To begin today's class, I have students turn to an elbow partner and discuss the essential question I have written on the board, "Why should readers know how to use many different reading strategies?"
After a few minutes I will ask for volunteers to share out. It usually doesn't take a long time for someone to say that readers need to have many strategies so that they can understand difficult texts. After I congratulate my students for being geniuses, we move on with the day's activity.
I then ask them to take out the Organizing Our Strategies sheet we have been keeping through these first few chapters of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.
Before we listen to and/or read chapter 7, I have my students take some time to review the reading strategies we've covered in the last few lessons. It's important that they not only know what we did when using a particular strategy, but how it helped us as readers to fully understand the text.
Their charts should include:
Once we've covered what's on the chart, it's time to listen to chapter 7.
And now for the fun part!
I tell students that we are going to have a vote about which strategy we're going to use for chapter 7. I ask for volunteers to share which strategy they'd like to use, but I do warn them that they have to give a rationale for their strategy. We talk a little bit about when each strategy would be effective. I write the strategy choices on the board, and make notes about when each would be effective.
Now, we vote! It's especially fun to watch the students try to outsmart me and figure out which strategy equates to less work for them. They think they're so clever!
Whichever strategy wins is the one we do together on the board. Somehow, the work doesn't seem so bad when they've chosen it for themselves...
Once we have finished the work for our strategy, the real formative assessment begins. I ask my students to create a reflection that explains why this particular strategy was helpful to us as readers in chapter 7.
I have them write 3-5 sentences to reflect on our process and collect the papers as exit tickets. As I look through them, I am not concerned with how well they copied our work off the board. What I'm watching for is understanding of why a particular strategy would be beneficial with a particular text.