Posted in Professional Development, Summer Reading, Teaching

Thoughts on Summer Reading Part 2

Back to Questions from the Classroom.  The book seems to be pushing the research process in a specific and structured manner as a way to teach reading comprehension skills.  While I’m a fan of the research process, I feel that the I-Search Process is the better way to go.  Reflection and personal engagement with the topic is crutcial when devoting so much time to a project.  The students need to feel connected to what it is they are learning about, especially when it comes to research.  I won’t hold this negative aspect against the book, but I disagree with their proposal.

However, on a positive note, I did learn about three new activities that I feel would be useful in the classroom.

The first is a methodical way to teach the reading strategy of making predictions.  While I did teach that skill his past year, there was no rhyme or reason to it.  I just explained what a prediction is and how to make them with support from the text.  The students practiced it on several occasions before they were assessed on it.  The book explains a process referred to as Imagine, Elaborate, Predict, and Confirm (IEPC).  When reflecting on a text, the students should visualize what it is they’re reading so as to capture the moment and engage with the story or text.  Then, the students need to use these sensory imaginings as a way to connect with the text.  During the Elaborate phase, the students will ask lots of questions and try understand the story or novel on a high level.  The students will then make a prediction based on this prior knowledge and complete understanding of the story.  As they continue reading the book, they will then confirm their prediction.  A good follow-up activity would be to have the students reflect on the whole process in writing once they have found out if their prediction was accurate or not. This would allow for them to assess their understanding of the strategy and be able to “see” how effective  making  predictions can be to the entire reading process.  I can’t wait to try this activity in the class when teaching the strategy of making predictions this upcoming year.

Another cool idea the authors explained in the book is about focused reading.  They refer to it as a Reading Road Map.  This activity would be used with nonfiction texts in History, Math, or Science.  The teacher would create a Road Map Guide for the reading.  It would include headings and specific page numbers from the text.  For example: If you want the students to pay attention to graphs or maps in the reading, you would tell the students to follow the route the settlers took to venture west on page 48 by tracing it with their finger.  You might have a small image of the map on the worksheet as a way to focus and remind students of the task at hand.   As students generally skip images and diagrams in assigned readings, this road map guide would help the students pay attention to these ever important aspects of the text.  This would be a good activity to use in STEM or Humanities when the students are using a common text.  It makes the reading process more tangible and focused for the students.  It is also another opportunity for the students to practice utilizing their ever crucial reading comprehension skills.

A final fun activity that I want to try in my Astronomy STEM unit is called the Ten Important Words Plus activity.  The students will read a common text and pull out the ten most important words.  They would define each term in their own words in a sentence.  They would write the word and its definition on a sticky note that they would then stick to a board or poster in the classroom that would contain every student’s ten words.  Then, the students would begin a discussion about the words.  What words did the students have in common or different?  Why?  What do the words tell us about the text?  Then, the students would create a one-sentence summary of the text using the words they chose as important.  This would allow for the students to engage with the text and find the words they view as importamnt instead of only looking for the words that I as the teacher deem important.  This way they own their learning.  It is also a great way to assess a student’s ability to extract the main idea from a text.  Awesome idea.

I’m not even halfway through the book and I already feel as though I have gained much knowledge and many ideas from this text.  I can’t wait to see what I will learn next.

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Author:

I teach sixth grade at Cardigan Mountain School in Canaan, NH. I'm currently ensconced in my fourteenth year at this small, independent boys' school. I love engaging students in relevant and hands-on learning. I was nominated for the NH Teacher of the Year Award in 2016 by a parent. While I love education and guiding students, my first passion is my family. I have a wonderful son, Jeffrey, and a beautiful and intelligent wife, Kim. I couldn't be happier. Every day is the best day of my life.

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