What stood out to me most from this week’s readings and class #2 is this idea of interacting with a text to co-construct its meaning. I like how our text identified a shift in how we bring readers and texts together. “Students learn to read and read to learn at the same time. From the beginning then, reading is about making sense of the world” (p. 17). The idea of viewing reading as a dynamic spiral instead of sequential process is such an interesting shift in perspective. Working with all students (K-5) at the elementary level, I tend to prefer upper elementary grades. Yet, when thinking about how this idea of transacting with text, the lesson that first came to mind involves some of my younger students.
The piece of our reading about co-constructing the creative arts, particularly poetry, reminded me of one of the projects we worked on last year as part of Poetry month in April. A librarian friend, Shannon Miller, from Iowa and I were brainstorming ways to involve our younger students in the poetry fun. We decided to connect a group of my first grade students with Shannon’s kindergarteners through Google Hangouts. Shannon and I read a few poems for two voices from Messing Around on the Monkey Bars by Betsy Franco. The students loved listening to ‘Weird Stuff in the Lost & Found.’ Shannon & I thought that this would be a great poem for us to re-create with our students’ voices. We took turns typing their ideas into a Google Doc that both schools could see/edit at the same time. Each student had the opportunity to add a line to our poem. We all then read our finished poem together. Click HERE to read a copy! For more information, Shannon wrote a blog post about our connection. You’ll find it here: http://vanmeterlibraryvoice.blogspot.com/2014/04/creating-collaborative-poem-800-miles.html
In applying the lenses of learning to this experience, it seems to reflect all four. It was meaning-centered, pulling from their background knowledge of the lost and found as well as social in that there was authentic conversation happening not only among my first graders but also between them and our friends in Iowa. The language-based lens involves our purposeful use of language in building our poem, as well as the human lens that allowed students to hear different opinions and ideas. I also think this blends well with the idea that “as students become more familiar with a poem and hear the teacher using alternative interpretations, students will be better prepared to suggest alternative readings” (p 32). This was the case as our students worked with the pattern of the original poem when creating their version, and formed a piece of their transaction with the text.
More recently, I’ve used the ‘Most Important’ summarizing framework, from last week’s class, in a lesson with first grade students. We’re just wrapping up an author study of Peter Reynolds. After reading one of his books each week, we re-read one together, this time with the purpose of pulling out the main idea/most important part, and modeling the framework. Students then worked in groups of 4-5 to create their own poem based on one of the other books we’ve read. They worked really well together deciding on which words/ideas to include using some of the collaboration techniques we’ve also been trying. I’d love to extend what they’ve created on chart paper into some sort of digital project, but am still looking for the right tool/format.