Friday, July 4, 2014

Making the Most of Small Groups: Comprehension

I am behind (oops!) but I am enjoying reading Debbie Diller's book Making the Most of Small Groups. Chapter 4 is about comprehension. I think that teaching comprehension in reading is extremely important, but I find it interesting that the Common Core Standards has left out standards regarding the strategies we use to teach comprehension: text connections, visualization, accessing prior knowledge, etc. However, I believe that these skills are still relevant to learning how to read. (By the way, I am reading a very interesting book Pathways to the Common Core by Lucy Calkins, Mary Ehrenworth, and Christopher Lehman).

I am going to use the reflection questions from page 64 to give my thoughts for this chapter.
1. What have you learned about teaching comprehension that you'll try in the next few weeks?
It won't be in the next few weeks, but when I start small groups in my class, I am definately going to use the lesson plan for my small group planning. Dina from First Grade Smarties created this lesson plan in a word can find it here.

2. Who comprehends well in your classroom? How can you help them think even more deeply?
I taught second grade this past year for the first time in about 6 years, having been in first grade for quite awhile. I had a range of abilities...two of my special ed students were emergent readers and were still working on decoding. I also had students that were reading on forth and fifth grade levels; and of course, I had students reading on grade-level with good comprehension and poor comprehension. Having set up a small group folder and reading binder described in this book, I think that it will be easier to be focused on skills that each group needs. This chapter gives examples of lessons and explains how the teacher uses the planning document to stay focused and how to document the lessons and outcomes. 

I did something this past year that really helped my students with asking and answering questions about non-fiction text. My grade level orders Scholastic News each year. I used these issues to help my students learn how to answer questions. I would ask a question and they would have to find evidence to prove what the answer to the question was. I taught them how to be able to show me what sentences or words they used to answer the questions. I started with basic (thin) questions that needed only a few words or one sentence, and then moved to harder (thick) questions that needed more than one sentence or needed some inferring to answer. I then moved to letting the students ask me questions about the text to see if I could find the answer. They enjoyed coming up with questions for me to answer and once we determined that the point wasn't to stump me, they came up with good questions. I would show them where I found the answer in the text. I saw great improvement in this area after using this strategy. 

4.  Which elements of comprehension have you taught well? What could you focus on more?
I have already said that I think I did well with questioning...I think that I did well with schema, too. Summarizing is most definately the area I need to focus more on. 

5. How are you using writing to help students comprehend? 
I have implemented quite a few graphic organizers into my lessons. I get many of them from our reading series but I also use some of the many organizers you can find on tpt.

What else might you try to link reading and writing and deepen comprehension? 
I am going to use the sticky note strategy more often. I am also using journals to try to make that link and I think that's really what I am going to try to use a lot more. I don't really want to try to implement something else completely different because I find that if I try to use too many things, then I don't use any of them well or consistently! 

This is giving me some great things to think about and how I want to use comprehension strategies in both whole- and small-group instruction!

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