Today is the perfect day for me to be reflecting on Goal 10: Supporting Comprehension in Nonfiction- Getting the Most from Text Features because this applies directly to one of my RTI Groups that I just started meeting with. We are reading a nonfiction book from the FnP LLI Gold Kit and these students (5th graders) just started reading the text without paying any attention to any of the text features! I was shocked! So yes, this is the perfect time to study up on some nonfiction text feature strategies!
If you are new to my blog today, welcome! The #ReadingStrategiesCrew started a social media book study (a downright awesome idea) of the book The Reading Strategies Book by Jennifer Serravallo. A must-own if you teach reading or even come in contact with supporting reading in a classroom or intervention setting. Which is pretty much everyone in a school! You're coming in at my reflection on Goal 10, which means there are 9 previous posts that you can check out if you'd like. The topics range everywhere from supporting emergent readers to fluency and from comprehension of fiction to nonfiction.
This is definitely an important goal, but as Serravallo puts it, "It's true- text features are a really large part of reading, navigating, and understanding nonfiction text. They help to support the main information in the text, add to it, and/or help us navigate it." (Page 270). They aren't just there for decoration- we need to use them to deepen our understanding of the text. It's my theory that sometimes students just think understanding that graph or chart might be too difficult and that is why they skip it. We need to change that mentality. If we can convince students that reading the chart or graph will actually help them and not confuse them more, I think we would have a whole lot more people paying attention to the text features. Serravallo explains this well when she says, " We need to help them understand the purpose and function of the features, and then move beyond simply naming them. We should teach children how to explain what information the features provide." (Page 271). I love this. I don't want to settle for just knowing that my student can identify a chart. I want them to identify it, read it, learn it, and explain it to me. That's also why I love that this goal wasn't called "noticing" or "seeing" text features because it's not just about knowing they are there- it's about using them and learning from them.
As you can see, my three focus strategies for this week are10.6: Labels Teach, 10.11: Glossary Warm-Up, and 10.12: Don't Skip It! I know I say this often, but really, this week was tough to select only three. I just love how Serravallo devoted a whole goal to this and all of the strategies are awesome for accomplishing the goal of getting more out of text features.
First up, 10.6: Labels Teach! What I like most about this strategy is that it asks more of students than just labeling. It wants them to apply facts to the labels to gain more knowledge. Check out the visual and that will make more sense:
Notice what is happening here. Say we have a book with a Kangaroo and we see the two labels of Joey and Pouch. We can identify those as labels. But that's not getting the most out of that text feature. So this takes it one step further. Ask the students to use those two labels to make a sentence. The sentence, as you can see, is in fact simple, however it really solidifies the meaning. When we add words to pictures it deepens our understanding and when we add facts to labels, it helps us learn and remember the important information. Side note: this would be great as well for those students who love to add and add and add non-essential information. If it wasn't a label, you can't use it in your fact. Boom! Clarifying ideas, summarizing, synthesizing, and using text features all in one!
Next up is 10.11: Glossary Warm Up! I chose this strategy because I actually wanted to use it in my group today. Here's why: Yesterday in my 5th grade group we were reading a book with a glossary. I prompted the students to explain what the glossary was there for. I did in fact get correct answers, but just surface answers like, "to look up words you don't know" or "to check a definition". Those are correct answers- but I'm not getting that "more" out of students that I am looking for. Glossary's can be really effective to help students' understanding of a text, and I think Serravallo puts it best: when talking about how to use them, she says, "When you come to a word that you remember from the glossary, try to learn its meaning in more detail by getting information from the text." (Page 284). See what I'm saying- we need to get more! Don't just see the word and define it. See the word as an important word (Hello! That's why it's in the glossary!) and then use BOTH the glossary and the text to learn the meaning in more detail. There's that deepen comprehension thing again. I just love how it keeps popping up everywhere!
The visual explains perfectly the concept talked about above. It makes sure that students know to "get ready" with the glossary, start reading, and then, like it says, build your information about the words. That in turn will build your comprehension of the text and poof! you're a reader!
Last up is 10.12: Don't Skip It! I touched on this in the opening paragraph- about how I think students see text features as a freebie- and the terrible implications that can have. We must train students to understand that they cannot skip the text features. They are vital to their understanding of the text and even more, they are there to help them! I think the visual says it perfectly, so check it out below:
First of all, the ____ in the title is perfect. Eye-catching and definitely something that will draw attention to this anchor chart. It also shows a variety of text features and how to notice them on a page- and my most favorite part is the bottom- where it declares "I read it all!!". This is perfect to hang up as an anchor chart and refer to it every time a student skips a heading or breezes past a picture or chart. We have to train them to read and notice everything- it's simply essential to their growth as a reader.
That's all for today but check back on Tuesday 9/8 for the next post about Goal 11: Improving Comprehension in Fiction and Nonfiction-Understanding Vocabulary and Figurative Language. If you've noticed that I usually post on Monday and Wednesday and am wondering why am waiting until Tuesday next week- it's because Monday is Labor Day and I hope that everyone has a safe and restful holiday!
Thanks for reading!