Reflection: Discourse and Questioning Food Chains & Food Webs: Follow-up - Section 6: Collaborative Reading


I first started doing collaborative readings ass a teacher using a method called CSR (Collaborative Strategic reading) and Reciprocal Teaching. The idea around both these strategies at the core is that students are using comprehension strategies together to understand and discuss a text at a high level.  They both focus on vocabulary, getting the big idea, using roles, and well...being collaborative. Different people are proponents of one or both of them and I think they both have a valuable use in the classroom in different situations. What I want to write about in this reflection is how I misused BOTH of these strategies in the beginning.

If you simply look at the title of the strategies and skim the directions you start out thinking that these are READING strategies. I mean, they both use a reading, call out comprehension strategies, and refer to reading in the title, but at the heart these are DISCUSSION strategies.  The purpose of the strategy is not for students to read a text in a group, but for the students to DISCUSS and ANALYZE a text the group has read. Slightly different wording, totally different practice.

When I first started using these strategies in class, I was obsessed with the kids proving to me that they were following the directions with fidelity. I created all sorts of worksheets  for students to use to record their conversation so that the kids could prove they had it. The students were compliant and did the task and got little out of the reading and activity. Then I reread the book Reciprocal Teaching at Work and had my epiphany about these being discussion strategies. Think of having a passionate discussion with other adults about politics. What is the very last thing you want to do in the conversation? Stop and write down what you said! Who would want to do that! It takes all the fun our of discussion and actually PREVENTS you from making connections or examining new ideas.

I urge you when you use these strategies to think about focusing first on the discussion you want kids to have. Scaffold for the discussions, find readings that are fascinating, important or controversial, and then get out of the way so the kids can carry the load through social learning.  

  Collaborative Reading- Reciprocal Teaching, CSR
  Discourse and Questioning: Collaborative Reading- Reciprocal Teaching, CSR
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Food Chains & Food Webs: Follow-up

Unit 6: Energy in Life: Food Chains & Food Webs
Lesson 4 of 7

Objective: Students will be able to compare and contrast food chains, food webs and food pyramids.

Big Idea: It's lonely at the top of a food pyramid.

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7 teachers like this lesson
Science, food chain, food web, Collaborative Reading
  50 minutes
food pyramid
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