Reading problem in Social Studies

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by Jerseygirlteach, Nov 4, 2010.

  1. Jerseygirlteach

    Jerseygirlteach Groupie

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    Nov 4, 2010

    I teach Social Studies resource room to 7th and 8th graders. Here's my issue. My students are required to learn the information in the textbook. I have no other source to provide them with the information other than the textbook. All the reg. ed. social studies teachers assign reading to be completed at home. I've tried this and one of two things happen.

    a - they don't do it at all
    b - they attempt to read it but do not comprehend it at all

    So, we read from the textbook in class. It eats up a large amount of class time and they are bored. None of them like to read. Occasionally, I am able to find worksheets or picture books that contain much of the same information and we do this in lieu of reading from the book but this certainly is not an easy thing for me to find and, honestly, I'm broke. I can't go out and buy class sets of simplified and/or more engaging books even if I could actually find them.

    Any advice for me?
     
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  3. Sarge

    Sarge Enthusiast

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    Nov 4, 2010

    The most important skill you can teach your students is how to read and comprehend a standard textbook.

    Basically, use the text book like an English teacher uses the anthology. Read it in class, discuss it.

    Don't worry about using class time to read the book. Even if it means you "get through" less of the curriculum.

    The reason the kids kids don't know how to read the book is because previous teachers have not made reading a course requirement. That's going to come around and bit them in the rear big time when they get to high school.
     
  4. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Nov 4, 2010

    Add to all that Sarge has said the fact that most text books are written at a higher reading level than the grade they are intended for, and you have a losing situation for many of our struggling readers. I would continue to read excerpts in class (you don't need to read everything, just the 'high points'), summarize the text for the at an appropriate level, and use alternate sources whenever possible
     
  5. Brendan

    Brendan Fanatic

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    Nov 4, 2010

    Can you create your own simplified readings which cover the same info in the text? Are you lecturing at all?
     
  6. Sarge

    Sarge Enthusiast

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    Nov 5, 2010

    Sorry, I feel very strongly about this.

    I think that when students struggle with a textbook in any subject, it's a mistake to make accommodations in order to avoid using the book. Scaffold, yes. But substituting other materials for the book is a huge disservice to the students.

    When students cannot or will not read a social studies or science textbook, the social studies or science teacher then effectively becomes a language arts teacher with the main goal of improving students reading skills so that they can read the textbook.
     
  7. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    Nov 5, 2010

    A few things that I do with my students...We read the text together and I teach them to take notes using different graphic organizers. We pause and discuss or the students write them we discuss.

    Second, we act out parts of the text. Social studies is great when you act out the Israelites fleeing to Egypt, the crossing of the Red Sea, etc. Can you tell what we are studying??? I read the section and then choose a group of a few students to act it out. While they are creating their skit, we discuss what we read for 1-2 minutes. Then they act!

    I have also take 3-4 events and given them to different students. Each student acts out their event and the class tries to guess the event. This takes some forethought though.

    Last but not least, I have the students "text" in class. Each pair of students gets a sheet of paper. They write short texts to each other with questions, comments, important information about the notes. Then we share at the end and they turn them in so I can see what they are thinking. My students love this idea!
     
  8. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Nov 5, 2010

    I've been doing a LOT of reading lately on Auditory Processing Deficit in my attempts to help Kira.

    So I'm still in totally over my head, but maybe less so than a few weeks ago.

    My first question is this: why are these kids in Special Ed? Is it BECAUSE of a reading or processing difficulty, where accomodations SHOULD be made?? Or is it just more of a typical "the textbook is boring and too hard" kind of a thing?? I would imagine it makes a difference.

    Part of what I'm learning is that, depending on the nature of the disability, the adaptations should be different. From what I'm able to gather, Kira will probably learn better if the same information is repeated, ver batim,more than once-- it will help fill in the gaps she missed the first time. Yet, for other types of Auditory processing deficits, it helps to re-phrase the information. Would it help if you read the information to them first, then they read it together, having "previewed" the information first???

    So I think we're back to a discussion of what difficulties the kids are facing.

    Again, I'm just starting to learn this stuff, but maybe something here will ring a bell.
     
  9. Soccer Dad

    Soccer Dad Cohort

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    Nov 5, 2010

    In my opinion, no matter what we throw at our students to read, they will be bored. From current event articles to photocopies of a book to poems to the textbook, students that don't like to read, will be bored. And, the majority of students don't like to read. Some because it's difficult for them, others because it requires too much focus for their hectic environments.

    It's very difficult for me to sit down and find time to read, I can only imagine how hard it is for students that don't get enough sleep, are swamped with homework, and don't like to read already.

    Knowing this, I don't think it's necessary to force students to learn to read the textbook. I think it's more about teaching them HOW to read any source--primary or secondary--in a critical and analytical approach.

    Yes, students must learn to tolerate reading textbooks for college. However, if they learn how to read, they can apply those skills easily to the textbook. I think it's a huge disservice to spend classtime just reading the textbook without supplements--especially since textbooks stink!

    I think students get more out of reading a primary source than reading 4 pages with huge graphics...

    As for making your own readings, I think it's a good idea if a) the text is wrong, b) the text doesn't emphasize something enough, c) you have more you want them to know about the subject matter, or d) you have cool side stories about the subject you want them to read.

    The first step, especially in middle school, should be about making them learn HOW to read. If you read it in class and just do that, you teach them how to pay half the attention--or just to listen, not read along.

    I don't think it's the best idea out there.
     
  10. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    Nov 5, 2010

    <<The most important skill you can teach your students is how to read and comprehend a standard textbook.>>

    Do you have any reason behind this? I haven't read a textbook for information since I left college. Standard textbooks are a joke. There is no job in the world other than a teacher where you actually use a textbook for anything and we usually only use them to fill in time.

    The most important skill you can teach your students is to evaluate sources and choose the ones most effective for the task. Rarely is a textbook going to be the answer.

    So, I refer back to Brendan's question. Why is the textbook your only option for presenting material?
     
  11. Muttling

    Muttling Devotee

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    Nov 5, 2010




    You've obviously never worked in the engineering or scientific fields. I have several of my engineering texts that I keep in my classroom to show the kids where the math is really used.

    A couple of them are duct taped together from me referring to them so much in my 15 years of engineering.

    While I agree that text books aren't the end all be all, knowing how to use one is an important skill.
     
  12. Jerseygirlteach

    Jerseygirlteach Groupie

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    Nov 6, 2010

    A couple of things -

    - My students are in special ed. for a variety of reasons. Almost all have reading difficulties. However, it's the consensus of the sp. ed. teachers that a good number of them end up there because of apathy and behavioral issues. If not for these, some of them could probably function with the reg. ed. curriculum to some degree.

    - I certainly do not just read the textbook with them all day, every day. I'd go crazy! We do role-playing, journaling, comprehension competitions, and collaborative activities such as making timelines, charts, and collages.

    - I hope this doesn't make me sound lazy but given that I spend about 2-3 hours a day outside the classroom lesson planning, grading papers, writing up class notes, creating and/or modifying tests, quizzes, and worksheets (because the ones I've been given are inappropriate for my students) as well as sitting in on meetings and going over IEPS...if I have to start rewriting a textbook - they're going to either have to clone me or make provisions for my family when finally keel over. ;)

    Thanks for the feedback! I don't think there's an easy answer here for me and my students.
     
  13. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Nov 6, 2010

    I agree with Sarge here - by which I mean (and I believe he means) not that learning to read that particular textbook is an important goal, but rather that even bad textbooks contain text structures and sentence structures and vocabulary with which students must become familiar, because they WILL encounter those text structures and sentence structures elsewhere.

    Part of learning a subject is learning basic literacy in that subject. The science student needs to learn to read (and produce) certain text structures, such as lab reports, to recognize and use both the features that are specific to science and the features that are shared with other knowledge domains, and to recognize and use key vocabulary. As to text structures, I could see a home-ec student having a slightly easier time with a research report than some other students, simply because the research report DOES share some structural features with recipes. The science student also needs to acquire certain sentence structures and to begin to grasp what function they serve: for instance, passive voice is relatively rare in creative writing but standard in scientific writing, and the student should have some idea what drives that difference in distribution. Finally, there is the vocabulary of general science: words that are shared with other fields (apparatus is also used in PE) and words that have specific meanings in science (hypothesis does not mean merely 'a guess').

    Not that this addresses your situation directly, Jerseygirl, and I am grieved for you and for your students. Something that might help - perhaps, maybe - is How to Teach Reading When You’re Not a Reading Teacher by Sharon H. Faber: it's relatively short and very hands-on, and it's been out long enough that you should be able to find a copy through the Inter-Library Loan service of your local public library.

    You may also find some help on this Web site: http://pubs.cde.ca.gov/tcsii/practiceinspotlite/spotlightindex.aspx
     
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2010
  14. PowerTeacher

    PowerTeacher Comrade

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    Nov 6, 2010

    Try CK-12.org for free textbooks that you can design/edit based on your students needs.

    Also, check out my post on "making lecture a game" in the whole brain teaching threads here for more ideas that may help your kids enjoy reading a bit more.
     
  15. sweetlatina23

    sweetlatina23 Cohort

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    Nov 6, 2010

    I skimmed over the posts, so if someone already posted this idea sorry.

    My students are ELL's and they cannot comprehend the textbooks. I teach 6th grade and when they reach me, they haven't even read a book from cover to cover, and I am not talking about a textbook. I had to start low and I used THe Courage of Sarah Noble to get them interested in reading. It worked for a few, and others complained because they had to READ. I do take it personal, but I know I shouldn't. They don't have the foundation for what is needed. Anyway, before my response turns into a textbook that apparently no one wants to read LOL, let me get down to what sometimes works for me...

    Beachball discussion and thumball discussion...
    Beachball - we toss the ball around and its soft, so its okay if it hits them they laugh about it...If they throw it hard then I take it away. Anyway, we use this ball to ask/answer questions. I do this for every page we read sometimes every 2 pages and it helps me check for their comprehension. I don't think it takes away from my classtime, because I KNOW they won't read it at home. They wont!
    Thumball is the same activity, however, its smaller and it has activities like "hope on one foot" and it gets them up and doing something and then they have to answer the question i have. This takes up a bit more time...

    The last thing I do is use VISUALS! The internet is loaded with pictures, I use pictures and I create summaries or key points about a chapter. This helps them learn what is important, they take notes (they don't like that...but they have to work somewhere), and the visuals help them understand it better...plus there isnt so many big words they might not understand. I rewrite it. It is time consuming, but FREE. I use powerpoints. Just a thought...

    I am at the point where I see them getting bored, and I dont know what else to do. Nothing works sometims, it happens to us all.
     
  16. porque_pig

    porque_pig Comrade

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    Nov 6, 2010

    I teach foreign language, so even at the college level, we teach reading comprehension strategies to help students focus on getting through a piece of literature. When I give a reading assignment, I follow this format:

    1. Pre-reading: an activity or a series of activities that preview the reading assignment. You could go over important vocabulary specific to the chapter. You ask students what they THINK will happen or what they EXPECT to see in the passage (just have them throw out the headings from the readings--it's better than nothing).

    2. During reading: ask students comprehension questions throughout the reading, or give them fill-in-the-blanks to help them focus.

    3. Post-reading: projects, practice exercises, writing assignments, anything you want that relates to the material you read!
     
  17. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    I'd love to see them as I can't imagine they are textbooks in the traditional sense but instead technical guides. My best friend is an electrical engineer and I've never seen a textbook is his house in 10 years of working. However, I'll admit, you're right, it isn't my field.

    My field is history, however and I'm not saying kids shouldn't know how to read - they should. They should know however, how to read things that matter (like technical guides, primary sources, literature, etc.). As a historian I haven't used a textbook as a history source since high school.
     
  18. TAKlinda

    TAKlinda Rookie

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    Dec 4, 2010

    Take a few minutes at the beginning of each session to do a decoding word list. Have them high light, underline or circle the small words or sound units within the larger word and then read them aloud. I work with struggling students -- this works.
     
  19. Momma C

    Momma C Comrade

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    Dec 5, 2010

    I agree with Sarge - his key points being "accommodations in order to AVOID using the book" and "substituting other materials FOR the book is a huge disservice." It is important that kids know how to read and comprehend a textbook (with its many different features). That's not to say that it cannot be supplemented with other materials and resources. Knowing how to "use" the textbook spills over into all subjects and paths of life. We, as teachers, use the "skills" we learned with textbooks everyday. As for helping the kids understand what they are reading, try having them do outlines--main ideas (headings), supporting details (sub-headings), etc. This seems to help with my kids, of which probably 80% read below grade level.
     
  20. rookieteacher:)

    rookieteacher:) Companion

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    Dec 6, 2010

    In my student teaching experience I have seen how my 7th graders dislike reading. They complain but I feel that you cannot teach a student without working their reading skills. Many students want to go to college but unless they have the self motivation and understanding how to use a textbook they will have serious problems.

    I try to use as much technology as I can in the classroom to engage students but there is no substitute for reading and comprehension.
     
  21. The Substitute

    The Substitute Rookie

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    Dec 7, 2010

    Hi Jersey,

    You almost forgot option ‘c’ – they take the textbook home and it never comes back, leaving you with a critical shortfall of texts!

    Personally, I’m opposed to sending any important task home for homework for the reasons you mentioned above. It’s better by far to do the work in class, boring or otherwise. Also, if you haven’t already, you should get a copy of Adrian Gear’s ‘Non-Fiction Reading Power’ – this book provides excellent explicit instructional techniques for getting kids to become better non fiction readers. It’s really good stuff.

    And while the textbook is a fine thing, surely there are the grade and subject prescribed learning outcomes available online? If so, then just do a search for the desired outcomes that you want to teach and then do an online search for suitable materials to build your lessons around. The biggest expense involved should be a little bit of elbow grease, and you get something that you like that you can format in such a way as to make it more engaging and meaningful for your kids than having them just read out of the textbook.
     

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