Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Tech Tips Tuesday

This Week's Tip: Book Reviews and The Quality Teaching Model

Today I found a great site for teaching English in middle to upper primary and secondary classes. Writing with Writers takes you step by step through the process of writing a book review. Rodman Philbrick shares a book review that he has written that can be used as a model for students' own writing. He then gives a series of writing tips to guide students and reminds them of a few challenges to keep in mind. Philbrick provides some guidelines for revising work upon completion and suggests a site where students can publish the final draft of their book review.

I found this site really useful as everything was explained so clearly and could be displayed on my Interactive Whiteboard for students to return to as they wrote. While my students haven't completed and published it yet, I can see the value of having a real purpose and audience for their writing.

This resource has great potential for implementing two dimensions of the Quality Teaching Model. (For summarised explanation of the elements of QTM click here.) These are the connections that I can readily see, but you may see other connections as well:

Intellectual Quality
Deep Knowledge - This tool can be used to give detailed explanation of how to write a book review.
Deep Understanding - Students demonstrate a deep understanding of the book they read
Problematic Knowledge - Students recognise that people have different opinions about books and come to value the opinions of others
Higher-Order Thinking - Students are involved in analysis and synthesis and evaluation as they reflect on their book and the author's style.
Metalanguage - Philbrick uses language that students can understand and explains terms like 'genre'.
Substantive Communication - Teachers could use Philbrick's example to create discussion about what makes it effective. Discussion could take place in small groups which then share key thoughts with the whole group.

Quality Learning Environment
Explicit Quality Criteria - Philbrick's model and tips provide explicit quality criteria that students can revisit as they write.
High Expectations - The section on reviewing work challenges students to revisit their ideas and improve their initial drafts.
Students' Self-Regulation - The writing task is purposeful and students can continually monitor their own work using the tips.

Ideally, I'd teach this lesson using an Interactive Whiteboard and a classroom full of student computers or laptops. The explanation and discussion could take place with the Whiteboard, and then students could type their reviews in a word processor, referring to the website as they typed. Once completed, the text could be revised and then copy/pasted into the review page. What a great integration of ICT!

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