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Comprehension

Snappy Responses on Challenging Text Debate

Last week, Valerie Strauss devoted her Washington Post space to an article challenging the idea of teaching with challenging text, including my articles. The posting got lots of response showing fundamental misunderstandings of the issues on this. I am reprinting some of those responses along with my rejoinders to those.

Q&A: A Closer Look at Close Reading

Q: While I understand the purpose of close-reading I don't understand why you should take the time to read deeper into a document. Some things were written simply and what we now interpret as a symbol, may not have been intended to be a symbol. How can we as readers determine what is meant to be read into and what is to be left alone?

At the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum in Walnut Grove, There’s Something for Everyone

Although the Ingalls family only lived in Walnut Grove for three years (on two different occasions — 1874–1876 and 1878–1879), the town has a strong connection to Laura and the Little House books because of its prominence in the TV series “Little House on the Prairie.” As we drove into the center of town, signs connecting the location to Laura abound, announcing “Walnut Grove, Childhood Home of Pioneer Author Laura Ingalls Wilder,” “Nellie’s Café” and “Ingalls Street.” But our first stop in Walnut Grove is dedicated to a thorough exploration of the

Participant or witness?

What’s the difference between participating and witnessing? And what does this have to do with books and children?

I had lunch with some longtime friends today and as we walked out together, my friend was telling me how she shared books with a group of children, the same group she had the opportunity to observe as they saw the same story read on a “smart board.”

Can teaching grammar benefit reading comprehension?

Is there a relationship between grammar and reading comprehension? Yes, says Timothy Shanahan on Shanahan on Literacy. In summarizing the research, Shanahan suggests "as students learn to employ more complex sentences in their oral and written language, their ability to make sense of what they read increases, too."

Learning from graphics

There's real value in spending instructional time helping kids decipher the information found in graphic form. Textbooks, nonfiction books, and magazines are chock full of diagrams, tables, charts, and graphs. Visual information used to be limited to bold words and captioned pictures, but nowadays infographics, maps, and interactive tools carry a lot of the content weight within a piece of text. Successfully navigating these graphics, especially in STEM and content-area subjects, will lead to greater comprehension.

Poetry: thinking outside of the genre!

I just LOVE teaching poetry! I try diligently to incorporate it throughout the year at various times for general exposure, and specifically to help my kiddos see that our reading strategies can be used across a wide variety of texts. The writers of the Common Core started including poetry in the majority of the reading standards, so students would have many opportunities to read, decipher and distinguish poetry that they enjoy … or don't! Poetry can be a very useful tool when helping students understand and compare text.

A few words about wordless picture books

Wordless picture books are books are told entirely through their illustrations — they are books without words, or sometimes just a few words. Sharing wordless books at home or at school gives us a chance to develop so many important literacy skills: listening, speaking, storytelling, vocabulary, comprehension, story structure, inference, cause and effect … the list goes on and on!

Creating avenues: helping below-level learners with the Common Core

We know them. We LOVE them. Our kiddos who fall just below that bar — the bar that the Common Core is challenging us to raise, day after day. I wholeheartedly believe that the Common Core is creating a climate of collaborative, critical thinkers that are raising the bar for THEMSELVES. But we still have our Tier II and Tier III punkins who need an extra boost.

Flipping the elementary classroom

Flipped classrooms are a hot topic right now. In case it's a new term for you, here's a brief description. A flipped classroom flips, or reverses, traditional teaching methods. Traditionally, the teacher talks about a topic at school and assigns homework that reinforces that day's material. In a flipped classroom, the instruction is delivered online, outside of class. Video lectures may be online or may be provided on a DVD or a thumb drive. Some flipped models include communicating with classmates and the teacher via online discussions.

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"To learn to read is to light a fire; every syllable that is spelled out is a spark." — Victor Hugo, Les Miserables