For our first Global News activity we used the SOS (or Visual Thinking Routine) "Connect-Extend-Challenge". This is a teaching strategy that requires students to identify background knowledge, new learning, and what challenges students may have about the topic. This is a great strategy by itself, but this strategy fits very nicely into a Tree Map, which is one of the eight Thinking Maps. In this case we used our Tree Map to sort our information into ideas that students connected to their background knowledge, extended their thinking, or challenged them in some way. With the combination of the two strategies, my students were not only able to collect information (or text evidence), but they were also encouraged to do some deeper thinking around that information before they were asked to write about the topic.
After each student has had a chance to complete his/her individual Tree Map we took the time to discuss this event as a class. Students were encouraged to add to their maps anything they wished to from our discussion. I work very hard to build a healthy learning community and by
allowing students to add to their maps during our discussion it encourages the idea that we are better together.
My final step was to guide students through a writing assignment in which they were asked to tell what they learned and why it was important. Admittedly, their writing is a tad bit bland, but my main concern for this part of the lesson was that students were able to see a strong connection from their Tree Map to their writing. We still have work to do, but this is not a bad start. Here are a few links to student blog posts: Grade 4 Post and Prine Students' Post.