Great practice: Independent practice

Form pairs, and one of them plays the journalist and the other the magnate. The journalist has to ask the magnate questions like, “Can everything in life be obtained quickly?”, “Can money buy anything?”, “Does everyone have to give you what you want without question just because you’re rich and powerful?”, and “Does your child act like you?”

6-Connections. We connect the text with the real word. Do you know children who behave like this? How are their families educating them? Do you think the parents who give their children anything they ask for are good parents or bad parents? Have you ever been bored no matter how many toys you had? When they ask you about your birthday, what do you want for a present? Do you always know the answer or do you have trouble coming up with one? When you get a toy, does it make you happier or do you get tired of it after a while?

7- Summarizing. In one phrase, we summarize the main subject of the reading.

Teaching: How to ask

We teach the Questioning strategy. “Today we’ll learn about a very important strategy that helps us understand what we read, and helps us study. Do you remember the last movie you watched? Do you remember the movie better than you remember the subject you studied? Why do we remember movies more easily? Among other things, we remember more easily because when we watch a movie, we ask ourselves questions subconsciously. We are not aware of it, but we think, “What is the movie about?”, “Is it a scary, romance, adventure, or crime movie?”, “Who stars in the movie?”, “What happens to the main character?”, and “Who are the good guys and who the bad guys are?” When we read, it’s really important to ask ourselves questions to clarify what’s happening. This way, we understand it better and we also remember it easier. In this text, who’s the main character? The child. Are there any other characters? The father. What does the child do? What does the father do? What’s the message of the text? How was the child? Savage and unfriendly. Why was he like that?”. The adult gives the answers to these questions.

 

  1. Everyone asks questions about the reading. You compare the questions with the questions you would have if the text was a movie. We focus on questions about the words in bold, “magnate”, “gifted”, and “frustration”. TO help them ask the questions, you tape cards in front of every student, asking what, why, who, etc. Come up with group questions that include these words.

EXAMPLE OF A PRACTICAL LESSON

  • OBJECTIVE: Learn the strategy

 

  • METHODOLOGY
  • 1- Previewing. We motivate reading and teach the students how to do predictions.

“The reading is called What a Child! What could it be about? I think it will tell us the story of a brave and caring child who helps others and does something really valuable. Does anyone feel the same way? Could it mean something else? Who can think of anything else? It could also be the entire opposite. Maybe it’s a naughty child, and everyone is sick of him.”

“The text we’re reading reflects one of the most important problems we can find nowadays in schools, workplaces, stores, etc.: Tyranny, people abusing others, boring, thinking that money can solve anything”

 

  1. We work on the verbal fluency. The teacher serves as a model, reading the whole text. Then, the students read paragraphs of the text, trying to imitate the way the adult read.

EXPRESSIVE READING

Using theatrical reading is really useful. In it, several characters with emotional charges intervene. The teacher reads in front of the students and points out the emotions present in the characters. She assigns different characters to the students, and they practice the reading several times.

A variant of this is radio reading (reading in a radio show, or pretending to be reading in one), or using the students as models of it. Record their readings, and then listen to them, evaluating and practicing again.

SUMMARY.

Good readers have a good reading comprehension and fluency.

There are three aspects to comprehension: literal, interpretative and evaluative. To improve reading comprehension, it’s necessary to work on the three components, and even to work mainly on the last two. In Spain, teachers work mainly with literal reading or memorization. Besides, to understand the texts, students need to be taught a series of strategies. Reading fluency involves three aspects too: precision (capability to automatically recognize words within a text and phonemes within words), rhythm (the speed of reading), and expressivity. To improve comprehension and fluency, you have to use a methodology where the adult first serves as a model, and then practices with the students, guiding them. Then, the adult should guide individual practices. Next are some examples on practical lessons on how to improve reading, covering both fluency and comprehension.

READING PRACTICE: THE STORY OF THE LIGHT WORM WITHOUT LIGHT

Objective: teaching the summarizing strategy (summarizing what’s important).

  • Indicating the goal we have for the session. We point out the importance of being capable of summarizing in few words everything the author wants to say. We mention several advantages: studying better, understanding messages on the Internet, newspaper, movies…
  • Previewing: “It’s been said that many stories teach us important aspects of life so that we can be happier, fairer, and help each other… Do you know any story that teaches a lesson?” Comment on the stories briefly. “The story we’ll read today has a nice message, and we’ll try to figure out what the message is, because this message is the main idea. Discovering it helps us understand everything we read, and allows us to summarize it in few words. We’ll notice the title, “Story of the Light Worm without Light”. What does it mean? Are there worms with light? Are there worms without light? What’s the name of the worms that glow? What’s the story about? We’ll create a hypothesis… I think this story talks about a firefly who, for some reason, has no light anymore.”
  • The adult reads the story, serving as a model. He makes stops whenever there are new words, and explains them. Then, he divides the text in three and several students read it, trying to imitate the adult in his rhythm and expressions.

More teaching techniques

  • Modeling the technique: “I’ll focus on the first part of the story. I read it again. I close my eyes for a moment and imagine what I read. I think about a living room, a father and a son lying on the couch, and a mother doing housework. The mother is walking by, carrying the ironing board, and they’re watching the TV. Then something comes up on the TV. What is it? Ahhh, yes, it’s a commercial with a beach, where they can just relax. I got it. Now I’ll draw it on the blackboard. Done. The drawing doesn’t have to be a great piece of art. It’s enough if I can understand it, and it shouldn’t take long to make it.”
  • Guided practice: “Well, now we’ll work together on the second part. We’ll read it together. Let’s close our eyes now and imagine what we read. What is happening? Who’s the main character in this part? Yes, it’s the mother. What does the mother say? What face do they make when they hear the news? Let’s draw it. Each one of you will do it while on your desks, and then we’ll do it together on the blackboard.”

ASSISTED READING

Research strongly reject that the “you read first, then you follow” methodology, dividing the text in parts, improves the fluency of students who have a difficulty improving it.

To achieve an improvement in fluency, you need the students to imitate a model after they hear it.

Procedure:

  1. a) The teacher reads the text. It can also be played as a recording, stopping to repeat phrases or to point out words (this works especially well for students who are bad readers or dyslexic). While the model reading is being done, the unknown vocabulary is explained, and the adult can clarify things in the reading.
  2. b) The students read and repeat the phrases the teacher read. The teacher and the students can take turns reading different paragraphs. This technique is used a lot with students who have problems reading.
  3. c) They can also read in pairs. You ask the students to evaluate the fluency of the model or the fluency of their classmates. This makes them aware of the reading processes and motivates them to improve.
  4. d) Another technique is to use chorus reading. The adult reads, and the whole class reads with him.
  5. E) Sometimes, the models can be students who have trained in the reading of a text at home.