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Quick tools for helping students access complex texts

October 5, 2011

This week I have felt like a total disaster in my class.  I’m still trying to do way too much in one period, and it is resulting in some really rough sessions.   Every day this week I have had the following happen:  I teach first period.  I realize what is wrong.  I adjust.  By last period things are moving along, albeit still a bit roughly.  Today this had me thinking about how I can do this.  During my first year teaching I had lots of rough classes, but the problem there was I didn’t know how to fix them.  Now I have some strategies in my back-pocket that make it a bit easier.  This week I needed some post-reading strategies – things to use to get students discussing what they read in a way that helped their understanding.  Here are just a few of the strategies I was able to use as I tried to correct for the disaster that ensued first period . . .

Developing an understanding of a text (after reading):

– Have students identify interesting/remarkable lines and explain why they chose them.  (bonus – have them share and find “patterns” between their lines and others).

– Have students write down questions they had during/after reading and share those questions with others.  They can discuss those questions, respond to other’s questions in writing (via a notebook pass or gallery walk, etc.)

– Give groups of students specific passages.  Have them summarize these passages and then explain their summaries to the class.  Have students “Graph” the passages using a variety of things (how positive/negative the passages are, how a character changes from passage to passage, etc.)

What strategies do you use to help students develop an understanding of what they read?

Vegan Mo-Fo
What?  Non-vegan food featured on a vegan blog?  During Vegan MoFo, no less?  Well, I’ve gotta tell you – it is a trick title.  I wanted to feature a list of food today that is vegan – yet it is enjoy and consumed by vegans all over!

Pasta (or polenta) and marinara sauce (sans parm).  I grew up on this economical, easy and enjoyable meal.  When I became vegan I dropped the parm and suffered no ill effects – and in fact enjoyed my pasta even more!

Stir-fry: The go-to for extra veggies in our house, who can resist a good stir-fry?  Tofu in this yummy dish is hardly strange sight.  In fact, a lot of people expect to enjoy tofu, snow peas and broccoli covered in a delectable hosin or teriyaki sauce.

Soup and bread:  This is one of my favorite dinners, especially in fall and winter.  Sure, there are plenty of non-vegan soups in the world, but who needs those when you can enjoy a soothing minestrone or sweet corn chowder anytime as a vegan!   Tonight we enjoyed an amazing Vegetable and Lentil soup from Vegan on the Cheap, paired with Mushroom and Onion cibatta from When Pigs Fly.  Yum!

Vegtable Lentil Soup – a great weeknight dinner!

  1. I could add Bean Burritos (without cheese) to your list. They were a staple when I was growing up, and still are for my kids.

    Love the blog! I teach Special Ed (grades 1-4).

    • Bean Burritos is a GREAT addition – it is also a staple in our house, especially know with our little guy who loves anything we can mash in a tortilla 🙂 Thanks so much for reading!

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