Saturday, October 25, 2014

Sometimes the Ideas Come To Me in Waves....

The topics I explore are those things that I believe my students will ultimately connect to. I know that initally, they won't. They won't understand the how and why the topics we explore connects to them. I design topics that will illicit some kind of an emotional response. For example, the exploration of GMO foods did not inspire them at all in the beginning. The Prior Knowledge activity yielded that none of my students know the term or what the term GMO stood for. As we read and explored 3 articles, they began to connect emotionally. Sometimes, a few got upset that they were eating foods with GMO products and there was no research or indication on the package. Some others, said they didn't worry. We explored the concept of bias. We saw two short video clips discussing two sides of the GMO issue. They learned what crops were primarily almost always GMO crops and Monsanto was the company who controlled the GMO crops and seeds and prevented research. They explored some food packages and found the products inside of 'prepared foods' most of which had corn, corn syrup or corn starch in them. They knew this meant it was most probably GMO, even though nothing on the label indicated that, as in the US there is no labeling of GMO. Select states, Vermont as one of them, are now legislating that there must be GMO labeling on food products, but the issue is way more complex than we can ever imagine. 

The point is that my informational articles must bring out at least a little emotion in them for them to be inspired to continue to read and connect to the information. When you teach learners who are not wholly inspired to read and learn, it can be a battle. Reading novels is always much easier to get them to do when they can choose the novels, which they do in my class. However, the informational reading and associated thinking skills I drive that bus and design that instruction from news web articles, choosing topics that are age appropriate and somehow relevant to their lives. It's a constant job to find, design, and implement without them really being aware that they moved from hating the topic to relaxing into the topic and quite possibly learning along the way. 

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