Getting students to understand not just a reading strategy, but the terminology for each strategy seems to be one of the keys for me. If I just keep using the words monitor and clarify, visualize, and infer, for example, a lesson, or part of it may just go in one ear and out the other. I cannot just assume that students know what we mean when we use all that "reading lingo" even if they've been hearing it for years.
This year, I have been taking my time in making sure my students really know the name of each strategy as well as how to use it. Here are some activities I've done to help students with this.
Ways to Teach the Lingo
- Post the term (the strategy) in the room so that students get used to seeing the words.
- Discuss what the lingo means. For example, look up the words monitor and clarify and discuss why the strategy is named this.
- Discuss situations when you would use this strategy, putting emphasis on and using the words from the strategy name.
- As you model how to use the strategy, emphasize the name of the strategy as you think out loud.
Ways to Practice the Lingo
- Ask students to explain why a strategy is called what it is called. You may need to model this at first. For example, "When I read, I monitor myself and if I don't understand something, I pause and clarify so that I do understand."
- Have students come up with a logo or icon to go with the strategy you are learning. For my icon for Monitor and Clarify, I make a small rectangle, and inside, I draw a capital M, then two parallel lines to represent a pause and a capital C. M || C
- Read! The best practice for reading is to READ! And while students are reading, invite them to write down (in a graphic organizer) when they use the strategy and what they do. The key here is getting students to fully understand what they are doing as they read. That's why I enjoy teaching reading strategies in the fourth grade. They have reading pretty much under their belt and are ready to start thinking about their reading.
Ways to Assess the Lingo
- Have students write a definition of the strategy using the words from the strategy correctly. When I ask them to do this, I give them a time limit (90-120 seconds). Anyone who does not pass, gets the chance to discuss the definition again and then retake the quiz at a later date. Because it is such a quick check in, this takes no time as all.
- Listen and observe. Watch your students and listen to them read. Ask them questions about what it is they are doing as they read and jot down notes in a journal or on a checklist.
My students seem to think it's great to learn about the lingo to reading as much as they learn how to use the strategies. In this way, they are taking more ownership over their learning. And if that's the case, more learning and growing can happen!