This also disrupts a major misconception in historythat it unfolds in a

This also disrupts a major misconception in

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This also disrupts a major misconception in history—that it unfolds in a strictly linear fashion, and that the lessons from one culture have little to do with what is learned from others. Questions that invite evaluation are particularly difficult to craft “on the fly.” We take special care to write evaluation questions in advance so that we remember to ask them. An example of an evaluating question is, “How were the lives of boys and girls in Rome similar to and different from those in Egypt?” This should be followed with a prompt that requires students to activate their own background knowledge about previously learned material. For example, follow evaluating questions with prompts that direct them about how to activate background knowledge. Simply saying, “Reread page 46 to help you with your answer” can help tremendously in building an understanding that one cannot hold all the information learned in one’s head, but you do need to know how to find it. ConclusionKnowing how to support one’s own comprehension is what we believe distinguishes a proficient reader. We have offered several ideas about how to support middle grades students so that they will become proficient readers who know how to activate and expand their own background knowledge. Faced with ever-expanding sources of information via the Internet and requirements to use this information through subsequent years of schooling, we believe it is essential to teach middle grades students how to identify their purpose(s) for reading, assess their potential for understanding a text by examining their existing base of related knowledge and language, determine the types of support they need to successfully comprehend the text information, and secure the needed supports. This degree of metacognitive awareness does not automatically happen. Rather, teachers must model this independence as a reader in every content area if we expect students to learn and demonstrate these behaviors. To function successfully in a 21st century environment filled with new media texts and topics, one must be smart about one’s own base of knowledge and how to support one’s own intellectual growth. Because We can be sure to offer students the experiences they need if, in addition to teaching them content, we also show them how to teach themselves.
Douglas Fisheris a professor of education at San Diego State University and a teacher at Health Sciences High and Middle College, San Diego, CA. E-mail: [email protected]Nancy Freyis a professor of education at San Diego State University and a teacher at Health Sciences High and Middle College, San Diego, CA. E-mail: [email protected]Diane Lappis a distinguished professor of education in the College of Education at San Diego State University and a teacher at Health Sciences High and Middle College, San Diego, CA. E-mail: [email protected] 31students today are both producers and consumers of information, we believe they will willingly accept the

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