Let’s see whether I can really do this in ten minutes…ready, set, GO!
Laurie the Wise and Wonderful started us off on EmbeddedReading.2 this summer. It was an ah-ha moment for me when I realized that our Bottom-up readings are completely focused on helping readers come into the world. Top-down readings are more focused on content. Ideally, we should still stop with an Embedded Reading at the point that the whole thing is accessible to kids.
But what about when you have a text that you’d like kids to get to, and you are pushing it despite the fact that it’s beyond the kids’ level? Can a teacher still use ER as a tool to help kids with that text? That’s what I’m trying now. I admit that at some point, the reading becomes language I’m talking about, rather than comprehensible input. Hold that thought.
Here’s one way that I have worked with a difficult text lately. (I have multiple levels in all my classes, so I really do want there to be something for the upper-level kids, without having to plan multiple lessons. I believe that if all the children in my family ended up speaking English, we must have been doing something right. I didn’t talk with them separately most of the time.)
I broke the difficult text into its base version of most critical information, one that was completely accessible to everyone in the room. We backward-planned, starting with PQA and parallel story. Then we compared the parallel story with the base version. We drew the base version, re-told it to hands, neighbors, wrote captions to the pictures…everything I could think of. Then we went to the next version, having first laid down all the structures so they were solid.
Next, I told the kids that we were going to read the challenge version of the text. Not all of them were going to understand everything, but we would translate everything. More capable kids led the translating process. Everyone’s eyes were on the words. I asked them to try to hang on to at least three new facts in TL that we hadn’t learned in the first two versions; they were going to have to use them after having read the complete version of the text, which we read all together from a projected form.
In pairs, the students shared the three pieces of new information. (I should have expanded and had them then buddy up in fours.) Then, they created their own third version of the text by adding at least three pieces of new information. Then I popped the complete version back up into the light, and as we re-read it, they self-identified when we hit the parts that they had added. Afterward, I let them check their spelling and structures. That meant that they re-read the parts that they’d understood and used two more times. The more advanced the kids were, the more complex were the pieces they added.
It seemed to be an effective way to get them to all work on one “challenge” text together, and I could easily see what they were comprehending.
This is not for every day. It might work on chapters from a book that you think could be slightly above their level. In Russian, everything I have is above the level of most kids. I am trying to find ways to deal with that issue without having to completely retype every single story!
Oops. Twenty minutes. Bye!