The Missouri Reader Vol. 41, Issue 1 - Page 11

Leaders Are Readers

by

Danny Brassell, Ph.D.

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the grade levels. Think about the imported texts in use in the classroom and how students can create a local text which ties to each of them. We can use this local text to increase students’ text exposure, to revisit past learning in the various content areas and to make connections with their prior knowledge as we introduce new content. Local text is free, easy to create, personally meaningful, and a great way to increase informational text exposure.

Focus on Images

Often we put a lot of emphasis on comprehending the written pages within a text. While this is vital, we can’t forget to focus student attention on images. In order for our students to value the power of images, we must show we value the images. Research acknowledges the importance of images, and this is especially true for scientific text. We are not only seeing a dramatic increase in the number of complex images in science text (Lee, 2008), but the publishers of the texts are often providing students with minimal support to understand the image (Slough et al., 2010).

As students look at informational text, discuss why images are included in the text. What is the difference between conveying information through the words in a paragraph or within images such as graphs and charts? Is there a difference in the amount of information that a publisher can convey within a set amount of space? Do images make the text more engaging? Why do authors use images in the text they are reading? Does an image serve merely as decoration, reiterate what they read in the paragraphs, or add and extend information not found in the pages of text? As teachers, we know that students often skip images and are missing out on important information. However, if we can teach our students to value images at a young age, we can impact the way they view images in the later grades.

Watch What You Say

If we tell students they are going to hear or read a story, do many of our students have certain expectations? Words such as story typically mean that the pages will transport the reader to another time or another place. As adults, we know we read informational text efferently, or to take away meaning, while typically we read to become part of the story experience with fictional text (Rosenblatt, 1938). In fact, this article is probably being read very differently than one might read a fictional novel by Paula Hawkins or John Grisham. Therefore, if we pick up an informational text on astronauts and refer to it as a story, will our students approach the text with a certain mindset? Also, how do we talk about images they encounter? Yes, pictures are in many fictional books, but as we refer to images in informational text, do we ask them to look at the picture on specific pages? We want to use terms such as flow chart, tables, and pie graphs as we talk about images. This familiarization with key terms begins with getting the terms into our students’ listening vocabulary at an early age.

Embrace the Power of Think Alouds

Think Alouds are not new and already play an important role in many primary classrooms. They are an excellent way to model strategies students can use to

Jennifer Altieri

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