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.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Sense and Meaning

A resource I find myself returning to repeatedly is David Sousa's How the Brain Learns. Sousa makes an interesting distinction on page 49 and 50 between sense and meaning, two criteria that increase the likelihood of new information being stored in long-term memory. Sense refers to whether or not the information is comprehensible to the learner. Does the sentence or passage make sense? Meaning refers to how closely the information relates to the learner's personal experiences. Is it something that's interesting to him, motivating, connected to his life experiences? Does he understand how learning this will be of use to him? Sousa points out that of the two, meaning is more likely to lead a reader, writer, and thinker to remember more of the details.

When I consider my own teaching, I recognize that I need to become better at consistently helping children see meaning in what they're learning. We're all being rushed to do more and do it faster. But if in doing so we're missing a focus on meaning, then we may not be as effective as we intend, and children may not actually be learning. And that would be a shame.


  1. January 9, 2011 2:32 PM EST
    Thank you for sharing this insight and thinking to my teaching. I love the definition of meaning. Also, thanks for joining the blogging world.
    - Mandy
  2. January 9, 2011 2:38 PM EST
    I find so much of the brain research interesting and keep dipping in for more. I'm happy you found the sense/meaning definition helpful. As far as blogging goes...i'm trying. Now i'm reading Blogging for Dummies (hate the title) and when I have a better sense of what I'm doing I'll probably move my blog to a blogger site. I'll keep you posted on this though...
    - Sharon Taberski
  3. January 11, 2011 10:47 PM EST
    I hope that most teachers understand the correlation between the two and use the explanations of them when looking at the way we speak to and teach our students.
    - sgitman
  4. January 12, 2011 5:35 AM EST
    Yes, and the "meaning" part is the one we really need to make a high priority.
    - Sharon Taberski

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