The key issue that I have focused on during my student teaching was, developing students’ abilities to interpret and analyze primary documents. Learning how to interpret any document is a lifelong skill a person needs to learn and be able to use. A person must know what the author is saying in any piece of writing. My students will encounter this throughout their lives here at the High School and beyond the classroom. One of my first concerns early on that I stated in my first reflection log was, I needed to work on is how I approach this activity in a way to make my students understand what is being said and the importance of this activity in general. I wanted to make this activity connect to the other activities and lessons to make a lasting impact on the students. I quickly learned the wide range of skills and ability my students have for understanding primary documents or any different type of readings.
At first I failed in gauging how well my students can understand and interpret primary documents. The primary document was on Mahan’s idea of the Importance of Sea Power. I asked the students, “Why does a nation need a Navy in times of War?, What does a nation need to support a navy?, What are some examples of nations that have naval bases around the word?” These questions were supported with many examples throughout the text. However, the students found the document hard to read, and failed to answer the questions. They left many of their questions blank or put I don’t know.
What feedback have you received from your cooperating teacher and university supervisor on your key issue? I have received a good amount of information from my cooperating teacher and university supervisor on the key issue of students’ abilities to interpret and analyze primary documents. Mr. Fosco my cooperating teacher has told me that I need to pick and chose my battles with the material itself. He means that we are very passionate about the subject while, the students are not and are not at the same level of understanding. He wants me to really look at the document and put myself in the shoes of the ninth-grader looking at the document for the very first time. Is this something age appropriate for these students? Would they understand the material presented to them?
My University Supervisor Mr. Flashburg has told me something similar. He wants me to break down the primary document into similar parts. He gave some suggestions as to have a word bank for terms the students might not understand located on the side of the document. In addition, I could ask the students to read the document the night before the class discussion and have them write down specific things, terms, etc. that they do not understand and need more clarification on. I also got some good ideas from the in-class support teacher for the USII class to have word banks, Mad Libs for the terms, follow up with class notes related to the document. I could have summarizing worksheets for helping the...