I have a third grade class that I literally need to turn around in their comprehension skills. I am working on text to text, self, and world connections.
Fair enough- But my students either all need a dose of attention juice or something is going on. No matter how I chew a topic and provide schema there are about 5 of them who simply CANNOT get the main idea of any story.
I am using correct lexile levels etc. Any suggestions? I know at this point it has got to be my fault. Help me! Thanks!
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I think posts #3 and #4 are really valid. I find that so often in my teaching I need someone else to come in and observe me - perhaps they can observe something differently that will give me an insight. With some students, I have asked to observe them in a colleagues class, seeing how another teacher handles them. Just ideas to help you see the wood for the trees.
I find your words "No matter how I chew . . .and provide background schema . . ." Is it possible you could give your students more opportuntiy to make their own meaning and connections?
Engaging students before they read will make them more attentive as they read. What about providing students with a chronological listing of some specific events from the story (not too revealing of the plot or main idea) and then have them write the story for themselves based upon the clues you provided. This is not a "tell me what the story is about"; it is a "write your own version of the story". They will come up with some wonderful stories on their own, and they will be more focused to see how "right" they were about their prediction.
Janet Allen and Cris Tovani are two wonderful sources.
I don't know how much experience you have teaching at this level, so please don't be offended if my answer doesn't apply to you (if you are a more experienced member of your department, etc.)!
If possible, have a trusted colleague or mentor observe your class ASAP. Sometimes an outside party will notice something in your instructional technique that even the most exhaustive self-evaluation will not reveal. Plus, any boss with a brain will be impressed with your dedication to serving your students and growing as a teacher.
First of all text to text, self and world connections is a great way to get their interest sparked, A few suggestions; are you previewing vocabulary words? have them keep a notebook and after every chapter write a brief review (paragraph), and share their info. Then as you begin each new chapter, have everyone review their written info..sort of a memory trigger. Also, when they seem to be struggling with the main idea, start putting each chapter into pictures...have them draw the scene, and share their picture. Kids love this, and listening to everyone's story helps them add more information about the story, and solidify their understanding. break the chapter into chunks..ask them a question BEFORE they read each chunk, and tell them to read for the answer. It is a way for their brain to stay engaged as they are trying to find the answer
I also have them make cartoons...with one frame from each scene of the story, then put them together Kids are really visual, this help them to see the story, which helps to understand it.
I also make games...jeopardy is my favorite. We have a game after every few chapters, with teams and they answer comprehension questions, questions about the big ideas in the book, and vocabuary. I am amazed at how well they do with this game even if they had seemed to be struggling before.
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