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.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Something to Think About

During the past holiday season Ted and I went to the Irish Repertory Theatre in New York City for a concert performance of Dylan Thomas's A Child's Christmas in Wales. The five vocalists were highly accomplished for sure, but I was aware throughout that I was having to work really hard (too hard, in fact) at understanding and enjoying the story they were telling through song and brief narration. I found my mind wandering to what the female vocalists were wearing and how their red velvet dresses were the same but different. (The more mature singer had long sleeves and her costume was highly bejeweled, and the younger one had shorter sleeves and less adornment. The men were also dressed differently from one another and yet somehow in character with the roles they were playing. On and on my mind-meandering went...) Basically I needed some help to stay engaged with the story. A scene change perhaps, some scenery other than five chairs and some Christmas trees, a tableau or an enactment of what was happening off to the side, an intermission so I could talk with Ted about how he was handling things and what he was thinking

This led me to think about the children we teach, and whether in our read-alouds, we make them work too hard and to the point where their minds wander and they have difficulty staying with the story or information we're presenting. Do we provide enough visuals that would help students more fully engage? Do we bring in real world objects for our ELL students to make the concepts we're sharing more concrete? Are we giving students enough time to talk and process the information they're hearing? Are we giving ourselves the time we know we need to do a good job of reading aloud? I'm afraid that in many instances we are not—we assume, we hope, the children are understanding, but are they really? And because we're so concerned about all we have to cover, we miss golden opportunities to make our read-alouds more meaningful to students.

So what can we do to make the ideas and information we present through read-alouds more accessible, more often? I'd love to hear from you...


  1. January 4, 2011 5:16 PM EST
    I have nothing to say about the comprehension part, but I do have to say You Go, Blogging Girl!!
    Seriously, I know I will learn lots about comprehension and teaching (and life and learning and everything else I don't have room to write here) from reading your writing.
    Yes, I did kind of slip and link your blog and website so others would know you're busy blogging now! :) love, AM
    - AM
  2. January 5, 2011 5:01 PM EST
    that's so funny - two days ago i printed out a dylan thomas poem and put it on my wall. i've never done that before ever. weird!
    - Dan Taberski

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