Thursday, November 22, 2012

Close reading of informational text can be a thing of beauty

Meaningful work gives me energy to continue working. Yesterday afternoon I pushed paper at work in a frenzy, and it was not meaningful work, just work. Rest gives me energy! So these four days of vacation should help me swing back into school with a spring in my step, right? I have plans to visit with family and shop small local stores.

I've been using the "Shallow Seas" episode of the Planet Earth series (Discovery Channel) to teach "close reading" comprehension of informational text. The text we use is the narration itself, beautifully presented by Sigourney Weaver, full of figurative language. I transcribe the narration and write the questions, which students preview before watching the video and answer after watching.

The video itself is just a thing of beauty, with built-in opportunities to show students (most of whom profess to hate school in general) some good reasons to stay in school. "Wouldn't it be cool to shoot this scene with high speed cameras on a boat near Australia?! Well, the longer you stay in school, the more options you have to get cool jobs like that."

Clips of the Planet Earth series are available on the Discovery Channel web site, though my school is fortunate to own the DVD set. Each time I watch it, I remember why I love to teach, to show students the wonders of the world and encourage them to grab every chance possible to be part of this wonderful world. Happy Thanksgiving!

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