Friday, December 6, 2013

Language Matters...Prompting for deeper comprehension.

"Tell me what happened in your story that you read last night."   
I heard...crickets.  
Hmmm, okay, I'll try asking in a different way... 
 "Turn and tell your neighbor your thinking about your story."  
Again...crickets and now leaves hitting the ground could be heard. 
I had to do something and fast.

Last night my students finished reading Stay Away From Simon by Carol Carrick.  It is a memorable historical fiction text, set in the 1800's.  The reader walks away from the text having learned a bit more about themselves and the world around them as they enter the world of Lucy and her brother Josiah.  Having preconceived notions and spreading gossip  are challenged as more is learned by Lucy, the main character, about the character Simon.  I knew that my students had a great deal to say about this story, I just had to find a way to start the discussion.  Had I really trained my students to just wait, and eventually, I would jump in and answer my own question(s)?  A flood of research washed into my head, and I heard that  little voice remind me that the one doing the talking is the one deepening their comprehension. Uhh-oh.

I knew that I had a problem and needed to find a way to prompt and then get out of the way.  So, I grabbed my Fountas & Pinnell Prompting Guide Part 2 for Comprehension and searched for a magic phrase that would open up the conversation.  I flipped to the Book Discussion section and furiously scanned the page with the heading, "Ask for Thinking".
Bingo...Then I asked, 
"What surprised you?".  
That did it, the words began to fly out of my students' mouths.

Does language matter?  Absolutely!  

Quick Reference Prompts
Yellow-within, Green-beyond, Blue-about

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