The Power of Literacy: Read, Write, Think, Discuss—Disciplinary Literacy

Sam Bennett's words ring true in Fairfax County Public Schools that's because a student-centered philosophy is the foundation for the engagement model a structure that supports student learning through disciplinary literacy disciplinary literacy teachers do it every day it is a complex set of skills that involves navigating the language and thinking processes of each subject area as the experts of these skills teachers construct and guide students and disciplinary literacy by planning instructions for students to read write think and discuss content literacy is at the heart of the engagement model where students do the work to build content knowledge in the next few minutes you will meet four teachers representing four different content areas who have adapted the engagement model to meet the needs of their students remember learning is messy but whoever is doing the thinking reading writing and discussing is the one getting smarter how many words here one two three four five six words four of them are images so for me the engagement model is really about student agency and student ownership of their learning I think the more time that we can give students to be to become deeply invested in the work that they are doing and not just handing in papers or completing a worksheet the better we're able to help them develop as readers and writers and and learners what we did there is called making an influence so we've been using the engagement model to get the kids to think about the math talk about the math do a little bit writing about their thinking to really be thinking about what's happening in the problems rather than just doing the same type of problem over and over okay so blue markers going to be your consent I want to start hearing your lovely voices I missed them go talk I agree with your idea what do lectures we have to tell us not about coming up and showing them the right answer it's about them trying to find an answer whether or not it's right or wrong that'll come at the end with the critical thinking the building the problem-solving watching them do it together these are the skills that these students need it's that house you're thinking about FPR and the New Deal change this will be a quicker response so based on the conversations you just in my classroom what the engagement model means is that students are doing the work and I don't mean a worksheet I mean students are doing the thinking they're doing the talking they're doing the creating so doing the collaborating I should be a facilitator of that but I should not be the person standing at the front of the room delivering the knowledge I know the magic is happening when I look at a kid's face and I see them engaged and you can tell as a teacher if a student is engaged or is looking under his desk and externally these kids with this strategy are engaged I think we give these kids sometimes a bum rap about they can't do this they can't do that give them a canner you will need to lightbulb so well that's why we do what we do I think of this classroom as a one-room schoolhouse because we do have so many different levels of students in the class some of the images that we wrote here up on the sentence strips we know every day we're going to start with a warm-up that gets students talking and thinking about either language or drawing conclusions and then we're going to have the reading time so that's very easy and that gives us a framework and then the work time is organized around a larger goal whether it's an essay a presentation and we just kind of think about what are the steps along the way what are the mini lessons and those you really can't decide upon until you see where your students are who's ready for doing some sort of enrichment and what types of things need to be revisited so we're doing a few steps a blue we're all kind of going over the same type of thing in a mini lesson and then as the students go to different workshop activities either one of us or if there's two of us in the room we might both pull and group with them to kind of hone those skills based on the formative assessment my advice for a teacher who is interested in moving towards more student engagement in the classroom would be just to give it a try it might get a little bit messy every student might not be on task all of the time but the benefits that students will get from having those opportunities to have some choice to have some ownership to really do the work and to get smarter by doing the work far outweigh any you know minor shenanigans that might happen back of the classroom it's been kind of a journey I think I've been doing this seven years and it's changed every year and I've kind of grown with this model with this workshop model from the beginning it's definitely involved and each year that I learned a little bit more about how to get students engaged how to get them thinking more how to get them writing even in math class I've seen the models kind of really flourished and really take off and you can see it and what the students come up with even when they're given a problem they haven't seen being able to think about the strategies that they have and use those strategies in a new problem situation it doesn't have to be this all-or-nothing calculation so I think like don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good we want to see something more like this problem what was your opinion about fgr well I thought a CR was cool why did you think it was cool I don't know we don't need to do everything huge the little things that you do every day if you add those up over time they are getting by writing practice they are getting reading practice which is a reason so I think it's completely doable you know I really think of myself first and foremost as a reading writing critical thinking teacher and then the content that I teach support so skeletiger let them guide each other it is a different classroom than the one we grew up in and not only are they getting it but they're building these really essential needs who's really essential skills that they're going to meet as they move forward into the next century you

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