Teacher's Guide for COBBLESTONE ® Tenement Life
Teacher's Guide prepared by: Mary Shea, Ph.D. Dr. Shea teaches graduate literacy courses and directs the Graduate Literacy Program at Canisius College in Buffalo, NY.
The following guide is designed as an extension to the reading and discussion of this issue of COBBLESTONE® magazine.
This issue traces the origins of multiple family dwellings that correlated with a time when the United States was flooded with immigrants seeking security from oppression and a chance for a better life. The intersection of this immigration surge and the needs it brought resulted in major societal changes in housing, social interactions, public health, employment, and education, among other things. Many of these immigrants were from European countries. The time was in the later part of the 19th century and early into the 20th century.
Students will strengthen their visualizing skills which go hand-in-hand with inferencing. "Mind pictures" involve inferencing with mental images rather than words and, just as inferences with words, these images stimulate questioning and connection making with what we have read. Visualizing deepens comprehension (Harvey & Goudvis, 2000).
Listening skills will be used as students gather and expand their knowledge on the topic during discussions. The following activities will extend across three sessions.
Harvey, S. & Goudvis, A. (2000). Strategies that work. York,
As a result of reading and discussing articles in this magazine, students will:
Bloom's Taxonomy (level of skills): Knowledge, Comprehension, Analysis, Application, Synthesis
- identify the application of cause and effect frames in expository writing within the editor's note and articles in the issue.
- examine tenements of the period and compare these to the variations of apartments and apartment living found today, considering similarities and differences.
- consider the broad impact of tenement life on society.
- examine the roles and responsibilities of owner and tenets as well as consequences for breaking legal agreements or rules.
- use visual strategies to construct replications of rooms described by Victoria in Greenhorn, Victoria's Story.
- explore the impact of visual messaging in documenting issues and for its power to attract public attention and reaction.
- recreate a visual message to communicate the situations of poor and immigrant families.
Materials: February 2004 issue of COBBLESTONE®, shoe boxes, chart paper, watercolor paints, paper for painting
Anticipatory Set (Motivation):
- Ask students if they can explain what an apartment is. Help students come to a collaborative definition.
- Discuss the different designs for "apartments" today, including side-by-side quarters, 2-3 family houses with one family on each floor, condominiums, townhouses, high rises, and other possibilities. Point out that apartments can be owned today as well as rented.
- Discuss why people would want to own or rent.
- Introduce the February 2004 COBBLESTONE® issue. Have students examine, read, and discuss the magazine cover page, About the Cover, and the Editor's Note.
- Ask them what difference they note related to what we know as "apartments" today. (e.g. They were called tenements and they were not owned by the people - tenets - who lived there. Tenements were terrible places to live. Apartments today can be very nice.)
- Explain that a lease is an agreement to rent for a specific period of time for an agreed upon amount of money. It protects the renter and owner. Briefly explain further points of a lease (as seems appropriate) so that students understand it as a legal agreement still used today that includes responsibilities and consequences for both sides.
- Ask students to pick out the cause and effect relationship (structure or frame used in expository text) that the editor has used to convey information.
Tenements were built to provide living quarters for many families in one building
- Flood of immigrants enter the United States looking for jobs
- Immigrants and their families need affordable housing near their jobs
- Immigrants have housing
- Tenements become overcrowded
- Model how to survey the Table of Contents and illustrations for the purpose of making predictions that will guide comprehension. Model making predictions, setting expectations for the information that will be revealed. This sets a purpose for reading - to find answers to new questions and to reaffirm background knowledge. Invite students to also "download their thinking" on the article titles and illustrations.
- Review how and why readers visualize or make pictures in their mind when they read passages that describe something or someone. The teacher reads aloud page 4 through the first paragraph on page 5. Do a think-aloud, modeling the use of context to understand the term greenhorn, background knowledge to understand the use of the word parlor, and the mental picture that you have in your mind. Include the questions that arise as well as the connections you're making as information is unfolding.
- Assign students into groups. Explain that, as they read the article, they should visualize the tenement Victoria describes, paying particular attention to the room / place their group will reconstruct (see list that follows). Remind students to attend to new vocabulary as they read. The author helps them with clues that explain meanings. These are found in information boxes and / or within the context.
Group 1 - parlor
Group 2 - bedroom
Group 3 - kitchen
Group 4 - privy
Group 5 - neighborhood where children play
- Reinforce the importance of strategic reading with informational text. Readers must monitor their own understanding as they go and sometimes need to reread for good comprehension.
- Students continue reading page 5 of Greenhorn Victoria's Story, p. 5-6 (top of column 2) to complete the description of the kitchen. Discuss their mental images and key vocabulary.
- Students continue reading page 6-7 (end of first paragraph). Discuss details added to the bedroom image begun with the section the teacher read in the beginning as well as key vocabulary.
- Students read page 7 and discuss their mental picture of the parlor and children playing in the neighborhood as well as key vocabulary. Invite questioning and wondering connected to the last paragraph on page 7. For example, why would Victoria's family leave their country to come and live in a tenement?
- Students read the inert on toilets on page 6-7. Discuss their mental images and key vocabulary. Do anything like these exist today? (e.g. portapotties, at some campgrounds)
- Students read page 8 to find out why Victoria's family came to America. Discuss the details and key vocabulary.
At a later time and over several days, students will construct the room / area their group was assigned in a shoebox diorama. Models will include labels and posted 5 X 8 cards with descriptions. Rooms will be connected and displayed in the hall (or library) for other classes to observe.
- Students think of advantages and disadvantages to living in a tenement.
- Students will partner up (pair) and discuss their ideas. (1-2 minutes)
- Students will be called on to share ideas they've been discussing with the whole group. The teacher will scribe these on a chart under the categories of advantages and disadvantages.
Anticipatory Set (Motivation):
- Have students read over the advantages and disadvantages of tenements created in previous session.
- Ask them to consider how the disadvantages could be lessened. Suggest the concept of responsibilities of tenets and landlords (if this doesn't come up). Discuss current legal responsibilities for both parties.
- Read aloud the article, "Rise of the Tenement," stopping periodically to discuss content with students. Emphasize advantages and disadvantages.
- Collaboratively students and teacher determine additional advantages and disadvantages identified in this article that can be added to the list.
- Students read pages 12-13, "The Pros and Cons of Tenement Life" to identify additional ideas for the class list.
- Students are called upon to identify and scribe additional ideas on the list.
- Students are asked to work in groups to consider whose responsibility it would be to lessen these disadvantages. What should be required of landlords and tenets to increase advantages? What rules should be in place? Each group should have an assigned facilitator, recorder (ideas shared in group), and presenter (person who shares group's ideas in whole class discussion).
- The teacher circulates to stimulate and support group discussion and functioning.
- Have group presenters share the group's ideas.
- Encourage debate and intergroup discussion.
At a later time students will respond in their journal to the following statement. They can agree or disagree. They must support ideas with evidence.
Both landlords and renters have rights and responsibilities in the relationship they have. Legal agreements and laws help to make sure that both parties fulfill their responsibilities. We still need multiple family housing so it's important to have such agreements in these relationships.
Anticipatory Set (Motivation):
- Direct students to view photographs taken by Jacob Riis at http://www.masters-of-photography.com/R/riis/riis5.html. Project the website to a screen, if possible, or have printouts of the pages for partners or small groups to share.
- Ask students to comment on information gained from them - they are to "read" these visuals. Record (on chart paper or on a transparency) responses that students share.
- Explain that visuals or pictures reveal information while generating all kinds of feeling responses in viewers. This may include joy, hope, sadness, sympathy, or anger. People say a picture can "speak a thousand words."
- Introduce the article, "Through the Eyes of Riis." Have students survey the title, pictures, captions, and word boxes. Invite them to "download their thinking" and make predictions about the content of the article.
- Explain to students that media technology today keeps us immediately informed about local and world issues through voice, print, and picture messages. The visuals in films and photographs document events, offering evidence and increasing public awareness. These visuals are very powerful. For example, many people followed the Iraq War with the embedded reporters who sent back video documentaries along with audio reports.
Explain that the invention of photography had a major impact on how people documented events in their personal lives as well as those related to local, regional, and world issues. Photographs provided hard evidence (proof) of situations that often caught the public's attention faster than other sources. Early photographers enriched our historical records, providing us with authentic pictures of the past through their documentation of people, places, and events.
- The teacher will read the first column through the end of the paragraph on the top of the second column. Discuss Riis's background. Ask students why he might have been motivated to find injustices and correct them. Ask them to predict ways in which he would have been able to do that as a newspaper reporter. This sets a purpose for reading.
- Have students independently read the remainder of the article to find out how Riis found injustices and worked to correct them.
- Discuss the content of the article with reference to the predictions students made about how Riis would find and correct injustices. Scribe students' responses on a sequence chart.
|Jacob Riis Finds and Corrects Injustices
- Explain that others at the time also sought to document conditions of poor and immigrant families. Among these reform seekers were artists who portrayed what they saw as realistically and accurately as possible. Their paintings attracted public attention and caused much controversy.
- Have students skim pages 20-21, surveying the title, pictures, captions, and word box. Explain that an apostle is one who initiates a great moral reform. Ask them to predict how artists might be apostles. Why would they want to be apostles of ugliness?
- Have students read pages 20-21. Discuss how the six artists tried to "speak" of injustices through their paintings.
- Students think of how visual messages impact them today. Think of examples.
- Students will partner up (pair) and discuss their ideas. (1-2 minutes).
- Students will be called on to share ideas they've been discussing with the whole group. The teacher will scribe these on a chart under the categories of film, TV, internet, photographs and code their inferred purposes (e.g. to sell, convince, attract attention, etc.).
- Discuss current regulations placed on such messaging and reasons for it.
At a later time students will select one of Riis's photographs to replicate in watercolor, becoming trash can artists themselves. Each painting will have a posted caption describing what it reveals. These works will be displayed in the hall for other classes to view alongside the tenement model created after session 1.
With work samples (essay, shoebox diorama, and paintings) along with anecdotal notes of observations during discussions, the teacher will assess students' ability to:
- write a quality essay following an order that includes an opening statement, evidence to support ideas, and an effective closing. It is characterized by clarity of expression, substantive information, personal voice, and appropriate grammar and spelling.
- read with understanding as displayed in their discussions.
- effectively use visualizing skills as evidenced in their construction of a room or area (shoebox diorama).
- work effectively with partners and peers in the process of thinking and learning with texts.
- create a clear visual message in their trash can painting that replicates a Riis photograph.
- clearly express connections with the ideas presented in the issue with their own life experiences and world today (text-to-self and text-to-world connections).