Monday, February 05, 2007

Common sense

Today I learned a very important lesson on SCAFFOLDING: It's not just a buzz word, it's actually a very important thing to do.

Moving on in our revolutions unit, today we had the kids look at quotes from Tom Paine's "Common Sense" and relate them to Enlightenment ideas such as natural rights, the idea that government should be limited, and the idea that all men are created equal. It sounds pretty philosophical but the kids actually got a good grounding in Enlightenment ideas last semester.

However, plain-spoken as old Tom thought he was being, the quotes went way over our Monday-groggied students' heads. Here were some of the quotes we used:
"Society in every state is a blessing, but government even in its best state is but a necessary evil"

"Mankind being originally equals in the order of creation, the equality could only be destroyed by some subsequent circumstance [later event]."

"The exalting [raising] one man so greatly above the rest cannot be justified on the equal rights of nature."
During A-block, the kids were totally lost. We wised up during B-block and did a little pre-reading activity before getting into the complicated language. When we do this lesson with C-block tomorrow, we're going to try a strategy I learned in my literacy class last semester: "Syntax Surgery" (you can find a good description somewhere in here). Basically, you put up a piece of difficult text on an overhead transparency and "think aloud," using a marker to model rearranging syntax and isolating the important nouns and verbs, while the kids copy what you do. Once they get the idea, they can try it on their own.

No comments: