Recent Reading Work in Room 209
Jan 25th, 2012 by jonmoss

We have spent a lot of time on reading in room 209 in recent weeks!  Beyond our usual day-to-day activities that reinforce comprehension and analytical skills, we have focused on several special topics.

We use the word theme to describe the overall topic of a book.  It encompasses the life lesson which is based on the plot of the text.  (Imagine a rainbow in which theme is the outer layer, life lesson comes next, then plot, and finally the narrative elements of setting, characters, events, problems, and solutions are in the inner-most layer.  I’m working on a graphic.)  Consider the familiar story The Boy Who Cried Wolf.  The individual narrative elements, when combined, give us the plot of the story: the boy keeps falsely screaming that a wolf is coming, and people stop believing him.  Then, when a wolf really does come, nobody believes him.  The life lesson could be (there are many possible answers) that you should always tell the truth so that people believe you.  The overarching theme is honesty.  Alternatively, it could be trustworthiness.  (Again, a story could have several themes, as long as they fit the life lessons.)  In class, we have discussed how all these pieces fit together.  I shared some short stories with the class, and the students classified them under different possible themes and had to cite reasons (with textual support, of course) of why they felt that those themes were appropriate.  This is an ongoing area of study.

The students have worked very hard on learning how to best compare and contrast characters in a book.  After reading As Good As Anybody, a book about the lives of Dr. Martin Luther King and Rabbi Abraham Heschel, we agreed that it can be difficult to move straight to a Venn Diagram while reading, because we may not initially know what is a shared detail (belonging in the center section) or what is a unique detail that belongs in either of the side sections.  So, we began by making a list of VIPs – very important points – pertaining to the two characters we were comparing.  Next, we listed them in Venn Diagrams. (This is what you saw at home for homework.)  The following day, we made a class Venn Diagram that matched up paired facts, such as where the men came from, how and when they died, etc.  This allowed us to craft a thorough short answer response comparing the two men in written form.  The kids are now finishing up an activity in which they are comparing and contrasting Amelia Earhart and Eleanor Roosevelt.

In the course of reading As Good As Anybody, we discussed the differences between being an active reader and a passive reader.  A passive reader just absorbs what they read or hear.  The information comes in, may make it into the reader’s memory, but nothing really happens to the information during reading.  Active readers, on the other hand, think about what they’re reading as they read.  An active reader makes connections to the text and thinks of questions he has.  She may identify a key part of the text or deduce the meaning of an unfamiliar word.  He may make predictions or draw conclusions about the elements within the story.  All of these behaviors lead toward the same goal: improved comprehension.  Being an active reader will help you to both better understand the story and to enjoy it more.  We’re working on helping these behaviors to become routine as we read.

Different Methods of Multiplication
Jan 9th, 2012 by jonmoss

For help with traditional multiplication…

…or, if you want to review Partial Products…

Clause Confusion?
Jan 4th, 2012 by jonmoss

Having clause confusion with tonight’s homework? Maybe this video tutorial will help!

Partial Products Multiplication (Homework Help!)
Jan 3rd, 2012 by jonmoss

Here’s a guide video for tonight’s homework if you need a quick tutorial!

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