To me one of the most important skills learned in elementary school is reading comprehension –Erik Mickelson
Are you feeling it? You know…the drag of a winter gone on a little too long and spring just slightly out of reach? Are you feeling pulled in a million different directions? Could you use just a hot minute to sit for a bit and just be? I feel your pain. It’s this time in the school year where we have to dig deep and summon our inner teaching ninja and go the distance!
In my doctoral classes, we are working on scholarly writing. This is something that doesn’t come easy for me. I like to write, just not in the scholarly fashion. What I am finding during this process is I need to visualize what I am trying to say and what the authors of the scholarly journals are trying to say, in order for it to make sense to me. Without this visualization process, it all seems like meaningless words flowing on and on. How too, must our students feel when reading something that seems foreign?
My focus lately has been on these two ELA Common Core State Standards for kindergarten:
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.K.5.C Identify real-life connections between words and their use
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.K.7 With prompting and support, describe the relationship between illustrations and the story in which they appear
In using my own experiences of late with academic reading and writing, I decided to take a closer look at these standards and dig deeper with my students. I read a couple of pages from Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain by Verna Aardema. This text is rich with imagery and language. I didn’t show them the book cover or the pictures of the first few pages. I read the pages a few times before I let the children draw. I instructed them to think about the words as I read them and make a picture in their minds. Then, the students used Drawing Pad to draw the images they saw in their minds. Here are a few samples of their work:
While this activity was engaging and the students enjoyed it, what happened later was unexpected. Some students came together during their choice time and shared their pictures. They compared them and talked about why they drew what they drew. They asked for the book so they could have a book talk. They discussed knowing what “a plain” was since we had recently talked about landforms. They had conversations about why birds built their nests in the ground (the text mentions “grass for the ground birds to nest in”). They made a list of questions in their notes app. They wanted to know when we could research the answers to these questions. Here is one list they made:
Who knew that a quick 10 minute activity designed to get students to visualize words and meaning would turn into so much more?
Reading comprehension is a critical skill for students to develop. Finding creative new ways to build this skill can help all students think critically.
Today we will do exciting new things. Let’s get to it.