Last week I attended a Heinemann Workshop, “Tapping the Power of Thinking to Teach Reading Comprehension”, featuring Ellin Oliver Keene.
If you have not heard her speak, find a workshop to attend! If you have not read either Mosaic of Thought or To Understand, get a hold of those books and read them.
By posing these three questions she raised the bar of the workshop and my own thinking:
~How can we raise expectations by rethinking our definition of comprehension?
~ Buying time: What matters most in literacy learning?
~Teaching Tactics: What do effective comprehension teachers do?
Keene often refers to a student, Jamika, whose question: “What does make sense mean?” challenged Keene’s thinking about comprehension. Is it retelling or answer questions? Is it something else? What does it mean to understand deeply?
This year my school has been involved with teaching the 7 thinking strategies. I agree with Keene that they are tools to get to a deeper level of comprehension. It’s a challenge in the 30 minutes I see most students to go deep, to go to synthesis.
Here are some “Notes to Self”
Note to Self: Reading aloud helps at least 50% of students to comprehend better. Others need to re-read.
Note to Self: Fluency is not the reading rate but rather the reader knowing to vary the speed of reading based on the demands of the text and purpose for reading.
Note to Self: When I read aloud, it’s okay to think out loud. In fact pausing and thinking out loud gives students a process to use as well.
Note to Self: Modeling and demonstrating are part of the successful strategies for comprehension.
Note to Self: Time for independent reading and writing is critical.
Note to Self: Time to interact with each other. Over the years I have done less projects after a story and more time talking about the story with students.
Note to Self: Probably one of my favorites: Students do well to have 50% of their reading choices at a leveled text BUT the other 50% should and can be with stimulating text that are challenging and students have to grapple with it. I have always believed that when a student is interested in the text, they will find a way to make sense of it.
Note to Self: Make sure that you ask students how their thinking has changed by reading a book. This really gets to the synthesis part. If a student doesn’t synthesize, they have usually made up their mind and won’t change it.
Perhaps my biggest surprise was how accessible Keene was in her presentation. Her books are great reads but they are a bit daunting. They are not your bedtime reading books. They are meant to be read with someone so that you can dialog about the book.
Nonfiction Monday is hosted by Anastasia Suen at Picture Book of the Day.
Happy Monday. Happy Reading.