1. Reading Processes: the literacy processes and factors that affect reading development and proficiency are complex.
¨ How do elements of the reading process influence skilled or proficient reading?
Readers who think about how they read and use active reading strategies have increased reading comprehension and are skilled readers. Developing such metacognitive practices (thinking about effective reading strategies), help teens develop into proficient readers. Taking the metacognitive literacy survey helped me understand the elements that go into the reading process, such as: re-reading, highlighting, note-taking, asking questions, and pre-reading.
Metacognition, or thinking about how to read, is one of the most helpful tools in becoming a proficient reader, informed citizen, and independent adult. “Metacognition can help students successfully make meaning of difficult texts”. This helps teens gain insight and awareness into developing their identity, which is critical for teens to gain highly desired independence, responsibility, self-awareness, and through these qualities: increased confidence. Teaching metacognitive skills empowers students and gives them ownership over their learning. This can have long-lasting effects in motivating students so that they have an increased desire to read independently and develop life-long learning skills.
Students can understanding new, foreign, or difficult texts by making connections. This occurs when students draw from personal experiences. Students have an easier time remembering things that they can relate to. In addition, making personal connections activates the emotional part of students’ brains, making it more likely that they will remember the important, main ideas of the text. Finally, students enjoy reading things connected to them personally. Oftentimes, such readings are related to their personal interests. This helps engage students in the reading and motivates students to read on their own, which is critical since most teens dislike reading.
¨ How do teachers incorporate their knowledge of reading theories and processes into content lessons?
Teachers take time to teach students metacognitive and reading strategies through direct instruction, modeling, group work, and guided practice. They can use graphic organizers as well, such as the double-sided diary, “So What” format. Journaling is a great way to encourage students to reflect on what the readings mean to them personally and develop metacognitive skills. Teachers can also encourage metacognitive practices, such as having students self-assess their reading processes and essays, using a rubric.
2. Comprehension and Content Learning: comprehension and content learning are increased through vocabulary development, and writing, listening, discussion, and reading texts.
¨ How do teachers support adolescents’ reading fluency, comprehension, and content learning?
Teachers use direct instruction to teach reading and comprehension strategies, such as those discussed above (metacognitive strategies). Select varied reading materials carefully designed to pique student interest. Ask students progressively higher-order questions to encourage critical-thinking skills. These questions might include, “What do you think?”, “Why?”, “What can you infer?”, or “How does this relate to real-life?” “Reading is thinking”. Teach students they already know how to read actively because they can think actively. I might choose to teach reading strategies by showing students an entertaining video clip and helping students realize that they already use such strategies to understand a movie, or their favorite t.v. show. This helps students realize they can apply these skills to reading as well.
¨ How do teachers support comprehension of content text through vocabulary development?
Teach how to “guess” the word when in context. Students should be instructed to write down new words they don’t understand and look up them up later with a dictionary. However, students should be encouraged to read unknown words in context first, guess the meaning, and check later to see if they were correct. Critical vocab words necessary for understanding content are taught separately and then returned to in the context of their readings. Teachers also show and encourage students how to use new vocabulary in their own writings.
¨ How do teachers use writing in various genres to help adolescents understand nonfiction texts, including informational and expository texts?
Nonfiction is the least favorite for genre for teens, as indicated by my Literacy Survey at the beginning of the year. Exposure to exciting, shorter texts can change this viewpoint and motivate, especially if connected to student interest and background.
¨ How do teachers use discussion and instructional conversations to support reading comprehension?
Class discussion exposes students to other perspectives (class community; group work; teacher guidance; peer-tutoring). Class discussion may help student identify personal connections and understand herself better. Teacher guided discussions and group discussions are great at challenging students to go beyond what they can do on their own. Teacher’s should guide their students down the right path so they can develop their own personal meanings from texts as opposed to just giving them the answer. Meaning is only valuable when developed by the individual. Each student must discover their own interpretations, feelings, and meaning.
References:· Woods, B. (2009). The right to think: giving adolescents the skills to make sense of the world. In S. Plaut (Ed.), The right to literacy in secondary schools : creating a culture of thinking (pp. 13-23). New York: Teachers College Press.
· Swinehart, J. (2009). Metacognition: how thinking about their thinking empowers students. In S. Plaut (Ed.), The right to literacy in secondary schools : creating a culture of thinking (pp. 25-35). New York: Teachers College Press.
· Tovani, C. (2004). The "so what?" of reading comprehension. In Do I Really Have to Teach Reading? Retrieved from http://skolar.skagafjordur.is/lestur/do I really have/DoIReallyHavetoTeachReadind2kafli.pdf