Friday, September 12, 2014

A Teaching Tool coming out out: Reading Strategies

 As a school teacher, I love the Making Meaning Reading Comprehension program:
I used it with whole class, with groups of struggling readers, with advanced readers, and even during remedial summer school.  I just loved it because it worked.  My students enjoyed it, and truly learned. It includes a list of picture books and a guide to help us teachers remember to verbalize the reading strategies that we commonly use. Some of the reading strategies for the early grades are: making connections, inferring, retelling, visualizing, questioning/wondering, understanding text structure, and determining important ideas.  When I read to my children, I use these strategies; but I don't necessary share them. Internally, I question what is going to happen next, I relate what we are reading to experiences we have had, I retell them the story, I imagine what is not illustrated, etc. Wouldn't it be great if my kids could learn how to do that too?
When the time came to pick books for my kids, I knew the Making Meaning program has done a great amount of research to select their picture book tittles. I don't need to re-invent the wheel, or spend hours trying to select great books at the library that match the reading strategies I want to inculcate.  All I need to do is go to their website to find a list of books (check them out at the library), and flip through my pages to find the lessons I loved.  Here is where I made what you can call my reading strategies guide.  I extracted the best parts of the program, added my ideas, and elaborated after my observations teaching students.  I created my own Making Meaning... and yes, it is in Spanish because I taught in Spanish, and I am teaching my kids in Spanish.  Learning reading strategies in one language will translate to another (just like math, you don't have to learn how to add in two languages!). Please know that my base comes from Making Meaning, but it has been translated, adapted and expanded.

For now, let me share with you some books that we are using at the moment:

Book series by Laura Joffe Numeroff.  Illustrator: Felicia Bond

The first book comes from the Making Meaning picture book list, the others are not on the list, but they are recommended.  These books follow a simple pattern.  An animal gets one thing (intended for humans only) and they start asking for one thing after another, after another.  The books are funny, cute, and make fantastic conversations.  
Now, see the piece of paper on the left? that is from my reading strategy guide.  It helps me remember my goals from the book, the activities we can do together, and most importantly the comprehension techniques I want my children to explicitly learn.

Here is what we are working on using these books:
  • Wondering:  What is going to happen? Why did the animal ask for___?  What will they ask for next? What would they ask for if they got ___ instead? etc.
  • Making connections with their own experiences: Have you ever ask for___? What would you ask for next?  Is the story similar to another you have read before? Is the character like you, or someone you know? etc
  • Retelling: Sharing what has happened so far in the story, or telling someone else about the story.
My children enjoyed when I ask them questions, and when they get to make connections.  They also love to ask me questions.  What a great age to start learning reading strategies!

So...What is in the pages of my guide?
(sorry it is crooked! Note: click on it to enlarge). One day I will learn to add PDF files.

I included the basic info about the book, and reminder questions I want to ask the kids while we read the story. These questions are like the ones above by the bullet points. It usually takes two days (reading the book twice), and I can follow it up with alternative texts to deepen the comprehension skill, and to continue to have fun with the story style or theme.  I also try to add a way to give the kids an opportunity to express themselves artistically.  Sometimes we create a book of our own, write a letter to the author asking questions, make a diorama, use a story map, draw additional pictures for the book...etc.  With this book we are making an alternative book in which their favorite animal (a horse for big sister, a cow for the little guy) is the main character.  

Thankfully, I taught many levels in my pre- home learning years.  I am currently working on finishing up my reading strategy guide for the Kindergarten level; but I already made one for the grades I taught (2nd, 3rd, and 4th grade).  Buying the program will cost up to a whooping $6,000 for K-8th grade levels! But, as a home learning mom all you need is the book list, and the reading strategies per level. Unless you have more than three kids in the same reading level, the social development focus is not for you.  By the way, the picture books are available at your local library =P  Not a teacher? Not familiar with the reading strategies?  Do not worry, I will be helping you along the way as I will be posting more and more about the reading strategies in the future.  I will also be sharing my extensions, and giving an overall idea of what you can do with the books.  Stay tune (and ask questions!)


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Thank you for sharing!