RM Winter 2016 FLIP

Table 2. Checklist of Effective Teaching Traits Qualifier

Google document and was responding to different prompts synchronously (Botzakis, Burns, & Hall, 2014; Duke, 2013). After five minutes, I heard the pace of typing slow and then peter out. The teacher and intern were both smiling, and the intern eagerly said, “So, let’s see what we have.” Soon, the class began discussing their different experiences responding to the original prompt and how they responded to both their classmates and their classmates’ responses. Applying the Checklist

checklist was designed to be flexible and inclusive, so it honored the “effectiveness” of diverse teaching methods. Plus, I wrote the first two qualifiers so they directly addressed the ability to read and communicate content- area texts, which is a central premise of disciplinary literacy (Moje, 2008; Moss, 2005). As I visited classrooms, I recorded the effective teaching methods I observed, and I will next offer a synopsis of three exemplary methods. Inspiring Approaches In my classes, I often

Justification of Qualifier

1. Are students reading and/ or communicating texts specific to the content area?

Each discipline contains texts that are unique to it, and students must be taught how to engage the texts as readers and writers of that discipline (Fang, 2012; Shanahan & Shanahan, 2008). To be part of a globalized community, students must be able to connect, share, and team with a variety of individuals (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2014; Whitehead, Jensen, & Boschee, 2014). If they are to be meaningful, the abilities students develop in a classroom must be applicable and relevant to learning opportunities that exist in other classrooms and in their personal/professional lives (McClanahan, Williams, Kennedy, & Tate, 2012; Smith, Given, Julien, Ouellette, & DeLong, 2013). Students must be interested and see the value of the learning task in order for it to be effective and engaging (Ainley & Ainley, 2011; Christenson, 2012).

2. Are students using technology to collaborate?

Reading Matters Technology Matters

3. Will the skill students are using or the task students are completing transfer to other content areas and/or their life outside of school?

4. Are there high levels of student engagement?

tell my pre-service teachers, “There is no one way to get to Denver. The point is that you get to Denver.” By this statement, I mean that there is not a single, magical method for correctly teaching a topic. Instead, the purpose of teaching a lesson is that students learn the objective that was taught (e.g., the “getting to Denver”). In this section, I offer three mini-vignettes that each capture a teaching method and analyze them using the Effective Teaching Traits checklist from Table 2. Method 1: The Silent Seminar I sat in the back of a high school American government classroom with another university supervisor, and 20 students were seated in rows of tables (averaging two students per table and three tables per row). All of the students had a tablet device and were logged onto a shared Google Drive document. Before starting the seminar, the teacher and intern quickly discussed their opinion of the article students read for homework about civic responsibility, and their conversation was intended to be a model. Next, they reminded students of the seminar’s two rules: (1) There was to be no verbal communication, and (2) Everyone had to contribute a thought. With that, the intern typed the seminar’s prompt on the document’s top line: What is your opinion about the article’s central argument? Do students have a responsibility to be engaged citizens before they are 18, if they can’t vote? After the prompt was displayed on both the overhead projector and on the students’ tablets, there was a pause. I counted in my head, “1, 2, 3, 4…” As I was nearing five, I heard the first tapping of keys on a tablet – like a small leak in a dam that would lead to an onrush of water. I saw words begin to appear under the prompt on the overhead screen. The words were one student’s response to the prompt. I then heard more typing and watched as words quickly appeared, or rather flooded, on the screen. The words were both responses to the prompt and responses to other students’ responses to the prompt. The responses rushed onto the screen, and it challenged me to keep track of them. I flipped my eyes from the overhead screen to the different students’ tablets. Each student had a different view of the

The Silent Seminar required students to use multiple skills to engage the teacher’s original prompt, their classmates’ responses to the prompt, and their responses to their classmates’ responses. In this way, the students engaged higher-order thinking skills in multiple ways, which can be unpacked using Effective Teaching Traits checklist. Are students reading and/or communicating texts specific to the content area? The students read a content-area text previous to engaging the Silent Seminar and the comments they provided were in response to both the text and their classmates’ responses. Their classmates’ responses constitute a content-area text, and the responses each student wrote are content-area texts they authored. Students’ responses to both the text and their classmates’ responses align to disciplinary literacy skills in that they are reading and communicating in the specific subject area. Are students using technology to collaborate? The use of a Google Drive document in this manner allowed students to share their thinking via their responses to the original prompt and each other, which supports their development of disciplinary literacy. As the document came alive with student writing, I saw them make connections between comments and build on each other’s comments to make meaning. In this way, the students did collaborate using technology. Will the skill students are using or the task students are completing transfer to other content areas and/or their life outside of school? In this activity, students are using multiple skills simultaneously to complete the task of responding to the prompt and their classmates. Students are using text-analysis skills to form their opinion of the article, interpersonal analysis skills to interpret the meaning of their classmates’ responses, and digital literacy skills to read and interpret an evolving, synchronous text. These skills transfer over to students’ lives when they read a variety of both print and digital texts in their academic and personal lives.

Reading Matters | Volume 16 • Winter 2016 | scira.org | 61 |


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