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Comprehension

Infographics for young kids

There seems to be an explosion of infographics these days! If you're not familiar with that term, an infographic is a visual representation of information or data. A lot of information can be displayed visually, both quickly and clearly (at least most times). As someone who has always been drawn to the visual display of information, I love a well done infographic. And I think they have potential value for the elementary classroom too, although most are designed for older students.

How important is it to match a reader to a text?

The Common Core Standards are national standards in English Language Arts and Mathematics. They've been adopted by over 45 states and six provinces, including Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. According to the Common Core website the standards "provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them.

Picture books in science class

We all love picture books, and hopefully a really good one finds its way into your hands at least once a day. What might happen less frequently is that you use a picture book to help you teach science. I've got a great resource (with a free PDF!) that will hopefully encourage you to use more picture books in science.

Comprehension posters for your classroom

I recently stumbled on a site that promises to consume far too much of my time! But I love the possibilities of Pinterest, a virtual pinboard. Pinterest lets you organize and share all the great things you find on the Web in a very visual way. It's free to join, but there's an invitation process you'll see on the site.

Alternatives to oral retellings

Many teachers and parents ask children to retell a story as a quick, informal way to assess a child's comprehension. Retelling can work well, but it's not without its pitfalls. For starters, it can be difficult to keep a group's attention while one student is doing a retelling. For another, a student may leave out an entire part of the story (that he understood) merely because he accidentally left it out. If the adult is familiar with the story, it's easy to step in and ask a question about the missing part.

Making meaning

Sometimes books come with separate pieces that can be manipulated, adding a special dimension. Books are turned into games, mysteries, or some other kind of activity. Some are successful, others not so, but each of these books tries to engage, entertain, educate, and stimulate readers' interest.

Reflecting on student use of strategies

Teachers spend lots of time teaching strategies to students to aid with their reading comprehension. Our classroom strategy section is chock full of ideas for integrating strategies into content area lessons, and many of our strategies include video showing a real teacher using the strategy in a real setting.

Books + preschoolers = magic

I spent this morning with an astute group of art critics who judiciously examined several picture books, noting specific tools and techniques used by various illustrators. The evaluators were able to gain nuanced meaning from the use of line, color, and even the placement on the page.

Not one of the critics was older than 4 years. You see, I had been invited to a preschool classroom to talk about the Caldecott Medal.

Monitoring self-monitoring

I recently read a post about recognizing, teaching, and supporting self-monitoring behaviors in young readers. The post describes two readers: David, who asks questions and self corrects word errors as he reads, and Frannie, who plows through text regardless of errors that either change the meaning of the text, include nonsense words, or don't make any sense at all. The author stresses how important it is for readers to think about what they are saying as they read.

Teaching nonfiction text features

How much nonfiction do your students read? Probably not enough, according to Jay Mathews at the Washington Post. In a blog entry from February 2010, he uses the What Kids Are Reading report that describes what 4.6 million students in grades 1-12 read during 2008-2009 as evidence.

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"Wear the old coat and buy the new book." — Austin Phelps