Thursday, August 21, 2014

Word Wall Reflections

Regents 11 (left) and AP 11 updated word walls await the start of school.
In years past I have maintained a traditional word wall in my classroom. While some teachers use them to capture a full range of terms and ideas to be reinforced, I have attempted to instruct my classes employing the three-tier framework developed by Isabel Beck and Margaret McKeown. In keeping with the concept of tiered vocabulary, my word wall has consisted of those that would exist on the third tier: low frequency terms and concepts specific to a domain. Given the courses I teach, terms on our class word wall consists of concepts and vocabulary specific to the crafts of writing or literary analysis. During years that I have taught more than one course/level, I would keep two, one on the front wall and another on the back.

Word wall from middle school math class from
Demonstration Classroom Sharing blog..
The tier 3 classroom word wall has been fairly effective in offering a permanent reminder of potentially high frequency words available for analysis of fiction and nonfiction. Where it has been less effective is in properly suggesting a sequence or order for consideration of related terms or ideas. In years past I have tried a variety of strategies, such as chunking, in an effort to suggest an organizational framework for "checking down" through the concepts for use in analyzing text.

One intended benefit to tiering is the ability to assist students in seeing the patters and relationships between words, and it is this skill that I have been hoping to better reinforce each year. I have tried a number of different organizers in an effort to model an appropriate through process, with a range of success and failure. Last February I some stumbled across the work of University of Arkansas professor David A. Jollieffe.

Jollieffe's Rhetorical Framework Diagram.
A college composition teacher, in addition to offering recommendations and strategies around developing inquiry-based composition instruction, Jolliefe also developed a framework (see image to right) which incorporates Aristotle's rhetorical triangle and implies a framework for analysis. This is most relevant to my students and I as Jollieffe has previously served as Chief Reader for the Advanced Placement English Language and Composition Examination.

Last spring, my AP 11 classes and I used this diagram as a means of reviewing, in cooperation with their Tier 3 Rhetoric Cards, the terms and ideas that they would use to be successful on the exam in mid-May. It was at this point that I began to see the potential for using Jollieffe's framework as a conceptual basis for a reconfigured, structured word wall for my classes. I also could envision this as an effective way to organize concepts (of which there are fewer) for my Regents level course who are now using more rhetorical language as a way of addressing the Common Core.

My goal this school year is to use the strategies that have proven themselves effective in the past (cards, walls, checks) collaboratively with a Jollieffe framework word wall to fully reinforce for students a concrete process for literary analysis. To track our progress, follow my class blog, the Greece AthenaEUM.

No comments: