Thanks for stopping by to check in on my reflections of Jennifer Serravallo's The Reading Strategies Book! Currently, I am on Goal 7: Supporting Comprehension in Fiction- Understanding Themes and Ideas- but you can find all the previous goals in my blog here. Just use the navigation bar on the right side to look back at past posts.
As I sit down to write today's reflection- it just happens to be the first day of school! I must say, this is one of my favorite days of the year! I just love when the school is full of kids and seeing all the smiling grown-ups outside, as well, beaming with pride. Hearing the hallways full of noise and excitement is just plain awesome. Anyone who tells you otherwise is missing the joy of education.
Today's goal is the final installment in the "Supporting Comprehension in Fiction" series of goals and it focuses on Understanding Themes and Ideas. When talking about why this goal is important, Serravallo explains, "It takes imagination, inference, determining importance, and ability to synthesize all that happens in a story to try to understand the ideas that are hiding." (Page 190). Obviously, based on the massive amount of information packed into that one sentence, it is clear that this goal is not one to be overlooked. I also like that Serravallo points out that, when dealing with themes, there is some wiggle room of interpretation. She explains, "I think that interpretation needs to be rooted in the details of the text, but that it's really also about the interaction the reader has with the text. This means that two different readers reading the same story may interpret theme differently, because the prior knowledge and experiences that each of them has is unique." (Page 191). I think, as teachers, we all know that each of our students' are different on the surface and even a little bit deeper. But sometimes, I know me for sure, we forget to remember that every inch of them is different. Their thoughts, feelings, prior knowledge, experiences, and so on. This makes for very different and individual learners and we need to realize that when teaching. It could make a world of difference for how these kids show us that they are learning.
And one last point that Serravallo makes when determining when to use this goal with a student- she says, "I would choose this goal for a student once the student has demonstrated an ability to understand plot and setting, character, and vocabulary with relative consistency and when the student is ready to do more deep, critical thinking about his or her stories." (Page 192). I think that AND and everything that follows it is SO important to considering when thinking of giving a student this goal. They have to be ready for both facets of learning- not just the first. Many students have a consistent understanding of plot and setting, character, and vocabulary- but the ready for critical and deep thinking part is not always there. Make sure the students are prepared and ready before setting them forth on this goal.
First up is 7.7: Mistakes Can Lead to Life Lessons- and I chose this one mostly for the visual of the anchor chart- so let's look at that right away.
As you can see- it is a nice clean visual to use with students to organize their thoughts. I like when we make things simple for students when the ideas are more complex. The first column is nice an easy to fill out- and even the middle column is not too difficult. This allows them to save their deep thinking energy for the final column and really focus on what lesson the character might be learning.
Next up is 7.16: Stories Teach Us About Life Issues and I chose this one because simply I like the fact that Serravallo reminds us that books = life. There is a real correlation and the more we read the better humans we will become.
Students come to us with a lot more than a backpack and a (sometimes reluctant) smile. They have a whole life that we don't know yet and for some kids, reading can be a great place to get lost and find themselves. Good, bad, or otherwise- we get a room full of students who will be looking to find themselves. Books can really help with that. I know it did for me.
Last up is 7.18: Character Change Can Reveal Lessons. I chose this strategy because sometimes students get lost thinking about characters. They think that as long as they learned who the character was in the beginning (their traits, etc.), that they can stop figuring out the character and start figuring out the story. If that happens, they miss a huge chunk of understanding! The character will change and that will tell us so much!
This visual is great because of the "So..." at the bottom. Usually students just focus on the beginning, sometimes they focus on the end, but rarely do they bring their thinking all the way to the so....and this is where we find the lessons! We just need to train students to dig deeper with their thoughts and make this path of thinking second nature.
That's all for today- tune in on Wednesday for Goal 8: Supporting Comprehension in Nonfiction: Determining Main Topic(s) and Idea(s) and I, for one, cannot wait to dive into the world of nonfiction reading strategies!
As a side note, if you aren't following me on Twitter- now is a great time to do so! Just follow @MrsKRichey and you'll be kept up to date with my new blog posts and many other helpful teaching reading/tech/paperless tips!
Thanks for reading!