NBJH Learns

Professional development resources at your fingertips

Try This: Possible Sentences

Possible Sentences is a pre-reading strategy that helps students think about the content of a text before reading it. The teacher chooses eight to fourteen words s/he thinks the students know. The students then write five "possible sentences" that might appear in the text, using three to five of the given words in each sentence. After students have completed their sentences, they share some with the class. As a class, students then make predictions about what the text will be about.

After reading, students go back and read their possible sentences. If they have a sentence that contains incorrect or inaccurate information, they rewrite it, correcting the inaccuracies. This forces students to go back into the text.

Using the possible sentences strategy allows students to be active participants in preparing to read a text, rather than sitting passively while a teacher tells them what the text will be about. In addition, this strategy can also increase engagement with the text as students read to find out if their predictions are correct.

Click on the video below to see a short clip of students using this strategy.

More on Infographics

In last month's newsletter, I included a few links on infographics. Since then, I've been continuing to think about these visual tools and how complex they truly are. As an critical reader, I know to consider the sources of the data used to create the various representations included on the graphic, and I know that the creator of the graphic (as well as the author of the article, if the graphic is a support for written text) has a bias. It is my job as a critical consumer of information to decide if that bias makes me reconsider my thinking or challenges me in some way. It may not... the person may hold similar views as I do on the particular topic, and the graphic may simply reinforce my thinking. It is up to us, the more knowledgeable consumers of text and information to demonstrate for children how we consider these important aspects of informational texts - the visual as well as the written - so they may, too, become more critical consumers.

On another note, the TeachThought blog recently published an entry on how to use infographics as a multimodal teaching tool. Check out Sara McGuire's seven ways to use these powerful tools here.

Paying Attention to Plagiarism

I've had several conversations so far this year around the topic of plagiarism and how to teach kids to avoid plagiarizing. With the digital tools now at our students' disposal, it's easy for them to copy lines of text from a website or online database and then drop it right into their own work. They may think that copying only a few words, then rearranging them or adding a few of their own solves the plagiarism problem. It doesn't.

Luckily, resources are available to help teachers design lessons and practice that will help students learn to avoid plagiarism. This post from The New York Times Learning Network is really worth the read. It not only discusses the basics of plagiarism but also spends time on how instruction needs to be different in a digital age, especially in light of the "mash up" trend that is part of popular culture. This is not an article for students to read; instead it is intended for teachers who want to consider plagiarism in another way. I haven't clicked on every link to every article in this particular post, but most of them lead to stories published in the New York Times. As always, you should read the articles you are considering for use in your classroom to decide whether or not they are appropriate for your students.

Also consider the resources available to you in the building. Amanda and I are both willing to work with you and your students in designing and delivering lessons intended to prevent plagiarism and to show students how important it is to credit others for their words and ideas. The work done in this area is sure to pay off throughout our students' academic and professional lives.

Attend a conference lately? Have new thinking to share?

There is so much more professional development out there than one person could ever attend. Have you attended a conference or workshop that has left you thinking long after the last session? Have you read a great professional development book or article that you'd like to share with your colleagues? If so, write a guest column for an upcoming edition of NBJH Learns! I'd be happy to have a guest author appear in this newsletter!