Centre of Gravity Some of the theories and skills of reading that will engage us in thinking about how we can help struggling readers and those who are ready to read more deeply and widely. As a teacher how do I think about the challenges of reading and what are some pedagogical strategies I plan to develop for my students?
Ontario Curriculum Document Example* 1. Reading for Meaning: read and demonstrate an understanding of a variety of informational, literary, and graphic texts, using a range of strategies to construct meaning . . . 4. Reflecting on Skills and Strategies: reflect on and identify their strengths as readers, areas for improvement, and the strategies they found most helpful before, during, and after reading. *Grade Nine Applied
Stop Reading Shakespeare! From “Speaking My Mind,” English Journal, 99 (1), 2009.
Reflections of a Reader? How do you read? What do you read? Where do you read? What do you read? Do you like reading? Why or why not?
Reader Response Theory Louise Rosenblatt, 1904-2005 The Reader, the Text, the Poem: the Transactional Theory of the Literary Work. Carbondale: Southern Illinois UP, 1978. Literature as Exploration. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1938. Rpt. 1968. London: Heinemann, 1968. Rpt. New York: Noble and Noble, 1976. Rpt. New York: MLA, 1995.
Rosenblatt’s Theory Efferent Reading: the reader’s attention is directed outwards to concepts that are to be retained, ideas to be tested, and actions to be performed after reading. Aesthetic Reading: the reader is attentive to what she or he is living through during a relationship with a particular text, focusing on the abstract concepts that the words point to but also what of those objects or referents stir up personal feelings and ideas. The Poem: arises from an aesthetic reading and is a response from the transaction between the reader and the text.
Efferent and Aesthetic These two dimensions of reading work dynamically. Our reading is more focused on one or the other depending on -the type of text we are reading and its subject -our purpose for reading -our preference for reading -our reading skill
What Happens to Reading? Kaiser Family Foundation Survey (2005) 40% of 8-10 year olds read in a self-chosen book the previous day 27% of 11-14 year olds 26% for 15-18 year olds Scholastic’s Kids and Family Reading Report (2006) 44% of 5-8 year olds classified themselves as high frequent readers 16% of high school students made that designation
Thomas Newkirk A recent study of young adult literacy suggests . . . that while book reading has declined, Internet reading (and writing) has increased. It is crucial not to dismiss the importance of these other forms of reading, the dexterous nonlinear movements from website to website. But it is book reading that is most strongly correlated with school success . . . probably because it builds the stamina, fluency, and confidence to handle extended texts. (Newkirk, 2009).
Efferent: Strategies for Pre-reading Look for clues: title, author, pictures, first lines, back of book, genre and predict Determine focus or goals for reading Skim—flip through the piece to look for phrases, chapters, titles
Efferent: Strategies for Reading Look for important parts of the reading and skip information not critical to the goal. When one gets “stuck” think about these strategies: slowing down, linking ideas to previous experience, re-focusing, re-reading, asking questions, saving section for later, checking for contextual clues, underlining or highlighting parts of the text, breaking text into manageable chunks, paraphrasing, visualizing an image To “decode” words: look at the root word or prefix; sound it out; look at the context for clues; refer to vocabulary list; ignore it and keep going Teach students how we make inferences and predictions Make notes on the page or on sticky-notes
Efferent: Strategies for Post-reading Summarize material Reflect on it and evaluate how to use it for the purpose or goal Check for understanding Form a mental image and evaluate our affective responses.
Making Inferences/Predictions: Tell Me, Show Me, Let Me Try Tell me: describe the strategy e.g. Prediction is making an educated guess about what is to come based on clues from reading. Predictions are tied in with inference. Inferring happens when you put the clues together with the things you already know. Show me: model the strategy and/or have students model the strategy using such techniques as the “think aloud” or the goldfish bowl
Making Inferences/Predictions: Tell Me, Show Me, Let Me Try Try: Students use the strategy with partners or the teacher. e.g. Read two pages and then make predictions about what will come next. Write it on a sticky note. Try: Students practice the strategy with gradual independence. e.g. In your groups, make predictions every few pages. Talk about how you are making these predictions. Do different people look at clues differently? e.g. Use a checklist for students to write down predictions or inferences as they read and then to checkmark if their prediction happened, did not happen or might still happen. Have them do this at least 3 times. Try: Students use the strategy independently with reminders from the teacher.
Helping Struggling Readers provide students with access to materials that hold personal interest to them and that span a wide range of difficulty levels make room in your class to share literary experience e.g. literature circles, buddy reading, interpretive activities that extend the reading (choral reading, plays, artistic creations, etc.) plan activities that engage both reading and writing e.g. students create a blog about their reading; the class creates a wiki about a novel; they communicate with other students across the country who are reading the same text; students write creative responses to the texts listen to your students as they describe their experiences of reading and engaging with a text
Suggestions from the textbook Keene (chapter 4) models for students how she is reading a text using a Toni Morrison photo-essay; teaches how reflecting on our own experience can help us understand others’ struggles gives some metacognitive strategies Lesesne (chapter 6) explains the power of Graphic Novels to engage readers Wilhelm and Smith (chapter 15) are the authors of Reading Don’t Fix No Chevys use the ideas of Csikszentmihalyi’s flow to work with underachieving readers structure instruction to directly and explicitly address questions of genuine importance expand notions of text and curriculum and what counts as meaningful reading and learning expand notions of student competence and find more ways to highlight, celebrate, name and extend it.
Dennis Sumara In order for literature to matter in school, one must abandon theories of learning that insist on excavating Truth, or representing commonsense. This means creating conditions for people to learn to be surprised by what might happen if they dedicated themselves to literary practices that require a sustained engagement with someone else’s structure of thinking. (p. 160)
Levels of Engagement
Close Reading of “Girl” by Jamaica Kincaid
First reading: (Read out loud). Listen to and comment on the narrator. Make observations about the narrator’s perceptions, assumptions, degree of self-knowledge, attitudes and emotions as they relate to the scene. How are we being invited to read/experience the scene?
Second Reading: Read the text very closely to see what is going on. Make a list of all the nouns and the active verbs. Find metaphors and other figurative language. Examine your lists and link words/metaphors together to see if you can find clusters or patterns. What do these patterns reveal? Do they express any hopes, dreams, wishes, or fears?
Third Reading: Put your ideas about narrator and your analysis of the patterns to see how the two work together to help us understand the scene in the context of the whole novel.
Fourth Reading: Look closely at the stylistic elements that create a specific experience for the reader. Does the language create a certain tone? Does the sound or rhythm (smooth, disjointed) of the words create a certain emotion, suspense or other desired response? Consider the description and dialogue. Do the sentence lengths vary? Are there special syntactic features? What is the effect of the punctuation? Are there repetitions? How is emphasis created?
Levels of Engagement
Engaging Literature -Poststructuralism -Frames of reference -Intertextuality
Poststructuralism making sense of human reality is largely dependent on linguistic and visual signs these signs are often attributed with meanings that seem more fixed and stable than they really are thus the relationship between the signifier (sound-image of a word) and the signified (concept) is always unstable meaning is fluid and indeterminate poststructural criticism seeks to undo the authority of text by disclosing contradictions of logic and meaning in the text
Frames of Reference everyday life is ordered or “framed” by conventional conceptual schemas which delineate the ordinary, typical situations we experience (what Jerome Bruner calls a “canonicity of human action”) readers approach works with a background of experience and a knowledge of frames which enable them to develop expectations authors can play with that expectation, both using it and overturning it
Intertextuality all texts exist in relationship with other texts (texts broadly defined) a text is linked to other texts by reminiscences, similarities, reworkings, generic affiliations, intellectual contexts, story patterns intertextuality highlights the wealth of connections and experiences readers bring to the text
Some questions Think about how this book exploits the way signs are both conventional and unstable. How is Joseph’s frame of reference changed? What do the pictures on the wall in Joseph’s room signify? What do pictures in the background signify? Why does Joseph shut himself in a darkened room?