Teacherscribe’s Teaching Tip #40
Reading. Ugh. Right?
Last summer I read Subjects Matter: Exceeding Standards Through Powerful Content-Area Reading.
I read it because I suck at teaching reading. I needed to get better at this since I usually teach a remedial reading class.
The old mantra with teaching reading goes like this, especially from us English teachers – BUT I was never taught how to teach reading.
And that’s true – for most of us anyway.
But that doesn’t change the fact that we have to teach students how to read. So if you – like me – weren’t taught how to teach students how to read, here are some thoughts and strategies to help out.
First, an exercise. When I first read this, it blew me away even though I had seen versions of it previously. I just never had it put in this exact context before.
Teachers have print-heavy jobs, and we do know a lot about reading, understanding, and remembering a wide variety of written material, whether we’re highly conscious of it or not.
So, please read the following text –
The Batsmen were merciless against the Bowlers. The Bowlers placed their men in slips and covers. But to no avail. The Batsmen hit one floor after another along with an occasional six. Not once did their balls hit their stumps or get caught.
What? You clearly read it and knew all of the words.
But what about comprehension? You probably understood it all. But did it make sense? What is lacking here is context. Once I give you the context, it will make more sense to you.
This is exactly how many of our students feel when they try and read the textbook in your class. They can read the word. They can ‘comprehend’ what it says. But does it make sense? They – like you – are most likely lacking context.
Do we slow down and give them it, though. Or do we just trudge ahead with a quiz that checks for understanding. (guilty as charged by the way here).
So let’s take a quiz on what we read without much in the way of context, shall we?
1. Who were merciless against the Bowlers?
2. Where did the Bowlers place their men?
3. Was this strategy successful?
4. Who hit an occasional six?
5. How many times did the Batsmen’s balls hit a stump?
That wasn’t so hard was it? You probably earned an A. After all, you comprehended what you read right? Even if it didn’t make a whole lot of sense. You could even answer questions about it without knowing much of what it was really about.
Have you ever had a student do well on a quiz yet have no deep idea or rick understanding of what they just read?
What can we do about this?
Now, let me give you a huge context clue to help fill in some context: the passage above is about cricket.
I bet if you were to go back and read it, it would make a little more sense than your initial time through. Now go take the quiz again, and I bet the questions maybe make a little more sense.