Text reading and comprehension – woo hoo! How exciting! Can’t wait to talk about it!! Yay!
I am kind of a wild gal – I like a good adventure and I don’t like the ho hum-ness of living a boring life. BUT one of the things that I’ve had to learn since I began my traveling life 10 years ago is ROUTINE and DISCIPLINE.
Yuck! These things sound horrid and so so boring, don’t they? (I’m nodding my head “yes” even as I type this!)
But the reality is, routine and discipline pave the way for having the ability for freedom and handling tasks that aren’t ho hum and boring! And that’s a good thing.
This is true for teaching kids to read, too! The routine and the discipline of reading tasks is directly related to our students’ ability to have some “fun” with reading. When they have the routine and discipline of reading tasks/skills down pat, then the party begins…they can read what they want to, when they want to and how they want to. No limits.
One of the ways that we need to develop independent readers (or what I’m calling “free readers” these days!) is to teach them to attack the text in a way that will benefit comprehension. Yes, I said “benefit comprehension” – because that’s what reading is all about: gaining meaning. Independent comprehension is completely and entirely dependent on your students’ ability to attack the text with comprehension at the forefront.
So here are a few ROUTINES that you need to be PRACTICING REGULARLY so that the skills become AUTOMATIC at independently comprehending text they read:
- Identify the Core Understandings and Key Ideas of the Text: Identify for kids WHAT you want them to learn from the text – – this teaches them to have expectations of the text and think, “Hmmm…what do I want to learn?” Note: This does NOT mean that kids are wildly setting unrealistic expectations of what they want to learn from the text – they have to use clues to make some expectations of text and it should make sense in light of the title, text structure, etc.
- Start Small to Build Confidence: Focus on a particularly challenging chunk of the text or a piece of the text that holds a lot of meaning and start there. Think about it – when you read, are you reading everything perfectly and completely? Or are you digging into particular pieces of the text that you can get a ton of meaning from? We need to model for kids that they need to be aware of the pieces of text that carry a lot of meaning – and TO SPEND TIME THERE. Help kids realize which parts are worthy of their analysis and dissection!
- Tackle Tough Sections Head-On: Model and teach kids to look ahead at the text and identify rich, challenging parts of the text right away. Teaching kids to manage tough sections is CRITICAL so that they don’t shy away and get intimidated and then quit the text before they’ve gathered all the meaning!
- Create Coherent Sequences of Text Dependent Questions: The questions that we ask must be text-dependent – this means that students have to have read the text to be able to answer them. (Think about it – if kids are really creative and very verbal, is it possible that they could answer some of your questions just by listening in to what other people are discussing about the text? Without even reading the text? I bet so!) This doesn’t mean that we just say, “Support your answer with examples from the text” after every question, but it does mean that we craft the questions so that they go from simpler, recall-like questions and move to more analysis and extension-type questions – this is what “coherent sequences of questions” means!
These 4-steps are a big key to kids becoming independent. And independent readers pass reading tests. And independent readers who pass reading tests tend to like to read. And independent readers who pass reading tests and like to read, more often than not, pass the state test. And kids who pass reading tests, like to read, ace the state test, tend to go to college or big after-high-school jobs.
Am I right?