Lion's Roar April 2019 Lion's Roar - Page 7



APRIL 2019

When many of us adults attended school, our reading instruction most likely consisted of “comprehension-type” questions from a reading book or “basal reader.” If we closely examined those questions today, though, we would likely find that this approach emphasized knowledge of a text’s literal details rather than the development of deep, higher-level thinking skills about the author’s intended meaning. This approach tends to place an emphasis on surface-level understanding of a book or passage and does very little to foster long-term retention or application of understanding.

In Foundations & Frameworks (F&F), development of independent reading comprehension becomes the ultimate goal of reading instruction. Our F&F-trained teachers (for instruction in Kindergarten through Grade 8) facilitate the reading comprehension process by implementing specific methods designed for each reading unit they instruct. When utilized properly, this approach results in deeper thinking about the reading material, improved comprehension beyond recall of the literal text, and increased connections between previously and newly learned information. Each unit begins with a whole-class experience, which leads to discovery of a pattern statement. The experience and resulting pattern statement form the foundation of each reading unit, and they become the reference point to which every lesson is tied. It also serves as a launching point to which future information is connected. This is an important part of the process of developing long-term memory, since God designed our brains to construct meaning by recognizing and connecting new information with prior patterns we have encountered.

After the planned experience, each teacher uses a short story to model a visual tool, which is then practiced throughout the reading unit. For each reading unit, a specifically designed visual tool is used to highlight the comprehension focus for that particular unit. A visual tool is similar to a graphic organizer; however, a graphic organizer (such as a flowchart or Venn diagram) has a defined area in which students organize information received through the text. A visual tool, on the other hand, is a student-generated product that can be expanded upon and adjusted as new information is learned during the reading process. A visual tool reflects the student’s thinking that takes place throughout the reading process. All students complete their visual tools in their personalized SPECS Logs (journals that provide Space for Extending Comprehension Skills).

The use of visual tools during the reading process is inspired by neurocognitive research. Nearly 85% of data received by the brain is received visually. Since the brain is predominantly visual, teaching readers to use a “visual tool” mirrors the way the brain thinks and learns. Visual tools take an abstract concept, such as how we each think about what we are reading, and make the students’ thoughts become visual by creating concrete “pictures” of ideas and their relationships to prior knowledge, which fosters deeper thinking beyond the literal. Visual tools allows for sustained attention, leading to continuous reflection and improved understanding. Constructing visual tools while reading cultivates a student’s ability to organize ideas, which results in improved comprehension (Washburn, 2006).

After students have individually read material selected for their instructional levels and have built their visual tools, they then participate in small groups of 4-5 students. Meeting in small groups—the next step in the reading comprehension process—maximizes student engagement and provides accountability and constructive feedback throughout the learning process. The use of small group instruction will be the focus of next month’s F&F article.


Impacting the World for God's Kingdom

Cornerstone's mission centers on equipping students to "impact the world for God's Kingdom." Each month, we will highlight for you a free study that you can access through your free RightNow Media account as a family associated with CCS. This study, Raising Kingdom Kids, by Pastor Tony Evans helps us understand what "Kingdom kids" look like and how parents and their partners in education can work together to train up our young people to impact the world for God's Kingdom. If you haven't already, be sure to set up your free account now!