When I first began teaching, I realized that one of the most frustrating tasks for below grade level readers is following along when the class is reading a text. What made it worse for me, was that I was forever answering the question, "Mr. Lim where are we at?"
Eventually, I decided to scan all of our core texts so that I could project them onto my whiteboard while teaching. Now, not only is it a snap for my students to follow along, but it's also much easier for me to guide the whole class through a text. The practice has radically changed the way I approach teaching with textbooks.
Here are some of the benefits:
1. Previewing the passage - Before, I would tell students to turn to a page and would verbally draw their attention to particular pictures, graphs, and subheadings in order to preview. Now, I simply project the page, have students follow along, and use my laser pointer to refer to points of interest. The transitions flow seamlessly and I can tell that it's much easier for them to follow along.
2. Marking up the text - If the text that we are going over is a consumable, I can physically mark on my whiteboard to model for students how to mark up their own papers.
3. Referencing sections of the text - Whenever I used to reference a specific section of the text, it would sound a little like this: "... Go ahead and take a look at the bottom of page 52 in the second column... I'm at the second to the last sentence... No, It's at the bottom of the paragraph... Yea, right by the dinosaur's foot..." Now, it's simply a matter of pointing to a section on the board and students can instantly figure out what I'm referring to.
4. Students can take notes continuously - I recently asked a former (EL) student how the projected texts have helped him. He pointed out that he was able to take notes much more easily. He mentioned that the projection allowed him to listen to me, take notes on what I was saying, and then easily find where the rest of the class was in the text.
5. No more endless, "Where are we at?" questions - Last year I only had one student ask me where we were at in a lesson. About half the class pointed to the whiteboard and he never had the same problem again.
Lastly, I combined the use of the projector with one of these devices:
This is a Gyration Air-Mouse. If you've ever played the Nintendo Wii, then you'll have a good idea of how this device works. I've found that with an air-mouse, a projector and a whiteboard, I can be just as dynamic as many teachers who use smartboards.
I use the air-mouse to switch between Powerpoint, Adobe (scanned texts), and Quicktime (for related clips). I project directly on to the whiteboard so that I can circle, highlight, and write directly onto the text with my dry-erase pens.
Especially in a classes filled with English Learners and basic readers, it's essential for us to find ways to scaffold lessons and address multiple modalities of learning. Hopefully, these strategies help you to reach your struggling students too!
Rosemead High School
El Monte Union High School District