Using reading strategies to help your reader get the most from what they are reading. There are lots of statistics and I won’t bore you with them, but our good fiction readers are not necessarily becoming our good nonfiction readers. Getting information from these texts can be daunting and we know that too much challenge leads to frustration. When kids gets frustrated, they shut down and learning stops. This is not supportive of our goal.
My bigger little guy loves to be read to and he especially loves nonfiction/informational reading. We are starting to use a group of reading strategies to help analyze what we are reading. These strategies are designed to help students get information that they need from the text. Hopefully by starting out with a love of information and nonfiction texts we can help break this cycle. The strategies we are using are:
- Activating background knowledge
- Analyzing text structure
- Creating mental images
This is not a list of steps in a process. Some of these strategies support each other and will be going on concurrently.
The first strategy is important in everything we teach: activating background knowledge. When we activate a student’s background knowledge we provide a place to hang new information that we are teaching. In education, we refer to it a as activating schema. We do the same thing when we read fiction texts. Sometimes the student has had little to no exposure to the subject, then the first step is to create background knowledge. If you are using the 5E lesson plans, you are familiar with engagement. Engagement in 5 E is about either creating or activating background knowledge and experience. Please see this post for an explanation of 5E.
Depending on your learning environment, you might be very familiar with your students’ background knowledge. It is still important to ask questions and not assume that your learners are able to see and make the connections to previous knowledge and experiences. Let’s use a book about ocean life as an example. You should ask questions about large aquariums, home aquariums, fishing, eating fish, and even movies that they may have seen. Try to find out what the student remembers/knows. This is a point to build on. A good question to ask is simply, what do you know about the ocean (for example). If your student hasn’t had exposure to any of these things, you might bring in a video or a small fish tank in order to create a deeper level of background knowledge. You might start as simply as pointing out living vs. nonliving in an ocean environment. Your student will organize the information in his learning somewhere- help guide him to an appropriate association.
I will be following up with more posts on these reading strategies