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  • July 2014 DOI:10.1598/bridges.7011 | © 2014 International Reading Association

    Exploring Colonial America Teaching History Through Literacy for Grade 6 Using the GAUGE Strategy Leila Richey Nuland, Ana Taboada Barber, Traci Whiting Murray, and Susan Groundwater

    Description This two-week unit for grade 6 focuses on the shared goals of teaching history content related to the coloni- zation of America while strengthening literacy skills through comprehension monitoring. Comprehension monitoring is essential to literacy, as it enables the reader to be aware, while reading, whether a text is making sense and to select from a menu of strategies to fix his or her misunderstandings accordingly. Once students identify what they do not understand, they can use fix-up strategies as tools to improve their compre- hension. This unit presents a specific comprehension monitoring strategy for accomplishing this objective: the GAUGE strategy, which encourages students to use Graphic organizers, Ask questions, Use text features or context clues, Go back and reread, and Explain what you read. GAUGE is used as an anchor in this unit because students cannot apply strategies if they are not aware of their thinking while reading. Therefore, GAUGE facili- tates students’ thinking about their reading.

    This unit was developed and implemented within the United States History for Engaged Reading (USHER), a multiyear project designed to codevelop a

    history–literacy integrated curriculum between literacy researchers and language arts and social studies middle school (grades 6 and 7) teachers (Taboada Barber et al., in press). The implementation took place with several teachers in a large urban school district in the Mid- Atlantic region. USHER has the dual goal of supporting the reading comprehension and engagement of middle school students with history texts through the use of specific comprehension or cognitive strategies and mo- tivation support practices.

    Motivation practices refer to teacher supports for stu- dent motivation for reading history and learning history topics. In this unit, we emphasize two motivation prac- tices: reading self-efficacy and task relevance. Fostering reading self-efficacy consists of teacher supports to in- crease students’ own perceptions of their reading ca- pabilities through fostering competence with specific reading skills or activities. Fostering relevance consists of teacher supports for students’ understanding of the importance and value of learning (a) certain tasks or topics or (b) the use of specific reading strategies.

    GRADES

    6–8

    Instructional Units for the Engaging ClassroomIRA BRIDGES

  • July 2014 | Exploring Colonial America DOI:10.1598/bridges.7011 | © 2014 International Reading Association2

    Several middle school teachers in a large urban school district have implemented the Colonization unit over a three-year period in a variety of classroom settings: regular education, a gifted and talented cluster, English learners (ELs), and special education students have all been a part of the implementation process. This unit is designed for the general sixth-grade student population with specific supports for ELs who are reading at or be- low the sixth-grade level. ELs experience some specific barriers to reading in the domain of social studies:

    • Decontextualized written discourse • Few graphic cues • Less predictable sequence of ideas, as compared to

    narratives • Limited background knowledge necessary to under-

    stand topic • Specific vocabulary tied to essential concepts

    This unit targets specific practices to overcome the barriers experienced by ELs and to increase the read- ing comprehension and reading engagement for this specific population. General practices include the following:

    • Use of visual aids to build background knowledge • Use of graphic organizers • Explicit instruction of reading comprehension strate-

    gies alongside content • Collaborative activities

    Specific practices for ELs include (a) texts with multi- ple text features (e.g., pictures, special vocabulary, and section titles) that compensate the complexities of lin- ear, turgid text; (b) discussion prompts to facilitate di- alogue among students; and (c) a word wall for both content-specific and general academic words.

    Unit Objectives In each of the 10 days for this unit, teachers introduce the purpose for comprehension monitoring, model this strategy, provide guided practice for the strategy, and ultimately provide time for independent practice. Therefore, each lesson includes a warm-up activity, whole-class or partner reading, and a closure activity for each day of instruction. The lessons provided here are intended for 90-minute periods. (The teachers who originally implemented this unit used their social stud- ies and language arts periods.)

    Motivation Support Objectives • Students will develop initial motivation to read about

    the early colonies by increasing self-efficacy for reading.

    • Students will discuss and understand the relevance of studying topics about Colonial America.

    Reading Comprehension Objectives • Students will activate background knowledge about

    specific topics (e.g., Jamestown, European Settlers, Pocahontas) and relate to text content.

    • Students will use GAUGE to monitor their compre- hension while reading about the colonies.

    Content Objectives Students will read to answer the following questions during and by the end of the unit:

    1. Why did Europeans establish colonies in North America?

    2. How did climate, geographic features, and other available resources distinguish the three regions from each other?

    3. How did people use the natural resources of their re- gion to earn a living?

    4. What are the benefits of specialization and trade? 5. How did political and social life evolve in each of the

    three regions?

  • July 2014 | Exploring Colonial America DOI:10.1598/bridges.7011 | © 2014 International Reading Association3

    Texts Required Texts Partner or Small-Group Reading Belval, B. (2006). A primary source history of the colony

    of Roanoke. New York, NY: Rosen. Lexile level: 830. (Nonfiction).

    Freedman, J. (2006). A primary source history of the col- ony of Massachusetts. New York, NY: Rosen. Lexile level: 1090. (Nonfiction).

    Hasan, H. (2006). A primary source history of the colony of South Carolina. New York, NY: Rosen. Lexile level: 1070. (Nonfiction).

    Prentzas, G.S. (2006). A primary source history of the colony of Pennsylvania. New York, NY: Rosen. Lexile level: 1150. (Nonfiction).

    Rai, V. (2004). Massachusetts: Colonial America. Independence, KY: National Geographic. Lexile level: 590. (Nonfiction).

    Unit Overview

    Week Grouping Central Ideas Objectives Teaching and Learning Activities

    Common Core State Standards and Learning Goals Achieved Texts Used

    1 Individuals, pairs, small groups, whole class

    Students will gain an understanding of how to monitor their comprehension through the use of the GAUGE strategy and develop an understanding of how and why the original 13 American colonies were established.

    Students will demonstrate increased motivation and self-efficacy, relate background knowledge to content, monitor comprehension using GAUGE, and develop an understanding of European colonization of North America and the three colonial regions.

    Students will participate in both collaborative and independent reading and in writing activities (to include writing a short essay, developing a timeline, and completing a compare/contrast graphic organizer) and be introduced to a culminating project.

    RH.6-8.2 RH.6-8.4 RH.6-8.7

    WHST.6-8.2 WHST.6-8.2a

    Jamestown by D. Rosen The Story of Jasper Jonathan Pierce: A

    Pilgrim Boy by A. Rinaldi A Primary Source History of the Lost

    Colony of Roanoke by B. Belval A Primary Source History of the Colony

    of Massachusetts by J. Freedman A Primary Source History of the Colony

    of South Carolina by H. Hasan A Primary Source History of the Colony

    of Pennsylvania by G.S. Prentzas Massachusetts: Colonial America by

    V. Rai Pennsylvania: Colonial America by

    V. Rai South Carolina: Colonial America by

    V. Rai A Primary Source History of the Colony

    of Georgia by L. Sonneborn The Pilgrims by R.C. Stein

    2 Individuals, pairs, small groups, whole class

    Students will improve organizational ability and comprehension and refine cognitive skills through the use of the GAUGE stragegy as well as develop an understanding of life in Colonial America and reasons for the colonists’ dissatisfaction with Great Britain.

    Students will demonstrate increased motivation and self-efficacy, relate background knowledge to content, monitor comprehension using GAUGE, and develop an understanding of European colonization of North America and the three colonial regions.

    Students will participate in collaborative and independent reading, utilize graphic organizers, do perspective writing, and create artifacts as part of a summative project.

    RH.6-8.2 RH.6-8.4 RH.6-8.7

    WHST.6-8.2 WHST.6-8.2a

    The Story of Jasper Jonathan Pierce: A Pilgrim Boy by A. Rinaldi

    http://www.corestandards.org/ELA-Literacy/RH/6-8/2/ http://www.corestandards.org/ELA-Literacy/RH/6-8/4/ http://www.corestandards.org/ELA-Literacy/RH/6-8/7/ http://www.corestandards.org/ELA-Literacy