Thursday, September 19, 2019

Get on a Roll this Year (Part 4)

There's of course a difference between "helping students with homework" and working in context, and that's as Barbara Ehren calls it, "maintaining a therapeutic focus." Text mapping, or teaching expository text structures, is one tool that we can teach students in almost any context. Graphic organizers are most helpful as a visual tool in text mapping, and are generally more helpful when a) more than just beginning-middle-end or main idea-details boxes (research supports this too) and b) consistent, using graphic organizers or helping students create them with a similar look, feel and structure.

For some more background information on this, I recommend Text Comprehension: Graphic Organizers to the Rescue and Expository Discourse Intervention for Adolescents With Language Disorders available on the ASHA Website.

Kidspiration and Inspiration for iPad remain my favorite apps for teaching the structure of any contextual block of language, whether that be a BrainPop video, a student or group's reading assignment, or a classroom topic reviewed more generally.

Both of these apps are free to try (for 5 activities). Kidspiration has the advantage of allowing for contextual basic or abstract categorization (sorting) with their Super Grouper mode, essentially also targeting the expository text structure of list or enumeration.

One strategy I have used is to look for expository categories in a narrative picture book e.g. "things on a beach" or "weather conditions." That way the picture book or other context can be used for retelling/summarizing as well as the categorization/semantic skills.

Take Scaredy Squirrel has a Birthday Party, available on EPIC! Books for Kids. You can create a Super Grouper Activity about two of the relevant contextual categories. Students can sort and write or audio record (tap the symbol, then the microphone) a "why" or association for each of the items.

These apps also allow you to make "diagrams" such as lists, sequences, cause-effect maps or story maps. You can move the bubbles around so you don't get stuck always making a "web," which really only corresponds to description. Look to Story Grammar Marker®/Thememaker®, Thinking Maps and BrainFrames for consistent structures you can translate. 

I've written before about the use of Google Drawings to do similar work with graphic organizers. For a wealth of examples you can copy right into your Google Drive and use, see Matt Miller's terrific collection on Ditch That Textbook (an edtech blog I am excited to have just found).

Considering your professional development schedule this year? Check out Sean's offerings for training sessions.

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