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TeachNet Grant: Making Sense of Text
Thomas Wierzbowski
tom.wierzbowski@gmail.com

Mott Hall High School
6 Edgecombe Avenue, 4th Floor
New York, NY 10030


English Language Arts, high school
About the Grant:

"Making Sense of Text" is a website created using Google Sites which builds students' reading comprehension and analytical skills by showing them what is meant by literary elements such as characterization, diction, and syntax. The website can be used by the student alone as a review of literary elements, or by the teacher to teach active reading skills. 

Students are presented with an excerpt of text. The text page is linked to pages on specific literary elements. The idea is that in order to analyze a piece of text through the lens of a particular literary element, students must fully understand what that elements is and how to discuss what the author is doing.

"Making Sense of Text" is a resource primarily for students who struggle with discussing or writing about literary elements. Additionally, this resource would be a good review for any student who is preparing to take the English Regents.

  • Below is a point-by-point explanation of how this website can be used:
  • Students are given a task ("Discuss the way the author characterizes the speaker in this excerpt.")
  • Students are presented with the text excerpt.
  • If the student doesn't know how to address the specific task (in this instance regarding characterization), they click on the link for "characters" and "characterization."
  • Students read and complete the practice related to the literary element (Characterization)
  • Students then return to the given task.
Neither the task nor the assessment is included in this website, since the teacher should customize this for his/her own students and curriculum. 
How This Grant was Adapted:

In my experience, students who struggle with understanding unfamiliar text often do not know what to look for in a piece of writing. This project allows students to focus on one aspect of writing at a time. For example, when encountering a piece of unfamiliar text and the student is asked to focus on activating background knowledge, he or she can click on the link for Author Background or Title for a list of questions to ask themselves about the author, and the title. This project is also a great resource for teachers who want students to practice a particular aspect of writing. For example, in teaching characterization, a teacher can direct students to the links of characters and characterization.

The ultimate benefit for teachers is that this site can be customized. Using this site as a template, teachers can revise the text to suit their own students and classroom curriculum. Similarly, after students work through the website, teacher can assign an assessment which targets the specific literary element or analytical skill practiced.

Project URL

http://sites.google.com/site/makingsenseoftext/Home

Objectives
  • Students will be able to identify direct and indirect characterization
  • Students will be able to discuss the way a particular character is characterized by the author.
  • Students will be able to identify the tone of the text.
  • Students will be able to discuss the syntactical elements of the text.
  • Students will be able to make predications based on the title.
  • Students will be able to make inferences based on the author's background.
Websites Used

All links located from within the project URL: http://sites.google.com/site/makingsenseoftext/Home

Standards Addressed:

Standard 1: Students will read, write, listen and speak for information and understanding.

Standard 2: Students will read, write, listen and speak for literary response and expressions.

Standard 3: Students will read, write, listen and speak for critical analysis and evaluation.

Tom Wierzbowski is a second year English teacher working in a public high school in Harlem. He teaches 11th and 12th grade. A large component of the 11th grade curriculum is preparation for the New York State English Regents Exam. Mr. Wierzbowski created this project and accompanying website as a way to help students connect to text in a more academic way. The integration is an important component to his teaching, and this unit demonstrates that integration well.


 

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