Embedded readings: back to beginnings

Way back when Laurie Clarcq asked kids to write about a film and she created the first ever embedded reading, she took exactly what one student wrote first, then expanded the story in ever-increasing pieces to include what many had written.

I went back to that and had kids write about the film we’ve been watching. I took a first-year student’s three sentences and expanded them into several paragraphs, using pieces that kids up to the AP level had written. We read through most of those today, and each time I tried to remember that kids need variation in these readings.

For the first level, I read the sentences and then verified them with the kids. We applauded the student who had written. On the next one, students told me what was new.

For the third variation, I asked them to look at the sentences from a proficiency-levels perspective. Which sentences were “random,” and which were connected in some way to what had preceded them or followed them? How did the writer achieve the connections? (A lot of that was in English.)

We did a Betsy-style blind reading for the fourth variation. I started out, having the kids gesture to me as I tried to remember the text. It’s not as easy as it looks. Then they worked in pairs, one back to the screen, the other reading. I love the way the kids always think the person with her back to the screen is carrying the heavy load. It’s really the reader who is getting the most out of this activity.

For the final reading, we just read the whole thing out loud as fast as we could in English while looking at the Russian. By then, I knew we were about to overload, and I didn’t want anyone to get too tired. Tomorrow we’ll work with the final version.

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