To open this lesson I ask students to come up with all the reasons they like to read. I get some great responses and then there is always a student who says, "I don't like reading." I ask for honest hands that agree with that statement. A few went up. I then asked if anyone just felt that reading was hard. Even if they are good readers, I want to know what parts of reading are hard.
I write a circle on the board with Reading in the center. I explain that I want to make a web of all the ways reading is hard. The first student I call on says, "Big Words." I then hand him the marker and let him add it to the web. I keep the conversation going, by asking clarifying questions. I want students to add as much as possible to give me an indication of where they are thorough their own eyes. Our finished chart is included in the resources below.
The next part is so fun! I blow their minds when I tell them that for everything they put on the board I have a strategy to help them make that part of reading not hard. I even tell them I will prove it. I start by picking a few of their comments out and calling out the strategy I can teach them. I then say that I can teach them right away that can help so much.
I love using picture books, you can read the whole book, and by the time students get to the older grades, they think it has to be all about chapter books. It is very exciting when they realize I am going to read to them and that I have a picture book to read.
Before I begin, I name the strategy. I tell them that the strategy I am going to teach them is called Checking for Understanding. I walk through the steps of the strategy. They also need to know that what I am saying out loud I would be reading or doing in my head.
The main rule for the strategy is that you have to stop and and think before going on. I remind them that it is faster and might seem easier to just keep reading, but their brains are still learning how to store all that information. I tell them the best way to start is to begin reading, and use the end of page as a reminder to check for understanding.
The fun part is read the book aloud and stopping at the end of each. I tell them exactly what I am thinking, and how I am putting the pieces I am reading together as I go. I try to add character feelings, predictions, and summary to my stopping points.
When the book is finished I ask them a few questions about the story, but then ask them to move on to what they saw me do. They usually get that I stopped and told pieces of the story over again in my own way. The parts they don't usually get is labeling when I predicted or when I inferred. I will go back and tell them when I did this, but the development of those are for later lessons.
I believe it is most useful when students are allowed to practice immediately. I ask them to find a partner or use their elbow buddy to show the strategy to. They need to do it at the end of a page or at the end of a long paragraph for this activity. I each person read for about five minutes while practicing. I use the time to walk around the room and offer more constructive feedback or to give positive reinforcement when they are doing it correctly.