After the keynote I was off to my first concurrent session: Adventures in Career and Technical Literacy, led by Serina Gay, a very engaging CTE teacher from a Title 1 school in Missouri. Serina spoke briefly about her transition from a career in interior decorating to teaching. She gave us a brief introduction to LDC: a template for planning and delivering literacy units
Serina came to LDC as a way to help her combine and integrate content areas. It’s another way to do what we once called “project-based learning.” She introduced LDC as an adventure, discussing her first LDC unit which was about infant nutrition.
The first day, task engagement, gave her kids a chance to get interested in the project. She uses a lot of group work throughout her LDC modules and invests time early in each unit to make sure students build relationships with their small groups.
The overall task of the unit was to read a text and write an opinion about breast feeding – pro or con – supporting their writing with evidence. When she presented the task she had each group reconstruct the task by rewriting it in language suitable for a 3rd grader. I thought that was a great idea; so often to plow ahead with our units without ensuring our students are absolutely clear on what the overall task is going to be.
Ms. Gay spent some time talking about the reading process. Her use of active/close reading ties closely with note-taking; she uses lots of graphic organizers and also strongly advises giving each student a copy of the text to mark up and consume.
She went on to describe how directly teaching “Essential Vocabulary” needs to be a crucial part of each unit. She intentionally teaches the EV so that they can use the words in their writing. At this point she referenced the book Focus by Daniel Goleman as her inspiration. Serina teaches her EV using stations: each place in the room has a different task for the 10 essential words.
When it comes to transition to writing, she focuses mainly on bridging and organizing thinking. She makes it a point to include tasks that result in her kids actually completing part of the task in the process. During her “Bridging Day,” for example, immediately after reviewing the text she’ll have her students do a ten minute free write to reflect on what they already know; this text will then become a major part of the task itself. She then has them organize their thinking by presenting the task again and having them look at what they wrote and deciding what parts will work for their writing.
And then again, during the writing process itself, she leads them through a prewriting exercise; each student completes an organizer that gets them to think through the task; ideally the organizer will be constructed in such a way that the content will easily become part or most of the actual writing. They key here is to make sure they end up addressing the task while they complete the prewrite.
Serina, like all of us, scores each element separately. She also has her students peer-review each other’s work; she read excerpts from her students’ writing. The work was clear and well-written.
Toward the end, Ms. Gay talked about her next steps and her reflections. Her two main goals are to better include technology and to make better use of data to evaluate her students. (sounds familiar!)
All in all, a great session that provided an overall picture for some of us LDC-newbies and offered tricks and tips for success.