Elkhart Community Schools is focusing (K-12) on reading instruction. All data have shown the need for a systematic approach to instruction.
Language acquisition involves an interaction among these connected processes. As students are exposed to language, they first mimic the language of their environment and eventually develop the capacity to use language independently.
These stunning data from the University of Oregon’s research on early literacy make a strong case for explicit instruction and modeling.
25% fall in the Welfare category; 60% fall in the Working Class category; and 15% fall in the Professional category. According to research shared by Ruby Payne, most minority students and poor students do not have access to formal language at home. This is why our emphasis on reading strategies instruction is so critical. As educators, we must guide students from casual to more formal language which is used in schools and the work environment.
Language, Thinking, and Reading are inter-connected. Reading involves cracking the alphabetic code to determine the words and then thinking about those words to construct meaning. Strategic readers address their thinking in an inner-conversation that helps them make sense of what they read.
Reading strategies focus on language development and the thinking aspects of reading.
Stephanie Harvey and Anne Goudvis, authors of Strategies That Work , state that, “Getting readers to think when they read, to develop an awareness of their thinking, and to use strategies that help them comprehend are the primary goals of comprehension instruction...”
This means moving beyond answering questions at the end of a story.
Students may be able to decode or read the words in a book but if they don’t have the knowledge of the subject or some experience to connect to what they read, they won’t understand the text.
Elkhart’s Top Ten Reading Strategies are a result of collaboration between elementary and secondary teachers. These teachers investigated leading research in the fields of reading, brain-compatible instruction, at-risk and special student populations.
Here they are --- If you’ve attended any seminars or read any research --- they should look familiar.
According to Harvey and Goudvis, “Readers pay more attention when they relate to the text. Readers naturally bring their prior knowledge and experience to reading but comprehend better when they think about the connections they make between the text, their lives, and the larger world.”
Ruby Payne discussed this issue when she came to Elkhart several years ago in the context of working with children from poverty. One way to address this concern would be to share the questions you (as the teacher) have about what is being read and to always talk about what you are wondering while you are reading.
The National Reading Panel goes on to say, “Vocabulary is important because beginning readers use their oral vocabulary to make sense of the words they see in print. Readers must know what most of the words mean before they can understand what they are reading.”
According to Chris Tovani, author of I Read It but I Don’t Get It, good readers anticipate what’s coming next. When readers predict they are aware when meaning is breaking down. When an event doesn’t match a prediction good readers rethink and revise their thinking.
“ Active readers create visual images in their minds based on the words they read in the text. The pictures they create enhance their understanding.” Teachers sometimes explain this as “creating a movie of the text in your head.” When students create scenarios and pictures in their minds while reading, their level of engagement increases and their attention doesn’t wander. Harvey and Goudvis
Determining important ideas and information in text is central to making sense of reading and moving toward insight. Teachers need to support readers in their efforts to sift and sort essential information depending on their purpose for reading.
Inferential thinking occurs when text clues merge with the reader’s prior knowledge and questions to point toward a conclusion about an underlying theme or idea in the text. If readers don’t infer, they will not grasp the deeper essence of texts they read.
“ Synthesizing involves combining new information with existing knowledge to form an original idea or interpretation. Reviewing, sorting, and sifting important information can lead to new insights that change the way readers think.” Harvey and Goudvis
Many students just don’t know that they don’t know . They lack the awareness of how they think when they read. Others are aware that meaning is breaking down but they don’t know what to do about it. Teachers need to point out to their students that even they lose focus or “space out” while reading and need to use “fix-up” strategies to repair their understanding.
“ Fluent readers are able to read orally with speed, accuracy, and proper expression. Fluency is one of several critical factors necessary for reading comprehension.”
These strategies are not something that can be taught on Monday and tested on Friday. They must be interwoven throughout ALL curricular areas. The strategies are introduced, modeled, and supported - Kindergarten through 12 th grade.
Throughout this school year (2003-2004) we will continue to focus on reading and these reading strategies. We will feature a reading strategy each month. Buildings will receive a new Power point presentation for that strategy. They will be designed to share at staff meetings, department meetings, or grade level meetings.
Reading IS Thinking“The purpose of reading isunderstanding.”
“True comprehension goes beyondliteral understanding and involves thereader’s interaction with text. Ifstudents are to become thoughtful,insightful readers, they must extendtheir thinking beyond a superficialunderstanding of the text.”Stephanie Harvey and Anne Goudvis
“Once thought of as the naturalresult of decoding plus oral language,comprehension is now viewed as a muchmore complex process involvingknowledge, experience, thinking andteaching.”(Linda Fielding and P. David Pearson, 1994)
Researchers identified strategies that proficientreaders use to construct meaning from text.Pearson, Keene, Harvey, Goudvis, Robb and otherssummarized these strategies. Elkhart Community School’s Top 10 Reading Strategies are based on the work of the above researchers.
1. Connect to the Text 7. Make Inferences Then Draw Conclusions2. Ask Questions 8. Summarize and Synthesi3. Expand Vocabulary 9. Check Your Understandi4. Predict & Prove 10. Build Fluency5. Sense It6. Decide What’s Important
Making Connections: A Bridge From the New to the Known Text to Self Text to Text Text to World
Asking Questions: The Strategy That Propels Readers Forward“Questioning is the strategy that keeps readersengaged. When readers ask questions, they clarifyunderstanding and forge ahead to make meaning.Asking questions is at the heart of thoughtfulreading.”Harvey and Goudvis
“The larger the reader’s vocabulary(either oral or print), the easier it is tomake sense of the text.”Report of the National Reading Panel
“Research suggests that when studentsmake predictions their understandingincreases and they are more interested inthe reading material.”Fielding, Anderson, Pearson, Hanson
Visualizing: A Tool to Enhance Understanding“Visualizing is a comprehension strategy thatenables readers to make the words on a pagereal and concrete.”Keene and Zimmerman
“Thoughtful readers grasp essential ideas andimportant information when reading. Readersmust differentiate between less important ideasand key ideas that are central to the meaning ofthe text.”Harvey and Goudvis
“Inferring is at the intersection of taking what isknown, garnering clues from the text, and thinkingahead to make a judgment, discern a theme, orspeculate about what is to come.”Harvey and Goudvis
The Evolution of ThoughtSynthesizing is putting togetherseparate parts into a new whole….aprocess akin to working a jigsaw puzzle.Harvey and Goudvis
“If confusion disrupts meaning, readers need tostop and clarify their understanding. Readers mayuse a variety of strategies to “fix up”comprehension when meaning goes awry.”Harvey and Goudvis
“Fluency is important because it freesstudents to understand what they read.”Report of the National Reading Panel
CAUTION!“Although these strategies tend to be introducedindependently, readers rarely use these in isolationwhen reading. These thoughts interact and intersectto help readers make meaning and often occursimultaneously during reading.”Harvey and Goudvis
Check Understanding Build Fluency Sense It Ask Questions Reading isConnect To Text Thinking Making Inferences/Decide What’s Draw Important Conclusions Expand Predict and Summarize/ Vocabulary Prove Synthesize