05 October 2011

Teaching Students to Read Meaning - Not Just Words

My classes are just finishing a unit on story structure and I'm preparing for the next. So, in order to find some good examples to share during the next note-taking round, I did some research about inferences. I did find a couple paragraphs for my students to read and make conclusions about, then we'll discuss what was meant and what was actually said.

It's so difficult to convey to a 7th grader that you indeed have to "read between the lines." (You see, now we have to back up and explain, yes, this phrase is an idiom, yet another form of figurative language you have to know. The phrase means you have to use what evidence you see in the text and fill in what the author isn't saying. [All this time I've been ignoring the hand at the back of the room, yes? What's figurative language?] Sigh. At least they're asking!)

Ah, back to reading between the lines. Always I hear things like, "but I don't get it," when we've finished reading a story or article. And, besides a gap in vocabulary, a deficiency in attention, or an inability to read quickly enough to garner meaning, this is where we have to build a bridge between what's said and what's not. It's a constant battle for myself, let alone for my students - and we wonder why children who haven't been exposed to reading don't like books!

They don't get it.

So, we read. Yes, it's that simple. Yesterday I read aloud to all my classes, and it was great. They listened, or at least pretended to, and some even smiled. Some laughed! And, what was the most encouraging, one of my students reported he knew what we were going to read (as he had heard it already from his buddy), then proceeded to summarize the story! They do listen!!

Can it be that filling in the gaps, "reading between the lines," is a skill mainly obtained by simply reading?

I think so. And that's why we spend so much time reading - during class.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What a victory! Keep reading aloud!

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