Volume 18: Voting in the 2004 Elections
Getting the Most from the Articles
Here are some suggested activities you can use with your students to get more out of each article you read:
Create a graphic organizer
These often help students organize the information in the article. For example, you can create a note-taking sheet that asks students to record the pros and cons of an issue they are reading about.
Write questions in the margins
Ask students to write down the questions that they have as they read the article. They can write them down in the margins of the article or on a separate piece of paper. Help students think about ways they can get their questions answered.
Form an opinion
Have students write down things they agree with and disagree with in the article. Then have students share their opinions in pairs, groups, or in the larger class.
Encourage further research
Split up your class into several small groups. Ask each group to focus on one of the election issues discussed in this paper. Have each group read the collection of articles on their topic in The Change Agent and think together about what other questions they have about the issue. Help each group make a plan for getting more information on their topic. Students might first want to get more information about the issue. Later they may want to look at the Web sites of different candidates to find out what their positions are on the issue. Have students summarize this information and present it to the rest of the class. (For tips on helping students manage Web searches see below.)
Creating Charts and Graphs
Using their own data to create charts and graphs helps students see that each format has its own purpose. Line graphs are used to illustrate change, bar graphs to compare items, pie charts to show how a set of pieces make up a whole, etc. We make choices about which format to use based on what message or information we're trying to convey.
Experimenting with those choices teaches students how form and content relate—that looking at the graphic format tells you something right away about what the author is trying to explain.
Constructing charts also allows students to see how data can be manipulated to give different impressions of the same information. This understanding helps them become more critical readers of charts and graphs, asking questions about how the data is being organized and presented.
(After looking at the site above, consider, for example, how your impression of the data would change if the second Federal Minimum Hourly Wage chart used five-year intervals on the x-axis instead of ten-year intervals.)
Reprinted with permission from the Equipped For the Future Teaching/Learning Toolkit. This online resource provides teaching tools to support EFF instruction and assessment and examples of what it looks like to implement EFF in a variety of teaching contexts. You can find the Toolkit at cls.coe.utk.edu/efftlc. EFF is an initiative of the National Institute for Literacy.