Tuesday, June 04, 2013

I Read It But I Don’t Get It: Part 3 Fix It! and Patterns and Connections

Tovani explores in chapters 5 and 6 methods to help students grow in their comprehension especially when they are struggling.  She identifies “fix-up” strategies to use when a reader is confused.
  • Rereading
  • Make a connections between the text and...
    • your life: memories, experiences, information about a subject, author’s style, textual information
    • your knowledge of the world
    • another text: character’s motives, anticipate action, identify author’s style, organization structure
  • Make a prediction: good reader’s anticipate and predict- if a prediction doesn’t come true, readers need to rethink and revise
  • Stop and think about what you have already read: good reader’s ponder what they have read
  • Ask yourself a question and try and answer it:
    • Clarifying questions
      • characters, events, setting, and process
      • who, what, when, and where questions
    • Pondering questions: answers aren’t found in the text
  • Reflect in writing on what you have read: writing about what you have read clarifies thinking and gives a reader time to reflect
  • Visualize:create images in the reader’s head to make sense of what you are reading. Visuals can connect to images from books, movies, TV, etc...
  • Use print conventions: Key words, bold print, italicized words, capital letters and punctuation are all used by author’s to convey content
  • Retell what you’ve read:helps the reader reflect and activate background knowledge. This is a great means for checking understanding
  • Reread:
  • Notice patterns in text structure: recognizing how writer’s organize their works helps the reader find information
  • Adjust your reading rate: slow down or speed up

Tovani even suggests using a Comprehension Constructor:
“I am confused by (copy directly from the text whatever your confusion is): _____________________________ Page_______________________________
I am confused because (try to diagnose why you are confused): _________________________________________________________________
I will try (record different fix-up strategies you try):
I understand (explain how your understanding is deeper as a result of the fix-up strategies you’ve used):
Additionally, Tovani places emphasis on the importance of showing kids patterns and connections in reading. Some kids simply need the modeling to show them how to make these all important connections and recognize patterns rather than leaving it up to them to find on their own.  She begins by explaining the challenges of kids moving from class to class and trying to connect information from content area to content area. This is especially challenging when content area information doesn’t connect.  Instead, Tovani argues about the importance of interdisciplinary teaching where content area curriculum could be taught in unison building on one another’s ideas.  Tovani also goes on to explain how important it is to build on a student’s background knowledge, “ the information a reader has in her head.”  

Simple ways to make these interdisciplinary connections:
1. Venn diagram- showing students how subject areas overlap
2. Topic of studies on the board- kids come up and write down preliminary background information they know about the topic

Another problem area that contributes to students lack of engagement while reading is the student’s feeling as though they have no background knowledge in that particular subject.  Tovani explains that many students confuse personal knowledge with personal experience, “ Personal knowledge is information readers have from stories, movies, television,books, anything that helps them acquire information second hand.  Personal experience is information readers have gained from direct experience.”  How do we help students find connections to the material?  We help show them connections through finding something they have in common with it and using the marking text strategy to put those connections down on paper.  These connections help readers:

1. Create visual pictures in their head
2. Become more interested in the reading because they can interact with the author/poet
3. Bring meaning to the words instead of expecting meaning to reside in the words.

Readers can create three types of connections:
  • text to self: connections between the text and readers experiences and memories
  • text to world: connections between the text and what the reader knows about the world (facts and information)
  • text to text: connections the reader makes between two or more types of texts: plot, content, structure, and style
Tovani summarizes, “ Connections help readers call on their background knowledge. When readers make connections to their reading, they have a richer experience .The more connections a reader makes to the text, the better her comprehension is.”

The more students are able to make connections, students will be able to grow to making inferences as well. Students connections may begin as superficial, but will grow with modeling.  Making connecting helps readers:
  1. Relate to characters
  2. Visualize
  3. Avoid boredom
  4. Pay attention
  5. Listen to others
  6. Read actively
  7. Remember what they read
  8. Ask questions
Tovani warns that making connections will make students aware of their thinking and have to slow down to jot down the thinking inside their head. She indicates that she receives some push back from students regarding this, but explains how important making connections is to help students understand and comprehend more difficult text.

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