Strategies That Work

Chapter 1 and Chapter 2

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To Summarize...

Chapter 1: Reading Is Thinking

In Chapter 1 of Strategies That Work: Teaching Comprehension for Understanding and Engagement--2nd Edition by Stephanie Harvey and Anne Goudvis, we learned that thinking is not only a huge part of reading; reading IS thinking. As we read, thoughts, knowledge, and prior experiences come to mind. Strategic readers will use these thoughts to to make connections and ask questions that will help them make better sense of what they are reading.

When we read, we are decoding words as well as making meaning of the words. As teachers, we need to teach our students not only how to decode words, but also to understand the words and concepts that they are reading about. We must enhance understanding for our young readers because if they can not understand and comprehend what they are reading, why read at all?

In this chapter, we learned a few strategies that we can teach our students to use in order to construct meaning from the text that they are reading. A few of these strategies are: 1) Searching for connections between what they know and the new information that they are encountering. 2) Asking questions of themselves, the authors they encounter, and the texts they read. 3) Drawing inferences during and after reading, and 4) Distinguishing important from less important ideas in the text. These are just a few examples of strategies that work for proficient readers.

We also learned that using explicit instruction when teaching reading is extremely important. It is much more effective to show children how to do something rather than just telling them what they are supposed to be doing. A good way to do this is to model strategies such as questioning, visualizing, and making connections while reading aloud to the class. When students know how to use strategies in order to connect and engage with a story, they will be more likely to look forward to reading.

Chapter 2: Reading Is Strategic

In this chapter, we learned that proficient readers are strategic and read with a purpose. The purpose of reading is always understanding. We must teach our students to adapt strategies to use to achieve their purpose for reading. In order to determine which strategies are best for which purposes, we must be aware of how a student thinks and uses strategies when they are reading.

We learned that there are four common types of learners/readers. These are 1) Tacit learners/readers, 2) Aware learners/readers, 3) Strategic learners/readers, and 4) Reflective learners/readers. If we can teach our students comprehension strategies as well as when/how to use these strategies, they will always be able to construct meaning as they read.

Sometimes, students will be so focused on trying to decode the words that they won't be as concerned about making meaning of what they are reading. We want students to be able to monitor their own reading and be aware of when they are or are not understanding something. If they can realize that they are having a problem with comprehension, hopefully they will be able to choose a strategy to use that aligns with their purpose for reading in order to help them further understand what they are reading. This is the goal, and if we have taught them well, they will be able to apply these strategies on their own in time.

"Questions are at the heart of teaching and learning. Human beings are driven to make sense of their world. Questions open the doors to understanding. Questioning is the strategy that propels readers forward."

My Reflection

I agree that when you are reading, you are automatically thinking. You are decoding the words and saying them out loud or to yourself in your head, but so many other things are also happening at the same time. You really are thinking about what you're reading and how it connects to other things you have learned, how it connects to your own life experiences, and many other thoughts. Proficient readers do these things almost automatically, but it wasn't always this easy for them. I like the strategies that are presented in these two chapters. I think that one of the best ways to teach students how to make connections, ask questions, and read with purpose, on top of decoding the words, is to model it for them. Showing them rather than telling them will be a lot more effective. In my own experiences as a student, I know how frustrating it can be to have to do an assignment and not know what to do or how to begin. I wish that my teachers could have shown me what to do more often than they would just tell me to follow the directions at the top of the paper. Reading is a lot harder than it seems. You are supposed to be understanding and connecting to what you're reading, but you also have to be able to read the words in the first place. We must teach our students to do all of these things. If they can decode the words but not understand what they are reading, it won't do them much good. It is up to us to teach them these strategies and model them so that one day, they will be able to do it all on their own, and actually enjoy it, too. Reading is so important because it is used in so many aspects of our life. I agree that there is a lot of pressure on teachers who teach reading and comprehension, but I also believe that it must be so rewarding for these teachers to watch their students go from beginning readers to proficient, active readers who monitor their own comprehension and are able to apply strategies on their own.
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"Meaning doesn't arrive fully dressed on a platter. Readers make meaning."

Bonnie Davidson

Professor Lane Clarke

EDU 382 A

January 27, 2016