More on reading

Nathan and I started a thread here a while ago about how to get students to re-read a text. Yesterday I attended a class with the wonderful Sarah and Laurel. Sarah was the teacher who convinced my daughter to go to Argentina, where she interned in a music studio a few years ago!

Sarah shared two techniques with us that made us re-read and re-think about texts.

The first was to write a 30-word summary of a two-three paragraph piece we’d read. It had to be 30 words, no more, no less. (Honesty requires that I admit to not having followed the instructions. I thought I knew what to do, and did it my way. It was a little embarrassing to find out I hadn’t…oh well. Now I understand how my kids can miss things.) After we wrote our summary, which was on one of several different pieces on 21st-Century Education, we stood in double lines to share with a rotation of other students. All of us had similar pieces that made us think about what this new world of education is.

I’ve done something like this in class: often I have kids look for the ten lines in a story or three sentences in a text piece that sum it up, and I usually have them share with a partner. I haven’t had them write a summary, but I’ll try that to change things up a bit. I also had them share only with one person, not several.

The next exercise Sarah had us do was something she called “Stand and Deliver.” We had to jot down a list of aspects of 21st-Century Education that we considered important. When the time was up, we had to stand and share one each. If anyone said the same thing we had written, we checked it off. (We could also add ideas that we wanted on our list.) Once there was nothing on our list that had not already been shared, we sat down. I can imagine using this with interesting ideas from the text, questions we could ask about a text, proof from a text to support a claim, and so on. “Stand and Deliver” lets weaker students hear more ideas, and gives stronger students the props they need without putting down others. They’re just going to be standing longer.

In the end, Sarah typed up our group definition of 21st Century Education. We each contributed an idea that we thought was the most important. It was okay if we had the same one someone else had mentioned. That way, we got to hear ideas one last time, and we also got to watch Sarah put them into parallel form.

It was great to be learning with colleagues again.

3 responses to “More on reading

  1. I love learning from my peers. I also loved that this post came as I struggled reading through a text that is a little difficult for me. I saw in the text that there were a lot of usages of words that I as a beginning reader were unfamiliar with. Nuances more or less, that kept me from the heart of the text. Luckily the English text was on the next page.
    As I read it out loud to my husband who is really an infant in Mvskoke, he struggled even more though I knew he knew a lot of those words. I could see them, he couldn’t. Distilling to 30 words would bring this within his grasp and is the heart of embedded reading. I now have a new project for my personal work and my students eventually.
    Thanks for the ideas.


  2. Glad you liked it! There are so many ways to tweak activities. We have to use each text in as many ways as possible to get it to sink in.


  3. I actually got the whole story down to 39 words in English. Working on it in Mvskoke now.


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