During the previous lesson, student made predictions about what would happen in the story "Spit Nolan" based on a selected words from the story. Before they start reading the story, I review the predictions with them so that they will be fresh in their minds before the begin reading. Many of the predictions had to do with racing and possibly someone dying of a disease. The students came in very eager to read so that they could confirm their predictions. This isn't something that always happens, so I was very happy!
I put all of the index cards with the predictions on them up on the document camera, and we discussed why and how they were made.
In my class we make tons of predictions. Guessing at what might happen and reading to confirm or refute helps students stay engaged and interested in a reading. Sixth graders always want to prove that they are right! As students read, they are wondering if their predictions are true and mentally gathering evidence. This process helps them comprehend text.
Reciprocal reading is one of my favorite partner reading strategies. It boosts comprehension and helps students stay focused on the text. A bonus is that the students usually like it too!
For this activity, I have the students partner up. You can assign partners, but since the story is long, I figured everyone would be more cooperative if they could work with a friend. I only had one or two ineffective partnerings, and those students lucked out because I sat with them most of the period.
One partner is a 1 and the other is a 2. Groups of 3 are okay for this activity, but I try to avoid them. Partner 1 starts out by reading a paragraph. Partner 2 follows along and then summarizes what was read. Then they switch roles. Partner 2 reads, and partner 1 summarizes. They continue like this throughout the story. If there is a 3rd partner, that person asks a text based question that the other two answer.
This process does take awhile, but I find that student comprehension makes it worthwhile. If I have students who aren't summarizing orally, I have them write their summaries, and they are usually back on track in no time!
Since this is the first time this year we have used this strategy, I will model it for them with a student volunteer first. I will have her read the first paragraph and I will summarize it. Then, we'll switch, and I'll read while she summarizes.
I will also ask the students to be active readers while using the reciprocal strategy. This means that they will circle unfamiliar words, put a star by important parts, and put a question mark by things they have questions about.
This story takes place in England and some of the slang words are unfamiliar, so there are lots of opportunities to identify words.
While the students are reading, I circulate and monitor their reading and summaries. This is a good opportunity for me to check out comprehension and listen for fluency.
After the fact...
For the most part, my students were able to stay on task for the entire time. My last class had a more difficult time staying focused which is pretty normal, and I would expect it no matter which strategy we were using.
The purpose of this reading was to give the students a general idea of the structure and events of the story. We will be focusing on plot over the next few lessons, and we will eventually dig deeper into the story.
Next, we start to think about questions that we still have after reading the story.
A characteristic of a good reader is that they can generate questions about a text. My students have been practicing this, and they are getting much better at writing interpretive questions that deal with character actions and author's purpose. I encourage them to ask questions that can be interpreted differently by different people, but can be answered by the text.
I ask that each student work with their reading partner to generate 3 interpretive questions. These questions must be open ended and not focus on vocabulary. CCSS ask that they students think critically about their reading. One great way to do this is by having students pose and answer interpretive questions. This type of question forces students to analyze the text and support their opinions.