Hopes and Dreams

Teaching is something that I have always wanted to do. I used to “play school” with my dolls growing up. I had a white board and everything and that was my favorite thing to do. Now that I am going to be a teacher in real life, I definitely have some fears and concerns, but also I have some hopes and dreams for my career as a teacher.


One of the things I fear as a future teacher is discipline. I have always been kind of a push over and people-pleaser. This is not something that is necessarily a great quality of a teacher. I am nervous that when it comes time to have to punish a student, I will not know what is an appropriate punishment or how to go about delivering that punishment to them because I would not want them to be upset. I think that this fear was strengthened after this past semester when I was in a middle school classroom every Tuesday and Thursday. My mentor teacher was awesome and I definitely learned a lot. But there were times when she would tell us what she did when a student misbehaved. For example, she would call their parents or write the parents an email, or something like that. Most of the time, whatever she did to deal with their punishment, I would never of even thought of doing that to deal with the situation. I know that as time goes on and I get more comfortable as my role as a teacher, this will start to come more naturally.


Another fear I have is that I sometimes don’t know if I will be able to explain things clearly. Basically what this means is I get scared if I will actually be a good teacher. I’m sure every future teacher has a little bit of this fear in them. This fear is mainly related to teaching mathematics. Teaching math can be very hard because I don’t want to just say, for example, that a math process works because “I said so.” I want to be able to explain the deeper understanding behind the process and clearly demonstrate to students how to work through certain problems. Again, this is something that I will become more comfortable with over time.


Of course one of my hopes as a future teacher is to be a great teacher! I want to be someone that my students look up to and trust. I would obviously love to be “the cool teacher” J Overall, I really just want to have a positive impact on my future students’ lives and to educate them to the best of my ability. I think that some of the ideas I can use to do this come from Tovani’s Chapter 4. She talks a lot about different resources besides the textbook that can be useful in the classroom, but that sometimes this requires more work on the teacher’s part to find these resources. Finding different ways to educate my students in order to appeal to all different learning styles and abilities is one of my goals as a teacher. I understand, like Tovani mentioned, that every year more content is added to the curriculum and teachers are constantly trying to squeeze so much information into one school year. But this is a challenge I am looking forward to and I can’t wait to have my own classroom!


Mathematical Literacy and Read Alouds

Mathematics is my primary subject focus as an undergraduate students. I have always loved math and now I want to teach it! Before taking this class, I never understood that there was such a thing as “reading in math.” Over the past few weeks I have come to learn that there most definitely is a specific way to read in a mathematics class.

I recently read a blog post about reading in a math class. The blog was titled “Mathematical Literacy: A necessary skill for the 21st century.” You can find this blog at this link: http://blogs.plos.org/scied/2013/02/11/mathematical-literacy-a-necessary-skill-for-the-21st-century/. Being that I want to teach math, I found this blog very helpful. It started out by talking about how some students do not “get” math, how they think they have never been good at math, and how they just don’t like it. One thing I liked that this article mentioned was how that mathematical literacy can refer to being able to do things that are necessary in life such as balancing a checkbook or leaving a tip at a restaurant. It said that the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) defines numerical literacy as:

Quantitative literacy – the knowledge and skills required to apply arithmetic operations, either alone or sequentially, to numbers embedded in printed materials, such as balancing a chequebook, figuring out a tip, completing an order form or determining the amount of interest on a loan from an advertisement.


I found this definition every interesting because it talks about how being able to make sense of math and numbers (AKA “reading” math) means that you are able to make sense of the numerical operations and expressions that are printed on something. As mentioned above, I really like how they said that this includes things needed in life, such as balancing a check book, leaving a tip, determining the amount of interest on a loan, etc. 

I found another blog that talked about the same things called “Mathematical Literacy.” You can find this blog here: http://trobsonblog.wordpress.com/2013/11/18/mathematical-literacy/. This blog talked about the same sort of thing, but it defined mathematical literacy as being able to “understand the different forms that we use to find data, such as charts, and graphs, and interpret symbols commonly used in math, translate words into symbols and symbols into words, and articulate accurately using mathematical language.” I liked this definition a lot because this is basically what you are doing in an every day math classroom; teachers are trying to help students daily make sense of what math problems are asking them to do and they do this through charts, graphs, symbols, words, and other data. If you can understand what it is you are supposed to do or understand, then you are being literate in mathematics. 

The article also mentioned how math teachers need to take strategies used by English or language arts teachers to help students become more mathematically literate. A lot of the same strategies that are used in language arts classrooms can be used in math classrooms when trying to decipher the meaning of something. I thought this was interesting and something that could be very useful for a future classroom. There is no shame in using all the resources available to a teacher, and this includes other teachers! So I really enjoyed this blog.

I also found a read aloud regarding mathematics. It is a student in front of the class showing how to “read” a graph. I liked this read aloud because it is something that I can use in my future classroom. I could have a student come up in front of the class and show what though process they used to make sense of information presented to them. The student in the video talked about the labeling of the graph, the slope, the points on the graph, and what all these things meant in relation to the problem that he was given. This video can be found at this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B1CT_G7jqhY.

Blog #4, Am I Getting Any Better At This?

Hello wordpress world-

Hopefully my blog is improving as I continue to post! This week I read chapter 3 in Cris Tovani’s Do I Really Have to Teach Reading. As I have mentioned before, I really enjoy this book so far. It’s an easy read, but very informational, and definitely something I am going to hold on to for my future classroom. This chapter discussed how teachers in content areas different than English and Language Arts can help their students read in their classroom. Tovani made a very good point when he mentioned that when teachers are told they have to monitor how their students are reading and help improve it, they get frustrated and angry. They already have fifty million other things to do as a teacher, with all the standards and requirements they have to cover. They simply feel like they don’t have time to help their students read and write because that is what English and Language Arts classes are for. 

Well, as the chapter continued, Tovani described how in each content area, students “read” in different ways. She says that “the problem is that if language arts and English teachers are the only ones teaching reading, students aren’t going to learn how to read different types of texts” (25). The way you read in math is completely different than the way you read in Social Studies. Tovani said that “social studies teachers could perhaps help students understand the value of being able to read with cause and effect in mind” (25). She says that every content area has a different process for reading texts, and it is the job of the teacher to make sure students are reading these correctly.

Tovani talks about different strategies teachers can try in order to help students improve their content reading. One thing teachers can do is model how their own reading processes. For example, math teachers often read the problem they are given all the way through, then decipher what information is given and what information they need to find. If teachers model to their students this kind of reading, than students can try and do the same process when on their own. Tovani mentions that in order to “help readers get through difficult content, I must first identify what they are struggling with…and put myself in a similar situation and see how I as a good reader would negotiate the difficulty” (29). This is a strategy teachers can use when students are struggling with their content reading. Often times, teachers make sense of content reading without even realizing it, so it is always important to put yourself in the shoes of a student and see where their difficulty in reading lies, and then help with these difficulties. 

Another strategy that works is to write down questions you have as you read something. Coming back to those questions later can help decipher what you just read in order to make meaning of it. Doing this in front of the whole class can be beneficial and help the entire class make sense of whatever it is they may be reading, a math problem, a novel, an article, etc. If teachers can focus on identifying what students are struggling with, identify how they as a good reader would overcome these struggles, and then model the processes they used to overcome the difficulties, it would be easy to help students improve their reading in any content area! I like the ideas that Tovani talked about in this chapter. Hopefully they will be something I can use in my future classroom.


I also watched a short podcast this week called “Choice Literacy.” You can find the podcast here: 


This podcast is an interview between Franki Sibberson and Penny Kittle. These two discussed how to help students grow as readers and writers across content areas, not necessarily in just language arts classes. Penny described how one thing teachers can in between assigning a paper and collecting it is teaching students how to collect and organize important information. One way this can be most effective and enjoyable for the students is if they are given the option to write about what they want to, instead of just being give one topic that each student has to write about. Giving students the freedom to write can be done in any class. Penny says that in order for teachers who teach content areas other than language arts to be able to know what they are doing, an English teacher can help coach both the teacher and students on how to write effectively and efficiently. If these type of pairing up between teachers happened, then students would learn from an English teacher to how collect and organize information, and then learn from their content teacher how to write about that specific subject. Visuals and tables can used to demonstrate collecting and organizing data. I like this idea of having an English teacher show me or me and my class how a well written paper can be constructed and organized. I have never thought about or heard about this type of approach before, but I think it’s a good idea.


That was all the reading and listening I had to do for the week, but I wanted to also share a way to incorporate reading or writing into one of my content area focuses. Last week in class, we had to create a “starter” or “warm up” for a class other than language arts that incorporated content literacy. For my starter I did: 

Starter for Social Studies: have students read a short exert from a speech someone made in World War II (or any war depending on the lesson) and see if they can figure out what the speech means. Tell students to highlight what they think is important, underline words they do not know what they mean, and write down any questions they have after they have read the speech and then briefly summarize in 3 sentences what they think is the overall jist of the speech. 

I thought this was a good way to see if students can make sense of what they are reading, and if they have questions they can write those down and make note of words they do not understand. 


Throughout this week also, I have built upon my definition of content learning. Especially after reading Tovani’s chapter, I have no learned that content learning means being able to make sense of what you read, write, hear, and communicate. But this can differ in each content area; the way we do these things is different for each content area and I think that is so cool. The way you read and write in math is not the same as the way you read and write in social studies. However, being able to do both in both subject areas is very important.

Reading Apprenticeship

This entire blog is devoted to a class I am taking called Language and Literacy Education 3530. Every week, we watch a podcast or read an article and then blog on our thoughts about it. I know I stated this briefly in my first blog post, but I wanted to make it more clear as to the reason for this blog and what I aim to achieve with it.

This week, we were assigned to watch a podcast on iTunes from the Helpfield School District UBD & DI Staff Development. We watched number 17, called Content Literacy Strategies 101. You can find the link to the blog here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/content-literacy-strategies/id446166098?i=95152716&mt=2 This podcast was a meeting of teachers in the Helpfield School District who were talking about reading and their content areas. It started out by talking about reading apprenticeship, which it defined as “the instructional framework embedded in subject-area content that engages students in more reading and thinking.” This correlates to everything we have been talking about in this class so far. How can we get students to think deeper about our content areas through reading? How do we make this happen? How do we get students to make sense of the information we are feeding them as teachers through different tools we use?

This podcast talked a lot in the beginning about ways we can get students to gain deeper insight into the way they personally read and think. If they can further understand how they personally process information, then we as teachers can help them develop strategies to enhance their learning as they read and think. During this meeting, the teachers watched a short video by Kelly Gallagher. What he said was very interesting. He talked a lot about how somewhere along the line, teachers ended up doing all the work. Teachers prepare lessons and then assign work for students to do, and if students don’t “get it” they come back to the teachers expecting the answers to be given to them through an easier explanation. So really, if the student’s don’t understand something they read, they don’t do any work themselves trying to figure out what it means. He talked about how over time students have developed this learned helplessness. They don’t look up words they don’t understand or use other resources to make sense of the material; they simply come back to the teacher and say “I don’t understand this, will you please tell me what it is saying?” I cannot say this from personal experience since I have not had my personal classroom yet, but from an outsiders perspective, I would say that I agree with this. I know when I was a student, I was sometimes very lazy and did not want to put in extra time and effort if I did not understand something. I would go straight to the teacher expecting them to tell me the answer, and when they would tell me to go look it up myself or try to figure it out on my own, I would get very frustrated and give up. I remember I had a teacher in third and fourth grade, the same teacher both years. His name was Mr. Carlson. Whenever I would read something and didn’t know what a word meant, I would ask him and he would tell me. Then, when I went home and did my homework and would ask my mom what a word meant, she would tell me to go look in up in the dictionary. I remember one time I told her, “Well Mom, Mr. Carlson would have told me what it means!” And I will never forget that she told me, “Well, I’m sorry but Mr. Carlson cannot go to college with you.” And she was right. Now, whenever I don’t completely understand something, yes I can definitely go to my teachers and ask for further explanation, but a lot of learning is done on my own. I thought what Kelly Gallagher said was very interesting and insightful.

One teacher, after hearing Mr. Gallaghers video, said they he thinks that teachers are the helpless ones because they are not allowed to flunk students; there is a “quota” of how many students they can flunk. And he said that the students are aware of this know that if they all of a sudden start getting bad grades, a lot of the time it is going to be the teacher’s “fault.” He commented that teachers can try to teach so many different ways and with so many different materials, but if the students don’t do it, it comes back still as the teacher’s fault. I can see where this teacher is coming from; it is hard as a teacher to not get reprimanded if you have a lot of students failing. Parents can complain and some administrators may view it as that teacher being a “bad teacher” because students are getting bad grades. Well, what if the student just isn’t putting in the work they need to to fully understand the material, and because of that, the student is failing? I understand this because, again, I did some of this in middle and high school. When I didn’t understand something or got a bad grade, a lot of the time I blamed the teacher because I was a good students and shouldn’t have gotten a bad grade. A lot of the time I did that, I should have taken responsibility and realized that I could have tried harder on my own to process information.

The podcast talked a lot about strategies that teachers can show students to use in order to make sense of what they read. I wish I had known these strategies in middle school because if I had, maybe I would have used them more and not blamed the teacher when I received a bad grade. There was another short video shown during this podcast where a teacher was telling students what to do as they read something. She told them they need to highlight what they think is important, look up words they do not know what they mean, write down questions or confusions they have, use context clues to discover meaning, write down if they agree of disagree, write down predictions or settings or conflicts. I think all of these strategies are great advice and I wish I had been more encouraged to use them when I was younger. One thing that was mentioned was that we are all “bad readers,” it just depends on the text we are given. If we are given something that we don’t immediately understand, we are just going to give up and get frustrated and try and find another article or source that explains the material in an easier way. As a future teacher, I want to keep the morale up about reading. I want my students to have a good attitude about it so that they will not get frustrated when they come upon something they need to read and they don’t immediately understand. Reading is part of all content areas, and it is important that students know strategies to make sense of what they are reading so that when they do come upon a difficult text, they can decipher what it means using those strategies.

As a teacher, no matter what content area you teach, reading will be involved in one way or another. I think that this podcast gives some great strategy ideas that teachers can pass along to their students so that students can understand what they read. Last week in class we talked about one strategy called a double entry journal. A double entry journal is where students have a piece of paper divided into two columns. On the left side, they write a quote or phrase from the text they are reading. On the right, they can write questions, interpretations, confusions, or anything they want regarding that piece of the text. I really liked this strategy, but as we talked about in class, I think it is something that cannot be over used, other wise it will get old to students and lose its effectiveness. You can use this as a way for students to think about what they just read and reflect on it. It can be useful in an content area. Math, social studies, science, or language arts.

All of these strategies that I talked about in this post are all ways to help both teachers and students make sense of what we read. Content literacy is important in all subjects. Being able to make sense of what you read is something that is a skill that will follow you for life. I still think content literacy is the idea that students can comprehend and make sense of what they read. However, I now think that content literacy is something that can be improved and changed using certain strategies. Of course there will be students that are better readers than others, but I think that if students are given the right tools and strategies and know how to apply them, their content literacy can be greatly improved and students can develop a deeper understanding for the information if they understand what they are reading.

I have noticed that in these past blog entries, I have mostly been talking about reading. Content literacy, however, also applies to speaking, writing, and communicating. The way that reading, speaking, writing, and communicating all work together and connect is what makes up content literacy as a whole. If you can read something and understand it, and then can write or communicate about it, then this is exercising your understanding of something. Students in all subject areas have to read, write, and communicate about that subject area. In order for them to develop a deeper understanding, they much make sense of what they not only read, but also what they hear and write. I think this is very important. This is how my definition of content literacy has changed since last week; I have become more aware that it not only revolves around reading. It ALSO includes writing, speaking, and communicating!

Second Post- Teaching Reading

It’s been a week since I posted my first blog post EVER. Hopefully they will continue to improve over the next few months! One question I will continue to reference as this semester continues is “what is content literacy?” Right now, I think that content literacy is making sure that students make sense of the tools we use to help teach content. For example, in a social studies classroom, if you had students read an article relating to the unit they were learning, seeing whether or not students understood the article and could apply it to what they were learning would be content literacy. In a science classroom, if students looked at pictures and a short description of something they were learning about and could make sense of it and apply it to what they were learning, that would be content literacy. Literacy does not only belong in a language arts classroom- literacy is something that needs to be a focus in every classroom so that teachers can make sure that students are making sense of the tools being used to convey learning. 

I recently read the first couple chapters of Do I Really Have to Teach Reading by Cris Tovani. These few chapters were very interesting and furthered my understanding of what it means to “teach reading.” These first couple of chapters talked about strategies that can be used to “teach reading” and allow students to understand the material they read. I discovered that teaching reading doesn’t only apply to reading actual text on a page, but also includes all the pictures, charts and graphs on the page as well. Making sense of everything on the page is making sense of what you are “reading.” These first two chapters talked about strategies that teachers can use to help students make sense of all these things that they read. When students can comprehend what they read, it deepens their understanding of content. 

A few strategies mentioned in the book that teachers can use to help students comprehend what they read is to ask questions, use background knowledge to make connections, use personal experience to make connections, highlight important words or phrases, and use tools such as double- entry journals. Double-entry journals are when students divide a piece of paper into two columns and on the left they write down direct text from whatever they read and on the left they write down questions they have about this part of the text or what they think it means. This allows them to have a chance to process what they just read and see if they made sense of it. 

One thing that the text said that I really liked was, “Good readers monitor their comprehension. They know when the text is making sense and when it isn’t. They recognize signals that indicate when they are understanding what they are reading, and when they are confused” (p.5). I think this sentence speaks a lot about what it means to be a good reader. If you can recognize when you comprehend something and when you don’t, then this means you are a good reader. Teaching students to be good readers is something that seems difficult but is essential. The first chapters talked about how teachers sometimes think that focusing on teaching reading is something that cannot fit into the classroom because there isn’t enough time. But this book mentioned that teachers should view it as “teaching students how to remember and reuse the information we ask them to read” (p.7). If our overall goal as teachers is to teach in a way that students can remember what we teach, which I think should be a general goal of every teacher, then essentially that means we are “teaching reading.” We are trying to teach students to “purposely engage in thinking while they read” (p.9).


I also recently listened to a short podcast called “The Critical Link Between Literacy 2.0 and Excellence in Science.” You can find the podcast here: no. 11 The Critical Link Between Literacy 2.0 and Excellence in Science.

This podcast was a short interview of Joanne (I could not understand what they said her last name was). In the interview Joanne is asked how she incorporates literacy into science lessons, and why good reading skills are essential for all content areas. 

Joanne makes some very good points in her interview. She talks a lot about the positive effects of having students read non-fiction and also reading non-fiction out loud to your class. When students read non-fiction, their misconceptions are corrected and cleared up. Fiction books sometimes can lead to misconceptions, while non-fiction corrects them. Non-fiction also appeals more to boys, and since teachers are mostly women, a lot of the time they choose to read fiction books which do not appeal as much to the boys. 

Joanne also talked a lot about how writing is an essential tool in the classroom. Writing can be used during daily journals, data tables, lab notes, and lab write ups using the scientific method. Writing can also be used to have students summarize what they learned after a unit. Joanne used these techniques mostly in a third grade classroom, but has also used them in first grade. I found it interesting that she mentioned that students even as young as first grade were able to use these reading and writing strategies. 

twitter: @tooschool4cool1

First Blog Post!

Hello word press world! This blog, tooschool4cool, is going to focus on reflections and ideas I am learning about in a class I am taking. I am a middle school education major and am taking a class on Content Literacy. I am trying to build a network of fellow education workers! I want to be a teacher because I loved school and appreciated the positive influences that some of my favorite teachers had on my life. I wish to have the same positive influence on my future students that these teachers had on my life. I also want to coach volleyball or basketball. I played both sports in high school and learned a lot about teamwork and working together and other skills that I think will help me in the “real world” and once again, I hope to teach other athletes these same life skills.

The articles we had to read for this blog post were very interesting. One thing I found particularly interesting was in the article “How Important is Teaching Literacy In All Content Areas.” This article described how the definition of the word “literacy” has changed over time. It used to be defined as being able to simply read and write. However, now the term is defined as being able to read and write, and comprehend and make understanding of what you read and write. I agree that sometimes you can read something but have no idea what you just read. That has happened to me before when I have been reading something for homework and thinking about something else, and before I knew it it was three pages later and I had no idea what I had just read. Another thing I found interesting was how they mentioned that speaking is part of literacy.

Some of the strategies mentioned in this article were ones that I recognized. “Think-pair-share” for example was one strategy that the article said was useful for engaging students in speaking, which therefore improves their literacy. I never thought about it in this specific way, but when the article mentions that “conversation helps immensely when processing new content and concept,” I very much agree with this quote. When you work in groups and can talk with each other through concepts, it really improves learning. I have seen this in some of my EMAT and MATH classes that I am taking this semester. We sit at tables in groups and often are given problems that we have to work through by talking in our groups and then presenting to the class. I have found that I learn a lot when we are all able to talk and bounce our ideas off each other. I also agree that writing is important in all classes and a part of literacy. Writing gives students freedom. No two students will write down exactly the same thing in exactly the same way.

Reading is also a very important part of learning. I remember all through middle school, teachers would always make us read out loud when reading text books or novels. At the time I hated it because I would think, “This would go by so much faster if the teacher was just reading it.” Reading is also something that students do daily without realizing it, but reading out loud helps them with literacy.