particularly complex texts. He finishes with a discussion of equipping and challenging students to inform themselves by independently initiating interactions with new texts.

While this is all very useful for preparing students to grapple with complex texts, I'm preoccupied currently with how some of these structures might be used to help students review knowledge in preparation for summative assessment. Is it possible to interpret this sort of review (i.e., students' understanding of recently learned material) as a text, and to use these frontloading strategies to reinforce their comprehension of content knowledge they're expected to know already?

Buehl Reflection

          While reading about text-to-self experiences, I found it very concerning that teachers do not have access to "good" science textbooks.  What can teachers do with such limited resources to make science exciting in the classroom?  Not only must we find supplemental text readings, we might have to find better representations to utilize.  It all sounds kind of overwhelming, re-evalutating every diagram or representation within a textbook or workbook, especially if we have to research and find better representations to aid understanding of any given topic.  If the science textbook our school has provided for us just will not work for what we envision with our lesson plans and models, do we find another textbook or just make up worksheets for every single lesson?  I think removing a traditional science textbook from a classroom could be very beneficial in the sense that one's students might be more open to learning or even find learning about science more accessible to them.  A teacher could then draw on all of the informal learning students have shared, and incorporate that into the lessons if he/she is writing up his/her own worksheets.  I think this would be a great way to engage students in the learning by making it directly related to their own life experiences.  Buehl mentions teachers have used hands-on activities to combat this, but that these often to correlate to meeting standards or taking standardized tests.  I think use of minds-on activities would be best to let students developing deeper understanding of concepts but we would still need to use and test students with some standardization, in addition to testing based on creating or explaining a scientific model.
          I was also intrigued/concerned about dealing with students who might have misconceptions about science either because they were told something inaccurate or because they view science through a religious lens.  Altering students' schemas sounds very daunting and perhaps impossible.  How should a teacher approach this?  I do not want my students to partition what I teach them into "what I need to know while I'm in this class" and "what I really know about things" nor do I think that I should be okay with that.  Perhaps one could overtly convince them otherwise by frontloading them, which might ease the discomfort of learning something that combats what they believe.  I really like Buehl's idea of mentoring students to inform themselves because maybe they could resolve any misconceptions by themselves, which could be more comfortable than a teacher telling them "Nope, this is how it is and this is why you are wrong."  Encouraging this curiosity is exactly what a science teacher needs to do so that students would be more willing to recognize or experience informal learning.

Buehl 3 and 4

Towards the beginning of chapter 3, there are two different sample passages that require a lot of background knowledge. The first is about Yemen, and the whole time I was reading, I could think about what a challenge this passage could pose to students. The second was about Nicotine, and I read the whole thing without once thinking about the range of background knowledge. The passage about Yemen revealed to me my own lack of understanding and presented concepts where my background knowledge is shallow, while I was completely comfortable reading the nicotine passage. It will be much harder for us to detect stumbling blocks for students in our areas of expertise. Maybe we should swap texts with a history teacher to spot difficult parts.

Chapter 4 is all about anticipation of what’s coming in the reading to prepare students. Some of these methods introduce the students to the topics to be covered later. Heather, how does this align with what we were saying in methods about only introducing students to vocabulary once they are ready to use it? These reading strategies seem to me to be saying the opposite.

Buehl 3&4

In chapter 3, Buehl mainly focused on the importance of the prior knowledge each students brings and the academic knowledge required to fully understand the concepts learned inside the classroom.  I especially liked this chapter because they are so relevant to today’s teaching and learning found inside the classroom.  Today, classrooms are composed of more and more diverse student bodies and therefore various instructional strategies must be used to ensure the success of all students. 
One topic that he talked about was the different ways of knowing.  What I have found as I have read these chapters by Buehl is that the author makes everything that is intuitive to us, or at least me, very explicit.  Thus, when reading about the different ways of knowing (text-self, text-text, text-world), I thought about how I previously connected to readings in science textbooks or generally to concepts learned and realized I did most of these too.  However it is important to realize that many students, especially ELL students, do not know or understand how to go about reading dense scientific texts so explicit instruction and practice is necessary.  

In chapter 4, Buehl focused on the concept of frontloading, “ the instruction preceding reading that addresses assumed academic knowledge” (121).  However, one question I have regarding the concept of frontloading is: is it just occurring prior to reading or is it actually occurring throughout the learning process, through investigation and revision? (was a little confused) Buehl showed just how critical frontloading is, especially with dense scientific texts that students are oftentimes required to read.  Scientific texts include not just specific terms like DNA, protein, and molecule, but also verbs that when placed in scientific texts, have completely different meanings.  Thus, before students begin reading texts, they need to understand these words and what they mean in the reading.  These terms could be presented in a chart format (as suggested by Buehl) where the word is present on the left and students fill in the meaning as it pertains to science.  Thus, based on the importance of understanding specific vocabulary within the context of the material how much time should teachers devote to it?  Additional activities, such as K-W-Ls would be beneficial because students can draw upon their previous knowledge about a topic coming up, write what they would like to know, fostering interest, and finally, at the end come full circle and write what they have learned.  Throughout these earning processes, students will continually collaborate with peers, teach each other scientific concepts, find connections to their own lives, and revise their own thinking.  Overall, how would you modify various pre-reading supports for students with varying needs?  Furthermore, how would you incorporate the previous knowledge that students have into actual classroom discussion?  Would you ask students to share?  Just collect short quick writes?  Share in small groups?    

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Week 13

                As Buehl writes in chapter three, there is a match made between authors and readers. When readers are a good match for the authors, the readers understand what the author is trying to communicate; this product is called comprehension. We as teachers, in order to produce effective readers must first educate the students about the topics that they will be reading. While students may have what Buehl called topic knowledge, teachers must construct the domain knowledge. Having topic knowledge may able the students the ability to read about a subject, having the domain knowledge will boost comprehension and create deeper levels of thinking. Buehl also writes about how science education is a continuous flow of learning. Science is a field where new discoveries, theories and studies are created daily. Teachers should introduce new ideas then use literature to scaffold the concepts and repeat.

                In chapter four, Buehl considers what practices should happen before reading specific literature. Mostly importantly Buehl says classroom instruction should change from first reading then discussing to discussion, then reading followed by more discussion. Rather than reading in order to build knowledge, students should build knowledge so that they may be able to further the knowledge in literature. Lastly, Buehl’s Comprehension Checkdown provides helpful steps for reading disciplinary texts. Preparing students to read literature with these procedures in mind could provide great steps in comprehension and learning. The check list focuses on understanding what the reader knows then adding inquiry thought to the literature.