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Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Kernel Essays and Source Documents: Tutoring D. - Part 2

In the month that I have been out of school, I have had five full days of professional development, including a day and a half of focused writing PD. I had the opportunity to attend a session with Stephen and Kayla Briseno, who work with Gretchen Bernabei, as they presented information from Text Structures from the Masters (you can find sample lessons here). 

I immediately knew that I was going to incorporate this information into my lessons for next year (I have attended a  Gretchen Bernabei before, and I love everything she creates). The lessons tie together writing with cross-curricular critical reading and analysis. Tutoring this summer has given me a guinea pig. Since D. has not been in public school for four years, he is the perfect learner to experiment with. 

Today we completed Lesson 17: Tour of an Unfamiliar Place.  We meet at one of our public library branches, a new place for D. to frequent. I had him take a tour of the library on his own, getting a feel for the environment. When he sat back down with me, we discussed the kernel essay. Taking a page from the Brisenos, we began by discussing what a kernel is. D. did have some confusion about colonel versus kernel, providing us with an opportunity to addressed frequently confused words.We then walked through each kernel, allowing D. to write a short essay: 

Our next step was to read the source document "Factory Life" from 1846:
  • I am not a history teacher, but we discussed what source documents are and why they are important. 
  • For our first read, I had D. read to me, as I am trying to help him find some confidence in his voice as he prepares to enter high school. 
  • For our second read, I had D. identify words that he was unfamiliar with. Due to the age of the document, I was expecting him to identify far more words than he did. I was not expecting him to know the meaning of loom or din, but he had those down. Atrocious and retirement were a bit more of a struggle. 
  • We walked through the passage line by line to paraphrase to show understanding (that's pretty easy when it's one-on-one). 
  • Our last step was to go back to the kernel essay pieces and identify them within the passage.
 As a whole, I was quite pleased with the practice-round lesson. This August, we will have a back-to-school camp for incoming seventh graders at my school. I am going to use this same passage with them, as the middle school will be a new environment that we can tour and write about. I plan to modify my steps for partner work with the reading to include some collaboration and allow the students to start building some new relationships. I have also shared this with a new seventh grade English teacher and an eighth grade history teacher, both of whom see opportunities for reading and writing opportunities in their classrooms with these materials. 

If you have used these before, share your successes. If not, how can you use these in your classroom?  

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