Friday, June 07, 2013

Do I Really Have to Teaching Reading: Part 4

Tovani instructs her students to be selfish about their reading and learning. They should ask of each text, “What’s in it for me?” She wants her students to realize that the class is an ongoing learning process where they will be continually assessed. The measurements of their learning will be ongoing not a one time only deal.  The assessment of their learning through the aforementioned ways, will fuel Tovani’s teaching and direction.  Tovani spends much of chapter 8 discussing the purpose of assessment, “It’s important that my assessments be ongoing and purposeful, useful to students as well as to me. I should be able to tell students what they are doing well and what they need to improve upon with each assessment. This means I give students multiple opportunities to demonstrate thinking. I don’t want a student’s final attempt at a task to be a failure. Rarely do I give students a poor grade if they are willing to try again. I want kids to take risks and try again, because that’s the only way they are going to get better at reading and writing.”

Tovani stresses to her reader that it takes time for students to develop good comprehension skills as well as apply their learning to their classes. Teachers who model this process receive better results from their students. All of this learning takes time.  Tovani flashes back to the beginning of the semester where she has her students set goals for themselves:
Activation of Background Knowledge:
  • Can students access existing information to make connections between new and known information? Is there evidence that making connections helps students to
    • relate to the subject matter in a way that enhances interest and deepens understanding?
    • visualize in a way that helps students remember what is being read?
    • visualize in a way that helps student remember what is being read?
    • ask questions that can lead to a deeper understanding?
    • use background knowledge to interpret textual evidence?
    • draw inferences based on personal experience and knowledge?
    • determine importance based on personal experience and knowledge?
    • clear confusion and repair meaning by connecting new information to the known?
Student Questioning of the Text:
  • Can students ask useful and authentic questions about the text in a way that enhances understanding and encourages deeper understanding? Is there evidence that asking questions helps students
    • build background knowledge about an unknown topic?
    • answer questions by drawing conclusions beyond the unseen text?
    • isolate confusion by asking a specific question of someone who is more knowledgeable?
    • read on to quell curiosity?
Drawing Conclusions and Making Inferences:
  • Can students combine their background knowledge with textual evidence to draw logical conclusions? Is there evidence that drawing conclusions helps students to
    • think beyond the literal meaning to the unseen text?
    • use existing knowledge and textual clues to support inferential thinking?
Monitoring Comprehension and Using Fix Up Strategies:
  • Can students recognize signals that indicate they are confused? Do students have strategies that repair meaning? Is there evidence that monitoring comprehension and using fix-up strategies helps students to
    • identify confusion?
    • recognize that several strategies can be used to repair meaning?
    • apply appropriate strategies to repair meaning?
    • recognize that rereading with a different purpose in mind can improve comprehension?
    • adapt strategies to meet the demands of the text and the purpose of the reading?
    • recognize that subsequent read yields deeper levels of comprehension?
Determining Importance in Text:
  • Can students identify different purposes for reading? Do students recognize unique features of texts, author styles, and similarities in topic information to distinguish important ideas from interesting details? Do students recognize that purpose determines what is important? Is there evidence that determining importance in text helps students to
    • recognize that purpose is used to sift and sort important information?
    • isolate important ideas from lesser details?
    • recognize organizational features in text to aid comprehension?
    • recognize unique features of an author’s style?
    • use background knowledge to interpret importance?
    • ask questions to build background knowledge so importance can be established?
Student can generate their own goals with their teacher from the above list. Tovani suggests reviewing these goals every few weeks as well as having an areas of growth chart from the teacher listing the skills the students are acquiring each week.  This way the students are aware of past strategies learned and how to build upon those strategies with new ones.  

Conversation  calendars are another strategy suggested by Tovani to open the dialogue between students and teacher,  “ in the small box in the right hand corner, students give themselves points. They can leave comments about class and Tovani write back to them each day.   Tovani emphasizes the overwhelming nature of calendars but explains the benefits:
  • have a tray in the room where the calendars go each day- what a great progress check for learning from the students.
  • respond daily back to the students
  • make the calendar worth doing- by giving the student the opportunity to earn points for participating, I am honoring their attempts at working hard.  
  • Consider who will use the calendar?
  • How do you manage lost calendars?
  • Experiment and vary the use of the calendar.

As another form of assessment, Tovani asks her students to use reading response logs. IN these lofs, she asks for them to read 25 pages a week. They are to read something they enjoy and honor their time for reading by making the assignment manageable. Students must summarize their reading in four to six sentences.  Then students respond to the reading in 12-15 sentences.  Students should recognize the emphasis is on the response. The response, “ may make a personal connection to the piece or ask a questions that ,makes them want to read on. I encourage them to pull lines from the reading that intrigue them and then ask them to write why the line strikes them. I often see conclusions students draw about characters or plot.  Tovani suggests that she really wants her kids to react not just respond to the text.  .  Tovani also articulates that “ the only way students get better at reading, writing, and thinking is if they actually read, write and think.”

She summarizes about assessment, “ Without assessments that can guide us, we have to guess where to go next in our teaching. It’s so much easier if we can get students to share their thinking. That happens only when we tie their grades to the effort they put into getting that thinking about reading into written form and into class discussion.”

Tovani doesn’t allow her students growth to end their. She says she continues to read and research about reading and instructional practices.  She notes, “I can serve my students well only by reading, writing and talking with colleagues.” She also suggests as she travels and speaks more and more, “Listen to teacher’s questions. Don’t dismiss them as unimportant. And never forget what it is like to be a teacher.”

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