Why Getting it Matters

21 Jun

No double entendre here. I’m an educator, and I’m talking about comprehension. Good old-fashioned understanding. Cognition. Synapses firing. Making meaning. Reading text and using brain power to understand the ideas behind the text.

Reading is a process many of us educators take for granted. For those of us who know how to read, we  don’t often take time to consider what actually happens in the ol’ rock tumbler to create meaning. The process of reading is dynamic and there’s no shortage of research interest, because it really is that fascinating.

Because reading is so fundamental to a child’s educational foundation, it’s been a career passion of mine. I’ve spent years learning the mechanics of how to teach reading,  and how to make the process make sense to children. In short, I’ve made a career of helping students “get it.”  As I reflect on my years of teaching, I realize the how teaching students, especially the struggling readers how to get it, is still a challenge.  We know that grade-level reading ability is a strong indicator of continued academic success, and without it a learner may face  needless academic challenges. Given this, it really is a moral imperative that we care. Getting it really does matter.

So, now that we educators understand and appreciate the need to get it, what are we to do? Once again, I turn to the experts, particularly those passionate about reading.  Author and educator Cris Tovani is one such expert.  She offers excellent reading comprehension strategies in the following text:

  • I Read It, but I Don’t Get it: Comprehension Strategies for Adolescent Readers, by Cris Tovani

In this quick, easy read, Ms. Tovani outlines excellent strategies targeted toward the older (non-primary grades) reader. Each chapter describes  practical, relevant, and research-based strategies which engage the reader in the process of making sense of text. Here are some examples of the tools outlined in the text:

  1. Setting the purpose for reading
  2. Tracking confusion—asking questions about text
  3. Fixing errors
  4. Creating wonderment about text
  5. Inferencing
  6. Developing a reading plan
  7. Using writing tools to support learning

All in all, this text is simple, practical and spot on. It’s most applicable for teachers of reading with students in grades 4-12. For a professional development activity for teachers, I suggest reading this with several colleagues. Each person could easily tackle the  7-13 pages per chapter. It will definitely be a great investment of your time because it’s always worth it to help our kids get it…after all, that’s why we read. We all want to get it.

I wish you the best in excellence and instruction.

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