Welcome back! If you've been following since the beginning, we are past the half-way point of The Reading Strategies Book by Jennifer Serravallo. Today I will be reflecting upon Goal 8: Supporting Comprehension in Nonfiction- Determining Main Topic(s) and Idea(s). If you are interested in reading my reflection on any of the previous 7 goals, you can check those out by following the links below.
- Goal 1: Supporting Pre-Emergent and Emergent Readers
- Goal 2: Teaching Reading Engagement: Focus, Stamina, and Building a Reading Life
- Goal 3: Supporting Print Work: Increasing Accuracy and Integrating Sources of Information
- Goal 4: Teaching Fluency: Reading with Phrasing, Intonation, and Automaticity
- Goal 5: Supporting Comprehension in Fiction: Understanding Plot and Setting
- Goal 6: Supporting Comprehension in Fiction: Thinking About Characters
- Goal 7: Supporting Comprehension in Fiction: Understanding Themes and Ideas
As you can see, I just finished up the span of the book focused solely on comprehension of fiction and I was very excited to move on to nonfiction comprehension. As a student, I didn't totally love nonfiction. I never wanted to read it in place of an exciting story or courageous tale that would take me away from everyday life. But now, as an adult, I lean more towards nonfiction (mostly about teaching reading, let's be honest!) and lots of historical fiction that has it's roots in nonfiction. Don't get me wrong- I still love the occasional fiction novel- but let's just say I am making up for lost time with nonfiction right now!
As Serravallo was discussing why this goal is important, she said two things that really stood out to me and were helpful to my understanding of this goal. First, quite simply, she explained that, "Learning how to understand what a section of a text or whole text is mostly about is critical to comprehension." (Page 218). I love this because I think it is such a great starting point for comprehending nonfiction. Students need to get the 'gist' or as she puts it, what the text is mostly about. If we cannot start there, the comprehension that follows is going to struggle.
The next snippet from the text is one of my favorites from the entire book so far. I think it speaks volumes. Serravallo says, " The work of the reader becomes more challenging when the topic is not aligned to a student's prior knowledge. Students at any grade level often need support in the form of strategies." (Page 219). Hello, purpose for this book! Nice to see you there! This is so smart and sometimes overlooked. When approaching a nonfiction text with a class, it's incredibly unlikely that all students will come at the topic with the same background knowledge- therefore it is undeniable that your class of students will need strategies to overcome these differences and assist in overall comprehension. It's just good practice. See, I told you that quote was great!
As you can see, the three strategies I chose to focus on are 8.6: Survey the Text, 8.19: Consider Structure, and 8.22: Tricks of Persuasion. Each of these strategies have nice, clear guidelines for helping students comprehend nonfiction text and as usual, it was tough to pick just three- so it's safest to just go buy the book and check them all out for yourselves!
First up is 8.6: Survey the Text. I love this strategy because it is pointing out the obvious. As Serravallo explains, "Survey the text by glancing at the big things that jump out at you visually- heading(s), title(s), and visual(s)." (Page 227). This is important because so many times students just open up a book and start reading- missing so much information! If they would just take a moment to 'survey the text' they would find out so much!
Also helpful with this strategy is the visual- my favorite part being the fact that the text is in black and the 'pop-out' information is in color- a huge HEY to students to check them out! When teaching, I explain to kids that if the published paid all that money to put that fancy chart or visual on the page- you better look at it! Sometimes that sinks in a bit more with them- especially the older kids!
Next up is 8.19: Consider Structure. I'm not going to lie- the fact that this strategy takes up two pages did play a factor in my selecting it for reflection. I mean, really, in a book of all one page strategies- if Serravallo thought this one to be so important to give it TWO pages- it must be good! Let's jump right to the visual for the reflection on this one.
I feel sometimes like we throw a million graphic organizers at kids. So many that it's impossible for them to know which one to use and when. I think it would help if we pared down the list of available graphic organizers and focused on just a few and *most importantly* how to use those few properly. The four shown above in the visual would be a great place to start with this plan.
Last up is 8.22: Tricks of Persuasion. I love that Serravallo states, "Nonfiction isn't always just straight-up facts. Sometimes, the author is trying to convince you of an idea as well." (Page 244). I think this is an important point to make to students who simply think they should take in nonfiction without a discerning eye. Check out the visual:
This is so great- not only for creating well informed consumers of knowledge- but also well informed members of society. The tricks posed on this poster are helpful for many different aspects of life- and you know me, I just LOVE when reading applications so seamlessly transfer over to life! We really can learn so much from books!
That's it for today's reflection. Be sure to check back on Monday, August 31 for my reflection on Goal 9: Supporting Comprehension in Nonfiction: Determining Key Details.
As always, thanks for reading. Be sure to comment below so we can become PLN buddies or I can answer any questions you might have! See you Monday!