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  • Chapter 4 Vignettes for Language Arts Literacy

  • NEW JERSEY LANGUAGE ARTS LITERACY CURRICULUM FRAMEWORK 48

    VIGNETTES FOR LANGUAGE ARTS LITERACY ▼▼▼▼▼▼▼▼

  • 49 NEW JERSEY LANGUAGE ARTS LITERACY CURRICULUM FRAMEWORK

    Experiences in the classroom are the substance of stories, stories that illuminate what children know and can do and what teachers do in turn to guide students to new levels of understanding and pro- ficiency. The vignettes on the following pages present just these kinds of stories and illustrate how skilled teachers integrate the individual language arts literacy standards and their indicators into a single, well-balanced lesson or unit.

    The vignettes, which are grouped by grade level (elementary, middle, and secondary), re p re s e n t the diverse instructional experiences that students at these levels need in order to develop literacy skills and behaviors. By instinct, we turn to those vignettes that pertain directly to our educational responsibilities. Yet, we need to read all the vignettes; the stories at the other grade levels can contribute to our understanding. As teachers, we need to know what prior experiences students bring to the classroom and to anticipate what curriculum goals will form our students’ future edu- cational program.

    We should be able to find our own teaching practices reflected in some vignettes and instructional approaches that we do not use in others. The variety provides a valuable model of the many ways we help students develop and enhance their literacy skills. We need to approach each vignette with the questions, “What is there here that I can use with my students? What material am I using that will lend itself to this instructional approach? How might the strategies and techniques described in this vignette improve my students’ learning?”

    The format of the vignettes is designed to help teachers and administrators focus on key aspects of instructional planning and implementation. Each vignette addresses specific standards and their progress indicators for language arts literacy and cross-content workplace readiness. These focus indicators are identified in the box at the beginning of each vignette. The left-hand column presents the story; the right-hand column contains annotations or glosses that give the rationale for the spe- cific teaching techniques and student behaviors described in the vignette. Following each vignette are three additional components: assessment possibilities for the learning experience conveyed in the story; questions for teacher reflection about the learning experience; and possible extensions that teachers could use to enhance students’ literacy development. We can use these components as the basis for discussion with colleagues and for personal reflection.

    In live classrooms, a vibrant curriculum addresses many of the indicators identified in the language arts literacy and cross-content workplace readiness standards. The vignettes in this chapter similarly encompass several standards and multiple indicators in these two critical areas. The matrix on pages 42–44 provides a summary of those indicators most clearly addressed in each story or vignette. You may see the potential for others.

    No one vignette is meant to provide a comprehensive narrative of teaching and learning. Rather, it is in the collection of stories that we see the broad reach of an educational program grounded in the standards. The stories that follow the matrix are based on actual instructional approaches used by New Jersey educators in their classrooms. These vignettes are presented with profound respect for the children and regard for their future as literate citizens.

    VIGNETTES FOR LANGUAGE ARTS LITERACY

  • NEW JERSEY LANGUAGE ARTS LITERACY CURRICULUM FRAMEWORK 50

    VIGNETTES FOR LANGUAGE ARTS LITERACY ▼▼▼▼▼▼▼▼

  • ▼▼▼▼▼▼▼▼ VIGNETTES FOR LANGUAGE ARTS LITERACY

    51 NEW JERSEY LANGUAGE ARTS LITERACY CURRICULUM FRAMEWORK

  • NEW JERSEY LANGUAGE ARTS LITERACY CURRICULUM FRAMEWORK 52

    VIGNETTES FOR LANGUAGE ARTS LITERACY ▼▼▼▼▼▼▼▼

  • ▼▼▼▼▼▼▼▼ VIGNETTES FOR LANGUAGE ARTS LITERACY

    53 NEW JERSEY LANGUAGE ARTS LITERACY CURRICULUM FRAMEWORK

    FEATURES OF THE VIGNETTES

    Identifies teaching and

    learning strategies

    and results

    Identifies content standards and progress indicators addressed in the vignette

    Presents a vignette that models instructional strategies for targeting specific standards and indicators

    Presents possible methods for observing and assessing student learning and performance

    Introduces questions to extend thinking about teaching and learning strategies and results

    Identifies related resources that support instruction

    Provides suggestions for extending the instruction and learning target - ed in the vignette

  • NEW JERSEY LANGUAGE ARTS LITERACY CURRICULUM FRAMEWORK 54

    VIGNETTES FOR LANGUAGE ARTS LITERACY ▼▼▼▼▼▼▼▼

  • ▼▼▼▼▼▼▼▼ VIGNETTES FOR LANGUAGE ARTS LITERACY

    55 NEW JERSEY LANGUAGE ARTS LITERACY CURRICULUM FRAMEWORK

    Thematic Unit : From Research to Oral Production Upper Elementary

    As part of an interdisciplinary thematic unit, students in Ms. Andrews’ class researched, prepared for, and took an imaginary trip to Mars. As a culminating activity for the unit, the students presented their research findings and experiences in an “off- Broadway production.” The script contained narratives, dramati- zations, and songs.

    During the month-long unit, students researched science topics (air/vacuums, weightlessness, propulsion, and botany); health topics (exercise physiology, muscle tone, diet); mathematics top- ics (distance, speed, weight ratios); and other areas suggested by the students’ interests and questions as they prepared for the “voyage.” As they learned more about these topics, students wrote journal entries and letters home explaining, for example, how muscles atrophy in a weightless environment and how space travelers have to run regularly on a treadmill to maintain muscle tone.

    Students explored technology by building a spacecraft from a refrigerator box. They covered the box with Styrofoam™ lunch trays wrapped in aluminum foil and cut plastic for the portholes. As they worked with the aluminum foil, students discussed the properties of heat and friction in space, as well as aspects of ecology on Earth, a topic stimulated by their collection of the Styrofoam™ lunch trays. When they found that they had collected 300 lunch trays in less than a week, several students asked what happened to all the uncollected trays over the course of a school year. Students wrote letters to the Superintendent of Schools, expressing their concerns about the lack of recycling in the schools. Eventually, the Director of Food Services came to their classroom to explain regulations about washing reusable trays and the limita- tions elementary schools face when they have no facilities for food preparation.

    The unit also involved important language arts and social studies outcomes. Students maintained logs of their voyage to, and land- ing on, Mars. They wrote letters to family members at home describing the trip and the planet and speculating about the pos- sible colonization and planet development. At one point in the unit, the students compared their trip to Mars with the Pilgrims’ voyage to the New World, writing about the reasons for the two journeys, the supplies needed, and the similarities and differ- ences in the two contexts.

    Language Arts Literacy Indicators: 3.1 [2, 5, 8–9, 13] 3.2 [6, 8] 3.3 [4, 7–8, 10–12] 3.4 [1, 6–10, 12, 16] 3.5 [2, 7, 10, 12–14, 17]

    Cross-Content Workplace Indicators: 1 [1] 2 [1–3] 3 [1–15] 4 [1–7, 9–11] 5 [3–5]

    Focus

    Individual curriculum goals are enhanced when integrated into a cross-disciplinary unit and extended by student inquiry.

    Students identify unexpected prob- lems and create their own solutions when they engage in complex multi- modal activities.

    Student learning increases in class- rooms where divergent thinking is encouraged.

  • NEW JERSEY LANGUAGE ARTS LITERACY CURRICULUM FRAMEWORK 56

    VIGNETTES FOR LANGUAGE ARTS LITERACY ▼▼▼▼▼▼▼▼

    In the areas of art and architecture, students researched, designed, and made helmets, surface vehicles, and biodomes out of Tupperware, cardboard, and other supplies. These models were displayed in the classroom and later in the school display case in the main corridor. Ms. Andrews had students study com- puter images and photographs of the surface of Mars. From these they chose a reasonable landing site and potential locations for homes. In preparation for their voyage to Mars, students also studied the binary number system and discussed the use of the system to receive messages and pictures while in space.

    Finally, they were ready for blastoff and their journey to Mars. While hurtling through space, they computed distances, speed, changes in weight, and estimated time of arrival. They also sam- pled astronauts’ food and kept notes in their learning logs. Upon landing, they made a brief exploration of the surface and exam- ined samples of the terrain. After returning to the ship, students wrote a letter back to a friend on Earth describing what they saw on the surface, what the temperatu

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