When we get to choose what to read, we are often excited to read and want to know what happens next or are excited about discovering some new information. However, students of all ages are often given texts that they are expected to read and learn from regardless of the reader's interest in the text. When this happens, it's easy to lose focus of what we are reading. In order to still learn from the text, students need to pay attention when they lose focus and well as practice strategies to help them refocus on the text.
I start this lesson with a story. I explain to students that sometimes when I'm reading, I get to the end of a section or chapter and think to myself, "Huh? What did I just read?" I ask the students if they ever had that feeling. Many of them typically raise their hands. In this lesson, I will teach students to pay attention to when they lose focus and how to refocus on the text.
In this section, I model losing focus and recording what happened. I also record the strategy I use to help me refocus on what I'm reading. For modeling this lesson, I want to be authentic with students so I read an adult level nonfiction informational text, usually an article. I make sure that the information, words, ideas are appropriate for the grade. As I read, I pretend to get distracted by a word, a thought, a connection that leads me to a day dream, and a distraction on the phrasing of a sentence. For each distraction, I record it on a page in a learning journal. Thinking aloud, I pay state that I just realized that I got distracted and I need to do something to make sure that I haven't completely lost the meaning by either rereading, reading on, making a more appropriate connection or recording a question as I continue to read. These strategies are also recorded in my journal next to the list of distractions.
In this section, students begin reading grade appropriate texts and recording the ways they are distracted as well as strategies they used to help them refocus. Nonfiction texts can be found online at Scholastic News for the Classroom, National Geographic Kids, and Time for Kids. Students record their thinking on a separate piece of paper or in a journal.
After students have read independently, I ask a few students to share out loud ways that they lost focus while reading and the strategies they used to refocus. Most of the examples are distracting connections or reading a word incorrectly and having to reread. I remind students that losing focus is really common while we read. However, it is really important to pay attention when that happens and then to find a strategy to help us refocus so that we can continue to learn and comprehend what we are reading.