Adventures in Literacy Land: comprehension strategy

Showing posts with label comprehension strategy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label comprehension strategy. Show all posts

Sowing The Seeds Of Vocabulary (Part Two)

Research says children that struggle with comprehension also struggle with vocabulary.  Wouldn't you like to have your quick and easy ways to expand your students' vocabulary and also strengthen their overall comprehension? Sowing The Seeds Of Vocabulary (the first in a series) will walk you through understanding and implementing vocabulary in your classroom.  Read this post and your students will thank you profusely. (See what I did there?)As we discussed in Part One research says children that struggle with comprehension also struggle with vocabulary.  This three part series lends quick and easy ways to expand your students' vocabulary and also strengthen their overall comprehension.  Please revisit Sowing The Seeds Of Vocabulary (Part One) to help you understand and implement vocabulary in your classroom.  This post (Part Two) will remind you how important it is to use Marzano's Vocabulary Process and Multiple Intelligence Theory to reach all students!

Word Callers Book Study - Chapters 7 & 8

I love the title of Chapter 7, "Connecting the Dots" because it is a great way to think about inferring, which is difficult for word callers.

Kelly Cartwright categorizes inferences into two types:  text-connecting and gap-filling.  Text-connecting inferences require a reader to connect two ideas from a text to construct an idea that is not explicitly stated in the text.  Gap-filling inferences require a reader to connect their background knowledge to a piece (or multiple pieces) of text information to construct meaning.  Word callers have trouble with inference because they have to connect MULTIPLE bits of information and talk/think about things that are not in the text.  What can we do to help them?  We need to "make students aware that there are hidden meanings in the text that must be discovered. (Cartwright, 2010, p. 98).

Working with students on an individual basis allows the teacher to provide more specific, feedback to that student.  Using the two-story clue hunt, helps students make text-connecting and gap-filling inferences by using clue words in the story to create those inferences.

How it works:
  • Explain to students that you will be solving a puzzle today as they read a story.  To solve the puzzle we are going to look for clue words.
  • Read the first story.  Identify the clue words and explain what the clue words reveal about the story.
  • Read the second story.  The student helps you identify the clue words and explains what they tell about the story.  For any clue words that the student doesn't identify, tell the clue words and work WITH them to develop an explanation.
Because word callers don't recognize reading as a meaning-making process, they need to be nudged in the right direction.

Three-step inference building is an intensive process that spans six to seven small-group lessons that result in students becoming active thinkers.

How it works:

  • Finding Clue Words (lessons 1, 2, & 3) - Students find clue words in sentences and discuss the meanings provided by the clue words.
  • Question Generating (lessons 4, 5, & 6) - Students become the teacher and ask questions using the clue words that will help their fellow students make inferences.
  • Making Predictions (lesson 7) - Use a story that has one sentence covered.  Have students use clues from the rest of the story to determine the meaning of the sentence covered.

Without explicit instruction in how to comprehend texts, we cannot expect word callers to become active readers.  We need to give these students a glimpse into the mind of a proficient reader by "actively engag[ing] students in a running conversation about texts' meanings and their own thoughts about those meaning while reading a text. (Cartwright, 2010, p. 113).  We can do these through a process called Transactional Strategies Instruction where strategies are blended into a meaning-making experience rather than taught and practiced in isolation.

How it works:
Gather a small group (this a conversational type strategy) and pick a common text to read.

  • Good Strategy Users - As you read the text, emphasize that good readers use strategies we can't see, highlight various strategies during the reading and explain the reasoning behind using that strategy
    • MEANING IS ALWAYS THE PRIMARY FOCUS not just using a particular strategy
  • Gradual Release of Responsibility - Provide a specific strategy for students to use.  Before asking them to use it, explain the reasoning behind using the strategy - How does it help a reader make meaning?
  • Collaborative Learning - This is a student-centered approach because the teacher releases responsibility to the students quickly.  Asking questions like "What makes you think that?" and having students explain their thinking to each other.
  • Interpretative Discussion - Teachers guide students' thinking by prompting them with strategy use questions instead of giving evaluative feedback.  Students contributions are valued and supported.
"TSI is about changing the way you teach, not just changing what you teach. (Cartwright, 2010, p. 114).

Questions to Consider (please use the comment section below to share your thoughts!)

Consider the difference between text-connecting and gap-filling inferences.  Have you noticed that your students find one ore the other more difficult?  Why do you think this is the cause?

How is TSI similar to your current comprehension instruction?  How is it different?

 photo thinkingoutloudtitle.png

4 Vocabulary Ideas to Avoid Reading Roadblocks

4 Vocabulary Ideas to Avoid Reading Roadblocks (Anchor Charts, Text Gradients, Diagrams, Act it out!)

I had the distinct privilege of presenting just recently at the Virginia State Reading Association Conference in Richmond.  One of the workshops was on Vocabulary.  I blogged briefly about this presentation in my latest blog post on my website, but thought I would give you a more in depth look at vocabulary here today.

Anchor Charts/Prediction Posters

4 Vocabulary Ideas to Avoid Reading Roadblocks (Anchor Charts, Text Gradients, Diagrams, Act it out!)
I am a big fan of Anchor Charts.  Done the right way, anchor charts are invaluable to your students. Anchor charts can be pre-made but must also allow for editing, if an unsuspected word misunderstanding occurs.  Pre-assessing a book for vocabulary roadblocks is a must.  Pulling out words you believe will create "comprehension potholes" or "run the story off the road" are a must for a successful Read Aloud. Before reading a book, introduce words to your students out of context.  Talk about the meaning.  Demonstrate the meaning.  Discuss how this particular word might be in this book.  You may even want to read the sentence from the story.  Preparing for vocabulary can help students spend time on higher order thinking than on the meaning of a single word.  One type of anchor chart is the Story Map.  Words from the story, both common and new, can be written on post-it notes given to the students before they read the book.  Students will predict if the words belong on the map in provided spaces:  Characters, Setting, Actions (verbs), Things (nouns) and New to You.  If they encounter a word while reading that needs to be moved on the chart...they can easily be moved.  

Text Gradients

4 Vocabulary Ideas to Avoid Reading Roadblocks (Anchor Charts, Text Gradients, Diagrams, Act it out!)
I actually LOVE text gradients.  Typically, text gradients are used in the upper elementary but every kindergarten teacher has tried to get her student's to use words more descriptive than small or big.  The famous "said is dead" refrain is heard in every first grade class.  So, let's talk primary text gradients.  A wonderful way "add color" to writing is using paint strips.  (I live in fear of paint strips eventually costing money.)  The paint strips can be put in library pockets in the writing center and students can take a color strip to make their elephant "enormous" or their ladybug "tiny."  


4 Vocabulary Ideas to Avoid Reading Roadblocks (Anchor Charts, Text Gradients, Diagrams, Act it out!)
Providing students with diagrams is a great way to introduce vocabulary that is both familiar and unknown.  When studying about bats, my students were excited to learn bats had thumbs.  They look very different from our thumbs, but they are still thumbs.  They were also intrigued by the membranes in their wings.  We compared the membranes to duck's feet.  We even found out turtles, otters and some reptiles have webbed feet.  Diagrams draw the student in and help them write about animals and make comparisons.

Act it Out!

4 Vocabulary Ideas to Avoid Reading Roadblocks (Anchor Charts, Text Gradients, Diagrams, Act it out!)
When we were preparing to read The Knight Before Dawn, I introduced some words to the students before we read.  One of the words was "precipice."  I needed to relate Jack dangling from a precipice on the castle tower to the students in my class.  First, I showed them pictures of large cliffs in the desert or on mountains. Then, we went to the playground.  The only cliff they really knew about was the playground equipment.  One at a time, the students went to the edge of the playground equipment and they yelled, "I AM ON THE PRECIPICE!"  Then they were allowed to jump off the "cliff."  Trust me they all knew what a precipice was and when Jack was hanging from the precipice they could anticipate his falling!  That's the power of vocabulary!

These are just a few ways you can make sure to introduce children to wonderful vocabulary words they can use to write, make connections, and understand.


Shades of Deep Thinking

Happy New Year Literacy Land friends!!  I am so excited to have been a part of this team for the last year.  This is my first post of 2015 but we are going to reflect back to 2014!
My first post last year was about how we (my teammate and I) implemented the reading salad outlined in Comprehension Connections by Tanny McGregor.  We found that it had a lasting impact to our year and we really wanted to do the lesson again with our firsties this year.  So we did.

We followed the different activities that Tanny McGregor has laid out in her book, including the reading salad, metacognition poster, and thinking stems.  But we made just a few changes to our instruction this year.

First of all, we decided to use the Otis books by Loren Long for all the metacognition lessons.

We found that these books are perfect for the lessons that we had outlined for the week because the stories follow a predictable pattern.  Otis has a friend that runs into a problem and Otis makes the choice to solve the problem.  The problems are hard to solve and you discover that Otis is brave, kind, caring, and an amazing friend to all.  This leads to some great connections, insightful thinking, fantastic conversations, and an ABSOLUTE love for the books.

We also decided to add more deep thinking to our reading salad.  Deeper thinking does not come easy to all of our little firsties.  But I wanted to make it as concrete and successful as our reading salad lessons have been. came to me!

My writing teammate and I use paint chips to teach adjectives and the "shades of meaning."  Our students really seem to understand that the deeper the color of paint chip, the richer the word is.  I decided that this would also work of thinking.  The deeper the color, the deeper the thinking.

I decided to start with making deeper connections because I found this to be a weakness during our DRA testing.  The firsties made many, many personal connections but not as many text to text or within text connections.  I created a poster that looked like this.

I modeled what this poster meant and how to use it by referring to the previous Otis books that we had read.  As I read a new Otis text, students shared their thinking to make a reading salad.  If a deeper connection was made, students got to put in a deeper, darker thinking strip.

By the end of the text, our salad was overflowing with deep connections and thinking.

To practice deep thinking the next day, we read another Otis book but used this poster:

Now that we have built a strong, concrete foundation for metacognition and deeper thinking, our students will know how to refer back to these posters and resources.

If you would like to use these posters in your classroom, you can download these sheets by clicking on the image below:

I hope these can help your students deepen their thinking, as well!  Happy thinking!


Have you Fallen in Love with Close Reading?

Hello Lit Land Readers!  I hope you're enjoying a happy Sunday, but if you're like me, you are most likely chained to your laptop today to fine tune your plans for the week. I'm here today from my home blog, Comprehension Connection, to gather and share my thoughts on Close Reading. In a few weeks, I am presenting a workshop for the staff at my school, so putting together this blog post will hopefully help me narrow down the important points I need to and want to share.

Last spring, Chris Lehman, author of the book, Falling in Love with Close Reading, presented at the Virginia State Reading Association conference which I attended. At the time, Close Reading was certainly becoming the rage in reading instruction, and although I'd read blog posts and purchased materials to use with my students, I wanted to know more.  Of course, I left with his book and a clearer picture of what I needed to do and how.
According to Chris, Close Reading is "making careful observations of something and then developing interpretations from those observations. In other words, we stop to look carefully at choices an author (or painter or musician or director or architect) has made, and then develop ideas from what we have noticed." In other words, students read with different lenses to match the purpose we give them and observe text evidence to fit that designated purpose. Readers use the Close Reading strategy to meet the expectations we set, and then, expand upon those observations by connecting to other texts, synthesizing the information for deeper meaning, and analyzing the author's style and word choice for example by citing the text evidence. Children need to see how the information they read connects to build the full meaning.

We want our readers to be strategic in their reading and thinking. We want them to observe the author's use of language to convey meaning and apply that learning in their own work.  I tell my students all the time that reading and writing go hand-in-hand. When I share a read aloud with them to introduce a new writing assignment, I'm not simply reading the book. We are ANALYZING the author's craft to apply it to our own writing ideas. The best way to become a strong writer is to read strong writing that is filled with vivid vocabulary, includes varied sentence length and type, that's well organized, and that shares a strong message or idea.  

As students work with the Close Reading strategy, their level of understanding improves.  With the first reading, I see my students navigate through the decoding process with some of the vocabulary, get the gist of the reading, and observe basic information with a pencil in hand to mark it.  They scratch the surface. With the second and third visits to the text, we hone in on specific skills, record annotations in the margins of the evidence that proves our thinking and that match the assigned purpose, and share our learning and opinions with one another.  It is through group discussions that we quickly see the depths of understanding our students have achieved.

Close Reading is a strategy that can be used with all sorts of text types, so don't confine it's practicality to just short fiction and nonfiction stories.  It works well with video clips, song lyrics, poetry, television ads, and movies. Students in middle school and high school have a need to talk and crave controversy.  Chris gives examples of how we as teachers can capitalize on that energy in studying point of view, argument, and text structure across multiple texts. Although Chris recommends Close Reading for grades 5-8, I believe this gives evidence of how the strategy can be used with younger students as well.  We can use Close Reading with poetry as we think about the author's choice of words and use of rhythm and rhyme, with class read alouds or youtube showings of a story, and with songs...even in kindergarten.  You see, kinders love to talk too, and they can be very observant. If you decide to wear one red sock and one blue, I would place a strong bet that you wouldn't make it through the day without your kinders telling you.

With all of this in mind, there is a routine that is used with Close Reading. Chris talks at length about what Close Reading is and is not, so be sure to use the term accurately. It is not answering the ol' textbook questions, listening to a read aloud, doing book reports, jotting post its (unless it's for a specific piece of evidence from the text), or filling out a worksheet. It is a strategic method of looking at and using text. It is about the interactions between reader and text, the ideas drawn from the reading, and the conclusions made. Here are the general steps I use when doing a Close Read with my students.

First Reading-Lenses
Ø Briefly assess schema for the text.
Ø Set the purpose for the reading lesson. Tell your students the text evidence they are to record.
Ø Keep each student actively engaged with the text by questioning their thinking. Flush out confusions and help the student clarify the meaning.
Ø Allow time for discussion and debriefing about the reading afterwards.  Students need to share their observations and respond to each other.  

Second Reading-Patterns
Ø Review previous observations briefly.
Ø Set a new purpose for the reading lesson. During the second reading, students begin to rank the importance of text information and observe how ideas are connected.
Ø Read and record new evidence to match the purpose.  (and improve reading fluency).
Ø After reading is completed, the response is the best assessment of understanding.  Students need to independently record their thinking and share it for clarification. 

Third Reading-Ideas
ØSet a new purpose for the reading lesson. During the last reading, students use high level thinking skills and observation to analyze the ideas shared.
ØReread all or part of the text to gather ideas.
ØAfter reading is completed, students respond with their learning via a written prompt or through discuss about their learning.
Lesson Example
I am sharing a sample lesson today with this post to show how I work with my students with a Close Read.  To begin, I use a before/during/after approach with every lesson, and Close Reading is no exception.  I build schema for the reading with my students typically with an organizer, anchor chart, or response form of some sort and a key question for them.  For this lesson, I plan to begin with a Penguins Tree Map for brainstorming prior knowledge followed by our first read.  During the first read, students are asked to find penguin characteristics.

On day 2, we will read to respond to the Four Squaring Thinking organizer. 
On the final day, students may reread the full article, but with the final day, the focus is using the information gathered to develop a writing plan that uses the information.  Students will explain how they'd use the information to protect endangered penguins.  

To download the Close Reading set I made, just click the collage below, and remember, throughout the process to talk less and observe your students' thinking.  

Have a wonderful Sunday, and now...I'm off to get my own plans done. Until next time..


Making Meaning of Main Idea

Hello, everyone!  It's Andrea from Reading Toward the Stars with an easy comprehension strategy for your students.

This year our school really needs to work on comprehension strategies to help our students understand what they are reading.  Not skills, but strategies!  Our students didn't score well on the reading or math assessments, so we are working hard to help those students become better readers.  Whatever we were doing before just wasn't working.

As the reading specialist, the teachers tell me what skills their students are lacking, and I work on the skills by giving the kids some strategies.  I love that our district uses Thinking Maps as a strategy to help students understand what they are reading or working through.

This week I have been working with my third grade group on finding the main idea of a fiction story and NOT retelling the story.  This is hard because kids want to tell you every single detail.  We have been reading this book from Mondo Publishing:  Edgar Badger's Balloon Day.

We have been reading chapter by chapter and focusing on the main idea or details.  Today we focused on both.  They read the third chapter of the book titled "The Wrong Day?"

After reading the chapter, we discussed the main idea and only the main idea.  This is tough for students.  They want to tell every.single.detail.  After talking about the main idea, we then listed some, not all, details to back up the main idea.

They wanted to give me every.single.detail again, but I helped them focus on what was important for the main idea.  This strategy helped them out so much, and the thinking map helped them to narrow down what was important information from the book.  Tomorrow, they are going to find the details for the chapter's main idea.  I hope this will help them as they think about what they are reading!

How do you help students focus on the main idea and details and NOT retell the entire story?