June 11, 2007
July 28, 2005
Chap. 5 & 8 Deeper R
Chapter 5: Deepening Comprehension Through Second-Draft Reading
Gallagher stresses the need to teach students the importance of rereading text in order to uncover deeper, non-literal meaning. He explains that good readers infer when they read and this is a difficult concept for many students to understand.
To help students learn to infer, he uses several examples. First, he presents
a text from which it is easy to infer the location of the writer. Next, he reads “Humpty Dumpty” and explains it is not really about an egg. He asks them what they think it’s really about, and because they are then curious and think he might be nuts, they reread the rhyme. The key here is now they are WILLING to read some words a 2nd time! Which for us teachers is the beginning of success on the road to their understanding of deeper reading. Historians are not sure of the origins of Humpty Dumpty, but Gallagher lists the 3 leading theories on pg. 82. To take students even deeper, he reads them “Yertle the Turtle” next. The turtle represents Hitler. Students are able to guess its real meaning after Gallagher gives them a hint: that the book was written in 1952. (see pg. 83).
Next, G. uses articles, graphs, and charts to get students to practice answering the question “What Does It Not Say”?. He wants to train them to infer the answer instead of accepting whatever they read at face value.
For example, using a chart comparing the number of influenza deaths in 1977 and 1999, he creates another chart to analyze the information and answer both questions “What does the chart say?” and “What Does the Chart Not Say?” . This is very effective. (see pg. 84). He points out 12 things that were not said in the table, which if they had been said, would make for a more complete picture. See Pg. 85-86
Now for my favorite part of the book. Gallagher says “some of the finest teaching is in the lower-ranked schools. Rather than blame these teachers and threaten school takeovers, we should be saying “thank you” and offering financial rewards for experienced teachers who choose to teach under such adverse conditions”. He goes on to call us “HEROIC URBAN EDUCATORS”.
It helps me understand the lack of perspective on the part of the public, they are taking the information on school performance related to test scores at face value only. They don’t get a complete picture, and many don’t realize there is more to the story.
Next he talks about 3 questions students need to answer….how to move them beyond “What does it say” into the thinking necessary to uncover the second and third questions: “What does it mean?” and “What does it matter?”.
What does it mean? (pg.88), talks about the value of teaching students to think of reasons why characters have made or are making certain decisions. Followed by asking students to support their assumptions by citing examples from the text, a skill we ALL aim for already.
Next, he encourages students to answer the “What does it matter?” question to have them make a connection to the real world. Or, why are we reading this now if it happened many years ago?, a question I’m sure my students are thinking at times.
Gallagher identifies themes in the piece of literature he is teaching and relates them to the present day by giving students real world examples and connections. For example, on pg. 90 he uses an example from To Kill A Mockingbird. Character Tom Robinson gives up hope; G. asks students if African American men today feel that same sense of hopelessness. Then he shares current statistics from the Human Rights Watch organization.
He completes the chapter highlighting 8 effective ways to help students deepen their understanding:
1. Say/Mean Chart – a simple t-chart – on the left students write what the passage says, and on the right what they think the passage means.
G. takes ideas from statements found in “Harper’s Index”, part of Harper’s magazine (see pg. 92 for internet reference).
2. Multi-Layered Time Lines – have ss develop a time line of events – esp. useful for novels or plays with detailed plots/many characters.
3. Literary Dominoes – G. compares the plots of novels, plays, and stories to dominoes that initiate a chain reaction. A story called If You Give A Mouse A Cookie by Numeroff, Laura Joffe could be turned into literary dominoes. Ex. G. gives is how it works with Romeo & Juliet
4. Flip Side Chart – Everything has a flip side, i.e. if you win the lottery, you pay higher taxes and long lost relatives begin to appear…etc. Pointing out these opposites helps ss to learn NOT to read at only face value.
5. Positive-Negative Chart – deals with positive vs. negative behavior by a character, how a character may influence another char. In a neg. or pos. way and highest or lowest point in the story.
6. Paragraph Plug-Ins – good strategy to help ss make sense of difficult reading…he writes a paragraph that forces students to make both literal and deeper meaning connections as regards the story…different use of cloze.
7. Reading Symbols – introduces kids to symbols that: make predictions, recognize use of literary devices, make connections to real life, make juedgements and challenge the text. Pg. 101
8. Responsibility Pie Charts –gives example of pie chart detailing Holocause Culpability…pg. 102
Chapter 8: Leading Students to Meaningful Reflection
Gives 10 reasons why reading is important
Pg. 149 gives mini-lesson once week related to these reasons
G. says many of our students haven’t “experienced unforgettable reading moments…have never found themselves in a reading trance” and he, like us, wants every student to see value in what they are reading.
Stock answers to the question “Why are we reading this?” aren’t enough.
Good to ask the question “What do I hope my students will take from this book?”
Keep focus of instruction on their needs, not yours…looks for real issues: those “universal concerns found in any great book that mean a great deal to teenagers”.
Discusses “Circles of Reflection”
Strategies to Encourage Reflection:
The Most Valuable Idea Chart
Theme Notebooks: identify themes, discuss as class, choose a real life medium and search for connections to today’s world
Casting Call – ss asked to cast real people as characters in story (famous or unknown) but explain why each chosen is qualified to play part, are there parallels between character and real life of person?
Theme Layers – identify central theme and show layers of real world connections
Anchor Questions – provide anchor question for ss to consider when reading book
The Hunt for the Author’s Purpose – gives final exam question to ss before they START reading the book….What was the author’s purpose in writing this book?
1. Of the strategies listed by Gallagher, which ones are similar to techniques you have already used in your classroom?
2. Which do you feel are the most relevant to your particular group of students?
3. What books/novels are you currently using in your classroom that you think might work well with one of G.’s strategies?
July 27, 2005
Complete the following sentence:
Reading a complex text is like taking a sledgehammer to a watermelon because...
Deeper Reading: Comprehending Challenging Texts, 4-12
Kelly Gallagher (2004)
Gallagher encourages teachers to invest in advance planning before introducing a difficult text to students. His model for teaching challenging text includes six components:
1. Focusing the reader: use pre-reading activities to frame the text
2. Effective first-draft reading: provide students with a focus for reading and strategies to monitor comprehension
3. Deepening comprehension through second-draft reading: guide students to reread, looking at specific aspects of the writing
4. The importance of collaboration: discuss the text and share ideas to support each other’s understanding in an intentional way with structured roles (no hitchhiking!)
5. Using metaphor to deepen comprehension: create metaphors related to the text to extend students’ thinking
6. Leading students to meaningful reflection: relate the text to their own lives.
Finally, guide students to reflect metacognitively on these steps, to help them internalize the process that good readers use and extend it to new situations.
Gallagher recommends that before beginning a text in class, teachers ask themselves 4 questions:
1. Without my assistance, what will my students take from this reading?
2. With my assistance, what do I want my students to take from this reading?
3. What can I do to bridge the gap between what my students would learn on their own and what I want them to learn? (see six steps above)
4. How will I know if my student 'got it'?"
July 24, 2005
Chapter 6 blog - Importance of Collaboration
Chapter 6 – Importance of Collaboration
I think the single most important thing we can teach our students after writing is the power of collaboration. It appears that Mr. Gallagher believes this too. As he notes, “simply putting students into groups and giving them time to talk will not automatically result in higher level thinking.” So, in that vein, he gives us strategies that will be effective and assist in preventing “students from hitchhiking,” meaning getting the free ride as other students in the group do the work.
Gallagher argues that sizes of groups matter. Melissa’s note: I agree. But I imagine that class sizes and attendance issues are out of our control both at the college level as well as K-12. So we really have to work with what we get on a daily basis.
Since he believes partners can be an effective way to collaborate, he has a fantastic tool called the “Appointment Clock” found on page 108. I have scanned a copy of it into these materials.
I appreciate the mention of ethnicity and gender on pages 108-109. When it comes to collaboration, it is important that a wide variety of students are represented in the smaller groups. Sometimes you as the instructor have to intercede in order to create effective collaboration.
Another interesting concept Gallagher mentions is the assigning and definition of roles. Although they are too numerous to list here, or I could do it as another scannable image, Gallagher believes that it is important to assign roles to each member in the group and eventually, the students will not need his “instructional scaffolding” in order to collaborate about reading.
There are several rules to govern collaboration: · No hitchhiking
· Be critical of ideas, not people. Disagreement is necessary and can be healthy if handled properly.
· We’re all in this together. This is a writing community.
· Restate something if it is not clear. Paraphrase!
· Try to understand both (or all if more) sides to each issue.
· Listen to everyone’s ideas even if you don’t agree.
· Let all ideas emerge.
The ten strategies to promote higher-level thinking in smaller group settings:
· Silent exchange
· Save the last word for me
· Trouble slips
· Double entry Journals Plus
· Mystery Envelops
· Group “exams”
· Group open minds
· Conversation Log Exchanges
· Theme triangles
I will share my favorite two activities and tell why I might use them in my class.
Melissa’s first favorite collaborative activity via Gallagher:
· Mystery Envelopes – the groups all get an envelope that contains a question for the group to answer. Then each group will share their answers with the larger group and everybody takes notes. I think I will use this with the Baldwin unit as well as the earlier chapters in my textbook. I like the combo of small and large group work
· SOAPS – Invented by the College Board, this is a strategy that “provides
students with roles to help them discuss text. The word “SOAPS” is an acronym and here is how it spells out:
·Subject: Identifies the subject and main ideas
·Occasion: Discusses the main context of the text; considers setting, circumstances, events, the era, the historical or cultural context.
· Audience:Identifies the intended audience and discusses why this audience was targeted
· Purpose: Analyzes what the author’s purpose was for composing the piece.
· Speaker: Determines the tone of voice in the piece; discusses why this tone was used.
I can see this being an effective tool for both reading and comprehension as well as the collaborative activity. The textbook I have for the comp class I teach has four essays in each chapter. What a great way to divide up the essays and conquer the text.
Chapter 3 - Focusing the Reader
Focusing on the Reader
· The chapter begins with the idea that students need pre-reading activities to get them ready for comprehension.
· This comes with prior knowledge – a mini lesson as Muriel would say.
o Note from Melissa: This is similar to what we do with the students at MCTC and our Commonground Project. We show a documentary called “Price of the Ticket.” In it, James Baldwin is the focus as he and his friends and family discuss his literary life. After students watch it, they are enormously curious and ready to read the two selections: “Sonny’s Blues” and “My Dungeon Shook.”
· There are 3 kinds of prior knowledge students need:
o Knowledge about the topic
o “ “ the structure and organization
o “ “ vocabulary
· Reading passages cold – without any prior knowledge – is argued to be ineffective. Melissa’s discussion point: have there been times that you had to do cold reading, for whatever reason, and it still was ok, and students got something out of it?
· We need to make connections to the literature that we read, thereby making a marker on our memory and comprehension.
o Key point #1 – Today’s curriculum must contain connections to THEIR past experiences, not just ours as teachers, in order for them to find meaning.
o Key point #2 – How a person feels about a learning situation determines the amount of attention devoted to it. Translation: Students need to have the answer to the question “Why should I care?” before going into a learning situation. Note from Melissa: Easier said than done.
· Framing the text – how to:
o Web searches – page 38 contains an interesting list
§ Students share their web “dig”
o Anticipation guides
o Theme spotlights
o Focus poems
o K-W-L-R charts (know, want to know, learned, Post reading Research)
· Framing devices WHILE reading the piece
o Daily focus questions
o Word games
o Interrupted Summary
o One question, one comment (Note from Melissa: sounds a little like
Melissa’s tornado activity)
o Word scramble Prediction
· Perils of assumicide
Chapter 10: The Art of Teaching Deep Reading
Chapter 10 leads us through lesson planning using Gallagher's approach to teaching reading. He recommends that before beginning a text in class, teachers ask themselves 4 questions:
"1. Without my assistance, what will my students take from this reading?
2. With my assistance, what do I want my students to take from this reading?
3. What can I do to bridge the gap between what my students would learn on their own and what I want them to learn?
4. How will I know if my student 'got it'?" (198-199)
The third question above is where the steps of teaching challenging text would come in.
Gallagher also emphasizes the importance of backwards planning--writing the assessments before teaching a unit, and being clear with students about what the objectives are for a given text. It gives students a focus while they read, and teachers a focus while they teach. He recommends choosing only one or two areas for each text to assess, and creating assessments that require critical thinking in order to provoke deeper reading of the text. He also shares two caveats of his approach to teaching challenging texts. One is the danger of overteaching the text, which risks that the literary value may get lost or that students may lose interest. The second danger is that students may come to rely too heavily on the teacher. It is important to offer plenty of scaffolding at first, then pull back gradually over the course of the year to help students develop independence.
Question: Gallagher asserts that multiple choice reading assessments inspire surface-level reading on the part of students (211-212). Do any of you give reading quizzes to check students' progress on a book? If so, what format do you use? Could this type of quiz be counterproductive, even if there is a more higher-order assessment after students finish the text?
Comment: Gallagher ends the book with a note on the importance of the teacher: "There is a big difference between assigning students difficult reading and teaching them how to read deeply. This definition reminds me that I am a teacher, not merely an information dispenser; and as a teacher, I will enter my classroom tomorrow morning with the goal of helping my students learn what deeper readers do." (216) I appreciated this combination vote of confidence and call to action. In reading, especially, there has been such a pattern of relying on teacher-proof curriculums as the magic bullet to solve students' reading problems, which has only increased with the accountability movement/NCLB, etc. In reality, a curriculum doesn't teach students to read--a teacher does. Gallagher's approach requires that teachers use their knowledge of texts and students to connect the two; something no boxed reading program could do.