Tools for Teaching: Developing Active Readers

Tools for Teaching: Developing Active Readers
May 13, 2013
Photo credit: judybaxter via flickr

Adults forget all that they do while reading. We are predicting, making connections, contextualizing, critiquing, and already plotting how we might use any new insights or information. Yep, we do all that when we read.

As teachers, we need to train students in each of these skills, and begin to do so early on. I was recently in a second-grade classroom where 70 percent instruction was in English and 30 percent in Spanish. Most of the children spoke Spanish as their first or home language.

As the students sat on the carpet and the teacher read to them, she’d pause every few minutes so students could ask questions or make a comment. Every student would start her/his comment by saying, “I would like to make a text-to-text connection, or I would like to make a text-to-self connection…” It was clear that these young children had been taught this analysis skill; they had been given a strategy and language to go deeper in the text — and this an age where children are still learning to read.
In the Classroom

So the message is clear: Children, regardless if they are in the stage of reading to learn or learning to read, need structured opportunities to engage with text in deep and meaningful ways. Whether your students are seven or seventeen years old, here are a handful of really great strategies to build those active reading skills:
1. Previewing Text and Vocabulary

Before reading, look at any titles, subheadings, charts, graphs, and captions. Talk out loud as a whole group, inviting students to make predictions about what they are going to read. Scan the text and ask students to point out words or phrases that are new to them, confusing or they wonder about at first glance. Look at the structure of the text: Is it funny, sad, realistic? How do we know? Is it fiction — a poem, a story? How do we know? Is it non-fiction — a letter to someone, a newspaper article? How do we know? Providing students with knowledge of the text structure and its features will help them with comprehension and to identify the author’s goals or intent.
2. Reading with a Purpose

This strategy confronts the passive reading approach. Rather than tell students to “just read” (which results in low recall), we say, “Here’s your mission as you read. Look for…” They can be reading closely in search of: humor, author’s purpose, use of literary devices (such as foreshadowing, imagery), facts, confusion, and context clues for new words.
3. Marking Text

These steps for marking the text come from AVID: a) number paragraphs, b) circle words, phrases, names, dates that stand out, and c) underline author’s claims and important information connected to those claims. The final step is to teach students how to write in the margins (asking questions, for example).
4. Making Connections

Teach students the text-to-self, text-to-text or text-to-world strategy talked about earlier. When you read as a whole group, model it often: This reminds me of (my birthday last year, a poem we read, that snowstorm last year).
5. Summarizing

We often expect students to do this one without providing the necessary support or models. Think how hard summarizing is for even adults and then think about students who are still in the stage of decoding. Here are two strategies I have found effective with both children and adolescents: Magnet Summary and Sum it Up. Remember to model these summarizing tools in class, followed by guided practice before requiring them to summarize on their own.

One of the ultimate goals for all teachers (regardless of grade or content) is to prepare students to read deeply and critically on their own, just as adults do.

How are you equipping your students for this task? We’d love to hear from you! Please share in the comment section below.


Ideas For Generating Ideas

Ideas For Generating Ideas

Many people actually do very little writing in day-t0-daya life,and a great deal of what they do write is quite short:brief notes to friends or colleagues,answer on question forms,diary entries,postcard,etc. The need for longer ,formal written works seems to have lessened over the years,and is reflected in many classroom where writing activities are perhaps less often found than those for other skills. There may still be good reasons why it is useful to include work on writing in a course (p.235):
1. Many students have specific needs that require them to work on writing skills;
2. At the most basic level,your our students are likely to be involved in taking down notes in lessons;
3. Writing involves a different kind of mental process.
Scrievener promotes some ideas for generating ideas,they are:
1. Brainstorming. It can be done by writing the topic or circle in the middle of the board. Tell students to call out anything that comes to mind connected with the topic. Then, write up everything on the board. Don’t let student to discuss or comments (especially derogatory one) just ideas.
2. Text –Starts. A lot of real-life writing involves looking at other texts and summarizing, reporting, responding to them, selecting ideas for them, etc. It provides a lot of support for the writer.
3. Fast-Writing. For many writers, the single most difficult things is simply to start writing. The longer you fail to write, the harder that first sentence becomes. Here are some hints to “start” writing:
a. Start writing about the topics;
b. Not stop writing;
c. Not put their pen down at all;
d. Write ‘um,um,um or ‘rubbish’ or something else if they can’t think of what to write;
e. Not stop to go back and read what they have written;
f. Keep writing till wesay “stop’ (which will be after five/eight/ten minutes or however long we think is appropriate for our group.(by Heriyanto Nurcahyo)


(Refleksi Hari Pendidikan Nasional)

Heriyanto Nurcahyo
Guru SMA Negeri 1 Glenmore Banyuwangi

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Sugata Mitra, professor technology pembelajaran di Newcastle University, mengatakan bahwa banyak sekolah telah menjadi usang dan ketinggalan jaman (obsolete). Sekolah dipandangnya kurang bergerak cepat. Informasi jarang di update dan dibiarkan “basi” begitu saja. Kondisi ini dipicu oleh keterbatasan penguasaan teknologi, lambatnya penyebaran informasi dan pengembangan infrastruktur pendukung..
Tergerak untuk membantu kondisi tersebut, Sugata membangun sebuah kampung cerdas di sebuah kawasan kumuh di India. Dan hasilnya sungguh sangat mengagumkankan. Anak-anak di daerah kumuh tersebut dengan sangat cepat belajar dan mengajar dalam waktu yang bersamaan. Perangkat komputer yang digantung dilorong perkampungan kumuh menjadi sumber belajar dan kelas mereka. Salah seorang anak tersebut mengatakan pada Sugata bahwa hadirnya komputer telah mendorong mereka “mengajar” diri mereka sendiri. Sebagai seorang guru, baru pertama kalinya Sugata mendapati secara nyata kata “mengajar diri sendiri”.
Hadirnya teknologi informasi dan internet menjadikan manusia sebagai pebelajar mandiri (autonomous). Pebelajar yang tidak terikat oleh ruang dan waktu. Bisa belajar kapan saja, dimana saja dan dengan siapa saja. Melimpahnya informasi dan pengetahuan dewasa ini merangsang manusia untuk terus menyibak tabir rahasia semesta. Menjadi sayang sekali jika kondisi ini tidak dimanfaatkan bagi pendidikan yang lebih berkualitas.
Banyuwangi Digital Society (B-DiSo) sepatutnya diapresiasi dengan tinggi. Sekolah memiliki kesempatan dan kemudahan dalam mengelolah sumber belajar yang lebih variatif. Program ini juga mendorong guru di sekolah untuk terus bergerak. Membuka diri terhadap perubahan disekelilingnya yang begitu cepat. Berkolaborasi dengan guru di daerah atau negara lain. Melakukan sharing pembelajaran dan benchmarking. Kegiatan ini akan memperpendek kesenjangan pembelajaran antar sekolah dan Negara. Sekolah-sekolah bisa saling belajar dari praksis pembelajaran terbaik sekolah lainnya (best practice).
Lebih jauh, sekolah usang adalah sekolah yang tidak melibatkan peran orang tua dalam pendidikan anaknya. Orang tua masih dianggap kaum “liyan” yang berada di pinggiran sekolah. Padahal sekolah yang menyenangkan selalu memandang orang tua sebagai mitra sekaligus sumber belajar yang sangat penting. Menempatkan sekaligus melibatkan peran orang tua dalam pendidikan anaknya di sekolah mendorong keberhasilan pendidikan lebih mudah digapai. Penubuhan karakter akan lebih mudah jika orang tua sebagai pendidik utama terlibat di dalamnya.
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Sekolah usang akan hilang dengan sendirinya jika guru sebagai penggerak utama melakukan lompatan perubahan yang massive. Terus belajar dan berbenah. Guru masih dipandang sebagai sosok yang teramat penting dalam menciptakan pembelajaran yang menyenangkan. Memanfaatkan berlimpahnya informasi dan sumber belajar akan menjadikan kelas semakin kaya dan penuh kegairahan. Sebaliknya, kelas akan menjadi tempat yang horror jika guru tidak cukup pandai mengorkestrasi keberagaman potensi dan sumber belajar yang ada. Kelas sepatutnya didesain menjadi arena petualangan. Dimana anak didik didorong dan dibawa pada suasana pembelajaran yang merangsang otak untuk terus bergerak dan mencerna semua rangsangan belajar. Dari sinilah akan lahir generasi emas harapan bangsa. Semoga.