Strategies That Work
Chapter Reflection for 3, 4, & 7
“Teaching kids to comprehend means we show them how to construct meaning when they read. Strategy instruction is all about teaching the reader not merely the reading” (p.31).
This chapter stood out to me for many different reasons. The most important one that really stuck with me is actually from the very beginning of the chapter. The story about Anne and her class grabbed my attention because I have been in both positions. I have been the student- confused and unsure of what I what I was supposed to be filling in the chart with. On the flip side I have also been in the position of the educator who realizes that I didn’t give enough instruction to my students. I related to both sides and was excited to see that right after that was a list of comprehension strategies that teachers can use and give to their students to enhance their own understanding of the reading.
I selected a few strategies that I really thought would be most beneficial for myself and strategies I definitely want to remember to give my students later on down the road.
Comprehension Strategies (p. 32):
- Teach with the end in mind
- Plan instruction that is responsive to the individual needs of students
- Model use of comprehension strategies over time
- Model oral, written, and artistic responses to the text
- Provide opportunities for guided and independent practice
- Make sure students have many opportunities to talk to each about their reading
- Take time to observe and confer directly with students and keep records of those observations and conferences to assess progress and inform instruction
Ensuring that my students not only read the reading but also understand what they read is one of my top priorities as a future educator.
“The think-aloud shows kids how skillful readers think--- how we activate our background knowledge, ask questions, draw conclusions” (p.46).
After our class discussion and reading this chapter it has really solidified in my mind how important it is that we not only instruct but model the strategies that we want our students to use. Using effective techniques like thinking aloud shows students the mental process we, as the master of the topic, use to comprehend what we are reading. I believe that some of the many students that struggle with reading comprehension struggle because they were never shown how to read efficiently. I also think that incorporating “jobs” for readers within a reading circle gives them responsibility to ensure they do the reading but also to ensure that they process and try to understand what they read.
In my group for our class I was the illustrator tasked with the responsibility of illustrating a scene from the book. I was responsible though for explaining my thught process after which caused me to think harder about what I read, what parts I wanted to take from the text, and how to explain why I chose that part. We are the most effective tool a student has to become a great reader. Modeling comprehension strategies such as making connections, forming question/inferences while reading, and using context clues to decipher word meaning will enable our students to be more successful.
“Once they become aware of these elements, readers know what to expect when they read a novel, pick up the newspaper, follow a manual, or glance at an advertisement” (p. 101)
Students having background knowledge while they read is essential for them to understand their text. Without background knowledge on the content, genre, or format students may become confused on what to read first and which sections should take priority. Examples that I feel are important to point out would be newspapers, novels, and scientific research.
Never being taught myself how to read a newspaper correctly, I know how difficult it can be to maneuver through. Articles start on one page then finish on another and certain pictures go with certain stories. If not taught properly how to read an article they may start with a story about Dinosaurs and end up reading about the extinction of the Dodo Bird. This is unproductive and hinders the comprehension of the students.
The other aspect is Novels which many would consider to be a ‘no brainer’. However, it need to be considered that many of these students have just learned to read. They haven’t developed the basic skills necessary to be able to read unfamiliar formats. Do they read the publishing information at the beginning? Should they skip the acknowledgements? What do they do if they come across vocabulary they are unsure of? These are all steps that students have to take but unless shown how to take them won’t be able to gain a full comprehension.
Scientific research is also often overlooked when teachers assign reading materials. A student cannot read a chart, table, graph, or know what to do with parentheses if they’ve never been introduced to them. It’s essential though in a science class to be able to not only rad but analyze data in of these forms.
With these examples in mind and many more to consider it is easy to see how and why students need our assistance to navigate literacy. No matter how proficient a student may seem they will eventually come across a text they’re unfamiliar with. As educators it is our responsibility to give them the tools to efficiently and effectively navigate unknown genre, format, and content.