Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Best of Frank Serafini - Lesson in Comprehension Introduction

Whether I was helping children choose books from the classroom library, facilitating a literature study group, demonstrating reading strategies to a small group of readers or offering advice in a one-to-one reading conference, I was teaching children how to make sense of what they were reading. I wasn’t necessarily standing in front of the classroom when I did it, but I was teaching reading. Not a day went by in my years of teaching where I didn’t teach a specific lesson, to some particular readers, explicitly and directly. As an intermediate grade classroom teacher, I taught reading everyday, it just didn’t always look like the traditional instruction we have come to associate with the teaching of reading.

During my reading workshop, I allocated approximately twenty-five percent (25%) of the total workshop time to reading lessons, a time when I stood in front of my students demonstrating many of the comprehension practices and strategies that proficient readers utilize. The remaining seventy-five percent (75%) of the time was provided for students to practice and apply the things I taught during those reading lessons and to interact with a variety of texts and other readers.

Effective teachers teach, they don’t sit idly by and hope their students will become readers. However, that doesn’t mean they dominate the entire day lecturing, nor does it mean the comprehension lessons they provide look like the ones found in the teachers’ manual of commercial reading programs.

Effective teaching has as much to do with a teacher’s ability to respond to the needs of individual readers and their ability to develop a collaborative community of readers, as it does with their ability to create and conduct explicit comprehension lessons.

Comprehension lessons are most effective when they are supported by the structures and experiences provided within a workshop approach to reading instruction. These lessons are not a “silver bullet” solution to the challenges of supporting novice readers. Each lesson is intended as a brief description of those instructional experiences that worked for me based on my expectations for the readers in my classroom and the resources available to me.

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