I am always looking for new ideas to teach and support reading strategies to my class. I usually have a pile of four professional books that get browsed while making my lesson plans during the weekend. Sometimes I wish these resources were all combined into one book, as I use them all frequently. Here are some of the charts and bulletin boards I have used from Debbie Miller, Tanny McGregor, and Stephanie Harvey to teach inferring, questioning, metacognition, and nonfiction text features.
Our overall reading comprehension/comprehending board.
1. Thinking about the importance of questioning. This includes some strategies on how we can find the answers to questions we have.
2. Modeling the way readers create questions before, during, and after we read. This also demonstrates the language used to ask questions. We used a "Quince" apple to demonstrate questioning on this chart (it's an odd looking thing if you haven't seen one before)
3. The "I Wonder" board. We simply post questions we have on post-it notes. From here, students can answer each other's question or research it during library or tech. time.
Metacognition: Thinking About Your Thinking and Making Connections
1. Tanny McGregor shares a great lesson on metacognition in her book, using the concept of a reading salad. It's a great way to introduce the concept of making connections and thinking while reading.
2. Here are some of the thinking stems she includes to model writing and talking about metacognition. The book is really worth purchasing.
First Comes Schema, Then Comes Inferring: I like the "formula" of inferring created by Stephanie Harvey. She states that inferring= schema + evidence. Using this formula, we introduced the concept of schema before delving into inferring. Using the book, The Quiet Place, we read it without the use of illustrations. From there, we selected the images that were strongest in our minds and drew it on paper. Retyping a few passages, we then posted our drawings next to it and discussed why our mental images were so different from each other.
1. Using a staged trashcan we pulled out items and inferred about that person. I later pasted those items to a chart trashcan and included wording that we use when we talk about inferring
2. Using the story Fly Away Home, we modeled inferring.
3. To demonstrate the importance of schema when talking about inferring, we used Toni Morrison's letter written to the readers to understand how schema played a part in the book.
4. This comes from my class last year. Our fish started dying. Morning work included posting what we were inferring about the latest death. Based on some schema, the posts really ranged.
5. Application using post-it notes to stop and think through inferring. Her thought was answered by continuing to read on (post-it moved to show the answer).
Nonfiction Text Conventions
1. Comparing fiction and nonfiction features
2. Using Dinah Zike's fold-able book ideas, we created nonfiction text feature booklets (referred to as convention books in Debbie Miller's book). We wrote the purpose of each feature and drew an example for each feature.
3. I had some of the students reprint their examples on a larger scale to create a bulletin board for everyone to remember.
4. A close-up of one of nonfiction text comparisons (books by Steve Jenkins often use comparisons to help students comprehend numbers and size).
The Importance of Being Able to Read Nonfiction: It's hard to accept this, but it is true. Many readers don't know how or why we use certain nonfiction text features. Want proof? "Class, let's open up to chapter 18 with the lesson on congruent figures." Don't tell them the page and see how many know to use either the table of contents or index. Many of your students will painfully skim through the book searching for chapter 18...hoping to find something on congruent figures. What they haven't realized is that the table of contents and index are our friends. They are a true resource! I realize that I need to teach them why it helps and the how it helps when talking about becoming a better reader.
The importance of nonfiction as viewed by a student in his reader's notebook: It says, "I was trying to find a certain part in the story I am reading, and I couldn't find it. It was really frustrating...Why can't all stories and books have an index or table of contents?"
Chart, Lesson, and Bulletin Board Ideas All Come From:
Strategies That Work by Stephanie Harvey
Reading Connections by Tanny McGregor
Reading with Meaning by Debbie Miller
These books are loaded with tons of great resources, lesson planning, and food for thought. If you have another resource that provides lots of chart and lesson plan ideas on reading strategies, please share. I am looking for more ideas!
Q&A With Angela
Q 1: Dear Angela, I am a second grade teacher in Virginia. This fall, I am taking a reading course and recently discovered your site. Your classroom looks amazing! Thanks to you, I'm more motivated to try some of the lessons posted on this site. I've already ordered all three books you recommended (they should be here in a few days), checked out more books from the library, and made one of the posters this weekend. — Elizabeth
A. Hello Elizabeth, Great! I am happy I have helped you out. Good luck with your reading course. Those courses were/are my favorite! — Angela
Q 2: Just wanted to let you know how much I love the lessons Tanny McGregor suggests in her book. When I saw your comprehension bulletin board and how the strategies "came to life" this summer, I had to go purchased her book right away. I have used a number of her lessons so far this school year and they have gone very well. It was exactly the "piece" I was missing in teaching the various comprehension strategies. Thank you for introducing me to her book. — Lori
A: Lori, I like the missing piece statement. My favorite additions to comprehension instruction are having concrete examples and modeling the REAL language of those strategies. I never thought it felt right to have students say, "I had a text-to-self connection." McGregor offers the real words we'd use (thinking stems) and I like that. — Angela
Q 3: What chapter in Miller's book did it have the convention lesson? — Monica
A: Hey Monica, I just happen to have it in my hands, as I just finished my lesson plans (I always wait until the last minute!). So, I get to model my index use in Miller's book. Convention Notebooks, pages 148-149. I actually typed up page 149 for reference as well for my students. Enjoy... Angela