Tuesday, July 24, 2007

What Should a Georgia Fourth Grader Look Like?

If I remember correctly this was taken mainly from the opening paragraphs of the Language Arts standards from the Georgia State Board of Education.

Students who have completed the fourth grade program consistently choose various genres on their own to read and do not need an instructor’s preview to have success. Students are able to read and understand informational text in various subject areas and use many different metacognitive strategies to assist in comprehension. They read thoughtfully and purposefully to constantly check for understanding of the author’s intent and meaning to achieve a sound interpretation.

By the end of their fourth grade year students are used to writing daily for a variety of purposes and audiences. In addition to writing necessary for the business of school students are also comfortable writing journals, notes, and email. Student’s writing consistently develops a central idea or tells a story utilizing the writing process. Strong evidence of the use of Standard English conventions are presented in all forms of writing. Students understand that reading and writing strategies are used interchangeably and utilize these strategies to include personal voice and author’s craft in their writing.

Students have continually practiced and are adept in various student-to-student and student-to-teacher interactions and communicate their ideas effectively, politely, and appropriately whether conversations take place during classroom discussions or cooperative groups.

Culminating Activities for Fourth Grade Language Arts

At some point our team was considering Georgia standards for Language Arts, and what students should be able to do at the end of the year. This is a list of the expectations we finally arrived at last year.

Conventions: Students will perform error analysis on no more than three paragraphs that contain errors involving parts of speech, mechanics, and sentence structure. Students will use standard correction marks to correct the paragraphs and will rewrite the paragraphs in corrected form.

Critical Reading: Students will read an informational article and will be able to identify features of the text and the text structure. Students will locate specific facts and will be able to state the main idea of the article.

Reading Comprehension: Students will read a book of literature that reflects their specific reading level. Students will present an in depth analysis of the book using graphic organizers, artwork, and written paragraphs displayed on a poster. Through their analysis students will indicate they can identify the various literature elements and genre. Students will make judgments based on the overall worthiness of the book and evaluate character actions using specific evidence from the text.

Students will choose a favorite poem and will present it to an audience. Students will interpret their poem by having props (costumes, things to hold, posters, etc) with them as they recite the poem. Students will also create a written analysis of the poem identifying the speaker and will discuss the sensory and/or figurative language in the poem. Finally, students will state how the rhyme, rhythm, and repetition of the poem impact the meaning of the poem.

Vocabulary Development: The student will demonstrate an understanding of semanic relationships by using context clues, word meanings, and prior knowledge to accurately complete a Semanic Feature Analysis chart on concepts about which he/she has read.

Students will use context clues, knowledge of common Greek and Latin roots, and common prefixes and suffixes to identify the meaning of unknown words embedded in isolated and non-isolated sentences.

Listening, Speaking, and Viewing:
Students will compile and present a research report on a topic of general interest to the class. Students will use various resources including media and the Internet to gather information.

As I review this list now it does not include writing activities for the writing domain. I hope to have this done soon.

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Tuesday, July 10, 2007

There's Nothing Like a Little Walk and Some Browsing

Browsing through a lesson and picture walks aren’t just for our youngest students.

Upper elementary and middle school students can use these strategies with non-fiction tradebooks and textbooks. It doesn’t hurt to preview the material by flipping through the pages and looking at the pictures. Often students complete this activity with a partner so that they can share and feed off each others thoughts.

Encourage students to pay attention to the picture captions and graphics such as charts and maps. Many standardized tests now ask questions about information found in these areas.

Students often have to be trained to look at the whole page instead of just the columns of text. So often than not our upper elementary and middle school student arrive at our classroom door lacking skills. Many times I have to model picture walks and lesson browsing for them so they can see exactly what it is I want them to do.

Even when a science or social studies text is being used it doesn’t hurt to get students to flex their inference muscles by inferring or predicting what the lesson will tell them by using hints from the pictures and digrams as well as the headings and sub-headings. Another strategy that I like to use is asking students to connect personally with the events in the story or lesson. Personal connections help with scaffolding the material and retention rates are increased.