Four Teaching Strategies
The first strategy used for teaching students to activate prior knowledge is picture walk. This technique presupposes that a teacher uses pictures to explain text concepts. In order for this approach to work, a teacher has to read the text to understand key ideas. Then, the teacher chooses the most appropriate image or illustration. When students are preparing to read the text, the teacher shows them the picture to give an idea about the content of the text. Picture walk is used when texts are heavy with meaning and require additional support to comprehend. Choosing this strategy is beneficial because it allows visual information to support text.
The second proposed teaching strategy is reading aloud to students. When a teacher spells out each word, the information is better processed than when the text is read in silence. This technique is effective when students are planning to read the text in a second language. The reason why a teacher may to choose to read aloud lies in the supposed inability of students to perceive information quickly. Furthermore, reading aloud also teaches them pronunciation rules, which students do not practice when they read in silence.
Another teaching strategy is role-playing, which brings the interactive component to reading. The teacher who uses this technique selects a situation from the text, explains it to the students and lets them act it out. This strategy is used when students “need concrete experiences” to better comprehend information (Cooper et al., 2018, p. 123). The reason why it is effective lies in the better memorization of perceived information due to personal experience.
Structured previews are another technique which is similar to picture walk. However, the strategy of structured previews does not utilize pictures. For instance, the teacher can create a story map of the most important events summarized in key phrases. This technique is used when the reading is expected to take much time, which may make students lose focus (Cooper et al., 2018, p. 109). The reason why it is effective is that at any point a student can raise eyes to look upon the story map, understand the current point in the story and continue reading.
Teaching Strategies for each Type of Students
Second-language learners require structured previews because they enable them to keep track of the text. When students learn a new language, they may find comprehension of new words challenging. However, when they have a preview on which they can rely to understand the meaning of the passage, it is easier for them to read. In essence, a preview enables them not to know each new word.
Students with limited prior knowledge can benefit from concrete materials and real experiences. Materials and experiences refer to “the Internet, YouTube, CD-ROMs, pictures, DVDs, videos, films, field trips, or classroom planned experiences” (Cooper et al., 2018, p. 124). As long as the materials used are related to the text information, students can use them to prepare for reading itself. This technique also enables the power of background knowledge to contribute to better comprehension (Neuman et al., n.d.) Not only do students understand what the text will be about, but they also get acquainted with the topic, thus resolving the lack of prior knowledge.
Anticipation guides are a way of helping students with misconceptions overcome them. The reason why this strategy is effective for this type of students is that their misunderstanding is resolved before reading the text. It is done by presenting statements, about which students are informed incorrectly. By giving students accurate expectations of the text, the teacher resolves the problem of students’ misconceptions preventing them from fully comprehending the text.
Parts of a Mini-Lesson
Mini lessons are used to prepare students for the primary learning activity. As it is stated in Chapter 5, they are composed of four parts – Introduction, Teacher modelling, Student modelling, and Summarizing and reflecting (Cooper, et al., 2018). Mini lessons serve as introductions to primary lessons, for which students have to be prepared. During the Introduction part, the context within which learning will take place is introduced. It can be stated that the teacher gives a reason for the students to be interested the lesson. The most effective way is to apply a real-life fact, such as a personality trait of one of the students, to the class’ attention.
The next part is Teacher modelling, which presupposes demonstration of what students will learn. This technique allows children to relate the lesson to a specific real-life object or situation. It can be seen in Rick Kleine’s Teaching Lesson (n.d.) when he constructs his own theories about characters (2:29). This subtlety shows children how to create their own ideas, thus encouraging them to pay more attention to the story.
The Student modelling is the third part, which is more practice-oriented. Unlike previous parts, where the teacher takes active role in explaining and demonstrating the necessity, Have-a-Go presupposes that children are the ones in a more active role. If it is a skill, they try it themselves, if it is a new idea, the students are encouraged to ponder its meaning. The US Digital Literacy (n.d.) specifically states that letting students discuss the teaching point is an activating strategy. As a result, Have-a-Go is essential in improving reading comprehension.
Summarizing and reflecting is the final part, during which the teaching point is restated. Once the students have acquired a new skill or new information, it is important that they apply it in their life. The Link is done specifically to showcase how the teaching point can be realized in day-to-day life. Its most valuable feature is that it encourages students to work on the teaching point independently.
Questions to Ask Colleagues
Is it possible that teaching methodology focuses too much on reading a specific text, thus teaching children to spend much time reading overall? It should be evident that mini-lessons prepare students for a particular lesson. Although effective, it is a process that consumes substantial amount of time. As children grow older, they will have more lessons to prepare. However, if they continue to do a mini-lesson each time, the overall efficiency is not likely to be high.
Will these strategies enable children to recall what they read weeks and months after the lessons? Mini-lessons do prepare children for the intake of new material. However, aside from the independent work recommended in the Link part of the mini-lesson, there is no indication that children should return to the material later (LEARN, n.d.). Considering that the ability to recall information is directly limited to the number of repetitions, it seems that strategies should accentuate continued repetition as no less important component of long-term comprehension.
Is the way children are taught to read beneficial for their adult lives? Willingham (2008) specifically states that he does not believe “that students continue using these [reading] strategies into adulthood” (p. 45). Considering the fact that adult people have to read substantial amount of information quickly, it seems not plausible that the teaching strategy of slow reading will help children in their later lives.
Cooper, J.D., Robinson, M.D., Slansky, J.A. & Kiger, N.D., (2018). Literacy: Helping students construct meaning (10th ed.). Cengage Learning.
LEARN. (n.d.). Instruction: Mini-Lesson. Web.
Neuman, S., Kaefer, T., & Pinkham, A. (n.d.). Building background knowledge. Reading Rockets. Web.
Teaching Lesson. (n.d.). No Series: Rick’s reading workshop: Mini-lesson. Web.
Willingham, D. T. (2008). How we learn: Ask the cognitive scientist. The usefulness of brief instruction in reading comprehension strategies. American Federation of Teachers. Web.
US Digital Literacy. (n.d.). Activating strategies. Web.