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How can students internalize scaffolds?

In chapter two, Gallagher reminds me of what I learned as "pre-reading" in my teacher training. We need to warm-up students before they read by scaffolding to prior experience or necessary background information. Now that I've been teaching for 12 years, and after having read Kylene Beers last summer, I'm wondering how I can get students to internalize this step--to move from being dependent on me to working independently to warm up to a text. I can think of anticipations guides, journal entries, and other warm-ups for any text, but those are all teacher directed activities. Where is the strategy that will teach students how to independently approach a text in a way that will connect to their prior knowledge? It can't be as simple as examining the cover, really. As teachers who've read the texts, we can be very specific and focused in the warm-ups we assign. What's a reluctant teenaged reader miraculously beginning a book independently to do?

I've learned and used strategies for helping students to internalize during reading and post reading strategies, and even Gallagher lists several strategies for beginning reading. However, I want to learn to help them internalize a pre-reading strategy. Maybe it just happens in relationship with the teacher, as Gallagher describes in sharing the branches of his reading tree and how his past reading experiences have motivated him to seek out and read different books. But modeling, as effective as it is, is so immeasurable. I can't be certain that when an eleventh grader who has failed the Reading BST every year since 8th grade will have a concrete strategy for pre-reading a nonfiction text when he sits down to retake the test just because I've modeled my own reading process. Beers offers several great pre-reading strategies like tea party or probable passage, but again they are teacher prepared.

Maybe Gallagher will answer my question about internalizing prereading in later chapters, but if you have ideas please share.

By the way, this is Jen not Alex:).


I think you are right, internalizing these pre-reading strategies is a bit more of a challenge. I tend to think of Gallagher's suggestions as teacher directed, not student directed. The underlying message to me is that students always need a teacher to understand complex texts, although I don't completely agree.

Jen, I agree that the pre-reading strategies in Gallagher, Beers, and even the Tovani book I read 2 summers ago-- although very compelling-- are essentially teacher-directed. At the end of your entry, when you mentioned modeling, I wondered what your pre-reading strategies are? and how could you model them for students? I think when I teach reading, I feel a bit like a fraud. I love jumping into an unfamiliar text and trying to figure it out, but I know my students don't share that curiosity. What internalized pre-reading strategies are so tacit to us that we don't notice them anymore-- but still could be useful to our students?

Internalizing for my students depends a great deal on what the subject of the text is. For some students it is a given that they are going to dive into anything you hand them. In order to help other students feel linked to the text I usually try to find a hook to involve them. An example is Josh a 5th grade student who announced to me in September that he wasn't going to have anything to do with "chick-flick" books this year. I immediately moved the second title I had planned to first place on our list for the year and introduced the mystery with Josh in mind. Because he likes to crack codes he dived into the book and never said another word all year. No "chick-flick" books had been planned for the year anyway but Josh got off on the right foot with the right hook.

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