A gifted teacher shows how it’s done
by Cathie Maglio, Blended Learning Specialist
One of my favorite classes is the Grade 10 Level 1 English Learners class at East Boston High School taught by Meredith Hubbell. I am amazed at the strategies Meredith has developed to help students build their English language skills. One of those strategies is our JFYNet online reading comprehension program which Meredith uses nimbly and adroitly in combination with other methods.
First, she pairs students together who have similar Lexile scores so that the texts can be read, annotated and analyzed in conjunction with one another. The Lexile score comes from a baseline assessment in the software, Achieve 3000. The reading assignments in the software are at scaffolded levels of difficulty according to Lexile score; so if two students’ Lexile scores are too far apart, the complexity and vocabulary of the reading may be set at a level too high or too low for them both to work together efficiently.
Before any work is done online, students read the assigned selection and answer the questions on paper. (Meredith prints out all online readings for this purpose.) While doing this task, students work with partners to create a poster of their writings based on the reading. The poster is presented orally to the class. This process works on reading, writing, speaking and organizing skills. It also fosters teamwork.
Lessons in JFY’s online reading program in Achieve 3000 consist of 5 steps:
- 1. Before-reading poll
- 2. Selection to read
- 3. Activity questions based on the reading
- 4. After-reading poll
- 5. Thought question requiring students to write a response based on a prompt related to the reading.
Before- reading poll: Students are asked their opinion on a question related to the reading. Students can agree or disagree with the question and write an explanation of why they chose that particular answer. This exercise gives them practice answering prompts and framing central and supporting ideas.
Reading the article: Students use the partner reading protocol to read the text on paper, circling cognates, highlighting new vocabulary, and composing “thinking notes” from a designated menu to record their thinking. Here students can help each other understand the new vocabulary and concepts presented in the reading.
Activity questions: After reading the article, students answer 8 multiple choice questions with the goal of achieving a score of 75% or above. Students apply strategies used in class to understand prompts and use the process of elimination to select the best answer. This is good practice for the ELA MCAS test.
After- reading poll: Students re-answer the “before reading” question to see if their opinion has changed after reading the article.
Thought question: Here students use a tailored graphic organizer with color coding to respond to the “thought question.” All work is documented on the poster for presentation to the teacher and to the class.
The students are proud of their posters. A lot of work goes into them.
After completing these steps on paper and poster, the students repeat the sequence online in Achieve by entering their responses from the posters. This repetition reinforces all the learning stimulated by the project and exercises both manual and online skills.
The enthusiasm and joy of the students and the continuous dance of question and answer, comment and response between students and teacher make for a lively hour. Meredith Hubbell’s agile use of a full repertoire of teaching techniques shows how blended learning in the hands of a creative and engaged teacher can make the whole much greater than the sum of its parts.
Cathie Maglio observes Meredith Hubbell working with a student.
Other posts authored by Cathy Maglio can be found here.