22 July 2010

Cute Idea or Comprehension?

As a baby English teacher, I was raised to think of all sorts of creative things--the most creative things possible--to attach to a book and motivate readers to engage with it.  Ironically, what I think I was missing was methods to engage the readers DURING the reading and the means to truly measure comprehension AFTERWARD.

Talking with my classmates (und la Dra.), I came to realize that a lot of the things I thought of would make fine additions to an overall UNIT, but they really did little for the comprehension of the text itself.  I had cute ideas, but would they accomplish the goal of actually being able to understand the text?

This explains why a lot of my cute ideas have been so disappointing in practice.

So I have revisited Pies Ligeros with the idea NOT of fitting it into my Dia de los Muertos unit, but with the idea of negotiating meaning from the story itself: the unit fitting must come only AFTER that is accomplished!

To that end, I've made a list of 15 words I would like to use with TPR, made a few contextual sentences with unfamiliar animal words for a matching exercise, and begun brainstorming words that one might associate with death so students could do a Death vs. Jumprope Venn Diagram at the end (though I need more jumprope-y words).  Even with the post-reading I've been considering, I'm wondering if I'm not leaning toward cute too much, and so I think I'll do an exemplar to see how much it can relate to the story.

I'm struggling to make this NOT about my overarching unit theme and NOT about some external theme that relates to only one minute aspect of the book (e.g. animals).  I need to explore the ACTUAL themes some more myself.

I feel like the jumprope, the shoes, and the animals--perhaps even the animals' order, are significant to getting meaning from the story.  The point being that death is unexpected (light feet), that it wears you out, that it will always win (unless you cheat?), that it lures you in (as into the jumprope game).  As for the animals, I think I might have to look to Zapotec significance for these animals, to see why the painter painted him and why his daughter, the author, presented them as she did.  What I don't know is whether that is too much OUTSIDE the text, too cultural, or too literary even, to be useful to Reading Comprehension.

It seems like cheating to only do what others suggested, like the pre-survey (e.g. Is death always a surprise?, etc.) or animal picture matching.  Or maybe I'm afraid it's just not CUTE enough.

No comments:

Post a Comment