Academic Reading Skills for Transformative Learning Curriculum

Purpose: To teach academic reading skills and vocabulary while incorporating archetypal stories to inspire success through transformative learning.

Time for class: 18 weeks, 2 meeting per week, 3 hours total – lecture and computer practice

Necessary texts:

1. Academic reading text – Ten Steps to Academic Reading series by John Langan

2. Vocabulary text – Supplementary Vocabulary series by Townsend Press

3. Novel – The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo

4. Connecting stories – to be reproduced and distributed in class

Skills and Knowledge to be mastered:

Academic reading skills: Students will learn and master the following academic reading skills: how to use context clues to find meaning of new vocabulary, understand what a main idea is and its purpose in a text, identify supporting details and use them to structure notes, find and use topic sentences to locate main ideas, determine main idea when not directly stated, use context and prior knowledge to make inferences in reading, use patterns of organization and signal words to process text and take notes,  understand the elements of making a good argument, and recognizing common errors made in arguments and how to avoid them.

Knowledge for transformative learning: Students will gain insight into personal narrative and the ability to create change in life by editing and taking control of their own personal narrative. Students will examine their personal goals and look at ways to reach those goals. Students will recognize the need to reach out to others for support and to see the value of helping others. Students will gain a knowledge of successful and unsuccessful transformation-underworld processes and how apply them to life and learning. Students will learn why it is better to properly prepare and think through situations. Students will learn not to let their emotions, especially anger and frustration, stop them from pursuing their goals. Students will learn to use their resources and creative solutions to overcome obstacles.

Week 1: Preparation for course and preassessments

Connecting story: Personal narrative

            Learning goals:

  • Students will understand the goals and expectations for the class.
  • Students will complete the entrance assessments for use in instructional planning purposes and comparison with exit testing.
  • Students will put into words a personal statement of their identity and projection toward future self.
  • Students will gain insight into personal narrative and the ability to create change in life by editing and actively authoring their own personal narrative.

Essential questions:

  • What are the class procedures, expectations, grading policies, and other functional information for the class?
  • What is a personal story and how does it effect how we see ourselves and how we are seen by others?
  • How do we edit our own story to create change?
  • What do the tests report about the students’ academic reading skills, vocabulary level, and comprehension abilities entering the class and how will it guide instruction?

Learning experiences:

Day 1: Introduction, computer account set up, and entrance testing initialized

Day 2: Personal story and entrance testing finalized

Assessments: Formative assessments – writing personal narratives and completing tasks

                                   Summative assessments – entrance testing

Unit 1: Vocabulary in Context

Connecting story: Planets and their names

            Learning goals:

  • Students will be able to use context clues (synonyms, antonyms, examples, and general sense of the sentence) to determine meaning to unfamiliar vocabulary.
  • Students will understand the value of learning to find meaning through context.
  • Students will recognize how stories give meaning through layers of prior knowledge and give readers a way to personally relate to the material.
  • Students will have a basic introduction to mythology and archetypes.

Essential questions:

  • What are the four types of context clues and how can we use them to figure out new vocabulary?
  • What is the purpose of telling stories and how do they relate to meaning?
  • How does learning how to read context clues make more efficient readers?
  • How does understanding the origination of words help us to be better readers or to be contextual learners?
  • What is an archetype and why are they important?

Learning experiences:

Day 1: Introduce new concept – Vocabulary in Context

Day 2: How the planets got their names, context clues, and archetypes

Day 3: Vocabulary day – Unit 1 practice

Day 4: Group and individual practice exercises, unit tests skills

Assessments: Formative assessments – Days 2 and 4 – in class practice exercises

                                                                 Days 1 and 3 – class participation and non-mandatory practice exercises on computer.

                        Summative assessments – Day 4 – unit test on computer

Unit 2: Main Idea

Connecting story: The Alchemist

            Learning goals:

  • Students will be able to differentiate between general and specific.
  • Students will understand the difference between main ideas and supporting details.
  • Students will be able to identify and utilize key words (list and addition) to find main idea and supporting details.
  • Students will gain understanding and function of key words and transition words in reading and writing.
  • Students will be able to identify personal goals and what it will take to reach those goals.
  • Students will gain inspiration and ideas on how to achieve their goals through class-led discussion of meaningful quotes from the book.

Essential questions:

  • What is a main idea and why does it matter?
  • What are key words, how do they function, and how to use them to comprehend and process texts?
  • When you hear excerpts from your classmates’ narratives, what does it make you think or feel?
  • How did you react when you heard someone read a piece of your narrative?
  • What can the novel teach us about life, about ourselves, and about each other?
  • How does the theme of the novel relate to the concept of main idea?

Learning experiences:

Day 1: Introduce new concept – What is a main idea and what is its function?

Day 2: The Alchemist, personal narrative reading, and finding your main idea

Day 3:Vocabulary day – Unit 1 – review and tests

Day 4: Group and individual practice exercises, unit skills test

Assessments: Formative assessments – Days 2 and 4 – in class practice exercises

                                                                 Days 1 and 3 – class participation and non-mandatory practice exercises on computer.

                        Summative assessments – Days 3 and 4 – unit tests on computer

Unit 3: Supporting details

Connecting story: Egyptian Amduat

            Learning goals:

  • Students will be able to differentiate between main idea and supporting details and furthermore, of major and minor supporting details.
  • Students will understand how main idea and supporting details work together to give text structure and can be used to process information for notes.
  • Students will explore note-taking strategies and textual differences.
  • Students will gain understanding of the transformation process and how it applies to the college student.
  • Students will explore concept of giving and receiving support in order to collectively experience validation and growth.

Essential questions:

  • What is a supporting detail and how does it function in a paragraph?
  • How do we differentiate major and minor details and why that matters in academic reading and note taking?
  • What are effective note-taking strategies and how does identification of main idea and supporting details aid in this process?
  • How do we create a system of support and how do we support others?
  • What happens when we can help someone?
  • How does transformation happen?

Learning experiences:

Day 1: Introduce new concept – Supporting details and note-taking strategies

Day 2: The Egyptian Amduat and the power of support

Day 3:Vocabulary day – Unit 2 – review and test

Day 4: Group and individual practice exercises, unit tests skills

Assessments: Formative assessments – Days 2 and 4 – in class practice exercises

                                                                 Days 1 and 3 – class participation and non-mandatory practice exercises on computer.

                        Summative assessments – Day 4 – unit test on computer

Unit 4: Finding the main idea: Topic sentences and Implied ideas

Connecting stories: Persephone and Inanna underworld myths

            Learning goals:

  • Students will be able to identify when a topic sentence is present and use it to state the main idea of a text.
  • Students will be able to identify the main idea of a text even when the main idea is not directly stated.
  • Students will explore underworld myths and compare them to discuss personal connections and passive vs active both in life and learning.
  • Students will explore underworld myths and compare them to discuss the benefits of living actively and taking control.

Essential questions:

  • What is a topic sentence and how to use it to state the main idea?
  • How to find and write the main idea when it isn’t directly stated?
  • Why should the student rewrite a main idea if it is stated in the topic sentence?
  • How do the stories of Persephone and Inanna differ and why that matters?
  • How do the stories relate to the student, personally and to college students in general?
  • What can the stories teach the student about transformation and the process of investigation and self-discovery?

Learning experiences:

Day 1: Introduce new concept – Finding the main idea

Day 2: Persephone and topic sentence/Inanna and implied idea

Day 3:Group and individual practice exercises, unit tests skills

Day 4: Vocabulary day – Unit 3 – review and test

Assessments: Formative assessments – Days 2 and 4 – in class practice exercises

                                                                 Days 1 and 3 – class participation and non-mandatory practice exercises on computer.

                        Summative assessments – Days 3 and 4 – unit tests on computer

Unit 5: Relationships with and within text

Psychology connection: Readlationships

            Learning goals:

  • Students will be able to identify common patterns of organization in texts including time or addition, cause and effect, compare and contrast, and definition with example.
  • Students will identify key words for determining patterns and relationships.
  • Students will understand how patterns work to help the reader gain understanding and process information presented in the text.
  • Students will use knowledge of patterns in a text to guide note-taking strategies.
  • Students will explore the idea of relationship with a text and how to understand that relationship as it applies to reading and note-taking strategies.

Essential questions:

  • What are the common patterns and functions for academic reading texts?
  • How can the knowledge of these relationships within the text help the reader to process, understand, and take notes on the text?
  • How are relationships in a text or with a text like relationships between people?
  • Why does our time matter and what does our choices for how we spend that time reflect our priorities, passions, and path for the future?
  • Why do we read?
  • How does the purpose of reading change the relationship and determine the appropriate level of interaction for the text?

Learning experiences:

Day 1: Introduce new concept – patterns of organization and signal words

Day 2: Readlationships – how do we relate to texts?

Day 3: Group and individual practice exercises, midterm review, and unit test 

Day 4: Midterm exam

Assessments: Formative assessments – Days 2 and 4 – in class practice exercises

                                                                 Days 1 and 3 – class participation and non-mandatory practice exercises on computer.

                        Summative assessments – Day 3 – unit test on computer

                                                                   Day 4 – Midterm exam

Unit 6: Inferencing

Connecting stories: Big bad wolf and three little pigs and The Alchemist

            Learning goals:

  • Students will be able to use inferences to connect to text and aid comprehension.
  • Students will look at how perspectives are different based on prior knowledge.
  • Students will understand why it is better to prepare for situations, use the proper materials, and how thinking critically can be critical for survival.
  • Students will revisit the big topics from The Alchemist and apply it for class discussion.
  • Students will acknowledge the power of pursuing a personal path and explore the idea of their own personal path.

Essential questions:

  • What is an inference and how do you make a good inference?
  • How does prior knowledge and experience effect an inference?
  • How is proper preparation critical when things become difficult? (Inanna)
  • What are some big themes in The Alchemist and how do they relate personally and to college students in general?
  • How can the universe help you achieve your dreams?

Learning experiences:

Day 1: Introduce new concept – Inferencing

Day 2: Three little pigs and inferencing

Day 3:Group and individual practice exercises, unit tests skills

Day 4: Guided discussion of The Alchemist

Assessments: Formative assessments – Days 2 and 3 – in class practice exercises

                                                                 Days 1 and 3 – class participation and non-mandatory practice exercises on computer.

                                                                 Day 4 – participation with novel exercises

                        Summative assessments – Day 3 – unit test on computer

Unit 7: Evaluating and crafting an argument

Connecting story: Pandora creation story

            Learning goals:

  • Students will be able to identify necessary elements of a strong argument.
  • Students will be able to evaluate an argument based on strength of the support.
  • Students will be able to apply their knowledge of argument to craft a well-supported written argument paper.
  • Students will be able to evaluate a text beyond content and look to all the information available about a text.
  • Students will see the value of hope and perseverance.

Essential questions:

  • What makes a good argument?
  • How to measure if support is adequate and logical?
  • What does the reader need to consider when critically reading a text?
  • What is hope and why does it matter for a college student?

Learning experiences:

Day 1: Introduce new concept – Making a good argument

Day 2: Pandora creation story

Day 3: Group and individual practice exercises, unit tests skills

Day 4: Vocabulary day – Unit 4 (final unit) – review and test

Assessments: Formative assessments – Days 2 and 4 – in class practice exercises

                                                                 Days 1 and 3 – class participation and non-mandatory practice exercises on computer.

                        Summative assessments – Days 3 and 4 – unit tests on computer

Unit 8: Critical thinking  

Connecting story: Brer Rabbit and the Tar Baby and argument papers

            Learning goals:

  • Students will be able to identify six errors in reasoning and six propaganda techniques commonly seen in arguments.
  • Students will learn to read through the faulty reasoning and avoid using them in their own writing.
  • Students will identify and outline main idea and supporting details in peers’ papers.
  • Students will learn to give and receive productive feedback.
  • Students will learn the value of being cautious without being fearful.
  • Students will learn how emotions can stop a person from moving forward in life and how to overcome that with using intelligence and creative problem solving.

Essential questions:

  • What are the common errors in reasoning and propaganda techniques seen in arguments and what is the difference between the two?
  • How do we recognize and avoid faulty reasoning?
  • How do we give feedback that is helpful – not overly critical and not too nice?
  • How do our emotions hinder our progress?
  • How do obstacles become bigger and how can we overcome them?

Learning experiences:

Day 1: Introduce new concept – Critical thinking

Day 2: B’rer Rabbit and the tar baby

Day 3:Peer review on argument essays

Day 4: Group and individual practice exercises, unit tests skills

Assessments: Formative assessments – Day 1 – class participation and non-mandatory practice exercises on computer.

Days 2 and 4 – in class practice exercises

                                                                 Day 3 – participation in peer review

                        Summative assessments – Day 3 – Argument essay

       Day 4 – unit test on computer

 Week 18: The Alchemist, personal narrative rewrite, and exit exams

Connecting story: Personal narratives

            Learning goals:

  • Students will feel a connection with their learning community.
  • Students will be able to make a positive statement of self.
  • Students will complete all exit assessments.

Essential questions:

  • What is your personal narrative?
  • How does it compare to the narrative written at the beginning of the course?

Learning experiences:

Day 1: Personal narrative rewrites, and exit testing initiated

Day 2:Personal narrative connection and exit testing finalized

Assessments: Formative assessments – in class participation

                        Summative assessments – final exams

Supplemental materials: Specific lesson plans, texts for the story connections and other related material are included in a separate folder.

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