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The Key: Get them to think WHILE they are reading

 by hilton on 02 Jun 2015 |
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What has struck me again and again during the whirlwind of workshops in the last few months has been that no matter where we go or who the audience is, whether it be mainstream classes in NZ,  students from diverse cultures in International schools in Hong Kong, Chinese children struggling with English as a second language or aboriginal students in outback Australia, the challenge is always the same - to get them thinking AS THEY ARE READING. When this happens the lights go on, students get engaged, teachers get motivated and everyone has some fun.
 
But that's not as easy as it sounds. 
 
The problem is that DECODING (making sense out of the squiggles on the page), can become a very mechanical process. Once the reader has control over the phonics skills they need and some knowledge about word structure, the task of 'reading' can be all about word recognition and this can done with little engagement of the brain.
 
Try reading this aloud ... quickly.
 
"In physics, string theory is a theoretical framework in which the point like particles of particle physics are replaced by one-dimensional objects called strings. In string theory, the different types of observed elementary particles arise from the different quantum states of these strings. In addition to the types of particles postulated by the standard model of particle physics, string theory naturally incorporates gravity and is therefore a candidate for a theory of everything ... "
 
I am sure that unless you have a degree in physics, you shut down any attempt to make sense of this by sentence two BUT you could 'read' it ... with appropriate phrasing and intonation .. as if you knew what you we talking about.
 
The point I am trying to make - fluent decoding does not necessarily mean fluent comprehending. Many of our students do not understand that there is work to be done beyond superficial code cracking.
 
We see this as our major point of difference from other comprehension approaches. We believe the secret to developing successful readers is to habitualise comprehension strategies WHILE the student is reading. 
 
So how do you do that in a busy classroom?
 
I am working on a quick 200 word explanation of that for the next post.

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