Friday, July 7, 2017

Developing an Engineering Mindset

The NGSS Framework recommends that students explicitly learn how to engage in engineering design practices to solve problems. Engaging in engineering practices requires an engineering mindset.  

So how do we develop an engineering mindset in our students? 

Teach students how to track their own thinking processes during STEM challenges!

The Engineer’s Log Top Tab Foldable® can be used with any STEM challenge. Students label the steps of the engineering design process on the tabs. There is plenty of room under each tab for them to jot down their thinking, draw diagrams, and record data. Using it to track their process will help students develop an engineering mindset as they learn the importance of asking, imagining, designing, testing, improving and reflecting, all thinking processes that are central to engineering design.

We've created a packet that includes the following:

-A lesson to introduce the engineering design process to your students
-A Engineer's Log Foldable® cover and cutting guide and directions for how to make top tab foldables® that will be used as logs for students to track their engineering design process during STEM challenges
-A STEM lesson, The Mint Mobile Challenge, to use with the Engineer's Log Foldable®. The lesson includes questions for the teacher to ask which will guide students log entries.
-A Powerpoint presentation that introduces the STEM Mint Mobile Challenge
-A printable Engineer's Log Question Guide which will help students remember what to record in their logs during STEM challenges

We have included a sample STEM activity, The Mint Mobile Challenge, which will provide students with a problem to solve as they apply the engineering thinking processes.

Using this Foldable® to capture their thinking as they complete STEM challenges will help students develop the mindset of engineers; understanding that asking questions, engaging in teamwork, learning from trials and errors, being flexible to new ideas, recording data, and reflecting on results will all lead to better solutions.

You can find the Engineer's Log Foldable® packet at our Get Real TPT store.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Are your close reading lessons preparing students for the world they will inherit?

Do a search in Teachers Pay Teachers for close reading and you will discover that for many teachers, close reading has become a practice of students reading short passages, annotating the text, and then writing answers to text dependent questions or filling in a graphic organizer. There are hundreds of ready to print close reading passages and comprehension questions available for purchase. You can buy passages for any popular topic, holiday or season.  Students can complete them for morning work, homework, busy work, and daily practice during the reading block. Teachers are happy because they are “doing” required close reading with their students. 

But, what do these close reading short passages achieve?

  • Bored students who groan at the thought of another close reading worksheet.
  • Students who view close reading as a dry, isolated task that you do in school for the teacher.
  • Students who are prepared for more annotation of short passages and more answering of teacher created questions.
  • Students who see close reading questions as ends to themselves rather than as a means.
  • Students who think the word text refers to a short passage of text in a test or on a worksheet.

If the deep understanding that students develop through the process does not extend into meaningful talk or writing, students will see close reading questions as ends to themselves rather than as a means.

What should close reading achieve?
  • Students who are inspired by the texts that they read closely, seeing how they are relevant to their own lives.
  • Students who are prepared for more than just more school assignments, they are better prepared for the challenges of their future.
  • Students who view close reading as a way to better understand the challenging texts they encounter.
  • Students who understand that the word text can refer multi genres and multimedia: an article, a book, an excerpt, a web page, photographs, documents, or videos.

 I would like to think that beyond preparing students for more book learning, we are also preparing them for the world they will inherit. Nancy Boyles, Closer Reading:  Grades 3-6

Can close reading make a positive difference to students own well-being and the well-being of others?

I hope that our close readers of today will look back on their education, even their elementary school years, and conclude that those complex texts they labored to read have somehow made a positive difference, not just to their own well-being but to the well-being of others. Nancy Boyles, Closer Reading:  Grades 3-6

When we develop a series of close reading lessons, we need to think about the following questions:

  • What do we want students to do with the texts they have read and the close reading they have done? What bigger goals beyond the standards do we hope to achieve?
  • How is the meaning they glean from these texts relevant to their lives? How will it promote respect and responsibility?
  • How will the close reading experiences inspire students to take action in making a difference in their lives and the lives of others?

 GetReal Close Reading Lessons

Besides this blog, we have a TeachersPayTeachers store called GetReal. We are committed to authentic literacy learning and lately our passion has been to develop close reading lessons that go beyond close reading for the sake of close reading.

We use real texts about real people; the challenges that they faced and how they handled those challenges.  Students learn big life lessons about beliefs, values, character, and mindset. 

Our lessons require the teacher to be an active facilitator of the close reading process, asking text dependent questions, probing students to think deeply, as they uncover the layers of meaning in the text, and reflecting on how the message of the text is relevant to their own lives. 

Our lessons begin with questions that provide purpose to the reading such as What is brave? How do we achieve our dreams? and What is the secret to people’s success?

We use multi-genre text sets so that students synthesize meaning across texts, integrating knowledge and making it their own. 

 Available Close Reading Lessons

How do we achieve our dreams? 

What is brave?  

Who are Thomas Edison and Henry Ford and what is the secret to their success? 

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Close Reading, STEM, and Growth Mindset

Looking for a way to teach students close reading, STEM, AND growth mindset?

Our newest close reading packet, A Study of the Inventing Process and Mindset of Inventors: Thomas Edison and Henry Ford, does just that.

Through carefully constructed close reading lessons, your students will dig deeply into challenging texts, examining what the text says, how it works, what it means, and what it inspires them to do. They will learn how to use details from a text to support their thinking and integrate knowledge from multi-genres: historical fiction, text excerpts, non fiction, videos, photographs, and quotes.

These close reading lessons will help your students learn not only how to use details from the text to support their thinking and think critically about challenging text, they also address so many of the Common Core Language Arts Standards and each level of Webb's Depth of Knowledge!

The unit begins with the picture book, The Inventor’s Secret: What Thomas Edison Told Henry Ford, which will inspire all students with the tale of how these two men achieved success through goal setting, perseverance, and learning from their mistakes. 

Through a STEM Mint Mobile Challenge students will better understand the invention process and the mindset it takes to invent. In this challenge, students create, using readily available materials, the fastest car, and a car that can roll the farthest.

Students create a Top Tab Inventor's Log Foldable® to record their process as they create their Mint Mobiles. We’ve included a printable cover and cutting guide and step-by-step directions for how to make the Top Tab Inventor's Log Foldable® and how to use it during the STEM Mint Mobile Challenge.

The text dependent questions, connections across multi-genre texts, and student response activities in this packet will guide students to think critically as they learn about the inventions of Henry Ford and Thomas Edison, their growth mindset, and the invention process they went through.