Thursday, February 7, 2013

Checking 'Under the Hood' for Students' Reading Strategies


Processing information while reading is such a complex task!  I compare it to my car.  I know there are a lot of things going on underneath the hood when I start my car up and send it into reverse.  There has to be a highly elaborate system for what seems like a simple thing for me to do.  For me, starting my car is easy; I have even been having my 13 year-old start it in the morning because it’s been so cold out and I don’t want to do it!
But, as simple as it is for me, I know that there was a lot of engineering, trial and errors, research, and testing conducted by others so that my 13 year-old could easily turn the key and be able to automatically assume the car will start.

Just like starting a car, I think we can ask our kids to read and then we assume they are reading and understanding.  But, there are a lot of things going on ‘underneath the hood,’ that we need to make sure are working properly.  We can think of ourselves as the engineers, conducting trials and errors while listening to students read and asking them about their thinking.  We can test their skills on specific reading strategies so that we can be sure that what we don’t see ‘under the hood’ is happening every time they open a book!
Here is a list of questions we can ask our students to check for understanding as we conference or meet with students in guided reading:
1. Tell me what you are thinking about as you are reading (or after you finished reading).
2. What questions do you have as you are reading (or after you finished reading)?
3. What are you wondering about?
4. Is there a part that doesn't make sense?
5. What surprised you as you were reading?
6. What did you notice?
Asking these types of open-ended questions will give you a good snapshot as to what the student is thinking.  If the student answers with limited information, you can continue to press for information by saying things like:
1. Tell me more...
2. What else...
3. What makes you think that?
4. What do you mean by...?
As you are listening to students respond, take some notes on what each student is thinking.  Their responses to these questions will guide you in your future instruction.  You will easily be able to see if there is a lot of thinking going on 'under the hood' or not!
The best way to teach students that reading is more than just following words across the page with your eyes is to model the process by thinking aloud as you read.  Reading to students every...single...day, and sharing your thinking as you process information is the very best way to encourage thinking while reading.
Please visit my store to see more resources for asking comprehension questions.  I have several resources, including the following comprehension question cards. 


 


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2 comments:

  1. I ask students to write "gist" statements after finishing a chapter (or chunk) of reading. Ir is a one sentence summary of what they read. I can really see if they are picking up the big idea or just some random detail! Caitlin (www.The-Room-Mom.com)

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  2. I love this analogy. I also really enjoyed reading this post and am going to check out these resources. Thanks for sharing!

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