|Text Citation or Link||Rationale for Choosing||Text Frame(s)||Strategies Used and Resource|
|Extending Thinking Example||Why metals have a blast in water||Investigates the nature of chemical reactions using new technologies and revealing a greater understanding of the process.||Concept/Definition||Magnet Summaries (Buehl, pg. 141)|
A magnet summary is a strategy used to guide students in connecting the concepts and key terms in a text and manipulating them to synthesize new learning into a meaningful summary. Buehl uses the analogy, “just as magnets attract certain metals, magnet words attract information.” to describe magnet words. The process consists of first identifying the key terms, or magnet words. Then searching the text for supporting information. Buehl suggests the students organize their findings on an index card with the magnet word at the center and the supporting words and phrases surrounding it. Each individual card would then be used to construct one or two succinct and coherent sentences summarizing that portion of the text. Finally, the sentences developed for each card are organized and edited to represent a clear narrative, summarizing the main ideas presented in the text.
Follow along below, where I have implemented this strategy using the text, Why metals have a blast in water.
First, I identified these magnet words and related important words and phrases found in the text:
- elements in the first column of the periodic table
- very reactive, easily sometimes violently react with other materials
- naturally occur in combination with other elements
- metals release electrons that generate heat
- break water molecules releasing hydrogen
- hydrogen reacts with heat resulting in explosion
- incomplete explanation
- old assumption
- missing puzzle piece
- spikes appear to grow on metal before explosion
- negative electrons released leave behind positively charged atoms
- like charges repel pushing the atoms away from each other exposing more electrons
- chain reaction occurs leading to explosion
- deeper understanding
Then, using these magnet words and their related information, I’ve constructed these sentences:
- The alkali metals are elements residing in the first column of the periodic table, and known for being highly reactive. In nature, they are most commonly fond bonded to other elements, which inhibits the sometimes violent chemical reactions that occur when these unstable elements are isolated.
- It had been believed that during metal-water reactions, heat generated by metals losing electrons broke hydrogen bonds in water molecules and the freed hydrogen ignites in an explosion.
- After the negatively charged electrons escape the metal molecules, the remaining positively charged atoms repel each other forming spikes. The increased surface area exposes more electrons that are released creating a chain reaction, which builds enough heat to ignite the hydrogen.
Finally, I’ve reorganized my sentences and edited parts to improve fluency. The completed summary reads as follows:
Recent observations offer a deeper understanding of the sometimes violent reactions that occur when alkali metals come in contact with water. The alkali metals are elements residing in the first column of the periodic table, and known for being highly reactive. In nature, they are most commonly fond bonded to other elements, which inhibits the sometimes violent chemical reactions that occur when these unstable elemental compounds contact some other substances. It had been believed that during metal-water reactions, heat generated by metals losing electrons broke hydrogen bonds in water molecules and the freed hydrogen ignited in an explosion. This explanation, however, was incomplete because it didn’t account for the amount of heat energy needed to ignite the hydrogen. New research reveals a more complex process in the metal-water reaction. After the negatively charged electrons escape the metal molecules, the remaining positively charged atoms repel each other forming spikes. The increased surface area exposes more electrons that are released creating a chain reaction, which builds enough heat to generate these famous explosions.
Generally, I am one of those students that could be classified as a ‘reluctant writer’ and this strategy really helped me feel more confident about the structure and level of detail I was able to provide in my summary. I have witness many of students struggle with writers block, when asked to write a summary, and I found this strategy to be extremely helpful toward getting started. It help me to sift out the important information and construct a more substantial summary than I would likely have come up with simply by free writing.
I struggled for a bit trying to choose the vocabulary, because I wanted more ‘sciency’ words. However, I settled on the very un-‘sciency’ word, spikes, as it and the related details seemed to capture the main idea best. This might be a problem for some of my students, too. Though, I have observed a heavy emphasis on using context clues to identify supporting (not necessarily content specific) vocabulary in PARCC, so this could be seen as an advantage with explicit instruction in choosing magnet words.
In the classroom, I think this strategy offers a lot of versatility for differentiation. For example, I could jump start low-ability students by providing specific words, and for high-ability students I could set a higher minimum number of magnet words. Also, the chunking of the writing process-phrases from the text, paraphrasing in sentences, constructing a cohesive summary-provides a useful scaffold for learners at multiple levels and a checkpoint to provide additional support when needed. I look forward to testing this strategy with my students soon.
Buehl, D. (2014). Classroom Strategies for Interactive Learning (4th ed.). Newark, DE: International Reading Association.
McLaughlin, M. (2015). Content Area Reading: Teaching and Learning for College and Career Readiness. (2nd ed., pp. 63-64). Boston, MA: Pearson Education Inc.
Ornes, S. (2015). Why metals have a blast in water. Retrieved from: https://student.societyforscience.org/article/why-metals-have-blast-water?mode=topic&context=6