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 23, 2011

To Get Kids in Touch with What the Characters Are Thinking—Try a Tableau

I first heard of having kids enact a tableau and saw it demonstrated years and years ago at a session Timothy Rasinski did at a reading conference. And while it looked like fun, I never actually got around to trying it out with my kids. I guess never quite envisioned its potential. And then a couple weeks ago, I read about tableaus again in Dr. Sandra Mercuri’s Research-Based Strategies for English Language Learners as a way to help children reframe information they’re reading about. 

Mercuri refers to Neelands and Goode’s (2001) version of a tableau and describes it as follows: “…[S]tudents listen to or read fiction or nonfiction text and select a strategic scene to dramatize. They arrange themselves in the performing space, each student portraying a different character. Remaining motionless, each student, in turn, voices what his or her character is thinking or feeling within the context of the scene. (Each student can hold a flashlight beneath his or her chin while speaking.) Through this strategy, students begin to understand how important what a character thinks, feels, and does is to the whole story.” (pp. 69-70) 

Now I get it—tableaus can help students better understand what they’re reading! This is certainly a strategy I’m going to try out in classrooms and discuss in presentations as an effective comprehension booster. I’ll let you know how it goes, and would love to hear about your attempts at tableau and the books you used.


  1. Sent your blog to all the teachers in my school. : )

  2. Cindy. That's great. Thank you so much. (And now do you want to hear something funny since you're feeling so un-techie (sp?)—I don't even know how to do a bookmark. I've never done one in my life...lol.

  3. You are too funny.... read my facebook memo.. I tried out the tableau... it that right? the tableau?