A Look at Linguistic Landscapes

Our World is an amazing linguistic landscape. From the local to the long distant view of these landscapes, we learn to imagine the globe of languages. Linguistic landscapes offer a rich source of research data. Observe and discuss the types of data available in the following:

  • Our class Twitter hashtag from 2015  for linguistic landscapes around us.  

Questions to address:

  • What other types of linguistic landscapes help teachers to deal with the issues connected to meta-literacies in their classrooms? 
  • What does the knowledge of  linguistic landscapes offer to us, as teachers; and why should we concern ourselves with this knowledge?
Sample apps/sites to use:

Also check the Native Studies page of our blog for wonderful exercises and documents.

Start speaking a new language in 7 days using Babbel. 

Enhance Content Literacy: Start Your Content Area Lessons with Some Background Activation through ICT

All students come to class with knowledge of something that they might link to the new learning. Brain science tells us that utilizing schema or background knowledge of anything and connecting it to the new learning helps. 

Before you teach a unit of study consider how "front loading" your topic with vocabulary and activation of schema may inspire learning. Assess whether students know the words you are going to use in your lesson. Assess the background knowledge of your students through an anticipation guide before going forward with the teaching. Front loading with vocabulary and activation of background knowledge provides connection schema.

Choose 3 links/websites in a content area from the Front Loading tab above. Explore these with your class before beginning the new unit of study. Walking through the BIG book online (the internet), allows students to explore possible content that they will encounter, be stimulated by incidental content connected to the new area, and quick-view what is coming up so they each can make an incidental connection when working through a unit plan.

Have students use jot notes or stickies to remark on possible areas of interest through this preview activity. Prepare them through preview. Encourage them to size up the topic before they begin.

Example I: Search the Annenberg Site by subject area and select three links to explore.

Example II: Search through the following site BBC Bitesize using the phrase "What would I need to know if I knew about this topic?" Explore intro videos, quizzes, and possible activities.

Enhance Content Literacy by Using Strategies: List of Possible Reading Strategies

When you plan strategies for your classroom it is important to keep your students in the loop. Let them know the names of the strategies. Help them to understand how the strategies support what good readers do. This will help them to become independent readers and thinkers as they think about becoming better at reading rather than just being satisfied with minimal reading skill. When you plan strategies for your classroom also consider the ones that you would repeat because repetition reinforces the strategies to become automatic. Good readers automatically root through their arsenal of strategies and make a decision about how to tackle the reading task presented to them and/or chosen by them. Here is a list of possible strategies worth repeating for reinforcement. 

Vocabulary Strategies
Pre-reading Strategies
DRTA (Directed Reading/Thinking Activity)
During Reading Strategies
Describing Circle
After Reading Strategies
Bubble Map
Cluster Graphic Organizer
Collaborative Summarizing Sheet
Content Graphic Organizer 
Elements of Fiction
Fact Chart
Flow Chart
Magnet Summaries
Main Idea with Supporting Details Map
Multiple Cause Map
Multiple Effect Map
Narrowing Triangle
QAR (Question/Answer/Relationship)
Relationship Map
Spider Map
Story Map
T Chart

Give Project-Based Learning a Try

When you want to connect students to the world, use project-based learning (PBL). Once you try it you will find you are hooked. Project-based learning takes some time to organize and often requires resources outside the class but now-a-days, with such a plethora of online connections, there seems to be no limit to the ways one can find to create PBL.

Don't forget, though, that students also need time away from the Internet. Project-based learning, once it becomes a mainstay of your teaching toolbox, is an easy shift to make for those off-line projects.

To get started you might want to build something that would benefit your school or community. Involve students in the planning process and jump-start their imaginations. In my experience with project-based learning, we have done many memorable things such as building robots and carving a sculpture from a tree to represent the philosophy of education right here in the courtyard of the Faculty of Education. Did it cost money? Yes, but not as much as was impossible to do. When students get involved in the mathematics of projects including costs, then they begin to think in ways that will sustain them into the future.

There are many websites and apps dedicated to project-based learning (PBL). A few are listed in groups. Consider Edutopia http://www.edutopia.org/project-based-learning which has some great video examples of project-based learning if you have never tried it before. Alternatively you may be using iPads or other tablets for PBL. Take a walk through this link for some new ideas. http://www.teachthought.com/technology/23-ways-to-use-the-ipad-in-the-21st-century-pbl-classroom/

If you want to involve other teachers at your school in PBL then you will need to begin collaboration with them. To start you might want to share a video together so everyone is clear about what PBL can do for your students. Here is a video. (Click here.)
To contradict the URL's name I would like to explain that it is nearly impossible in the secondary teaching area to conceive of the notion of a generic literacy across the content areas. Instead, the wording needs to be more carefully selected.

So many of us have tried to select the right words but both history of reading and new notions of literacy have been stumbling blocks. Disciplinary literacy may be the best term for now. 
A chemistry teacher, for instance, has to deal with a lot of complex vocabulary. So, if one treats the idea of language for learning like a whitewash across the areas of learning, then one fails to understand vocabulary instruction and to fails to understand the nature of learning in the discipline of chemistry.
Ever wonder how to handle those embarrassing moments in class? Here you are showing a great posting on You Tube. It's a perfect fit for what you are teaching -- you may have even made the post yourself and then someone giggles about an inappropriate ad on the side margin.
The ads adjacent to all of the online materials you use in class are often part of cognitive overhead but they simply don't register or become part of the attention in a lesson. However, there are times when an ad is just too funny, placed alongside a lesson, to be ignored.
An alternative site that you can use is Teacher Tube. Our experience is that it is safer for focusing attention on what you want students to pay attention to.
Ever wonder why literacy-across-the-content areas does not always resonate with content areas teachers? Ever wonder why some content area teacher say, "If only those English teachers would only teach them how to read and write, we could teach them (name any content area)."

The statement itself - if only - reflects the distancing from literacy that many content teachers experience through their own initiation into their content area teaching. For example, when someone becomes a band teacher, it is not usually language for learning vocabulary that is used. Vocabulary is quite specific to the content of music and becomes more specific over time as more and more is learned.

Therefore, over time the words used to describe learning in one content area separate from the vocabulary that would connect to other content areas. Differnces become clearer and more distinct over time. There is no hope of connecting student unless content area teachers realize their own content area learning and demonstrate the making of connections and the moving toward specific content area language. An understanding of language evolves over time is a fundamental concept of understanding.
Language for learning in mathematics is very different from language for learning in science. Mathematicians themselves seem to have a different language within each respective discipline.
To say that music teachers have a language that is transferrable to other content areas doesn't make sense either. What does make sense, is learning language in many more than one content area - our example of a person who did this is Da Vinci.
Language for learning is not dabbling in language rhetoric that makes a neophite sound like a sage. It is getting into the language of a discipline and then recognizing that everything is language for learning. Transfer, well that is important, too, but I'll talk about that in another post.
Good night.