Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Comprehension Grows Up

Tuesday's Slice of Life connected to: Two Writing Teachers
I love the idea of comprehension growing up. Its so much better than becoming more rigorous or comprehension in the common core. This is the concept I worked with in a fifth grade class. I wanted to use comprehension in my read aloud/think aloud, but I wanted the students to go deeper. I know the strategies and so did the children. It's a good bunch of students and they've had wonderful teaching. Now, how to get them to a new level of thinking?

I decided our focus would be: "Using images that emanate from the emotions to understand more vividly, more deeply."  taken from Talk About Understanding  by Ellin Oliver Keene. For the read aloud, I would use One Green Apple by Eve Bunting. Its about a child in a new school who is from another country and doesn't speak English. The author puts the reader into another child's shoes. It was perfect for addressing emotions.

I started the lesson by discussing the title and cover of the book. We made predictions and asked questions. I read the book once just for enjoyment---for the story. When I was done, we did a turn-and-talk about their reactions to the story.

Next, it was time to go deeper. We briefly talked about comprehension and how we wanted to go deeper since they are now fifth graders...comprehension grows up. I gave them the challenge of looking for emotions in our story...in illustrations, in inferences, in the reader's feelings. We briefly talked about what emotions were and listed some.

When I read this time, I would stop at preselected passages:
  • "I am tight inside myself."
  • "I understand. It's not that I am stupid. It is just that I'm lost in this new place."
  • "Beside me is a tree, shorter than the others, that doesn't seem to belong. It is small and alone, like me."
I would read again the text and ask what they thought. As we moved through the book, their discussions got deeper. They used the emotions to better understand the deeper meaning in the book.

When we were done, I asked them what lesson was there. After talking it over they had the message of how we all blend together with no ONE person standing out.  It felt good to leave them with a reading strategy of using emotions to understand more vividly, more deeply.

1 comment:

Anita Ferreri said...

I too like the idea of comprehension growing but also of comprehension changing based on the context of our reading. While sharing One Green Apple with my grad students the other day, several students noted they connected and comprehended more of less with the main character based on their own moving / starting over / or not moving much at all. It was a clear demonstration of comprehension as backgraound dependent. Thanks for the thought-provoking post!