Textmasters: Shaking Up Textbook Reading in Science Classrooms
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- Standards |
- Resources & Preparation |
- Instructional Plan |
- Related Resources |
Textmasters was created to bring the collaborative learning environment of literature circles to content area reading with a science or social studies textbook. Students are placed in groups of four and given a schedule of the reading of the upcoming chapter. All students read the same section of the book but complete a role sheet to guide their perspective: Discussion Director, Summarizer, Vocabulary Enricher, and Webmaster. Each role was created with textbook structures and formatting in mind. Students meet together to share their roles. Meetings continue biweekly until the chapter is finished. Creative presentations serve as a review of the chapter content before groups are set up with a new reading schedule.
From Theory to Practice
- Student scores on chapter tests went up 6% when comparing a traditional round of reading, answering questions, and study guide review versus Textmasters meetings and creative presentation review.
- Students enjoyed the collaborative nature of the strategy, reporting that they learned more from their peers than by merely reading the text and answering questions.
- The teacher involved with the pilot of the strategy stated that, after her initial organization of materials for students, she had more time to work with high-needs students.
Common Core Standards
This resource has been aligned to the Common Core State Standards for states in which they have been adopted. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, CCSS alignments are forthcoming.
This lesson has been aligned to standards in the following states. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, standard alignments are not currently available for that state.
NCTE/IRA National Standards for the English Language Arts
- 1. Students read a wide range of print and nonprint texts to build an understanding of texts, of themselves, and of the cultures of the United States and the world; to acquire new information; to respond to the needs and demands of society and the workplace; and for personal fulfillment. Among these texts are fiction and nonfiction, classic and contemporary works.
- 3. Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate texts. They draw on their prior experience, their interactions with other readers and writers, their knowledge of word meaning and of other texts, their word identification strategies, and their understanding of textual features (e.g., sound-letter correspondence, sentence structure, context, graphics).
- 4. Students adjust their use of spoken, written, and visual language (e.g., conventions, style, vocabulary) to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences and for different purposes.
- 5. Students employ a wide range of strategies as they write and use different writing process elements appropriately to communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes.
- 6. Students apply knowledge of language structure, language conventions (e.g., spelling and punctuation), media techniques, figurative language, and genre to create, critique, and discuss print and nonprint texts.
- 11. Students participate as knowledgeable, reflective, creative, and critical members of a variety of literacy communities.
- 12. Students use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own purposes (e.g., for learning, enjoyment, persuasion, and the exchange of information).
Materials and Technology
- Computers with Internet access
- Content area textbook and Internet article on a related topic
|1.||Bookmark National Geographic Explorer: Living It Up in Space so that students may access the article and its links on classroom computers or bring the website up on an interactive whiteboard for whole-group reading. Alternatively, select another article that parallels the unit you are currently studying in the textbook; both Time for Kids and National Geographic Kids offer timely articles on a range of scientific topics at varying grade levels.
|2.||Preview the chapter students will read in Textmasters groups and use the Textmasters Schedule sheet to organize how much reading you want students to do for each meeting.
|3.||Use the schedule sheet to create groups for Textmasters. Textmasters lends itself to heterogeneous grouping; it is suggested that groups are a mix of both high- and low-achieving students. Because the roles rotate throughout the Textmasters cycle, role assignment at the beginning of the strategy is not important; all students will assume each role at least once.
|4.||Create a packet of the Textmasters handouts for each student: one of each role sheet and the self-reflection sheet for Session 1 and a second packet for subsequent sessions (the number of role sheets will vary, depending on the number of sessions you will need to complete the textbook chapter).
- Demonstrate comprehension of chapter content by asking good questions (Discussion Director), writing a summary (Summarizer), analyzing words (Vocabulary Enricher), and creating a graphic organizer (Webmaster)
- Monitor their individual participation within their groups by completing self-reflection forms after each session
- Illustrate understanding by presenting information from the chapter in a creative format that aids the class's understanding of the textbook content
Session 1: What Is Textmasters?
|1.||Post the following question on the board: What skills does someone need to be a master of a piece of text? Ask students to list the skills on a piece of paper.
|2.||Ask students to share their responses with a neighbor during a brief Think-Pair-Share.
|3.||Solicit responses from the whole class. Make a list in a prominent place for students to see. Introduce and incorporate the Textmasters roles with students' responses.
|4.||Highlight or underline the four Textmasters roles (Discussion Director, Summarizer, Vocabulary Enricher, and Webmaster) for the class and explain that the strategy they are about to learn will emphasize these skills.
|5.||Distribute the first prepared packet of materials. Briefly go through each role as a class.
|6.||Allow students time on the computer or interactive whiteboard to read the National Geographic article silently or with a partner. It may also be appropriate to read the article aloud to students.
|7.||Go through each role in more depth:
|8.||In their groups of four or five, have students select one role per student to finish what has been modeled in the whole-class session (or predetermine who will finish what role).
|9.||Once the role sheets are completed, select a group and use the fishbowl method to demonstrate a Textmasters meeting for the rest of the class. Gather the rest of the class around that group. Walk the fishbowl group through a meeting.
In a Textmasters meeting, the Discussion Director acts as the timekeeper and organizer. He or she begins the meeting by asking the Summarizer to refresh everyone's memory of the text by sharing either the key points or a complete summary. Then the Discussion Director continues the meeting by asking "thick" questions, giving time for group members to respond and discuss, and by sharing his or her text connections. Next, the Discussion Director invites the Vocabulary Enricher and Webmaster to share their findings. Throughout this process, emphasize that no role is static; group members are welcome to politely add to a fellow member's role, if needed.
Session 2: Let’s Try a Meeting!
|1.||Start this session by briefly reviewing the Textmasters role sheets. Allow students time to adjust their role sheets, if needed, after the previous session's sample demonstration.
|2.||Prompt students to hold a Textmasters meeting of their own. Debrief the meeting with the whole class: What went well? What was difficult?
|3.||End the session with students filling out a Textmasters Self-Reflection Sheet for that day's meeting.
Sessions 3–6 (or however many sessions are necessary to complete a chapter of a textbook)
|1.||Begin this session by distributing the Textmasters packet for the entire chapter to be read, with a completed Textmasters Schedule, roles for each group member, and self-reflection sheets for each meeting.
|2.||Explain to students that unlike literature circles, where different groups read different books, in Textmasters all students read the same text. Each group will be following the prescribed schedule.
|3.||Introduce to students the idea of the culminating activity. Explain that each group will be responsible for a 5- to 10-minute creative presentation of the material presented in the chapter. Brainstorm ways student can present textual material to their classmates (e.g., Readers Theatre, news teams, Jeopardy games) and create a list of presentation ideas. Allow groups to choose their own presentation formats.
Tell them that each time they meet, they will be responsible for reading, holding a Textmasters meeting, and working on their culminating activity. These culminating activities serve as their review for the end of the chapter test (or could serve as the assessment if no test is to be given). Distribute the Culminating Activity Rubric to each group.
|4.||Depending on the set-up of your class periods, normal Textmasters sessions follow a set schedule:
If your students are able to take their textbooks home in the evenings, you could have them read and complete their roles for homework and devote time in class to only the meeting and reflection.
Culminating activities are presented. The rubric emphasizes a creative presentation so that students do not merely stand up and relate facts and information from the chapter. As the instructor, it would be beneficial to identify what information from the chapter you deem essential so that grading on the first criteria of the rubric is consistent.
- If space allows, give each group note cards to build a personal word wall relating to the chapter. Instead of filling out a role sheet, the Vocabulary Enricher could post note cards with the word, a short definition, and sketch on designated wall space. The note cards will serve as visual reminders of the important terms from the chapter.
- Have students use a collaborative wiki to keep track of their learning. Use a site like PBworks to allow students to create free websites with important information from the chapter.
- The Textmasters strategy lends itself well to online information and textbooks related to other content areas, such as history, economics, and politics.
Student Assessment / Reflections
- Observe student participation in their Textmasters groups. Students should be engaged during a Textmasters meeting, listening politely, asking questions where appropriate, and contributing during the culminating activity planning.
- Collect the Textmasters Self-Reflection Sheet and use these to give students feedback and participation points for each meeting.
- Assess students’ understanding of the information by using the Culminating Activity Rubric.
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