Sunday, March 02, 2014

Yes, Reading Response Success!

Yes, it's happening, students are gaining success with reading response.

After initial reluctance with the SRSD approach, I'm now a fan.  It took a concerted consultant effort with our ELA Director, Karyn Saxon, and ELA consultant, Leslie Laud, to get me there, but now that I'm there I'm anxious to learn more.

Essentially, the SRSD approach, a "coach yourself approach," leads students gently from dependence on graphic organizers and written guidelines to independence with memorized strategies and mnemonics.  There's plenty of practice involved, lots of conversation, and continual problem solving.

Additionally, the use of the weekly newsletter and guidance for family members has multiplied my coaching efforts since parents are able to coach their children with a similar approach.  Specialist teachers also use the approach.

As students work to comprehend text with care, they read with their pencils (or highlighting online), and a focus on the essential question(s) they are trying to answer collecting evidence along the way. Later they:

  • restate the question as a sentence, 
  • provide four pieces of direct evidence, and 
  • four explanations that tie the evidence back to the question with rich language from the text.
  • Finally, they sum it all up with a closing sentence that once again restates the question and if possible restates the main points delivered in the body of the paragraph.  
  • Once the writing is done, students reread with a small voice and listen to their words making any final corrections. 

Yes, this is test prep, but it's also life prep as there are multiple times in life that close reading and specific responses are due as you read to make meaning, communicate that meaning to others, and solve problems.

Once the MCAS tests are past, we'll use this skill to practice our guided research skills related to habitats. Then we'll use these skills again as students collaborate to create endangered species presentations with composing and speaking.  Finally, at the end of the year, these skills will come into play once more as students synthesize their learning for the year with an end-of-the-year personal research project/presentation.

Focused attention on the standards, skills, and students' needs/interests is the way that we can move towards deeper learning in schools--our ELA approach this year continues to exemplify this movement. Most of all, what's sold me about all of this is the students' positive reactions and efforts-they are so proud of what they're able to do, and their smiles illustrate this pride.