[LIT] The BIG question - expert advice needed!

Ckingsbery at aol.com Ckingsbery at aol.com
Sat Aug 25 10:15:34 EDT 2007

In a message dated 8/24/2007 3:33:47 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time,  
haynesm at hpisd.org writes:

*Teaching strategies (making connections, visualizing, etc.)  versus
text structures (setting, character, etc.) versus  genre*. Do you teach
all strategies early in the year and then  literary elements later, or do you
mingle both?  (Clarification: I can see the year being arranged like
this:  "fiction, nonfiction, poetry, test prep..." or like this:  "making
connections, questioning, visualizing,  inferring...")
Once you determine your framework...or it is determined for you...the  frames 
you suggest above are just different organizational structures, all the  
content is important. Literary elements can be scaffolded into either  frame.

2. *Integrating test preparation for the big reading  test*. See
previous posts. Do I teach a whole unit on  test-taking, with test passages
and the whole deal, or do I  teach the type of questions that will be asked
(compare and  contrast, author's purpose, cause and effect) in another
context (i.e., guided reading)?
I am adamantly opposed to stop everything and test prep, if you're not just  
ignore this...it may be an  idea to model the structure of your state test  
into your formative and summative classroom assessments. Teach students to code  
directions, pick out clues in questions, eliminate outliers...etc. If this is 
 part of their routine the state test will not be such an event, but a 
reasonable  assessment of their skills and knowledge.

3. *Aligning reading with writing topics*. When I'm  teaching
nonfiction in writing, should I do nonfiction in  reading at the same time?
Students, ideally, should be writing what they're reading and reading  
examples of writing styles they are reading.

4. *Guided reading*. WHAT texts do you teach? Do you  reinforce
whatever you taught in a minilesson, or is it a  different focus entirely?
Guided reading reinforces skills and content that may be new or emerging  for 
students. It precedes independent practice. I think it should be related to  
your mini-lessons.

5. *Content-area reading*. Probably some of you don't  teach all
subjects, but I do, and I wonder if I should teach  reading the science
textbook in science or in reading. Is  content-area reading a unit you teach?
Should I do it as part  of guided reading instead of whole-class?
Helping students transact with technical text is not a unit, in my opinion.  
Technical reading is a skill that develops. It requires reading stamina and  
practice. Starting with inputs to bring out the differences between narrative  
and technical texts, then moving onto a think aloud as you demonstrate how you 
 make meaning of a technical text, followed by guided reading and independent 
 practice throughout the year. The grouping strategy you use depends on 
whether  you are accommodating for different skill levels or if you have an 
expectation  that all students will be responsible for the same text.

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