As you teach content areas to ELLs of diverse backgrounds, you may find that they struggle to grasp the content, and that they approach the content from very different perspectives. Drawing on your students’ background knowledge and experiences can be an effective way to bridge those gaps and make content more accessible. This article offers a number of suggestions to classroom teachers as they find ways to tap into the background knowledge that students bring with them.
For years, the field of reading education has been engaged in thinking about best practices. Explicit instruction in vocabulary, rereading and using digital textbooks to motivate children’s reading are among some of these updated best practices. Those in the reading community are urged to consider best practices, and how we may promote their uses, with high fidelity in classroom instruction.
Inferential comprehension requires both emotional intelligence and cognitive skills, however instructional comprehension strategies typically underemphasize the emotional contribution. This article documents an intervention used by diverse third grade students which centers on teaching story comprehension through character perspective-taking (i.e., Theory of Mind).
To comprehend a story or text, young readers need a threshold of knowledge about the topic, and tougher state standards place increasing demands on children’s prior knowledge. This article offers practical classroom strategies to build background knowledge such as using contrasts and comparisons and encouraging topic-focused wide reading.
Exposing young children to informational text early on can help them to handle the literacy demands of fourth grade and beyond. Practical instructional techniques can be used to promote understanding and enjoyment of informational texts. The three techniques described here — Text Impression, Guiding Questions, and the Retelling Pyramid — can help children become familiar with the language and structure of non-fiction books.
This article explains how to teach students to identify the compare-contrast text structure, and to use this structure to support their comprehension. It also shows how to use compare-contrast texts to activate and extend students’ background knowledge and expand and enrich their vocabulary.
In the last few years, an alarm has sounded throughout the nation’s middle and high schools: too many students cannot read well. It isn’t that they don’t know their ABCs or how to read words. It’s that they cannot understand or explain what they’re reading. Johnny can read, but he doesn’t understand.
Without a strong background in basic skills like decoding and vocabulary-building, reading comprehension is impossible. This article offers research-based strategies for building on these and other skills to increase student understanding of what is read.
As you teach content areas to ELLs of diverse backgrounds, you may find that they struggle to grasp the content, and that they approach the content from very different perspectives. Drawing on your students’ background knowledge and experiences, can be an effective way to bridge those gaps and to make the content more accessible. This article offers a number of suggestions to classroom teachers as they find ways to tap into the background knowledge that students bring with them.
This study describes a second-grade science curriculum designed to individualize student instruction so that students, regardless of initial science and literacy skills, gain science knowledge and reading skills. The instruction incorporates flexible, homogeneous, literacy skills-based grouping, use of leveled science text, and explicit use of discussion and comprehension strategies.
Learning critical thinking skills can only take a student so far. Critical thinking depends on knowing relevant content very well and thinking about it, repeatedly. Here are five strategies, consistent with the research, to help bring critical thinking into the everyday classroom.
This article explains how to create and use a daybook in the literacy classroom. Readers learn what a daybook is, how the daybook in one fourth and fifth grade classroom is structured, and how students in this classroom use that daybook during reading instruction to engage, record important information, and discuss a text.
This teaching tip highlights a strategy that assists teachers in structuring classroom discussions about texts. Specifically, this conversational technique helps students think and talk about a text beyond its literal meaning. Students learn to make decisions about why a particular phrase is the Most Valuable Phrase (MVP) within a text as a whole.
Introducing elementary-aged students to local and community news through the newspaper can help them strengthen comprehension and research skills. Community news keeps it relevant to the kids, enhancing motivation to discuss and learn more about what they are reading. Classroom activities are included in this article.
Combined-text books integrate a story format and an expository or informational format within one book. When used for instruction, combined-text books are best read in layers: illustrations; informational text; narrative text; and additional details, such as sketches and page borders. Addressing various layers individually during read-alouds provides a perfect opportunity to model revisiting text for various purposes.
Dialogic reading involves an adult and child having a dialogue around the text they are reading aloud together. Learn how to use this strategy effectively to help kids build vocabulary and verbal fluency skills and understand story structure and meaning. Downloadable handouts to help guide parents in using dialogic reading are available in English and 14 other languages.
This commentary discusses what disciplinary literacy is and why it is important. It then discusses the ways in which elementary school teachers can infuse aspects of disciplinary literacy into elementary instruction. It argues that the Common Core Standards, even those at the K-6 level, are providing avenues for preparation for disciplinary literacy.
Learn how technology tools can support struggling students and those with learning disabilities in acquiring background knowledge and vocabulary, improving their reading comprehension, and making connections between reading and writing.