Monday, August 24, 2015

The Reading Strategies Book: Goal 7

Welcome back to The Reading Strategies Book study! I am so excited to be hosting. heck I am so excited to be writing a blog post! I feel like this study has reinvigorated my desire to blog, so watch out!
I am going to share  some thoughts on goal #7. Drum roll please...
Goal 7:  Supporting Comprehension in Fiction/Understanding Themes and Ideas
A funny thing happened as I began to teach students to be more thoughtful as they read. I became more thoughtful about my own reading. Once I was content to just plow through as many books as possible without stopping to think about themes, symbolism, and ideas hidden in rich texts.  I've found myself being much more thoughtful myself and wondering and enjoying what I'm reading. I will be greeting my students one week from today and can hardly wait to start sharing these strategies to teach this goal...

When I first glanced at these strategies I was taken back by how many are aimed at level J and above. Some of my firsties will be there by the middle of the year, but some may not make it quite that soon. I believe modeling these strategies can take place in read alouds long before readers work on this strategy independently. So as I was reading I thought  of ways that I could use these strategies during our read aloud time. Jennifer lets us know that students who have demonstrated an understanding of story structure are ready to dig deeper and think more critically about their stories. Goals 5 and 6 give great strategies for building an understanding of story structure. Click on the pictures below to check some of those strategies out.

Back to Goal 7! If you could turn in your book to page 191 you'll want to highlight this, "Put simply, although thinking deeply about text may be an enjoyable part of reading literature, it's also fair to say that without understanding themes, ideas, symbolism, or social issues that show up in the text, it could be that you misunderstand or at the very least miss a lot of what the story is about." It's our job to slow children down and help them to dig deeper into the text so that reading begins to "really matter". It's then that readers begin to feel joy, sorrow, surprise and a multitude of feelings that lead to a life long love of reading. 
Here are three of my favorite strategies for this goal.

7.1 Notice a Pattern and Give Advice
Well who doesn't like to give advice?  I like the idea of telling characters what to do. It turns out so do my students! I recently read Good-Night Owl by Pat Hutchins. We stopped in the middle of the story and gave the owl advice about how he could get a good night's sleep. Here are a couple pieces of sage advice...
Owl, you should get some ear plugs.
Owl, you should find another tree to sleep in.
Owl, why don't you eat those animals so they don't bother you anymore?
Owl, when I can't sleep my mom tells me to count to twenty and then roll over. You could try that.

Not only were the children engaged in the story they were also making connections and drawing inferences. 
Jennifer recommends you first discover the pattern and then give advice by starting with, "You should_____."

7.7 Mistakes Can Lead to Lessons

Everyone makes mistakes. We can all learn from those mistakes too. Noticing mistakes made by book characters help us notice them in ourselves and then also learn from them. Model this for your students by using chart paper to write down mistakes made by characters and then the possible lessons learned. Here are a couple of sentence starters Jennifer shares that can help you  use this strategy.
  • When you _________, you should or shouldn't learn _________.
  • You don't have to _________ to _________________.
  • Try to (or not to) ____________when you ___________.
This strategy helps students with inferring and in determining importance.

7.13 From Seed to Theme
Any one book may have different themes based on what prior knowledge the reader brings to the text. Starting with a single word is like the seed of the text's theme. It is important to get our readers to state these seeds in sentence form. The book Fish In a Tree by Lynda Mullaly has many such"seeds" that could be stated as a theme. Friendship, hope, perseverance, and kindness are all topics that can be found in the book.  Ally learns that friends are the people who stand up for you and help you even when it's hard. She also learns that with hard work she can attain her dreams. You could use the worksheet below to help students use this strategy to practice finding and stating the theme.
Just click on the picture if you think it may be something you can use.

If you have not gotten your hands on this book yet, you may borrow mine or buy your own! It is a book you want if you are a teacher of reading! 
Watch out I'll be back soon!! 
Want to know more about this book? Join the study. Look at the schedule below to see who is up next. I'll link to chapter 8 when it is published!


  1. I love these books. I'm going to try and find them to order them

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