Posts Tagged ‘reading strategies’
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!
Rereading is one of those reading strategies that is paramount to a reader’s comprehension. When we want to clarify our understanding of a text, we reread; when we need to summarize an article, we reread; when we do research, we reread. Reread, reread, reread. But let’s face it, students are not fans of rereading. Instead, they want to read quickly, move on and be done with it.
Music is one way we can reinforce the importance of rereading for understanding. Let’s call this relistening. (That’s not a real word, by the way… )
I listen to music every day with my students. Doing so is a great way to build community as well as expose them to a variety of musical genres and artists. In addition we do a lot with literacy skills; rereading is one of them. Actually, it’s the relistening. I will have my students focus on one piece of music for an entire week (we listen each day during our snack time) and it’s during that time that we are relistening to excerpts of the piece and the piece as a whole. Each time we listen again, I ask them different questions about the music. “What instruments are playing?” “How would you describe the tempo?” “Sing the melody back to me.” And for each prompt, some students know right away, while others need to hear the music again. And so we relisten.
After doing this a few times, I draw students’ attention to how we do the same thing when we read. If we are unclear about an event, who a character is or where exactly things are happening, we need to take the time to reread.
When you compare listening to reading, often students understand the concept a little better because they are exposed to it in a new way through music. For so many students music is a natural motivator, so practicing this way is actually a treat. For others this is a new and abstract way of thinking and so it stretches their minds.
You don’t have to be a master musician yourself to do this, you just have to enjoy music yourself. Actively listen to the music with your students and think of some questions you can ask them. Start with questions dealing with instrumentation, tempo (music’s speed), dynamics (musical volume) and pitch (high and low notes). Not every student’s hand will go up, so use this opportunity to relisten to an excerpt with your students. In no time, your students will find clues in the music to help them come to an answer to your prompt as they become better listeners. In time, your students will start to see the importance of going back to relisten and also reread for understanding.
Over the last week, my students have been practicing the comprehension strategy Monitor and Clarify while reading a variety of texts in groups, individually and online. I have found this strategy to be a great one to begin the year as it gets students to become aware that they need to monitor themselves and then check for clarification. As I look out at the faces in my room I am seeing struggling readers make positive eye contact with me as I emphasize that ALL readers must monitor themselves and strong readers begin to see the benefits of slowing down to monitor their reading and thinking.
The strategy itself is simply called Monitor and Clarify, but I have added in a Pause. Just like we can pause a song or a movie, we can also pause our reading at various points in a text. Maybe we want to take in the scene or think about the actions of a character or consider what we may do in a similar situation. The pause is an important part of the reading process.
It is during that pause that a reader can decide what to do to help them to clarify. Strong readers tend to instinctively know what to do, so this pause is a way to get them to acknowledge the thinking they do as they read. For a struggling reader, the pause is a chance to look over a list of “fix-up” strategies such as reread, read on, look at the pictures for clues or look something up, and then follow through with one or more.
For each comprehension strategy, I like to make a simple logo, a visual symbol that represents what the strategy means and then I ask the students to create on too. (Often it will look similar to mine, which is fine.) For Monitor and Clarify I use an M and a C with two vertical lines between the letters to represent the pause, just as we see on a play/pause button on a DVD or MP3 player.
M || C
That’s it – a simple way to visually define the strategy and emphasize the pause.
In what ways do you explain or practice Monitor and Clarify?
Would you like to read A Noodle Up Your Nose?
What do you think it could be about?
Why do you think the author chose to give that name to a book?
What do you predict could happen in this story?
What images do you have in your mind just caused by the title?
Would your predictions change based on what you might see on the cover of a book?
Could your predictions change based on what you might read on the back of the book?
How could the answers to the first several questions change after reading a page or two of this book?
How do you think predictions would change after you read the first chapter of the book?
What information do you use to make predictions for a story?
Here is the summary of the book here on Big Universe:
When Violet thinks that she isn’t invited to Kate’s birthday party, she spreads rumors that threaten to ruin everything.
Kate has decided on a pirate theme for her party. She thinks that seven is going to be the best age to be. Her friend Jake is going to teach her to ride a two-wheeler. And her party is going to be fabulous. That is, until Violet starts spreading stories. Kate goes right on with her planning, but she is worried. When Violet is the only one to show up on the big day, Kate thinks that her worst fears have come true.
Was your prediction correct based on the name of the book?
What happens if your prediction is not correct?
Do you make a new set of predictions?
How can making predictions and thinking about what you are reading help make you a better reader?
This is one of the ultimate goals of reading instruction: get your students to think about their reading. We teach them skills strategies for comprehension and then give them time to practice under our guidance as well as on their own. Readers learn best when they are reading and one way I’ve found that my students start to understand what their brains are doing while they read is to keep a journal.
Many teachers do this. You may ask your students to write down what they are thinking as they read. Sometimes this is done in a journal, a separate piece of paper or on sticky notes. One method I’ve learned is for readers to write double entries in a journal. For this, students create a two column chart in their journal, titling the left side “Text” and the right side “Reflection.” When they come to something in the text that resonates with them, they can take a moment to write down what they read and then what they were thinking. they may also decide to read the passage first and then go back to write in their journals.
We use our reading group times to have a grand conversation about what students have written in their journals. We also take time to look at our reflections and identify them according to reading strategies. Students often make connections in their reflections, but also will ask questions, make predictions, and infer about what they have read. Taking the time to notice these things (and mark them in their journals) can be a helpful way to allow students to understand how they think while they read.
A couple weeks back I posted this question to my fourth grade students as a way to get them thinking about their own reading habits: “What do good readers do?” I wrote it on a white board easel and left it up for a week. Kids covered it with ideas!
“Good readers think about what’s going on in the story or text.”
“Good readers look at the pictures because they sometimes help them figure out what’s going on in the story.”
“Good readers use the five finger rule (to help them pick out a book).”
“Good readers use context clues.”
“They chose an interesting book, not a boring one.”
“Good readers make predictions.”
I was so happy to see how many things they came up with. (I forgave the spelling, as you may see.) Their ideas ranged from picking out a book and prereading strategies to comprehension and word attack skills. It was a great opportunity for me to see that the students really are listening to us teachers!
After the week was up, we took some time to go over all their ideas and discuss them. I was so pleased to have such a lively conversation about reading with my students. Because their ideas drove the discussion, they were excited to talk about what they had added to the board. My hope is to revisit this activity again in a month or so and see what other things they can think of.
So what was the moral of the story? For me, it was a reminder that students need to both show what they know and take ownership of their own learning. I didn’t give them a list of what good readers do, they came up with it themselves. That will make a much bigger impression in the long run.
Do you ever look for resources to help you explicitly teach your child comprehension strategies when reading? Good readers use these strategies without even thinking about it. It is our job as parents and educators to teach our children how to use these strategies so that they become second nature to them as they read independently. You can use the book I’ve focused on or any of the books on Big Universe.
Making connections is often the easiest of the common comprehension strategies to model for children as well as for them to learn and use. There are three types of connections a reader may make when trying to understand a text: Text-to-Self, Text-to-Text, and Text-to-World.
When a reader makes a text-to-self connection, he relates the book back to himself. When he makes a text-to-text, he relates the book to another book he has read, and when he makes a text-to-world connection he relates the book to something in the world (current events, a movie, etc.)
During the holidays, families often travel to visit grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. The Relatives Came is a perfect book to use to model for your child how to make connections. In the story, the relatives pile into their station wagon and drive all day and night to visit the family. Some connections you might make when reading aloud to your child:
- Hmm, this reminds me of the summers/holidays I spent in our family station wagon driving to my grandmother’s house.
- My grandmother and aunts and uncles liked to hug a lot, too.
Use your read aloud time to sneak in some comprehension strategy lessons without missing a beat. The likelihood is that you will discuss the book anyway, so make your discussion a bit more focused and your child will begin to learn a few strategies as you model them. As you read aloud other books to your child, note when you make connections and point them out to your child. If your child makes his/her own connection as you read, explain to him that he made a connection and tell him what type he made.
Dawn Little (aka Links to Literacy) also blogs at www.teachingwithpicturebooks.wordpress.com where she provides educators with picture book lessons based on comprehension strategies and the Six Traits of Writing. In addition, she blogs at www.literacytoolbox.wordpress.com where she provides educators and parents with tips and tools to enhance the literacy lives of children. She is the founder and owner of Links to Literacy, a company dedicated to providing interactive literacy experiences for children and families. Find out more at www.linkstoliteracy.com
You may recognize the author, Jon Scieszka, the author of The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales, and The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs! (If you don’t know the two books, stop reading right now and go get them. They are funny, engaging and will appeal to the most hesitant of readers.) What I love about Scieszka’s writing is that it is electrifying. Kids just want to read his books again and again. The Book that Jack Wrote will be a springboard for many educationally valuable activities that can be implemented by parents and teachers alike.
1. Memorization has gone out of favor in some educational circles, but remains a valuable skill for children. The Book that Jack Wrote employs a cumulative pattern that will be famliar to the reader, creating a template for memorization with ease.
2. As children are memorizing, they may be motivated to perform their recitation of the book. Public speaking and vocal performance are both wonderful activities for children.
3. The allegorical references in the book may inspire students to make connections in their reading. The adult may set up the challenge: “As you read, you will find references to characters and events from other stories. See if you can find them all.” Then go back to the original source of the characters and events. Making connections is a valuable reading strategy for all readers to learn.
4. Students may want to create their own “cumulative” stories, either using Jack or another initiating character.
5. Everyone will enjoy discussing the genre of “humor”: what makes Jon Scieszka’s writing so wonderful? You will also enjoy studying closely the illustrations by Daniel Adel.