The majority of students in the upper elementary and middle grades are beyond decoding ability and need more assistance with comprehension to help them become more mature readers. A collaborative effort by the Center for Public Policy and Social Research at the Central Connecticut State University and John W. Miller resulted in a survey that examines data from 2003 to 2014. The study found that out of 60 countries, Nordic countries ranked higher in literacy rates than their Western counterparts. The findings included Asian countries, but due to mitigating factors, they reflected a tendency to focus on testing rigor as opposed to conventional insight. Miller, the president of the New Britain, Connecticut school further clarifies, “The factors we examined present a complex and nuanced portrait of a nation’s cultural vitality, and what the rankings strongly suggest and world literacy demonstrates is that these kinds of literate behaviors are critical to the success of individuals and nations in the knowledge-based economics that define our global future.”
Call to Action
This is a guide for showing students how to make three different kinds of connections. As a reference, a teacher will learn to show students how a text connects to their lives, another text they have read, or the world around them. A student can use it to model text-to-self, text-to-text, and text-to-world connections so that they can begin to make personal connections to a text on their own. Once mastered, students will have the knowledge to find their own personal connections to a text independently with minimal teacher supervision.
The practice of reading strategy allows students to monitor their own thinking and make connections between a text and their own experience. As a result of making connections while reading, students are better able to understand the text they are reading and; in turn, the lesson. It is important for students to apply their prior knowledge and experiences in order to connect with the assigned text. Without a modicum of thought process, the reading experience is limited. A student that takes advantages of all available insight stand to benefit by gaining a deeper understanding of a text by developing more authentic connections that score higher overall.
The teacher commences by creating a list of personal connections to the particular text prior to the scheduled lesson. The student should understand that the teacher will demonstrate the comprehension strategy of making connections to find ways that a student can personally relate to a text. The teacher accomplishes by thinking loudly as they make each type of connection, using their own list of personal connections to the particular text in question. At this point, it is necessary to emphasize connections that actually help enhance individual understanding of the novel as opposed to others that are merely “there.”
Once the teacher has modeled the strategy, the student can test themselves by sharing a few quick examples of both kinds of connections, followed by an explanation of why some examples might help their understanding of the text more than others. For the text-to-world and text-to-text levels, the student starts by thinking about how events are similar or different and what the student remembers regarding a text and the world. For the text-to-self level, the student has to relate their own circumstance to the story or to a specific character or group in the text. In a brief reading passage, the student need only commit the details to memory. It is advisable that longer reading assignments such as novels or textbooks should be studied with separate notation that will be subjected to a constant stream of revision as the student demonstrates proficiency with the material. A student that relates to being the outsider after moving to a new town and a different school system in the same way to a character in the novel has made a deeper connection than noticing that the character has a similar preference such as sunny days over wintry ones or urban over rural neighborhoods. After gathering substantive points about the reading, the student can keep a journal of related or significant ideas. A visual planner or chart of the student’s choice can serve as the preliminary phase of an essay, if so required.
Once the basic approach is grasped, the student can refine their comprehension skills by incorporating a myriad of other options open for exploration.
Ask Questions: What are the symbols, if any, and what do they mean? If you are confused, reread to find an appropriate answer.
Determine Importance: While you read, decide what is important in the passage and what is less important. If you underline key ideas and facts in the passage, they will help you to better understand what you are reading.
Make Connections: As you are reading, think about whether something similar has happened to you or someone you know. You can also make connections between books.
Make Inferences: At times, an author will tell you exactly what is happening, or will only provide clues. The strategy of “reading between the lines” involves using contextual clues to help you identify a problem or its solution.
Make Predictions: When you try making predictions about the reading it shows that you are thinking about what is going to happen next in a story. This strategy helps to make a better connect with the reading because you want to know what happens next rather than just skimming over events.
Synthesize Information: This means creatively combining new information with information you already know. Ask yourself if you agree or disagree with the message and why.
Visualize: Using “mental pictures” of the reading will help you to remember and understand the story content. To visualize events in a story, look for describing words that tell about people, places, and things.
As you read, summarize important details from a passage such as; who, what, when, where, why, and how. This is only a brief sampling of the main points that can serve as a rudimentary outline of a speech or report.
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