web analytics
May 4, 2015 / 15 Iyar, 5775
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post


Literacy Illuminated (Part II)


Schonfeld-011312

Like most first grade classrooms, the one I was observing had students with multiple reading levels. Accordingly, the head teacher had divided the students into different groups so that they could practice skills that were relevant to all members of the small group. First, I sat in the “high level” group. The students, even though they were only in first grade, were beginning to read Richard and Florence Atwater’s whimsical novel Mr. Popper’s Penguins.

Shmuel, a freckled redhead, began to read aloud to his classmates as they looked on in their own copies of the book,

“It was an afternoon in late September. In the pleasant little city of Stillwater, Mr. Popper, the house painter, was going home from work. He was carrying his buckets, his ladders, and his boards so that he had a rather hard time moving along. He was spattered here and there with paint and calcimine, and there were bits of wallpaper clinging to his hair and whiskers, for he was a rather untidy man.”

Shmuel read the piece flawlessly, even pronouncing “calcimine” with ease. However, his voice was monotonous, he barely paused at the periods, and his intonations reflected no understanding of the text he was reading. His groupmates followed along silently, but they too seemed unaffected by the humorous portrayal of the messy Mr. Popper. What was going on with these “high level readers?” They seem to have mastered reading the words off of the page, but have little appreciation or understanding of the literature they are reading.

In my last article, I explored the merits of phonics and sight-reading in fostering reading skills. Regardless of the method used, the goal of both phonics and sight-reading is to allow readers to progress to the next level. After they have learned how to decode words, children can move on to comprehension and fluency. Shmuel and his groupmates seem to be adept at decoding the words on the page, but have little or no understanding of the text they are reading. Are these truly high level readers?

Reading Without Comprehension – An Exercise in Frustration

Many children who learn to read the words before they understand the meaning behind them will lack comprehension even as they mature as readers. Scholastic Press, an expert teaching source, explains that comprehension is not simply in the text, but rather that “reading is a ‘transaction’ in which the reader brings purposes and life experiences to bear to converse with the text. This meeting of the reader and the text results in the meaning that is comprehension. Comprehension always attends to what is coded or written in the text, but it also depends upon the reader’s background experiences, purposes, feelings, and needs of the moment. That’s why we can read the same book or story twice and it will have very different meanings for us.” Therefore, students need to actively engage in comprehension strategies in order to understand and ultimately enjoy what they read.

Research has shown that very early readers who have little or no comprehension of what they are reading derive trivial pleasure from reading. As they develop, if comprehension does not improve, these “advanced” readers will grow to dislike reading, as it is simply a repetition of hollow and meaningless words.

What are some strategies that aid comprehension?

Making connections: Children can make connections with the text by using their own background information. Creating these connections helps the student understand where this book falls in the knowledge that they have already mastered. There are three main types of connections that children can make:

Text to self: connections between the text and the reader’s personal experience.

Text to text: connections between the text and another text the reader has read.

Text to world: connections made between the text and something that occurs in the world.

Questioning: Questions help students clarify and deepen their understanding of the text they are reading. There are many different types of questions: vocabulary words, predictions (what will happen next), compare and contrast, and cause and effect.

Visualizing: Visualizing occurs when readers create mental pictures of the text they are reading. Visualization helps students engage in the text in a personal and memorable manner. As they continue to read, the pictures continue to change with the changing personality traits of the different characters.

Remember, expert readers automatically employ these reading strategies without even realizing it. Once students are taught to use these strategies, they will become second nature.

Fluency: When Speed Matters

Once students begin to master the skill of comprehension, fluency becomes the next key indicator of a child’s reading ability. Fluency is the ability to read aloud expressively and with understanding. When fluent readers read aloud, the text flows in a regular and clear manner, rather than sounding choppy and halting. Without fluency, the world of imagination, humor, and drama contained in the finest books is no more than a tangle of words.

About the Author: An acclaimed educator and education consultant, Mrs. Rifka Schonfeld has served the Jewish community for close to thirty years. She founded and directs the widely acclaimed educational program, SOS, servicing all grade levels in secular as well as Hebrew studies. A kriah and reading specialist, she has given dynamic workshops and has set up reading labs in many schools. In addition, she offers evaluations G.E.D. preparation,, social skills training and shidduch coaching, focusing on building self-esteem and self-awareness. She can be reached at 718-382-5437 or at rifkaschonfeld@verizon.net. Visit her on the web at rifkaschonfeldsos.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Literacy Illuminated (Part II)”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Avigdor Liberman
Avigdor Liberman Resigning from FM, Quiting Coalition, Heading to Opposition
Latest Sections Stories
blintze_cake

“DouxMatok’s technology will allow for a reduction of 30-60 percent of sugar in a product, depending on the application, and with no effect on taste.”

Schonfeld-logo1

How do we ensure that our students aren’t studying for the grade or the end-of-the-year pizza party? How can we get them to truly want to learn for learning’s sake?

Kupfer-On-Our-Own-NEW

The message being conveyed is that without “flour,” without the means to support oneself and one’s family, one’s focus on Torah will be impeded by worry.

Someone close to us knew that you were good at saving marriages and begged us to give therapy one last chance,

Rabbi Pinni Dunner and Holocaust survivor Heddy Orden.

He wrote a strong defense of shechitah in which he maintained that the Jewish method of slaughter had a humanitarian influence on the Jewish people.

New York State Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul will be the keynote speaker at the Westchester Government Relations Legislative Breakfast on Friday, May 8, at 7:45 am at the Jewish Community Center of Harrison.  The annual event, which brings together important elected officials and the Westchester Jewish community, is sponsored jointly by UJA-Federation of New York […]

“Like other collaborative members, we embarked on this journey as an opportunity to build on New York leadership’s long commitment to expand and diversify opportunities for Jewish teen engagement,” says Melanie Schneider, senior planning executive with UJA-Federation of New York’s Commission on Jewish Identity and Renewal

The poetry slam required entrants to compose original poetry with powerful imagery and energetic rhythm bringing their poems to life – making it palpable to the audience.

“I was so inspired by the beautiful lessons I learned and by the holiness around me that I just couldn’t stop writing songs!” she says.

But Pi Day is worst of all
I want the extra credit bad
But trying to remember many numbers
makes me sad.

Several thousand Eastern European Jews had escaped Nazi death and Soviet persecution by fleeing to Shanghai, China.

More Articles from Rifka Schonfeld
Schonfeld-logo1

How do we ensure that our students aren’t studying for the grade or the end-of-the-year pizza party? How can we get them to truly want to learn for learning’s sake?

Schonfeld-logo1

But Pi Day is worst of all
I want the extra credit bad
But trying to remember many numbers
makes me sad.

The teenage years are not about surviving. They are about thriving.

She wasn’t paying attention to what the child did when the mother was not in the room. Rather, her main focus was on what the child did when the mother returned.

When any student in the building is in danger of failing, the equivalent of tornado warning sirens should wail around the school.

“If you don’t stand straight, you’ll never get a husband.”

A lot of people have heard about dyslexia, a learning disability that concerns reading.

Because birth order can affect most children in similar fashion, there are things you can do to help your children overcome weaknesses that birth order has thrown their way.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/family/parenting-our-children/literacy-illuminated-part-two/2012/01/12/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: