Sunday, April 26, 2009

Concept Sort

One of the most purposeful uses of the conecpt sort for me and for my students has been to use this strategy to bridge fromone text to another. Since I learned of this strategy and used it once, I've been using variations of it to help students keep in mind themes, issues, vocabulary, and characters from a previous text as they venture into another text.

I think that this strategy works well for my classes because I've consciously structured my courses so that texts, ideas, concepts, vocabulary, characters, and themes will build as we move through the entire course. I do have more work to complete in terms of mapping out all of the courses I teach in this way, but I think that I've seen some rewarding results in courses where this has happened.

The concept sort is a great tool that could really be used throughout a course to help students create connections between units and bridge from one area of study to another. Plus, students seem to have fun in using this activity, and although it seems rather simplistic, it can be turned into a vehicle for intellectual discussions. This is probably true because there is a lot of room for individual choice in this strategy. If students choose to place a concept in one column rather than another, there needs to be some sort of rationale as to why they've chosen this way.

I've also used a variation of this strategy to help students create predictions about a text, which we revisit throughout our reading. It is interesting the variety and quality of predictions I've received using this strategy versus just opening up room for predictions. The predictions I've gathered from this sort of activity are almost painfully accurate, and I'm often left wondering whether or not the students have already read the text. The positive side of this, of course, is that in making predictions, students often have an investment in whether or not they turn out to be true. When they are true, the reward for students is not so much in being "right", but in being perceptive readers and thinkers.

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