We need to teach students to find important details not interesting details when determining importance.
Dr. GoodreaderTeaching readers how to diagnose and cure reading "clunks"
Rakitia Delk and I , Susan Stevens, developed Dr. Goodreader atInterAmerican Academy in Guayaquil, Ecuador during the course of the 2005-2006 school year.
The school was in the process of turning fromtextbook-based reading and writing instruction toreading and writing workshop.We were spear-heading the effort.which sounds likewe were doingthis: But most of our work- sessions looked like this:
Even so, our beliefs in the reading research and best practicestook us back to the unit planning table. Night after night westaggered home at 5 or 6 o’clock after hours of studyingresearch and planning.
Our goal was to teach reading strategies in a systematicmanner—and then to teach our students that they needed tobe able to choose which reading strategy to utilize at anymoment of time. So we read—a lot.
We decided to write a unit on each reading strategy becausegood readers are active readers, and active readers use thefollowing strategies:Metacognition: Metacognition is the act of thinking aboutyour thinking when you read. It is also called self-monitoring. When readers are metacognitive they:• know what they know,• know what they don’t know, and• know how to apply fix-up strategies when they are confused.
Activate background knowledge:Background knowledge is everything youbring to a book:•your life experiences,•the places you’ve been,•your relationships,•everything you’veheard, seen, smelled, touched, tasted, and•even what you believe.The very act of living your life adds tobackground knowledge. Aftermetacognition, it is the most importantreading strategy.
Activating background knowledge, a.k.a. schema, includes:Making connections from • text to self, • text to world, and • text to text.We need to guide students to make connections that help their understandingof what they’re reading as opposed to taking them down a rabbit trail.
Visualize: Vizualization is making a movie in your mind when you read. Our visualizations are unique to us and our background knowledge. If I read a book about growing up in northern Illinois, my visual images are possibly going to be more detailed than yours because I lived there as a child. Storytelling is the best technique to help students learn to visualize.
Infer: Inferring includes: • making predictions, •reading on the line (inferring at the word level using context clues and word substitution), •reading between the lines (making inferences about what the author has implied), and •reading beyond the lines (creating a unique meaning that combines background knowledge, the text, and personal response). Inferences are evidence-based guesses. Background knowledge generally helps us be successful, so in general, Text + Background Knowledge = Successful Inference.
Question: Readers need to question as they read. The mostbasic and useful question is, “Does this make sense?”Students ask questions that help them understand thetext, “Why did Sam do that?”They also wonder, and hopefully end each book with bigquestions that draw them beyond the book into deeperthinking and learning.
Determine Importance: The meaning of this strategy isself-evident, but this is the most difficult strategy to teach.Like many of the strategies, it links back to backgroundknowledge. The more we know about what we arereading, the easier it is to pick out the main idea andimportant details.Graphic organizers arehelpful when teachingthis strategy.ohiorc.org
Synthesize: Condensing or summarizing reading material from one or more text. Much more deeply, it’s the idea of coming up with new ideas and new thinking based on what we read. Synthesis is how reading changes us.http://reading-comprehension-assistance.wikispaces.com/
Evaluate: We evaluate when we judge the worth of what wehave read. There are many frameworks through which toevaluate. For example, readers can evaluate the quality ofwriting, or whether a piece of writing contains fact or opinion. catawbaschools.net searchlores.org
How many times do we hear a variation on, “I don’t get it.” Dr. Goodreader is designed for students to learn to self-diagnose their “clunks” and choose a fix- up strategy that will help and move forward.http://www.flickr.com/photos/emagic/51069522/sizes/z/in/photostream/
Key Question: Does this make sense?We teach this is the key questionwhatever you are doing—math, reading, writing.Students need to be taught to ask thisquestion often. Some beginning readersafter every sentence.When Rakitia did this with 3rd grade, shetaught the whole chart, but in smallerpieces so as not to overwhelm them.
The next step is to fine the general areaof the problem:Is it a problem with my mind?Is it a problem at the word level?Is it a problem at the sentence level?Is it a problem at a larger level:paragraph, page, or chapter?
•We spend a lot of time here, listing different types of distractionsand how to handle them.•We often have noise from the hallway when we read or from leafblowers outside.•We have noise in the classroom. Not only do we learn how todeal with what is distracting us, but we learn not to bedistractions.•In addition, we practice how not to BE a distraction. Like how toclose a door, etc.
The first part of “Did I clunk on a word?” gives fix-up strategiesthat can be used to check if the word was read correctly.How does a student know if this is the problem?If the word they read doesn’t make sense.Many students have a tendency to guess a word based on the firstletters. Breaking the word into syllables is another fix-up strategythat could be added.
IThe second section of “Did I read this word correctly?”has to do with coming across a word you don’t know.The next question is, “Do we need to know this word?”(You don’t always.)
IDid I clunk on a sentence?• Usually this is taken care of by rereading and paying attention to the punctuation, but we’ve broken this into mini steps.• Sometimes we need to read slower to understand, and• Sometimes we need to read faster.
When you clunk on a larger piece of text, you pull more fix-upstrategies into use.• Rereading is the most oft used and is very successful.• For younger students you’d probably want to stop the chart after study the pictures or retelling.• Sometimes the author intentionally has you asking questions and you need to read ahead.
Helping students build background knowledge• If you’re going to read a chapter book out loud, prepare a small PowerPoint about some of the ideas they may be unfamiliar with.• Google images if you’re working with a student one-on-one.• Hand students a book with lots of pictures to leaf through before they read about the Civil War, etc.
Helping students make the movie in their minds:• Read to them and have them draw a section of what you have read. (Great assessment, by the way.)• Model by drawing how you picture a passage. (You don’t need to be Da Vinci, Picasso is just fine!• Remember to connect visualizing to background knowledge.• Read chapter books and then show the part of the movie you just read. (Chapter by chapter)
Helping students use their story sense:For example, fairy tales usually start with“Once upon a time” and end with . . .In a mystery, the author is trying to trickyou with the clues, you need to readsuper-closely.
If a student has to use fix-up strategies too often, they didn’t use the Goldilock Principle when choosing the book.You don’t want the book to beToo hard . .Or too easy . . .But . . . Just right.
How Can You Implement Dr. Goodreader?• You can teach an in-depth unit on each part of Dr. G, but that takes a lot of time.• You can introduce a portion a week— especially with younger kids. When Rakitia did it she made laminated tools that went along with Dr. G.• You can do a quick overview and then have students use Dr. G when they conference with you.
Resources:Dr. Goodreader blog:http://doctorgoodreader.edublogs.org/If you would like a PDF copy of the wholeDr. Goodreader book, just let me know andI’ll e-mail it to you.