The Idea Journal, implications for student learning

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Lemay, Madelaine Yvonne
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The 'Idea Journal' is essentially a response log. The goal of the study was to examine this particular initiative and its support for student learning. In the context of the Manitoba Language Arts Curriculum, Grade 5 students were given an example of a particular "text" to view. The class had a brief, five minute discussion of the technique employed by the message-maker and the perceived message. A range of texts was presented to the students. The time frame of two months allowed for eight different texts: visual art samples, instrumental musical selections, songs, photos, print advertising, television commercials, film and mathematical representation in the form of graphs. During the discussion portion of the class, the teacher used reflective thinking questions, suggested by David Perkins (1994). These questions directed the students to (i) look for the story or event, (ii) seek symbolism and hidden meaning and to be aware of (iii) mood, (iv) personality, (v) historical and cultural context and (vi) technical support. The students then turned their attention to the creation of their own message. This portion of the class was approximately ten minutes in duration. They were encouraged to explore the possibilities that music, art and prose offered for their response to the text. The anecdotal record noted contributions to class discussions and student comments about their work. The approach has been effective. The Perkins questions have performed a crucial function by providing the format. The students have learned to use a variety of comprehension strategies to monitor their own thinking. The internalization of the thinking strategies has resulted in thoughtful responses. Work habits and attitude have influenced student responses. Most important, however, is the fact that all students did engage in effective message-making. Students recognized commonalties and made connections between the different text forms.