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“It Changes How Students Think About Themselves”: Teachers’ and Students’ Responses to a Year Long Reading and Writing Course.

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Presentation on theme: "“It Changes How Students Think About Themselves”: Teachers’ and Students’ Responses to a Year Long Reading and Writing Course."— Presentation transcript:

1 “It Changes How Students Think About Themselves”: Teachers’ and Students’ Responses to a Year Long Reading and Writing Course

2 Overview of Pilot Evaluation:Spring 2005 In both the ERWC professional development and curricular materials were implemented for the first time The CSU 12th Grade Task Force worked with close to 700 teachers in California (as of this presentation we’ve trained close to 900 high school teachers)

3 Evaluation Questions Were there differences among 12th graders who experienced at least two modules and those who followed a traditional ELA curriculum? How were the ERWC materials being put into practice in 12th grade classrooms? (And how were they received by students and teachers?) How might instructional context be related to increased student proficiency in expository reading and writing?

4 The Qualitative Study: Additional Questions What were teachers’ experiences of the ERWC materials? What kinds of shifts did they report in their students’ capacity to engage more effectively in critical reading, writing and thinking with expository texts? How effective were the ERWC materials for students, especially for ELLs?

5 Research and Evaluation: The Qualitative Data Qualitative methods were used to gather these data: Field notes from classroom observations Recorded sessions of classroom interactions Individual interviews with teachers Group interviews with students Classroom artifacts (lesson plans, assignments and student work) Field notes and recorded conversations at PD trainings

6 Teachers’ Views What Teachers told us about: –Their own experiences and practices –Shifts they saw taking place for students

7 EAP Materials Help Teachers Embed Expository Texts into Existing ELA Curricula I ’ m not a teacher that has used expository articles much. I ’ m a literary junkie and so seeing how helpful those were... You can come up with any topic like that and so really seeing how I can definitely incorporate bringing their world into their lives especially for seniors. And so these materials really helped me as a teacher. I can do American Lit, but to actually teach expository comp, this has been a challenge. This unit has helped me so much in seeing what directions to go. (TD, Los Angeles)

8 Slowing Down the Pace for Students And so I see what you guys gave us was helpful in the sense that it just kind of slowed things down, really made them pull apart their reading and although sometimes the kids were like okay, we ’ ve read this article five times now, like we get it, I still don ’ t think they get that that ’ s what they have to do when they go to college or when they read dense stuff. They think peruse it once, let ’ s write an essay and I ’ ll pull off a C and it ’ s all good, and it was hard for them to slow down and make them understand this is what you do. … [I]t just validates the fact that I ’ m at the right pace. I ’ m not going too slow, so on my own I think I would have moved faster because I ’ m more like chop, chop, let ’ s get it done. So it forced me to slow down with the knowledge of like okay, this is right. (AG, Alameda)

9 Students Demonstrated Increased Ability to “ grapple with text themselves ” One of the biggest problems of high school students is they are so used to being spoon-fed information, and if they are just quiet, they will get the answer presented to them. And the EAP packets do not allow spoon-feeding. They must get in there and grapple with it themselves and this was the first experience many of them had had with having to do the work, the critical thinking, the critical reading. (JD, Bakersfield)

10 Teachers Reported that Students Enjoyed Readings [Students] were certainly interested [in the articles] … The discussions at the beginning were really good. We brought in a lot of personal experience and that really … brought about … a big level of engagement. (JS, Bakersfield) They liked the articles and I think … the topics really turned them on. (CL, Los Angeles) [Students] said the article topics were of high interest to them. (PD, Santa Rosa)

11 Materials Helped Teachers Imagine New Ways of Approaching Practice I think this really lets me understand where my students need to be. I think that does help a lot – to be understanding exactly what they need to be able to do when it comes to college level writing. (JS, Bakersfield) … I already had a game plan of critical reading and helping people who don ’ t read well, so it was perfect for both of those goals, and it made me much more conscious of, and conscientious about, introducing pieces. (MA, Temecula)

12 Activities Within and Across Units Teachers Found Helpful (In alphabetical order) Annotating Believing and Doubting Game Descriptive Outlining Focus on Content versus Purpose Discussions Freewrites and Quickwrites Paraphrasing Summarizing Exploring Ethos, Logos & Pathos Analytical Questions Surveying the Text Timed Writing Vocabulary Activities

13 Rewards of Group Discussion: Making Critical Thinking Visible [Through discussions] you get to see really quickly at what level [students] understand this material. … [T]hey ’ re talking about it [at the level they comprehend]. … That ’ s what ’ s really nice about the small group discussions....[T]he discussion questions are good for … helping me understand where they ’ re at in the article. (JS, Arvin) Definitely I saw some flourishing, I did see with the topics that when we were allowed to brainstorm and do free writing, really heavy, heavy discussions happened which were really great. (AG, Alameda)

14 Analytical Questions: “Not Plug and Chug” It ’ s the design of the questions. They ’ re not plug and chug questions, they ’ re actually synthesis [and] analysis questions, and it ’ s the scaffolding: the previewing, the prewriting, the prethinking. It ’ s getting them to look at the text. (JD, Bakersfield) [S]ome of the strategies are really good. I liked the detail with some of those questions, … [they] made the kids really dig back into the text. (SH, Los Angeles) [T]he activities … where there are questions – piercing, specific questions about the logic, the ethics, and about emotion, really are sophisticated. I will use some of those, and then the generic template that ’ s in the book is really good, too. Very, very useful. (SH, Los Angeles)

15 Leveling with Students: Creating Buy In and “giving students a fighting chance” The day that I came back from the first EAP training, … I looked through it that night and I thought, wow, this is really good stuff and this is what seniors need … [A]t this school I think 20% of the kids pass the EPT... We can ’ t let my 70 students walk out without a fighting chance, so I came in the next day, it was kind of close to the new semester, in the middle of the year. The report cards had just ended and I remember making a split decision that evening -- like if my kids will go with me on this, we ’ re starting this tomorrow... So I came into the class and I said I was absent yesterday because I was at this conference about 12 th graders who aren ’ t passing exams in college and they ’ re really worried.

16 Leveling with Students: Creating Buy In and “giving students a fighting chance” So … we need to help you learn how to write and they want to implement this next year but I think we should do it this year. Do you agree that you need help with writing? And they all [said] ‘ yeah, we hate writing, we ’ re scared of writing, it sucks ’ and I said that means we ’ re cramming in six essays [before the end of the year] and they were okay with that. So I think they just knew that as boring as writing is to them that … going into college they needed a little more of a fighting chance …

17 Leveling with Students: Creating Buy In and “giving students a fighting chance” Do you want to waste $900 on a remedial class? I mean the fees are going up. I ’ m trying to save you money here, so they bought into it. Logically I just talked real to them and gave them all the facts and they ’ re old enough to [say] ‘ like okay, you ’ re right, my parents don ’ t want to pay … for two more remedial classes. Let ’ s try to pass the EPT. ’ (AG, Alameda)

18 Developing Confidence Teachers saw students developing greater confidence in themselves as: Readers Writers Thinkers Test Takers

19 Changes in Students ’ Reading Habits Teachers saw students: “ pulling things apart ” examining text more closely reexamining ideas in the text “ relooking at language ” rereading the text with different (multiple) purposes in mind

20 Changes in Students ’ Reading Habits (cont ’ d.) Teachers saw students: evaluating and analyzing the strength of a writer ’ s argument reading more complex texts by choice Transferring the skills they were learning with expository materials to literary texts

21 Changes in Students’ Writing Abilities Teachers reported that: Student writing reflected thoughtful reading and discussions Timed writings demonstrated more structure and organization Students were more able to take a position and support it skillfully with evidence Students wrote with more ease and confidence

22 Shifts in Students’ Thinking One of the things that I really wanted the EAP packets to do for them this year was to [help them] become [more] objective thinkers. And they now can at least see someone else ’ s point of view. It may not change their own [point of view], but they can recognize that there ’ s a different point of view there. … And [students] see a lot of payoff. I do this huge amount of work and they know now which cracks me up because I heard them talking, [saying things like] I ’ m a much better writer but I still need work on my grammar. They know that now. They had no idea what kind of writer they were and they had no idea what good reading and writing looked like when they came in, and I think that ’ s one of the things that the EAP packet has shown them. (JD, Bakersfield)

23 Teachers’ Views of Students’ Perceptions of Self [Students] have a tremendous amount more confidence and more self-esteem and the young lady, Kristen Perry, with the braids who was talking a lot [to the evaluator] during third period, African American young lady, at the beginning of the year, she wasn ’ t going to go to college and midway through the year there were these [EAP] packets and she had some success academically. She applied to Northridge, so she never would have done that. (JD, Bakersfield) This is material that I thought they could relate to, but it also challenges them. [T]hese kids are not stupid but they ’ ve convinced themselves they are. … This class has made an amazing transformation … (CB, Arvin)

24 Benefits for English Language Learners The curriculum offered English Language Learners: A slower pace with more opportunities to engage in freewriting and timed writing More time to wrestle with text Concrete strategies for taking text apart Frequent opportunities to participate in discussions and formulate opinions

25 English Language Learners “step up to the plate” I think [ELLs] stepped up to the plate. … Some of it was tough but they got through it. (SH, Los Angeles) ELLs seem to do pretty well on this, because they ’ re given more time and they can look at it more methodically. [The pace works well for them] because they have to go over something two or three times and then listen to how other people are arguing and so forth. (CL, Los Angeles)

26 While Helpful for ELL’s, Curriculum is of Interest to a Wide Range of Students [A] lot of the second language strategies are written directly into these units … what ’ s nice about the [materials] is that [they are] not written for a group, [but] for teenagers. Whether you ’ re special ed, or ELD, or general level, or honors, [the units are] about issues that teenagers are interested in. While [ELLs] may have a bit of a delay in accessing the text, they [too] have improved with their writing skills. (JD, Bakersfield)

27 Challenges to Implementation Policies and practices at various levels: –Departmental –School –District Meeting the needs of diverse students in heterogeneous states like California

28 Challenges to Implementation Most of our kids come from migrant farm working families. Most of their parents have not completed high school if they attended high school. … I ’ m going to say 50% – it ’ s probably a little higher – are not U.S. citizens. In terms of your second language student and the things that they ’ re asking you to do, it ’ s very difficult. They have to have a 2.0 GPA. There are several requirements that make it extremely hard for some of them to get out of ELD and when they do, they get plunked into either a general class, or sometimes a college prep class, and they don ’ t do well because they ’ ve been in the ELD program. (CB, Arvin)

29 Students’ Experiences with ERWC Materials Materials Helped Students Work with Text in New Ways and Discover New Dimensions of Themselves as Participants in Literate Worlds –Described the nature and value of discussions –Perceived themselves as more skillful readers & writers –Made reading and writing connections –Considered the “ real world ” and their futures in new ways as a result of the reading they had done and the repertoire of textual skills they were developing

30 Value of Class Discussions: “we learned more from each other” I think the best parts of both these packets [were] the discussions... I mean especially with the first packet, all the discussions that I ’ ve had with my questions were like after class just like on our own. (PD, Santa Rosa) It was interesting to work with a partner and groups to read it and stop and give our opinions because we had different opinions so we learned more from each other … (PD, Santa Rosa)

31 Discussions Led to High Involvement I liked how the class got involved and you got two pretty good arguments between each other and it got everybody involved … (JD, Bakersfield) The classroom discussions – the good thing about it [is] we have a lot of like different sides to it, like there ’ s a lot of different things to blend like something like (?) fast food and so it was like … heated ‘ cause there are so many [viewpoints] you can take... (AG, Alameda County)

32 Students Perceived High Interest Topics as Relevant to Their Lives [T]his stuff kind of connects to us more than what we would usually read because it has to do with stuff that we face every day. Like it ’ s pretty neat because kids would have totally different opinions... We argued our points pretty strongly and … we just really discussed it a lot. (RFS, Lake County)

33 High Interest Topics Relevant to Students’ Lives (cont’d.) I think what kept most of us interested throughout the whole few days that we were discussing it was that now, or just recently, or in the near future we ’ re all going to be going through that with college and getting jobs and all that kind of stuff so I think that what appealed to us most, whether we all know it or not, was that we ’ re in that situation as we speak. So we all kind of related to it in that aspect and I thought that ’ s probably one of the most interesting assignments we had all year. (MA, Temecula)

34 According to Students, Accessible Topics Heightened Their Awareness of Real World Issues The packets are better if they have things to do with the age group … they ’ re [directed] to. Like the Fast Food unit - - I always eat fast food so we were more passionate about it because that ’ s what we do like daily … so the more … it has to deal with that age group … the better … people respond to it. (JD, Bakersfield) I thought it was really interesting reading the different articles because it made me, and I ’ m sure everybody else, realize there ’ s a lot of things we didn ’ t know … a lot of the stuff that was brought up in the articles [in Going for the Look] … it totally gave me a different perspective. (RFS, Lake County)

35 Real World Topics (cont’d.) [A]bout the Racial Profiling packet, I think that is a topic that happens daily. … maybe adults think that we don ’ t care, but really we do because we see it happen every day at school whether you ’ re Black, mixed skin, White, whatever, or even by the way you dress. It ’ s not just really ethnic so it just hits like the most important issues happening right now. (JD, Bakersfield) [Going For The Look] just made me really think twice about things.

36 Real World Topics (cont’d.) this discussion we ’ re having … in this classroom … is like one of the only times I ’ ve ever … been in an environment where we discuss such a thing [racial profiling]. … [We] need more of this where we discuss real world problems in our classrooms and educate our kids. (TD, Los Angeles)

37 Topics Evoked Passion Well, it was nice that we were so emotional about the subjects that we were doing … [we] were basically yelling at the top of [our] lungs at each other about clothes and what ’ s right and wrong about it. (JD, Bakersfield)

38 What Students Tell Us They Are Learning… Becoming More Analytical –Readers –Writers –Thinkers

39 Students See Themselves Becoming Stronger Readers I feel that I ’ m a stronger reader now because I don ’ t just glaze over what I ’ m reading. I take into consideration the things that we learned beforehand about pre-reading, doing the quick writes, skimming the vocab. Making sure that we understand everything before we read the article actually helps a lot, and I never did that before I would read something. (MA, Temecula)

40 Building Awareness of Text Structure and Genre We analyzed these [articles] more and like picked out certain sections of them and found out all the different sections. (RFS, Lake County) I personally never like really knew the different [kinds of] essays that you do – argument and like descriptive analysis – and this was the first time that I personally have ever explored those different kinds of essays. (RL, Petaluma)

41 Consciously Reading for Specific Purposes Well, it ’ s like if I ’ m reading something for a specific purpose, like writing a paper, … now, … because of this [curriculum], like I can look at it and analyze it better, so I can get a better understanding of the reading. (CL, Venice)

42 Actively Reading: “just go back and look at your notes on the side” [Now I] take little notes on the side – before I didn ’ t do that. It was like reading and then trying to memorize the whole book, and that would be kind of confusing ‘ cause then your points would be in different places. [Now] you [can] just go back and look at your notes on the side and [remember] your feelings. (AG, Alameda County)

43 Analyzing Rhetorical Choices Well, like today ’ s and yesterday ’ s assignment (Rhetoric of the Op-Ed Page), highlighting the claims and the evidence you can show a difference between what ’ s hard facts and what the writer ’ s opinion is. And like today with changing the sentences, it shows you different ways to write it, and how certain words that you use evoke a certain emotion. (MA, Temecula) I thought we were able to do a really nice job of analyzing the articles and like figuring out what they were about -- not only analyzing them structurally but also … content wise, debating why authors chose to do the things they did … (PD, Santa Rosa)

44 Analyzing Biases and Multiple Viewpoints When we read … an article that has some bias in it and opinion, you have to kind of change your mind frame of how you ’ re reading it and you have to think about the author and the situations … you have to put it together in your mind and think of ways so you can read through the lines and get the story besides just the opinion. (PD, Santa Rosa) Within the last year I ’ ve learned to actually look at someone else ’ s point of view and to comprehend what they think about it, … and take note of what they ’ re saying and try and figure out what ’ s the best way to look at the argument. (JD, Bakersfield)

45 Separating Fact from Opinion: Learning “how to break it down” … we had to find out what the argument was about and how to break it down, … separate the factual information from opinion … judging between what the writer could back up with actual facts … as opposed to things that the author just believed. (JD, Bakersfield) [Now] I analyze everything that I read, and see what the author ’ s trying to [say] … Is it positive, is it negative? Is he strong in some things? Is he weak in something else? Is he describing both sides of the story or is he just focusing on one? (JD, Bakersfield)

46 Becoming More Skeptical Readers [A]s a reader I ’ ve become more skeptical when I read … So like we ’ ve been learning how to read skeptically like not just believing everything everybody says. Like everything we read we believe about half of everything, of every side of the argument, you know what I mean? So like I think that ’ s helped me a lot because … you have to look at the world skeptically too. (MA, Temecula)

47 Seeing Reading as More Enjoyable I guess I enjoy reading now. (JD, Bakersfield)

48 Looking at Text (and Life) with an Open Yet Critical Mind Well, [the curriculum] … taught us to look at [text] with an open mind and look at what the author ’ s saying and see bias, see holes in it, … when I was earlier in my years, like I ’ d read something and I ’ d believe it. I wouldn ’ t even question it and after reading this like now I ’ m starting to question things. (MA, Temecula) [These lessons] helped us be more open-minded, basically to find different points of view... (AG, Alameda County) … [I]t ’ s not so much about learning facts but about learning to see both sides of an issue …. (SH, Los Angeles)

49 Students See Themselves Becoming Stronger Writers … [I]t ’ s easier to write now and I find myself looking more forward to writing a paper in this class than in some other classes. (TD, Los Angeles) When I started out, I was a very mediocre essay writer. … when I went into Miss D. ’ s class. That ’ s when I really started writing essays... So I now enjoy writing essays. Before I used to hide from them, I wouldn ’ t do them, I would get bad grades, but now when I write them, I know that I can do it, I can fight with it. (JD, Bakersfield)

50 Becoming Stronger Writers: Questioning the Text I didn ’ t [used to] like to write. I still don ’ t like to write really, but … now … I realize that when you read something you don ’ t have to agree with what they ’ re talking about. You can like disagree with it … and you can write about that. (JD, Bakersfield)

51 Paying Greater Attention to Process and Audience Makes you want to … think before you write, brainstorm, figure it out instead of just going off the top of your head, you have to go through and prewrite it. (JD, Bakersfield) [When you write] you have to think about the readers and how they ’ re going to [respond]. (CB, Arvin)

52 Making Reading/Writing Connections … I never would have guessed … that … making them little comments can just really make you think what you ’ re going to say …, so when you finally write your essay, it comes out how you want it. (TD, Los Angeles) Personally … I didn ’ t used to like to read … I never picked up a book and then like … you had to read, and then it … made you want to read and then like the more you read, the better your essays get … It ’ s like you become more intelligent, you … start writing in the style that you ’ re reading, and so that kind of works. (JD, Bakersfield)

53 Making Reading/Writing Connections (cont’d.) … on the back of each article … we answered questions – not just like yes or no questions. We answered [questions] in paragraph form and for me it was helpful ‘ cause I use it to write my essays. (TD, Los Angeles) Annotating, that really helps because when you highlight certain stuff … you feel is important, then when you write your essay you go back to that highlighted stuff. (JD, Bakersfield) I ’ m more critical when I read things. … Basically I question everything they say. And then you ’ ve got to do that in your own writing too. (RL, Petaluma)

54 Becoming Stronger Test Takers … [W]hen we took our placement test to get into college [having done the curriculum] … helped us out … And then when I took my placement test, it was like easy because … we went over those articles and it got us there. (JD, Bakersfield)

55 “Thinking for Ourselves Out in the Real World” Not only did it teach us knowledge about these things, it … gave us a way to think for ourselves once we go out to the real world... (RFS, Lake County) … [T]he thing about the articles is it makes me think a lot more ‘ cause I ’ ve grown up in Lake County and never really been out of this area long enough to see what the rest of the world ’ s like. And by reading articles we get a look at what the rest of the world is like – how people are a lot different from what we ’ re used to ‘ cause a lot of us have grown up with each other so we ’ re not as judgmental towards each other sometimes as we would be with someone in another city... (RFS, Lake County)

56 Thinking Toward the Future: College Like yesterday we looked in the newspaper and read letters to the authors … and evaluated the tone, … so I think it ’ ll help us when we … go to college, it ’ ll help us that way. (RFS, Lake County) Well, I know we ’ re going to be using it because when we reach college, you ’ re going to have to know how to write a proper essay … because if you don ’ t know how to write a proper essay you ’ re not going to get anywhere in life. (JD, Bakersfield)

57 “ You Don ’ t Want to Be a Fool ” : Looking Toward the Workplace Well, depending on your career, like if you ’ re reading stuff, sitting in our office reading stuff, you don ’ t want to be taken for a fool. You don ’ t want to read … things and just believe every word … (MA, Temecula) [This seems like it will be relevant later] because [with] almost every job there ’ s something you have to write. Like if you ’ re going to be a cop, that ’ s most of what they do -- they write reports. Or if you ’ re a manager for a company, you have to do a bunch of paperwork. (RL, Petaluma)

58 “Even if we don’t like it”: Developing a Repertoire of Textual Tools and Resources I think when I like do all these things like we might not like when we ’ re doing them, it may seem like it takes a long time and everything, but when we ’ re writing … papers like in college …, we ’ re not going to have to … necessarily do all that stuff in order to write a paper, but if we get like stuck somewhere … it ’ s just teaching us this is what I can do. I can look up vocab or I can look at the deeper meaning of things and then find out … even if we don ’ t like it I guess. (MA, Temecula)

59 Students’ Major Critiques of ERWC Materials Some activities within and across units were repetitious (this cut both ways) Materials could be made more visually appealing Some articles seemed too one-sided (reflects the effects of the course)

60 Students’ Suggestions: Start Earlier! I believe that … to help students and the teacher … we should start this a little earlier … so by the time they get here [to high school], they have that passion, they have that argument, they ’ re not afraid anymore and they can do it. [L]ike you can do third grade but make it really simple … same style, just tinier, and then make it progressive and then, when they hit senior year, you ’ ll have phenomenal writers. (JD, Bakersfield)


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