News sources

I was going to prep my advanced kids for the next chapter we’re reading today, but instead got distracted this morning by an article in the newspaper about a Chinese coin that archeologists discovered near Whitehorse. I did a quick google search in Russian for “Chinese coin in Alaska” and found three articles immediately on the discovery. One of them had all sorts of words with roots from recent structures, so we started a story about our class archeologist digging for potatoes in a glacier under China, where the government had invited her to look for koala bears. She found a Norwegian unicorn coin there. Our singing Ninja jumped out at that point and made a nice division in the hour, so we didn’t really get to a story. It was more like a one-word picture based around the word “coin.” Then we read the article, which had lots of words having to do with traders, connections, merchants, and government. I pulled out one sentence that I’ll do in Scaffolding Literacy style with them tomorrow because it so beautifully illustrates the way that Russians put the most important stuff last.

We ended up singing two songs today (eighty-five minute class), both of which had some of these same structures in them, but we’d not noticed them until now. Kids were having ah-ha moments all over the place…I love the way that it’s okay to just follow what comes up and high-frequency structures will keep appearing.

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3 responses to “News sources

  1. And after you do that Stage II of Scaffolded Literacy in which you emphasize how structure creates meaning would you mind detailing the process here? I feel pretty solid in Stage I where you pre-tell the story and get people to establish meaning, but I’ve only got a theoretical grasp of what the sentence breakdown session would look like. Details please.

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  2. There’s a whole book about this, as well as great websites…and being a beginning practitioner, I hate to act like I really know what I’m doing…maybe Megan or even Misty will comment on anything I say! I’ll tell you my adaptations and hope that I’m close to the right script.

    For tomorrow, I will take that sentence out and write it on strips. I might have it on the Smartboard. The kids will have copies. We will read it together, and I’ll talk about it in sections, saying something like, “This part of the sentence shows where we find out where the excavation was taking place. Let’s highlight that section. I’d like to read it again, because it shows us where the excavation happened. Class, where did the excavation happen?” and so on, with each major chunk of the sentence, paying attention to meaning. As the pieces are clear, I’ll ask the kids either to physically cut the breaks in the sentence pieces, or to divide them on the Smartboard. Then we’ll be able to see the sentence in terms of chunks of meaning. When we have gone through that process, with my being very admiring of the way the sentence has been crafted, we’ll leave it alone until the next day, because they’ll need to process it. They’re also likely to be reminded that we’ve done other sentences this year already, and they’ll want to take them out and race with them. It’s kind of a weird obsession…can they still remember all the little pieces of those other sentences.

    I’ll tell you how this goes and fix whatever bits I have forgotten. I didn’t really pre-tell the article in this case, but we set the stage by doing the parallel story about the other coin. And as I said, lots of the key structures have been cross-fertilizing. We’ve talked about merchants as we discussed the Tretyakov Museum pictures in Moscow (established by a merchant). We have the phrase “You rule my heart” in a song, and here there were people ruling. We have “strong,” which became part of the verb to hook or attach firmly (or to have a snack to firm up), and we even had digging, from a children’s song about a boy who wouldn’t dig potatoes. I brought all those references back as we talked about the roots and words and structures (except for the ones that the kids remembered on their own), so I feel that I’ve done a pretty good job on the vocabulary.

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    • I entered my sentence into the text splitter, and got it to be individual words and then was happily putting them into phrase chunks when my Smartboard crashed on me. I had to quickly just type up the sentence on the Smartboard. Next time I won’t try to resize and group words. But then we started discussing the sentence and repeating the grammar in terms of meaning, figuring out where the subject was “This part of the sentence tells who did the archeological analysis. (pointing) Who did the archeological analysis?” and “Here’s where we find out where they did the analysis. Where did they do it?” and “This tells that the company led an analysis. What did they do?” If that doesn’t remind you of TPRS circling, nothing will! But the questions keep changing, naturally, as you focus on different parts of the sentence. By the end of just seven minutes (it was kindergarten day, and we had a game to play after having had a writing session), those words were rolling off their lips. Oh. Must point out that in Russian the word “archeological” is a cognate, and that the word for “analysis” is the same as the word for grade, so while it was complex language, it wasn’t so difficult for them to say, once they were clear on what it meant. Also have to admit that I didn’t have time to make copies for them of the sentence. We’ll do a new twist with copies of the sentence in hand on Monday. (I print six or seven on one sheet to save paper.)

      I do love this. On Monday, we’ll do individual highlighting, and circling of the structures, and then move to transformations. Transformations are where you take out parts of the phrases and discuss how that would change the meaning of the sentence. If we have time, we’ll also use a copy of the sentence written on a sentence strip and cut it apart based on words and then morphemes. There are lots of great morpheme distinctions in the structures in this sentence. Whew! That’s enough for now!

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