Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Even More Reading Strategies That Work for Secondary Students

Over the past few days I have shared two reading strategies that I presented at a conference for new teachers.  Today I will share the last strategy that I shared with them, which supports students during and post reading.

This final strategy is called "First Word Last Word" and was adapted from an Adaptive Schools strategy for successful meetings.  For this strategy I asked the teachers in my session to go back to the reading that I had given them and to star one to three words or phrases that stood out to them.  It could be for any reason - they strongly agreed, they strongly disagreed, it confused them, it angered them, it reminded them of something, etc.  If I was going to use this strategy with a group who hadn't already read the text, I would tell them to underline or highlight the words and phrases that stood out to them as they read.

After everyone has chosen some stand out selections from the text, teachers break out into small groups.  In a class, I have found that four is the ideal number for this activity.  The group operates in the following way:
1. Person one reads one of their selections from the text out loud.  They do not offer any further commentary.
2. Person two responds in one of two ways.  If they also highlighted that selection they say, "I also chose that selection, and I chose it because...".  If they didn't highlight that selection they say, "I didn't choose that selection, but I think that you might have chosen it because...".  Nobody may comment on anything that Person two says.
3. Everyone in the group repeats step 2 until they return to Person one.  Person one then explains to the group why they chose that particular piece of text.
4. Now person two will act as the first person and completes step 1.  This continues until every person in the group has had the opportunity to be the first person (or the person with the "first word and last word").

This strategy tends to be very popular with teachers because it is simple, it is easy to apply to anything that students might be studying, and it works.  Some of the reasons why this strategy works are that it:

  • builds confidence in struggling readers - they have a voice and they hear their ideas being validated by their peers. 
  • is completely based on text - not personal - and therefore allows students to avoid judgement.
  • involves all students.  Everyone has a role and a voice.
  • requires students to practice finding and describing the significance of text details.
Food for Thought... what are your favourite post-reading strategies?


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