Monday, July 27, 2009

Chapter 2 What We Know About Comprehension

During the 2008-9 school year I really experienced students who had not developed prior knowledge in what I thought were basic geography and social studies skills. I was shocked to discover the truth of the statement at the top of pg 22 “the prime determinant of understanding is prior knowledge.” I can remember sitting in Michelle’s (our site principal’s office) discussing my Oprah Ah-ha moment. I can’t expect my 5th graders to understand US History if they first don’t understand Oklahoma is a state in the US or their impact within our classroom community. I also noticed that students had a lack of experiences outside of our little suburb. For example, many of them hadn’t been to the lake. Most of them were so focused on their families and the upsets in their immediate lives they couldn’t concentrate on the importance of “manifest destiny” even if it was introduced with an experiential exercise.

As I am preparing my notes for my PLC on Thursday with SPED teacher, I began to ask myself if teachers really understand what comprehension is and what fluency is. Do teachers understand that fluency and comprehension aren’t the same thing? In Summer School, I had an opportunity to work with all types of learners, but specifically we worked with ELL students. The paperwork received on two little boys stated they were very good readers and they needed the program to maintain their current levels. After a few days working with them our team realized they were very fluent readers, but they had little comprehension. I believe the continuum on pg. 30 would really be beneficial to teachers (regardless of how long she/he has taught). It could easily be used as a visual for teachers of where your students are and where they need to go. Imagine how easy it would be to monitor their progress on that chart.
In response to the “going deeper” or “digging deeper” I found really patience on my part was a huge key. I needed to give them THINK TIME. Not of all us have light bulb moments. Some of us are percolators (like me) and just need time to put it all together. Teachers should respect that. Not rushing the process and letting my excitement for the activity or discussion interfere so that the meaning would come from the group.

I love how all the pedagogical reading I have completed in the last year seem to encompass one another. As I read this new book I am reminded of so many others I completed in the last year. Reading this chapter reminds me of the excitement of strategy work in reading, coupled by the changes in my writer’s workshop in the last 2 years, now I am wondering what changes will occur in my SS instruction because of this book.

Anxiously awaiting your thoughts and ready to read Chapter 3.


1 comment:

  1. LS
    How fun to read your post. We think so much a like I was cracking up. Wait till you read mine you'll see.
    I love how the reading of this chapter made you reflective about your PLC. I am so thrilled first of all that you are doing this for SPED Teachers. Yeah you! Your are so right with your thoughts and I think all teachers need to be reminded of what you said, fluency isn't comprehension. I am with you on the chart (see my post).
    I am glad you commented about going deeper. Jill DeGode was here in July at JPS and that is always one of her remarks,go deep not wide. Malissa and I saw that big time with Social Studies restructuring we did last year. You need to see our plan. Amazing! We need to all sit down and talk.
    I so agree on your reflection of readings from book to book interlocking and supporting each other. This is an exciting time to be a teacher at JPS and especially at West!