For my Instructional Strategies course, we were again asked to analyze a video. I chose to analyze this one; although it is well out of my age-range, it seemed like it would be an interesting new perspective I hadn’t yet considered in this course. The video shows a close reading of a text by 10th grade students. I found the teacher used two strategies very well in her presentation of the way in which students were to approach the reading. The video starts with a great introduction, connecting the lesson to other lessons and setting clear objectives, and the teacher provides guidance on how to take effective notes during a closed reading. I believe the teacher did well with putting students into groups, but find there could have been ways to improve the cooperative learning aspect of the lesson.
In the very beginning of the lesson, the teacher starts by stating what they would be doing, referencing what they had done before, stating how this instance would be different (nonfiction as opposed to narrative close reading), and explicitly stating the purpose of a close reading. This all took place within the first 20 seconds of the lesson. According to Dean et al, “clearly stating the learning objectives in student-friendly language helps students focus on what you want them to learn” (2012, p. 7), and the teacher in this instance does a great job helping the students understand exactly what she expects from them that day. She then links what they are learning to why they might need it in the future – she even notes that they are using a text she read in her time in college – which is what Dean et al refer to when they say objectives should help students understand “how they will apply what they are learning now to future studies” (p. 8).
In regards to note-taking, I wish I would have had a teacher who taught me how to take notes when reading a text in-depth. This teacher listed multiple different notations for different situations: Main idea? Underline it. Don’t understand a word? Circle it in orange or pink. Find something exciting? Put an exclamation point and write why you find it exciting. At one point, the teacher states that “There’s no wrong way to annotate this text,” which is very encouraging for those students who might not be so confident in their ability to tease out important information. Pitler and Stone note that “note-taking strategies are not intuitive” (2012, p. 185), so it is critical that the teacher provided so much structure for what to write, but also gave students a little bit of leeway in regards to where exactly they would mark. The annotations will also help students when they revisit the text, which they will likely do as the teacher noted what she wanted them to do when reading “the first time,” and will allow students to better understand their thinking from the first read-through as they re-approach the text to go further in-depth.
While I appreciated that the teacher had students work in small groups, I was never aware of any form of accountability. This may have been incorporated in their overall expectations during group work, but was never addressed in the video. The students seemed to have an understanding of their roles and helped others in their understanding as well, but it did not seem to have the “positive interdependence” aspect called for by Dean et al (2012).
Overall, I believe this was a great lesson. I would have never imagined being able to have such a deep discussion of a text like this when I was a sophomore in high school. It is clear that with a clear objective and guidance as to how to approach and annotate the text, the teacher allowed students to identify the main ideas of the text and to look deeper into the meaning behind the words.
Dean, C. B., Hubbell, E. R., Pitler, H., & Stone, B. (2012). Classroom instruction that works: 2nd edition. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.
Pitler, H. & Stone, B. (2012). A handbook for classroom instruction that works: 2nd edition. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.