307.  TO: (another professor)   I did have a few questions relating to this site that I just opened. I was reading the response to the question about teaching short story to ninth graders (you suggested SNOW! ) and one major step was:  1) "Using ALL pictures and using mime, the teacher introduced ALL vocabulary words BEFORE reading the short story..." In how many class periods was this to take place? And 2) what part of this major beginning is NOT teacher centered? He/she appears to do all the work. Getting my 34 (per class) settled, involved, and participating constructively seems to eliminate introduction of over 100 words in 43 minutes. Am I missing something? The NYC Dept of Ed is somewhat fanatical about how they want things done according to specific "models" and the observations go strongly against spending the whole time doing the instructing (they prefer shared ignorance of students actually). But, I am missing the point of "introducing" vocabulary. Just don't know where or how it can be done in any reasonable time period.Thank you for your thought and information on this site. I will most likely not have financial resources to pursue it but it has given me some things to work with. SIGNED: __(an older - very much older - new teacher in NYCBOE).

ANSWER:

Welcome, to our Web Sites, and THANK YOU for your visit and comments.  
 
In reference to the story "SNOW!" I personally had the wonderful opportunity to present this lesson, as outlined, at a High School in Duplin County, NC.   I was totally taken aback by how "new" was the information I presented to the high school students BEFORE we actually read the story (as part of Vocabulary Development).   They had never heard of the "Cuban Missile Crisis," had no idea what nuns wore as part of their religious attire, knew nothing about Friday drills or shelters against atomic fall-out, but they totally enjoyed looking at the pictures I brought to the class to present --at a fast pace--  the many vocabulary words they NEEDED TO KNOW BEFORE reading to fully understand with 95-100% comprehension the short story THE FIRST TIME they read it.   AND THEY DID!!!!! 
 
There is absolutely NO POINT in reading text at the frustration level, that is, when the reader has heard, seen, spoken and understood 80% or LESS of the words he/she is about to encounter in text being read for the first time.  
 
The point is to increase the amount of PRE-READING VOCABULARY DEVELOPMENT time so that the reader reads at the INDEPENDENT level, that is, when the reader has heard, seen, spoken and understood 95-100% of the words he/she is about to encounter in text being read for the first time. 
 
Reading Skills develop faster the more a reader reads at the INDEPENDENT level.  
 
That is what I did in the planning and implementation of my lesson:  A very effective way to develop vocabulary and reading skills, including comprehension skills.  
 
Of course, my lesson was teacher-centered; however, I could have asked the students to research in the Internet all the topics they would encounter in the reading selection BEFORE reading "SNOW!"   Students like to do that very much.   However, I was doing a demonstration lesson and did not have the time for independent student research.   On the other hand, I could have used an LCD --as I do constantly in my own class-- and research WITH THE STUDENTS the many "NEW" topics they would encounter in the reading selection BEFORE doing the first reading of the text. 
 
Surprisingly, with so many visuals and physical mime of many movement words in the selection, the students became totally involved in the lesson and AFTER the vocabulary building (and the concomitant expansion of their knowledge base) they read the story at the INDEPENDENT level with almost 100% comprehension.  The class periods in Duplin County, NC, lasted 90 minutes.
 
Now, if I would have been in Miami, Florida or in Los Angeles, California, I would have had to add even more visuals and vocabulary development since many of our students here in Southern California have NEVER experienced "SNOW!" 
 
I hope these ideas help you visualize the lesson.   And I DO feel sorry about the implementation of "models" of instruction that do NOT take into account, as you say, the knowledge base --many times a very LIMITED knowledge base-- that students have.   I do emphasize in my job description my main function as  "eradicator of ignorance," so I have no time to allow students to share their ignorance about.  
 
REPLY:
 
Dr. Sadek,
    
Thank you for the response - had actually taken the advice (before you gave it but from what you indicated) and gave a quick (relatively complete but without so many visuals) vocabulary development lesson before reading - more complete than usual and, there was significantly improved comprehension. Will work harder on visualization. Up to now, much of my reading requirements were at frustration levels - problem being the levels are unusually low in mixed classes. Again, thank you.

 

 

 

 

 


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