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him focus on the most important ideas derived from the text. Although it is a tool that can be used by students, graphic organizers are only helpful when used strategically and purposefully. To ensure proper use, the completion of graphic organizers must be modeled thoroughly through teacher think-aloud. When teachers think aloud, we open up our minds for students to more explicitly understand the cognitive processes we’re using to comprehend a text. Putting our thinking into a structured organizer goes one step further to providing a clear picture of what the key concepts were and help the students figure out what information is most important. Differentiating between relevant and irrelevant information is a sophisticated skill, and one that can be learned through the modeled use of graphic organizers. Another strategy that can help all levels of learners improve their comprehension skills is the use of Think-Pair-Share. Teachers need to create moments for students to interact with their peers and participate in academically focused accountable talk. “For teachers who want to increase motivation and collaborative opportunities for their students to respond, share, think, and problem-solve with others around a text, the think-pair-share strategy provides a successful across the curriculum method” (Reutzel & Cooter, 2013, pg. 381). A classroom environment that supports student-led discussion benefits all types of readers. Purposeful text discussions provide students the opportunity to discuss complex texts and clarify their understanding before sharing
15GETTING TO KNOW THE LITERACY LEARNERout, which in turn helps lessen the anxiety some students feel about publically answering text-based comprehension questions. No matter the level of the reader, a student will struggle to become engaged and comprehend a text if they are lacking the prior knowledge to make the connections needed to understand what is being read. “These challenges may include particular words to be decoded, unfamiliar word meanings, different text structures or organization, or new text features such as insets, diagrams , and maps” (Reutzel & Cooter, 2013, pg. 381). As applied to literature, “to really understand and appreciate a story, children need to know more than the definitions of words in the story; they need to have a frame of reference so they can make sense of the plot” (SEDL, 2013). Therefore, teachers need to make the text accessible to all students by building their background knowledge prior to reading. Teachers can pre-teach more difficult, or content-specific, vocabulary. Students can watch a brief video clip that allows them the chance to gain anunderstanding of the key concepts in the text. Students can also participate in a picture walk, which helps “students develop a framework for how the book is organized to improve their reading comprehension” (Reutzel & Cooter, 2013, pg. 380).