Sunday, April 16, 2006

Strategies that Work

Chapter 1 Strategic Thinking


• Read Chapter 1 Strategic Thinking from Strategies That Work that was included in your syllabus packet.
• What areas discussed in Strategic Thinking do you feel you do a good/have done a good job modeling and teaching in your classroom? Share any areas of improvements that you would like to focus on.

Please click on comments below to leave your post.

16 Comments:

Blogger Sam Fuchs said...

As I was reading chapter one I was thinking about reading in my own class. I think that I do model thinking for the students often. I also think this is one thing that they do fairly well. They are always making connections when we read and want to tell stories that are similar to those read. I have not gone to the extreme of writing what I was thinking down though although I think the students would like to do this. One area where I thought I could see improvement was in my questioning. I think I sometimes get in a rut with literal questions. I think I focus on getting grades and assessments done and these questions are the easiest to grade and do.

9:22 AM  
Blogger jomarie said...

Chapter 1 Strategic Thinking

I had mentioned in the Reading Philosophy section that our school district purchased the 2005 Houghton Mifflin Reading series. The first theme of the reading series introduces strategies that one can use to become a “good” reader. The reading strategies are similar to the thinking strategies addressed in Strategies that Work – Chapter 1. Reading strategies addressed in Houghton Mifflin are: Predict, Question, Monitor/Clarify, Phonic/Decoding, Evaluate, and Summarize. Prior to each reading selection, the reading strategy or strategies are highlighted so students focus on the strategy. Through this good reading series, I have been able to springboard from the stories featured in the curriculum to other books that enhance the reading theme and the reading strategies. In the beginning of the year, the class makes a poster listing the reading strategies. So every time we read a selection, I can point to the poster before we read and discuss how we’ll use it or stop during the story to highlight the strategy. As the year goes on, students explain the strategy instead of me. I’ve also created a handout made by the students with the strategies and brief explanations to give to parents at our first parent/teacher conference. One reason I do this is I want parents to know the vocabulary and I want parents to know how they can use the strategies at home when their child is reading. I want parents to be empowered with ways to check if their child understands what he/she is reading. I want parents to know that Reading is more than fluency. Houghton Mifflin does a pretty good job of addressing comprehension.

Now the area of improvement that I need to focus on is to constantly cover the strategies towards the end of the school year. I realized in reading chapter 1 that I have really slacked off on focusing on the strategies when we begin a story. I can’t take for granted that the class knows it. Constant review is essential especially for students with comprehension deficits. Sometimes at the end of the school year I get caught up with the push to “get things done” that I don’t focus on what the students continually need to hear.

2:32 PM  
Blogger Lisa Taylor said...

I have read through this book in the past. In MPS and where I teach summer school (New Berlin), we have worked really hard on reading comprehension strategies. With first graders, we do a lot, but it is almost all verbal. We do question before, during and after we read a story. I have been modeling making connections. They are just finally starting to catch on to what we are doing. When I do summer school, I teach students going into third grade and they are capable of doing more. We do comprehension strategies all summer. We do chapter books together and we use post its and chart paper to write down our questions, predictions, and connections. Then during reading groups we do the same thing. I would like to try to do more of this with my class now, I think they are ready for it. I hesitate only because some of them pick out the things that don't really matter or are really small. But, I have to remember they are 6 and 7. If they can connect to someone in the story having a red shirt and so do they, I have to take it. It's a good place to start!

4:12 PM  
Blogger Rhonda Gillette said...

I teach reading using various different programs; I start out the year teaching reading using trade books in a large group. I give all of my students the same book and the same packet so that I can model the various strategies that I want them to use while reading the text. I then teach using literature circle groups based on interests and reading levels. Students are given jobs that include practice with making conections between prior knowledge and the text, asking questions, visualizing, drawing inferences, and synthesising information. I then teach reading using guided reading where students read various books according to their lexile levels in small groups. Students discuss the book while they are reading and then they practice the skills above by completing a packet individually.

I would like to add the strategy of determining important ideas to my reading program. I would also like to work on this strategy while reading aloud to my students, modeling the strategy on a consistent basis. Consistent modeling of strategies is an area that I would like to focus more on. I do a fairly good job with this in the beginning of the year, but haven't been doing a lot of it as the year has progressed.

7:12 AM  
Blogger Robes said...

Chapter 1

I believe that I think I do a good job of getting my kids to think and visualize what they are talking about. Since I don't teach reading (I am a speech therapist) most of what I read in this chapter is often analogos to reading. The work I do with my students concerning listening comprehension is pretty close to reading comprehension. We often draw inferences, distinguish important from less important, and repair faulty comprehension.

I need to do a better job of making connections between what we do and how it will help them in the class room and their daily lives. I draw plenty of inferences with my students, however this strategy is not necessarily a strong one with language disorder students because they often struggle to understand inferences.

Constructing meaning is vital for language disordered students and it is a strategy that we work on often. Many of my students make excellent progress answering literal question because they can often "find" the answer. Inferencing is harder to teach. I use visualization and try to get them to get a picture in their mind. Many times I need to tell them the inference and how I knew I got to the answer. Modeling how I get the answer to inferential questions is the only way most of my students tend to learn about inferencing.

6:35 PM  
Blogger KristinS. said...

Chapter 1 Strategic Reading


I found that there were many connections between the article and what I do as a classroom teacher to aid in developing strategic reading. Many of the connections I found related to how I teach books through literature circles. Students are asked to come to each literature circle with a minimum of six discussion topics. These topics may be what the article refers to as ‘self to text connections’ – I call these ‘ah –has.’ The post-it note topics may also be questions for the group, another strategy that this article mentions. The students need to weed out the less important ideas in their reading to focus in on the more important topics. This is also in the article. Furthermore, the students are able to mark ‘let’s talk’ sections to earmark problems in their comprehension of the story or to go further in depth for the plot. As students become increasingly efficient in literature circles, I discontinue my request for specific post-it-note topics. This article reminds me how important it is to spend the time I do on literature circles in my fourth grade classroom.
One idea I especially liked from the article was having the students to define reading and to keep those responses on a chart. I would not add to that chart until the end of the year when I would repeat my reading definition survey. I think it would be very telling to see the changes that would occur from September until June.
Another article idea that I liked was providing students with large blocks of time to read independently to practice and apply the strategies that they have learned. I have found that 20-30 minutes is all the time that fourth graders are able to read independently. There are some students who could read all afternoon, and there are some that need to be redirected after 5 minutes. I struggle with how to make that time more effective for my students.

8:11 AM  
Blogger anne mortensen said...

It is amazing as a fifth grade teacher how much I must depend on the teachers before me. As I read, I realized that the teachers that most of my students had did a great job with "getting the ball rolling" in regards to all reading skills. I thought I did a good job with continuing their work, but the article reminded me that I must model for my students more often. When the article told of Steph and how she shared what she was thinking throughout the picture book, I was fascinated. How wonderful that would be to share my connections more thoroughly. Those students that don't already make connections during reading due to a previous teacher may be ready to work on that component of comprehension after seeing in modeled once again.

6:42 PM  
Blogger Julie said...

After reading Strategic Thinking, I feel I do many of these strategies. Our reading series focuses at the beginning of the year on them. They are predict/infer, phonics/decode, monitor/clarify, question, evaulate, and summarize. At the beginning of each story, one of these strategies is highlighted and that strategy is focused on. We also use the strategies when we read from different literature, but the students become familiar with these at the beginning of the year. I also use litrature circles which focuses nicely on the reading strategies. I especially like the one where the students have to make connections to a different text, text to self, or text to world. This brings on great discussions from students prior knowledge.

I would like to do more with modeling and writing. It seems like there is so much to do with testing and getting grades that many times this is overlooked. I would also like to model more when I am reading aloud to the students.

8:41 AM  
Blogger Kris Schmidt said...

I feel I do a good job using prior knowledge to relate to the text. We make lists before every unit of what we know about what we already know about that topic. My students all come in with unique backgrounds. I want my young students to interact with the text and construct their meaning based on what they already know or may have experienced.
The strategy of constructing meaning goes hand in hand with using prior knowledge. The article talks about building knowledge and promoting understanding. I need to give my students many opportunities to make meaning by connecting the text and their prior knowledge.

We do a great deal of visualizing in preschool. Since we read so many pictures books and the pictures are usually directly related to the words, the pictures help to enhance their understanding. I do a lot of retelling of stories using props that directly relate to the book so the children can see exactly what is meant. We uses props in the dramatic play area as well to help the children visualize the ideas.
I think I could use some improvement in questioning and asking the right kind of questions. More why do you think...and what if...I don't see my students asking many questions either which may mean they are not understanding. I will have to model asking good questions to clarify understanding.

10:30 AM  
Blogger Sarah said...

I really liked the way that Chapter 1 started out. Steph did such a wonderful job of thinking out loud and making connections with the story. Modeling this for students is so important. I am pretty good at thinking out loud while reading but Steph inspired me to make more connections. Often, I have my students make connections with stories but I could work on sharing more of my connections with them.

My children are at the first stage of riding a bike, as Laura Benson puts it. They are watching me. I need to model, model, model what I want them to do as future readers.

One strength that I have is interacting with the text. I will question the kids during certain parts of the story, asking them to share their experiences or thoughts about a topic. I try to bring books to life for the children. Lately, when I get to the climax of the story, I will stop. I will comment, "I think we will stop there." The children beg for me to read on. I love seeing their excitement as they are left in suspense. This shows me that they really are involved and engaged. I also try to get the children to think ahead and predict what might happen next. Later, I like to question the children or ask them to retell me the story. This shows me if they are able to summarize.

An area that I would really like to work on is visualization. Although I bombard my children with flannels, puppets, and other images, I rarely have them picture something in their heads. Helping children create mental images before beginning a story is beneficial and feeds their creativity. It starts getting the children in the habit of forming pictures in their minds. This is a skill that is so helpful in laying the foundation for future reading. The more that they can practice visualizing now, the easier it will be for them to form pictures in their heads when learning to read. I want to help the children step into the shoes of the characters.

We use picture books daily and the images are given to them. I would like to read a picture book without showing the pictures so that the children can just use their imaginations. I will have to give that a try!

12:16 PM  
Blogger Chrissy Krone said...

Just as JoMarie mentioned in her blog and I also explained in one of my other assignments our school district also purchased the 2005 Houghton Mifflin Reading series. The one element that this series has that our previous series lacked was a strategy focus for every story. This strategy is referred to and practiced throughout the week and is reviewed in each of the 6 reading themes throughout the school year.
The strategies are:
Question
Predict
Monitor/Clarify
Summarize
Evaluate
These are some of the very strategies the article "Strategic Thinking" is referring to. Reading is not a passive activity. To be a good reader one needs to be thinking. As this article mentioned "reading is thinking". Too many people think that as long as one reads smoothly they are considered good readers. One example: I bet I can read a machine operators manual with fluency and expression but I bet I will not be able to comprehend a word of it. Why is that? It is because I do not have any prior knowledge about it. I am unable to make a connection with the material being read. I would not even know enough to ask a good question. These are some of the elements that make a good reader not just the ability to read with fluency and expression. Many people can read but not everyone grasps the deeper meaning of the text. True comprehension involves much more than just reading the words.

The comprehension skills I focus on in second grade(Houghton Mifflin does a good job with these) include, but are not limited to: cause/effect, compare/contrast, drawing conclusions, making generalizations, making judgments, making inferences, predicting outcomes, and visualizing.

One way that we keep track of our students progress is every April our district administers the Terra Nova test throughout our entire elementary school K-6. This test is for our use only, not for the state. At the end of every year we can analyze the results and see where we were lacking, what areas we can improve on, and what areas we did well on. By doing this we can make changes to our curriculum and add elements that might have been lacking. You can address an area more if you know your students did not do to well on it the year before.

It is always difficult to find a balance between how much of one to teach vs the other when it comes to decoding strategies, phonemic awareness, fluency, understanding, and all of the above comprehension skillls I previously listed.

Changes/Improvements I want to make

I really like Jo Marie's idea of creating a handout made by the students listing each of the strategies along with a brief explanation of each. Doing this will make parents more aware of the terminology being used in class so it can be reviewed and encouraged at home. They can hang it on their frig and refer to it when reading together at home with their child. Great idea!

Another change that I plan on implementing next year is what the article refers to as text to self. I feel I do a great job modeling the process of reading aloud and making connections aloud between books and life but I have never used Post-It notes to mark where these connections are being made. That is an excellent idea. The students can see exactly how many connections are being made in just one book. After seeing this being modeled enough then the students can find a book they connect with and also mark it with Post-It notes coding each one T-S for text-to-self connection because it reminds them of their own life and or prior experience.

I also plan on administering the survey from the article, "What Makes a Good Reader?" three or four times throughout the school year. Doing this I believe will make the students more aware of the strategies they are learning and using and make it part of their everyday vocabulary. The first thing I noticed after administering the survey was no one listed the strategies by name. This surprised me because we work with them every day. I now realize we need to work more with the students using the terminology not just the teacher.

Another activity I want to implement from this article next year is having each of the students define reading with words, written down. The article suggests keeping a chart posted in the room with their responses. This will work well along with the survey. As the school year progresses and their definitions change the chart responses can change as well.

12:00 PM  
Blogger Donna said...

Chapter 1 was a good refresher for me, since I don't teach in a school setting and don't see these strategies in print a lot. I am on my own when it comes to reading. It was nice to see that I do use many of these strategies when I do my classes. I use books, stories and articles a lot in a discussion/communication group where I am always doing modeling thinking, making connections,asking questions and visualizing with them.
Some of the readers in my group do make connections and are able to turn text to themselves. The others I try to use the strategies to increase the comprehension and gain more knowledge for future discussions.
I feel this article was helpful to me so I can continue to focus on readers and non-readers to build their skills. I also like to keep in touch with a teacher's world (school classroom)even though I am not in it.
I put a lot of passion into my reading and the statement, "Passion is contagious. Kids will respond" is so so true. I REALLY LIKE THAT STATEMENT.

4:53 PM  
Blogger kris said...

I actually read this book three years ago with several people on our staff and we would get together once a month and discuss and ask questions. I would recommend it to anyone who hasn't read it yet. It was nice re-reading it again and thinking about what I continue to do and what strategies I need to emphasize more.

I have done a good job modeling and teaching making connections, asking questions, and visualizing. The children generally never tire of me sharing picture books with them to model these skills.

I have done an okay job with determining important ideas and repairing understanding.

I need to work on drawing inferences. I always think the kids can see through me "faking" inferences as I am modeling, because it is a book I have read many times. I also need to work more on synthesizing information because for me this is the one that is most difficult to model and teach.

I have found that post-it notes and writing weekly letters back and forth has really helped me monitor the children's progress in using these strategies and helped focus on different needs and areas of concern.

11:52 AM  
Blogger JB said...

When I started teaching 16 years ago, it was the norm to use the basal series. Within a few years, the district switched to using quality literature, different genres and taking into consideration interest and varied reading levels. I have also noticed a switch in teaching comprehension. We have moved from assessing comprehension to actually teaching the strategies. I have found that by teaching the strategies students are more engaged and interested. This makes sense since they are understanding and interacting with the text. I also agree that comprehesion instruction is very important. I spend a significant amount of time modeling my own learning and showing students how. I feel that the students I work with need many more repetitions than the average learner. My students struggle with repairing understanding so we are concentrating on this. They are often unaware of when this occurs and will read on. I work with students for 1 hour (literacy block). I find it is difficult to get everything in- reading, spelling and writing in this small amount of time. I feel like we are missing the large blocks of time to read independently, practice using and applying the strategies.

6:03 AM  
Blogger Mr. Bretzmann said...

The chapter and the other blog posts are interesting reading. Everyone is doing such a good job teaching kids to read. It's impressive to read what everyone is doing.
I think I do a pretty good job helping students make connections between what they know and what they are learning. Whether this is a connection to other content or things they have experienced personally, I try to help guide students to make the connections by asking good questions. When we're looking at westward expansion I use a Textbook Activity Guide (TAG). In one part students read about a family that heads west and then the students are asked to recount a story of when they moved to a new place or went to a new school.
Something I would like to improve on is guiding students toward more synthesizing of information within and across texts and reading experiences.

11:29 AM  
Blogger crk said...

Reading chapter 1 made me realize that, at home with our kids, I have been focusing too much on having them read and not enough time to reading to them and modeling the strategies. I use to do that much more until they began reading better. Then, since it feels as if we are alway short of time, I feel like I've been in such a hurry that I've just used that time to let them read. This article reminded me that it's just as important to model our thought process for children. I feel like I do a good job teaching children to make connections between prior knowledge and the text but I need to learn a lot more about how to teach them the other strategies mentioned in this chapter.

6:05 PM  

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