Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Comprehension Connections: Building a Bridge to Strategic Reading

I recently found a great teacher resource titled Comprehension Connections: Bridges to Strategic Reading by Tanny McGregor.  I say great because it is 8 easy to read chapters on different comprehension strategies.  Each chapter includes reading research, photographs and easy to incorporate activities.  My plan is to share a chapter a day with you!
Bridge Building 101 is the first chapter and talks about how Tanny discovered, through trial and error, the way to connect kids to reading and, most importantly, thinking about reading!
She developed a Launching Sequence (a progression for planning lessons that include a gradual release of responsibility) that consists of several lessons that span just a few days. 
The Launching Sequence is as follows:
Concrete Experiences- A lesson with a concrete focus.  Connections are made between background knowledge and new information.
Sensory Exercise- A lesson that might include art, music or food and links the concrete experience with the way kids learn.  It also provides time for practice.
Wordless Picture Books- Books with little to no text to allow an opportunity to practice the thinking strategy without the responsibility of decoding.
Time for Text- Independence increases as students practice the skills they've learned.
The Concrete Experience involves an actual object.  A speckled rock.  An old shoe.  A seashell.  Something that you can refer back to and say, "Remember when my old house shoe to school...?"  These concrete objects are the base of the "launching lesson".  This object creatively links background knowledge to the content you are about to present.  An old house-shoe is definitely going to be thought about long after the day is through and won't be easily forgotten.  We've also got to remember that reading is a social activity! Students need to talk about what they've read.  That's why I am not one of those librarians who are constantly shushing and giving the death stare to students who are engaged in purposeful talk!!
Turn and Talk is a great way to get students to engage with one another.  McGregor also says she provides thinking stems during each lesson.  Eventually, these thinking stems will sound less like parrot-talk and more authentic.  
I'd like to leave you with McGregor's cautionary note (found on page 7):
"It's tempting to start believing that the stuff of concrete lessons is what's important.  There's nothing magical about the concrete objects alone.  When it comes to meaningful instruction, it is never really about the stuff; it's about thinking and talking and learning.  These concrete ideas simply give us a way in to the hearts and minds of our students."
That is seriously some good stuff!
Come back tomorrow to read all about metacognition and leave with a freebie!

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