Teachers are trained to guide and model reading strategies for their students. Most parents naturally do this with their children when they read stories together. When you talk about a story and ask questions you are using the Directed Thinking Strategy of reading. This strategy is used for comprehension of a story. It encourages students to ask questions, to make predictions, and then to read to confirm or refute their predictions. Teachers often provide activities for their students to encourage active reading. This in turn enhances comprehension.
In preparing for my upcoming second graders, I want to make sure that I have the best lessons to improve their comprehension. I love teaching in the summer because it allows me to test out lessons to see what works and what doesn’t work. Today I want to share a Directed Thinking lesson that I taught not only to my second graders, but with my upcoming Kindergarteners and Tots as well.
Involving Your Students
If you love and are passionate about something you are more likely to be creative and to do your best work. In choosing our story for the week, I wanted it to not only go along with our theme but also be a story in which they felt connected. “Bartholomew and the Oobleck” worked perfectly, we learned about states-of-mater and everyone is familiar with Dr. Seuss.
I used the computer to show the pictures while I read the book. Using technology is also a great way to engage your students!
Before reading the book I showed the students the cover of the book and read it to them. They inferred that Bartholomew was going to be a main character but were unsure of Oobleck. So we looked it up on the computer and quickly learned that Oobleck is “fictional green precipitation in the Dr. Seuss book Bartholomew and the Oobleck”. I then asked them the meaning of fictional. What about precipitation? This was a great way to get the kids engaged and their minds actively questioning what was going to happen in the story. I had them think about what type of book this might be since it was written by Dr. Seuss. The answers I got were: make believe, rhyming, funny pictures, and weird. I think they know their Dr. Seuss!
Everyone participated in answering the questions.
What Do You Notice?
When turning to the second page in the story, I asked the children to look at the picture and to turn to a neighbor and tell them what they noticed about the picture. It is very important to take pauses in the books to ask questions and to get children to talk about their thoughts.
During one point of the book my Princess (age 7) asked why Bartholomew didn’t want the King to call the magicians. I stopped the story and had all of the kids line up to dance a minuet. I played music. When the students changed partners they were to tell their partner why they thought Bartholomew didn’t want to the King to call the magicians. This activity had them up and moving and actively engaged in the story.
During another point in the story the Captain exclaimed that he was going to eat the Oobleck. I stopped the story right before he ate it and gave each student a scratch paper and a pencil. I had them all write down what they thought would happen when the Captain ate the Oobleck. Then we piled all the response on the floor and I read each one. There were some really good predictions!
I have always said that being a teacher is the same as being a performer. The more animated you are, and the more music and movement that you put into your lessons the more engaged and locked in your students will be.
To provide an object for my kinesthetic and visual learners we made Oobleck.
Then they pretended to eat Oobleck, to get stuck in Oobleck, and to dance around in Oobleck.
We wrote about Oobleck.
Children can’t really comprehend a story unless they can connect it to their life. Providing experiences to help them relate to the characters will help them become life-long readers.