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Tying Comprehension and Discussions
June 16, 2014

Tying Comprehension and Discussions

Now that summer’s here and I have a little time to sit back and reflect on my first year of Mentoring, I’m noticing a common theme that played out in several of the classrooms I work in.

It typically started with, “My kids need to understand what they are reading!”

Yep. They sure do.

We would talk about what strategies they were using, what was helping, what wasn’t working.

Once that was vetted – I’d get a stare like, “Now what?”

Almost every time I came back to two of my favorite strategies: TextMapping and Thinking Maps.

TextMapping is a process, created by Dave Middlebrook, when you take a piece of text, turn it into a scroll with all the pages taped together to see at one time and you start to dissect.

The dissection is based on a key or code that you create based on your students’ needs.

As you see in this picture we were working on basic elements like beginning / middle / end, headings and questions.

While the kids are reading the article they can circle the text that fits each code.

Through this process the students own the text, and begin to really see the relationships between different parts of the text.

The kids love it.

I personally have used this strategy in First through Fifth grade classrooms with success this year.

The second strategy that I often recommend is Thinking Maps.

There are 8 different maps depending on what skills you are working on.

I have used the flow map most often recently mostly because I can model a complete lesson using the tool in about 20 minutes and my new teachers can run with it.

In this photo I was modeling the flow map as a story retelling tool.

I read the story of the “Three Little Pigs” to the class and they told me what would go into each section.

The kids then read a book of their choice and created a flow based on that book.

They love it.

Some of my teachers have taken these two strategies and married them together into a wonderful map-madness!

They give the students the text as a scroll, like in TextMapping, but they also provide a chart paper so they can create Thinking Maps around the text.

Comprehension. Yeah, they know what they are reading - and can prove it.

After all of these lessons are under way the statement, “My kids need to talk about what they are reading!” eventually comes around.

One tool that I’ve seen used is the “umbrella discussion”.

The way this works is as you and your students are building a base of words, topics, themes, whatever – you start to add them to a chart that is shaped like an umbrella.

This frames the discussion so everyone knows what the parameters are.

Then, the magic happens.

Start the discussion off with a really HOT, open-ended question and let the kids talk.

Just remind them that the umbrella is where we are talking so the discussion doesn’t get too off course.

Do you see how this all comes together?

Isn’t it cool?

Want to try it?

Let me know what you think!

I would LOVE to know what you think about this.

Hit reply - or hop over to Facebook or Twitter and share your ideas on this.

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I hope that you have enjoyed this newsletter. Please feel free to email it to friends and family who are teachers or home-school moms!

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

See you next month!

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