Friday, November 22, 2013

Strategies to Help Readers When They Struggle

My kids read well. I know it's awful to brag like that, but they've worked hard at it, and I'm proud of them. They're proud of themselves, which is even better. My daughter (8) is very casual and matter-of-fact about things, so she doesn't talk about much, but my son (6) is obsessive. He loves his teachers, and he loves talking about fun things that he's learned, especially when fun animals and their names are involved. Both kids love technology and love to teach, by the way, so creating this chart based on some of the literacy strategies my son came home with was a great time full of suggestions and giggles from each, with a bit of tech assistance from me. I am fascinated by elementary literacy work, believing that it's not only a true joy to share reading with young children, but also that there is no better gift we can give to kids than to help them access and truly revel in the pleasure of story telling, information consumption and the critical and creative thinking that go hand in hand with all quality text. If we could truly get to a place where we were universally getting early childhood literacy right - a place, I believe that the CCSS can bring us - kids would be in good shape. Helping them handle a trouble spot on a page, or a troubling page for that matter, is a first step that I hope the chart below can help with.

Elementary Reading Strategies

I spent a lot of my career working in and chairing secondary English departments. I am a tremendous proponent of schools guiding their practices around the inclusion of modern literacies. I cringe when secondary teachers say that teaching reading isn't their job, which I've heard from English teachers as well as other content area teachers. If we can't help students access, consider, make sense of and communicate ideas about information and people, we've lost the fight. So, I was thinking to myself about a secondary version of "Chunky Monkey," "Eagle Eye," and "Loggy Froggy." I'm not officially trained as a literacy instructor, but after some consideration and a bit of research, I came up with these seven components to literacy instruction.

Secondary Reading Strategies

These are all very important and highly useful. I would bet that they could play a role in just about any text you'd like your students to experience, or anything they find on their own. I'm sure you noticed, though, that I gave the most geography to "Asking Questions." This, in my opinion, is the holy grail of instruction. It allows students to engage each other and the text at multiple levels of abstraction. It creates a shared experience with a text. It helps students identify things that they are truly unsure of or curious about. It's the basis of inquiry and engagement. It's the reason why I love the follow-up chart so much. Looking it over for the first time, a major joy came over me when I realized that I could use this at any time for a host of reasons in a number of ways. I'll give you a few minutes to look at it and consider its potential before you scroll past and see the beginning of my suggestions.

DOK Questioning Chart.pdf

Can you imagine: Starting in the top left and moving around to the bottom right as a class is introduced to and then begins to grapple with new material? Students writing their own questions, some from each quadrant, as a review at the end of a unit or as a "do now" after completing a reading for homework? Including all of your students in a class discussion by allowing less confident students answer more accessible questions until they are showing a willingness to chime in during class? Formatively tracking which types of questions seem to be a struggle for which students and helping them focus on those problems in specific groups? ================================================================================================================================== I hope these charts have helped. As always, I openly welcome your input, additions, and - of course - questions.

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