In what ways has your work changed your thinking about students’ transitions or your teaching?
Henderson: When we sat down as a group to design and redesign our reading template, it became clear how important vocabulary is when trying to bridge the high school/college gap. When discussing “thesis,” for example, we labored over “main idea,” or “central point.” Ultimately, we used thesis because that is what we use at the college level. Another box we discussed at length was the “Other Voices” concept. We knew we needed a spot for students to acknowledge and reflect on the “other” ideas the author built upon or brought in for support or opposition. The ability to differentiate between different ideas in a text is an important skill, but how could we label that so students (and teachers) would understand? If we labeled the box “References,” the students would include the author’s citations without thinking about how they were used in the text. If we used “Other Authors,” it limited the box to a student’s concept of an author. In the end, we labeled that box “Other Voices,” not only because it plays upon the idea that academic discourse is a conversation, but because it encompasses any genre an author might reference (See Artifact 3 Instr Video for further explanation of these boxes). Having used the template in my composition classes for over a year now, I believe it helps focus student reading and in-class discussions. It provides a nice platform for the next step, too, which is asking the students what they think about a text (there is notably no place on our template for student opinion– accurate interpretation has to come first).
Lambert: Yes, I agree with Reagan. The first insight I had after discussions within our small cohort and the larger group was how important vocabulary is. It became clear that a common vocabulary and agreed upon definitions for that vocabulary is essential in helping students transition from high school to college. I like the tool/template we developed because reading is a complex activity and anything that can aid students and teacher to navigate the complexity is valuable. Our template helped me direct students’ attention to those areas of investigation that I feel are most helpful in improving their reading. I will continue to use this template, not just in my reading classes but also in my composition classes, which relies heavily on readings.
Newman: I do wonder if our districts and educational institutions had the same vocabulary and processes for text analysis (and everything else pertaining to how we talk about English) if it would aid in creating a more seamless educational experience for students. I wonder if this would be a benefit to all especially non-traditional students who have historically had difficult times being successful in higher education.