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Space Junk: Two Sources + Cheat Notes

As part of this series of blog entries, here’s another entry with two online sources & suggestions for teaching.

Two sources

I picked these two articles because they compliment each other in content. Some of the details are similar, but each offers details that the other does not.

Cheat Notes

These notes include three key ideas and the details from both texts are color coded by point. This might be good to reference to use when you are planning your think aloud and later when you are looking at students’ notes and written responses. (These are for articles at the MAX Lexile levels written at about a 4th-5th grade range of difficulty.)

A few suggestions for teaching

  • Use a three-phase approach.
    • Phase One – Introduce both articles and encourage the students to read both and enjoy learning some interesting facts! You might also introduce a vocabulary word or to (e.g., satellite, threatens).
    • Phase Two – Offer the key points (see word doc) to the students and ask them to list details they find that support each. They might want to code details (e.g., notes from each text written in a different color or marked with an * or +).
    • Phase Three – Write in response to a prompt like, “Write a letter to your congressional representative about the need for laws and funding to help with the space junk problem.”
  • Share clear objectives for strategically reading & thinking about two sources and share explicitly how that happens. This can happen at the beginning of phase 2 before the students closely reread the source, determining what is important.
  • Find a way to model or think aloud about how you engage in strategic processing. A lot of us are teaching remotely right now. We still need to model for and guide students as they make sense of these texts. During Phase 2, I’d read aloud the first paragraph from each text; after each read aloud, I’d stop and think aloud about which details might support one of the key ideas.
  • Find a way to model visually. Students need to see you marking on the text and writing notes as you think aloud about what you are doing and thinking. If you are teaching remotely, and if you can, for phase 2, make a short video for students to see how you figure out which details are important and take notes.
  • Provide helpful feedback that requires a response from the student. If you are working remotely with students, offer them feedback that moves them forward as a learner. For example, you might say or note something like the following:
    • I noticed you are drawing a lot of details from both sources. Tell me about how you decided what was important in each article.
    • I noticed you are using details mainly from one source. Tell me about how you might go back and look at the second source for details. What can you do to help yourself do this?
    • I noticed you used details from both sources. Why do you think this is important to do?

Less can be more. As you share objectives, model your thinking, etc. avoid overloading students cognitively. For example, videos of modeling might be just a few minutes. Do just enough to spark kids’ learning. I’d also recommend stretching the three phases of plans over 3-5 days.

If you missed the last blog entry, I shared two online sources that are easy to compare – from the San Diego Zoo Kids site.

Thank you to Carol V for this topic idea!

Hope this helps.


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