No matter what text we assign, kids need to be taught how to read it.
Remember how many hours you spent trying to decipher the materials for your toughest college course. Think about what strategies you employed to get the work done. Did you reread? Take notes? Highlight? Write in the margins? Research sections you didn't understand? Someone taught you how to do all of those things, so now it's time to teach your students, no matter what your subject.
The list below should remind us that our students are novice readers, and they need our support. It is the work of Cris Tovani, author of several excellent books about teaching reading, including I Read It But I Don't Get It and Do I Really Need to Teach Reading?.
The pdf below digs deeper into specific, concrete strategies you can use to help students monitor their reading. We are all reading teachers!
At our April 2nd in-service, we read excerpts from four different articles to help us think about the research that supports our move toward innovative teaching practices. My original intent was to have us all read one article together, but I found it VERY difficult to choose just one piece. I also struggled to find a piece that was just the right length for us to read and discuss in the time allotted. You may have this same experience with content you would like to deliver to students.
Ugly though the name is, "chunking" texts is a useful strategy to employ in this situation. Paring them down to the most crucial ideas accomplishes a few things: 1) you can help guide students to the most important ideas in a text, 2) you can make reading a complex piece more manageable and less intimidating, and 3) you can deliver a large amount of content in a shorter amount of time.
Bonus: As you model breaking up the texts, the students get better and better at anticipating and deciphering crucial ideas. Eventually, you can turn the "chunking" task over to them. They can break up an article for their own reading fluidity, work in a group to highlight the most crucial information in a longer text, or practice drawing connections among many different sources.
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