Friday, September 19, 2014

Reading strategy guide series #1

From the Making Meaning Manual:
"Using Schema/Making Connections
Schema is the prior knowledge a reader brings to a text.  Readers construct meaning by making connections between their prior knowledge and new information in the text."

Now think about the definition above.  When we are understanding a story we are actually building knowledge.  This knowledge is not isolated in a certain part of our brain, instead, it is built on top something we already know.  Imagine it as a a puzzle, where your previous knowledge connects to the ideas you are getting from the story.

When you want to help your child learn how to use this important reading skill, ask them before, during, and after you read the story:
  • Have you seen, heard about, used the things in the story?
  • What do you already know about the characters, or the setting?
  • Did this happened to you? Have you experience something similar?
  • Do you know a story like this one?
Now let's be practical.  How does this work with a book like: Goldilocks and the Three Bears (just to name a popular one)?

What does your child know about bears? Is your child a girl or a boy?What does she look like (hair is important in this story)? Has she ever tried porridge? Does she like it hot, medium or cold? Does she have a special chair? What is her bed like? What is her house like? Does she like to go out to the woods? etc.  

Notice that this strategy is not about making opinions on behaviors, evaluating characters, discovering the theme, visualizing parts of the story, or making inferences. It is simply tapping on what the reader already knows.  This is the thinking we all do when we read! We connect what we know to what we are reading about.  We always know something by the time we are reading. 

Here is the book we are currently using for this strategy: Cat's Colors by Jane Cabrera.  We talk about what the kids know about the animals from the story, we talked about the scenery (rooms in the house, outside), the colors they like and don't like, other things that make them think about the colors, what they wish was included in the book, what they know about cats...etc. Finally we looked for, and read similar books like: What Makes a Rainbow by Betty Ann Swartz, and George Paints his House by Francine Bassede. 
Have fun making connections with your kids, and let them ask you questions too!

Next Friday's strategy: Retelling


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Thank you for sharing!