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When Students Cant Read… Steps Social Studies teachers can take to assure that their students are receiving the best literacy instruction possible. By.

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Presentation on theme: "When Students Cant Read… Steps Social Studies teachers can take to assure that their students are receiving the best literacy instruction possible. By."— Presentation transcript:

1 When Students Cant Read… Steps Social Studies teachers can take to assure that their students are receiving the best literacy instruction possible. By Billie Wixom 11 May 2007

2 Why do readers struggle? The problem is not illiteracy, but comprehension. The bulk of older struggling readers and writers can read, but cannot comprehend (Biancarosa and Snow 10). Often, social studies teachers use primary source documents to help supplement the text. The purpose of a primary source document: –To explain in original language –To give a first person account –To move students with the enormity of history

3 What good is a primary source document if students cannot understand it? Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. This is stupid! What is a score? Like in a baseball game? Ill tell you the score – I will never use this junk. Read it again. I dont think so. I didnt get it the first time; I wont get it the second time. Wixom is wasting my time again! How many minutes until this class ends? UGH!

4 Assessing Dependent Readers Needs Teachers must assess the students needs in order to fully help the student become an independent reader. There are several different areas in which readers may struggle. A partial list includes: –Reads haltingly –Reads all material at the same rate –Does not re-read to clarify meaning –Does not set a purpose for reading –Does not hear the text (Beers 24-26)

5 Fixing the Problem Teachers must work to figure out in which areas students are struggling and then specifically craft activities to fix the problem. Comprehension is both a product and a process, something that requires purposeful, strategic effort on the teachers part – anticipating the direction of the text (predicting), seeing the action of the text (visualizing), contemplating and the correcting whatever confusions we encounter (clarifying), connecting whats in the text to whats in our mind to make an educated guess about whats going on (inferencing) (Beers 45-46).

6 So, what do you think is going to happen? Skilled readers consciously try to anticipate what the text is about before they begin reading (Beers 74). Those who enjoy reading will often instinctively engage in several pre-reading, anticipatory activities before starting a text.

7 Pre-Reading Activities Accomplished readers will: –Look at cover art –Read the blurb on the back or inside flap –Flip through looking at font size and type –Identify the title, author, and genre –Ask about the book (Beers 74) They have anticipated what the text will be about. –e.g. If the cover art depicts a vampire, the book is probably about vampires. –e.g. If the title is Soccer Players of the World, the book is probably about soccer players from a wide variety of countries.

8 Pre-Reading Activities in the Classroom There are several different types of pre- reading activities that work well for Social Studies. –Anticipation Guides: Anticipation guides first act as a pre-reading strategy and encourage students to connect to ideas an make predictions. Then, they allow students to look for cause & effect relationships as they read. Finally, they allow students to generalize, to discuss those generalizations, and to explore their own responses to the text (Beers 77). Mutual defense pacts of WWI: You should always support a friend.

9 Pre-Reading Activities in the Classroom –K-W-L: What do I know? What do I want to know? What did I learn? [K-W-Ls] provide a framework that helps readers access their knowledge about a topic before they read, consider what they want to learn, and then record what they have learned once they finish reading (Beers 80). –Probable Passages [Probable passages] force students to think about the characters, setting, conflict, resolution, and vocabulary of the story before they read the story (Beers 91). –From The Torch is Passed: Identify the following terms as characters, settings, actions, or resolutions: t he first 1000 days, catafalque, As the World Turns, Lady Bird, Reigns of Power, became president, a naked man

10 I can see it in my mind. Successful readers visualize the passage in their minds as they are reading the text. Struggling readers does not visualize the text (Beers 25). A first year teacher, Kate, modeled visualization for her class with the story Eleven: When I read this part here…I visualized how turning another year older would be like adding another layer on an onion…Visualizing that, or trying to see it in my mind, thats good because then you can understand the meaning better (Beers 54).

11 Visualizing the text in the classroom There are few types of visualizing activities that work well for Social Studies. Modeling is always successful, as illustrated in the previous slide. In Social Studies, background information will need to be provided. –When Lincoln gave the Gettysburg Address, it was in the middle of the Civil War. On November 19, 1863 Lincoln rose to dedicate the Gettysburg Battlefield. It was an incredibly short speech, especially when compared to the two-hour oration before it. But listen to the simple language and basic adherence to American ideals.

12 Seeking Clarity in Reading Karen: After I read it the first time, I thought, Boy, I dont get it. I decided to read it again, and this time much more slowly. That second time I found all these words I didnt know. I decided to look at the footnotes to see what they could tell me. They explained some of the terms, especially the terms about a spinning wheel…I read it again. Some of it made more sense, but I still kept asking myself, What is he really trying to say? (Beers 103) Successful readers are not passive readers. They are actively reading. –Re-reading –Looking up unknown terms –Sketching ideas on paper –Asking questions of the text –Thinking about the text Rereading: the number one strategy independent readers use when something stumps them in a text (Beers 113).

13 Clarifying Techniques in the Classroom –Say Something: Students get into groups of two or three and take turns reading a portion of the text aloud. As they read, they occasionally pause and say something about what was read…The reading partners offer a response to what was said (Beers 105) Make a predication Ask a question Clarify something Make a comment or a connection

14 Clarifying Techniques in the Classroom –Somebody Wanted But So Students read a story and then decide who the somebody is, what that somebody wanted, but what happened to keep something from happening, and, so, finally how everything works out. –Somebody: Abraham Lincoln –Wanted: No more slave states –But: The South wanted more states to own slaves –So: The North and the South went to war to determine who was right

15 I tell the kids to use context clues. Excerpt: As he got to the door, he said, I never thought that Id tell my loquacious daughter that she is DRIVING ME NUTS! His daughter moved the phone away from her mouth and said, You said something, Daddy? What does loquacious mean? An Inference: Well, its something about the girl, the daughter. And see how these words are capital, youre driving me nuts, well that must be important because its in capitals and its about the girl, too…Youre like a pain. Annoying. Thats it. May it could mean annoying. (Beers 185)

16 Using the Context in the Classroom Teaching students how to use context as a clue requires that students see relationships among words and can make inferences about the passage (Beers 187). There are several different types of clues students may use to make inferences: –Definition or explanation clues The author actually defines the term for the reader in the text (see Lemony Snickets Series of Unfortunate Events)

17 Using the Context in the Classroom –Restatement or synonym clues Clues that explain unfamiliar words in the text by restating them in simpler terms or by using synonyms (Beers 187). –Contrast or antonym clues Offer an opposite meaning for the word (Beers 187). –Gist clues The meaning of the particular word must be inferred from the general context – or the gist – of the passage (Beers 187).

18 Using the Context in the Classroom Students use inferences in determining definitions of words, but in determining the meaning of passages. –When Lincoln gave the Gettysburg Address, the nation was at war with itself over the issue of slavery. He says that all men are created equal, which must mean that no matter what color or race men are, they are equal. So that makes slavery bad because it puts one man above another. So to right this wrong, we must be willing to fight to defend the idea of all men created equal. Hmmstill dont know what a score is. Its connected to 7 years. Maybe it is a measure of time.

19 Connecting the Dots… Content area instruction relies heavily on the students abilities to read and retain knowledge. Students need help when reading connecting the dots. By focusing on predicting, visualizing, clarifying, and inferencing, students will get more from primary source documents.

20 Works Cited Beers, Kylene. When Kids Cant Read: What Teachers Can Do. Heinemann. Portsmouth, NH: Biancarosa, Gina; Snow, Catherine, PhD. Reading Next: A Vision for Action and Research in Middle and High School Literacy. Alliance for Excellent Education. New York, NY: 2004.

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