Another great post from our guest blogger, Richele Dunavent!
After one month of Project GLAD implementation in a first grade co-teaching classroom I am excited to share that the level of student engagement is extremely high as well as the level of authentic academic language use in context. The unit being taught during this time period was about economics. This unit hit all of the expectations of the first grade Social Studies Essential Standard of 1.E.1 understand basic economic concepts and its three clarifying objectives. We began the unit by teaching one or two academic terms using the Cognitive Content Dictionary (CCD) that I mentioned in my last blog. Another strategy we used was a teacher created big book about the topic "producers". These big books are specific to the lesson, provide authentic images of the topic, and the text is relevant, informative, and the main idea is summarized in a repetitive pattern on each page. Students noticed this repetition and wondered about that. After we read the book together, I asked them to put their heads together and talk about why the book might repeat that one sentence on each page. Many of the students were very astute and realized that the repetition was to teach the important information, or the main idea and key details. The unit progressed through topics like producer/consumer, supply/demand, and goods/services using another strategy called a Comparative Input Chart. This strategy is especially helpful because it is preplanned and all of the information is penciled in prior to the lesson with sketches, labels and captions. It is also color coded for each chunk of the lesson. The similarities and differences between or among the topics or ideas are identified on this chart. These charts were left hanging on the walls for quick reference as students discussed the topics or wrote in their response journals.
The final strategy used in this unit was the Cooperative Strip Paragraph which had student teams compose a collaborative sentence in reference to the topic sentence that was written by the classroom teacher. Each team of students was given a different colored sentence strip for their response. They received teacher assistance from the adults in the classroom to actually write the sentence. Students are brought into close proximity of the pocket chart where all of the sentence strips were added to the topic sentence to form a paragraph. Time was spent over the next several days editing the sentences as a whole group activity. Sentence strips were torn into separate pieces as words were added or taken away. The CCD and the Comparison Input Charts were referred to throughout this editing process in order to create a cohesive, informative paragraph. Again, students were highly engaged and there were ample opportunities for all students to practice using academic vocabulary in context.