228.  I need to teach a short story to my lower level 9th grade readers including former LEP or English Language Learners. My school has mostly minority students, large numbers of African American and Hispanic students. How do I go about it?

ANSWER:

Just the other day while I was implementing classroom demonstrations for high school level teachers, I prepared a lesson to introduce and read "SNOW!" --a short story by Julia Alvarez, a writer from the Dominican Republic who writes from New York. This story was well chosen for the classroom demo since the demonstration coincided with the turmoil that has recently gripped out nation about the Iraqi War.

Set in the 1960's during the Cuban Missile Crisis, the story describes the confusion of a young Dominican immigrant girl as she experiences snow for the first time in her life.   To prepare to teach this story, the very FIRST step in my planning was to do an analysis of the vocabulary that the students would have to read. This vocabulary analysis appears at the end of this ANSWER.

The vocabulary served also to identify the VISUALS I would need to teach this lesson:  

MAPS of the USA and of the Caribbean Sea, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, the USSR;   Books with pictures of the main historical characters and events in the Cuban Missile Crisis, especially those mentioned in the story. Books with pictures of an atomic explosion, the mushroom-shaped radiation and dust cloud, pictures of the physical scars of atomic explosions, pictures of bomb shelters, etc. Books with pictures of nuns and their attires in the 1960's.

The lesson began with the introduction by the teacher of positive student expectations, including the introduction of posters showing expected "attention position" during the lesson, expected "hand-raised" movement BEFORE expressing thoughts, opinions, questions, etc., and the positive words to be provided by the teacher to the students during the lesson as they met the expectations --the positive words are also listed at the end of this ANSWER.

Using ALL pictures and using mime, the teacher introduced ALL vocabulary words BEFORE reading the short story. The teacher then read aloud the short story STOPPING periodically for students to read aloud ONE WORD after the stop. Then the teacher continued reading aloud. The entire short story was read with the sporadic pauses to confirm students were reading silently along while teacher read story aloud.

Students read the story with 100% understanding the very first time. The pre-reading activities described above had generated all the required PRIOR KNOWLEDGE for successful understanding.

Students then read the story aloud, in pairs, taking turns. For homework students were to write a summary of the main events in the story USING AS MANY WORDS AS THEY COULD FROM THE GIVEN VOCABULARY. These vocabulary words were to be underlined and counted for the teacher the next day. They also had to demonstrate understanding of "first person narrator" by writing a brief experience of their own.

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CLICKHERE for Vocabulary Analysis of "SNOW"

CLICK HERE to view a list of POSITIVE WORDS

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