The goal of using a double entry journal strategy in a multicultural and diverse skill based student population brings in theory great benefit to all students. The chance to learn form fellow students that have diverse talents may lead to greater motivation for all students and the opportunity to have skills outside of reading and writing to be identified and valued in the classroom is another method to bring a sense of achievement to all students regardless of their literacy ability.
The text demonstrates a dynamic system based on student group activities that allow the strengths of some students to be highlighted and to be a benefit to other students in the group while all students are active participants (text, pp 50 – 52). This approach is similar in theory to that discussed in Fredericks (1998 p 43) where teachers used group activities that included the procedure of writing a draft of the report, followed by discussion amongst the group and a final version of the report written by all members of the group.
It was thought that this approach allows students of lower literacy to learn from the activities and from their fellow students in a buddy system (Fredericks, 1998 p 52). Another philosophy reviewed by Gambrell et al, 1995 p 119) highlighted the benefit of using a group setting with double entry journal writing to give all students a sense of achievement which can aid in raising their motivation for reading and writing.
This paper (text, pp 50 – 51) provides an ideal system which has great relevance to my student teaching experiences in an inner New York City public school, first grade class setting which includes a multicultural student population and great diversity in literacy. The paper (text, p 52) demonstrated the need to manage potential behavioral problems quickly before they have a negative impact. From my experience this is perhaps one of the most difficult things to accomplish.
Students frustrated by their lack of success with reading and writing often prove unpredictable in when their disruptive behavior may manifest itself. The use of students’ talents in a diverse way as discussed in the text (p 51) is similar to an experience I had in the classroom where a student who had profound reading difficulty showed a positive response to having her drawing skills praised in front of the rest of the class.
The opportunities I have had to observe different classrooms which have applied the practical approach of double entry journal writing have found overall positive results for the students. The chance to revise and edit their writing in a group setting brought a sense of achievement to the highly skilled readers and writers in the group and allowed a non-threatening way in which the students with lower levels of achievement in reading and writing can learn from their fellow students.
However, I also observed in an active class setting the disruption and complete failure of a lesson where problem behaviors by two of the students led to the lesson having to be abandoned. In this situation the freedom of the practical small group approach led to two students finding it difficult to stay focused on the task and this led to disruptive behaviors that made continuing with this type of lesson impossible for that teacher.
This observation led me to realize that the early intervention of potential problem behaviors is critical to the success of group based activities.
Fredericks, A. D. (1998). Science Adventures with Children’s Literature: A Thematic Approach. Teacher Ideas Press, CT. Gambrell, L. B. , Mazzoni, A. and Almasi, J. F. (1995). Engaging Young Readers: Promoting Achievement and Motivation. Baker, L. , Dreher, M. J. and Guthrie, J. (Eds. ) Gulford Press, N. Y. Textbook Chapter 2: Diversity in the multicultural classroom. Pp 50-52.
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