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?Posted by mart1634 at July 28, 2005 11:20 AM