Why Blog

I’m passionate about finding ways to simplify comprehension instruction and learning. I’m concerned that we are defining comprehension too narrowly as an accumulation of five or six meta-cognitive strategies when cultivating comprehension involves so much more than that. We need to help children acquire accurate fluent reading skills and strategies; build background knowledge; develop their oral language and vocabulary; make reading-writing connections, and acquire a repertoire of meta-cognitive strategies to use as and if needed.

So I invite you to join me in blogging about this ever-so-important topic. I look forward to hearing your ideas, teaching strategies, book recommendations, classroom stories, etc., basically anything that will inspire a healthy conversation among colleagues.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Another Short, Sweet Chapter Book—Not My Dog!

Here’s another short, sweet chapter book—Not My Dog! by Colby Rodowsky. Eight-year-old Ellie wants a puppy, one she can name something special, one she can take for a million walks, and one she can teach to come and sit and stay. But what she gets instead is a full-grown square-headed, pointy-eared, skinny-tailed dog. One she’s forced to take on as her pet because her great Aunt Margaret can no longer care for him. And one she insists is “not my dog!”

As you might expect, Ellie slowly learns to love Preston (a name she dislikes almost as much as the dog). The cool part is that readers can see Ellie change. The events that help transform Ellie from a Preston- hater to one that loves and accepts him are transparent enough for young readers to take note of and follow. You might want to read this book aloud and, as you do, make a chart like the one I’ve posted along the right-hand column that lists and helps students think through the characters, setting, problem, main events (i.e., those that lead to the problem being resolved), and finally the resolution itself. Your children will surely identify with this book as they’ve undoubtedly had to deal with similar compromises that do, in fact, end happily ever after.

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