How can reading comprehension strategies be implemented in content-area classes?
Page 12: Implementing CSR
Now that Mr. Dupree has learned about the four reading strategies and cooperative learning that constitute CSR, and has prepared all of his materials, he is ready to begin teaching the strategy. Mr. Dupree’s goal is for his students to learn how to use CSR and to be able to implement it independently in order to improve their comprehension of their science textbook. When that occurs, Mr. Dupree will no longer need to spend as much instructional time reviewing the material, but can instead use that time to introduce new material and discuss topics in greater detail. In order to successfully teach CSR, Mr. Dupree will implement the approach in four stages:
Click on each movie below to watch a teacher implement each of the stages described above.
Stage 1: Discussing
The teacher introduces the steps of the strategy and highlights the strategy’s advantages and benefits. The teacher explicitly explains what the strategy is for, how it is used, and in what circumstances it is useful (time 0:46).
Stage 2: Modeling
The teacher models each reading strategy and each group role, and explains their integrated use to the class as a whole. One effective method of modeling is for the teacher to apply the strategy (or strategies) to a passage while thinking aloud for the class (time 2:26).
Ms. Landeros: Today, boys and girls, we’re going to learn what to do when you don’t understand something that you’re reading. Sometimes when you’re reading and you come upon a word that you don’t know what it means and that confuses you, that’s called a clunk. Say that word.
Ms. Landeros: Very good. So that clunk is a word that stops you from understanding what you’re reading.
Voiceover: In this lesson, the teacher introduces two fix up strategies, both using context clues that students can apply on their own to determine word meaning. The first strategy is to reread the sentence with the clunk, look for key ideas, and think about what makes sense. Another strategy is to reread the sentences before and after the clunk and look for clues.
Ms. Landeros: I’m going to model for you on how to use these two strategies and how to figure out the meaning of the clunk. I’m gonna be looking for a word that might cause me a problem.
Ms. Landeros (reading from the chart): “Millions of years ago, when dinosaurs roamed the Earth, strange creatures swam in the sea.”
Voiceover: Students listen as the teacher reads the text.
Ms. Landeros (continuing her reading): “The ocean boiled and bubbled, volcanoes erupted under water, and the floor of the sea came up to form great cliffs.”
Ms. Landeros (to class): Now here’s a clunk: “erupted.” “Volcanoes erupted under water.” I do not know the meaning of that word. So what I’m going to do first is write the clunk “erupted” on my sticky note.
Voiceover: Ms. Landeros teaches students to write down unfamiliar words then she thinks aloud for students as she works out the meaning.
Ms. Landeros: Now I’m going to use my fix up strategies to help me find the meaning of this clunk word, “erupted.” “Volcanoes erupted under water.” So I know that something happened under water. “And the floor of the sea came up to form great cliffs.” So something happened under the volcano.
Voiceover: The teacher models trying another fix up strategy when the first one doesn’t provide an answer.
Ms. Landeros: The sentence before volcanoes is “Time passed. The ocean boiled and bubbled.” I think I have some ideas. I have some key ideas in this sentence that comes before the clunk, “boiled and bubbled.” When something boils and it bubbles then that could probably mean exploded. Let me see if that makes sense. “Volcanoes exploded under water and the floor of the sea came up to form great cliffs.” That makes sense. So now that I find the meaning, I’m going to write the meaning of the word “erupted” on my sticky note. That’s to remind me that if I read this word “erupted,” it means “exploded.” Do you understand how I’m using these fix up strategies to figure out the clunk? You reread the sentences. You look for clues, ideas to figure out the meaning. Think if it makes sense. If clunk card #1 doesn’t help then you go to #2 when you have to read the sentences before and sometimes the sentence after to figure the meaning of a word.
Stage 3: Guided Practice
Following the modeling phase, the teacher creates opportunities for students to practice the strategies and roles. During this practice time, the teacher guides students through the steps (time 0:32).
Stage 4: Independent Practice
Once students have achieved some familiarity with each strategy, they are ready to practice them independently. The same is true of the roles. The teacher will monitor students’ practice and offer corrective feedback (time 0:31).
Transcript: Guided Practice
Ms. Landeros: Now let’s practice together on how to use our fix up strategies when we come upon a clunk that keeps us from understanding the story.
Voiceover: The teacher guides students through the fix up strategies again, insuring that instruction is appropriately scaffolded.
Ms. Landeros: And what do you do with clunk card #2?
Student: Reread the sentences before and after the clunk, looking for clues.
Voiceover: The teacher allows time for additional guided practice, monitoring as students begin to read with partners and begin to apply the fix up strategies.
Transcript: Independent Practice
Student: “Fragrant” is another clunk word. (Reading clunk card) “Reread the sentence with the clunk and look for key ideas to help you figure out the word. Think about what makes sense.”
Class: “The little house smelled of fresh bread and new cut wood and fragrant flowers, for Mary’s mother always kept a bouquet on the table.”
Student: Think “flowers” is a clue word.
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Teachers will utilize the techniques above to teach the four reading strategies, the group roles, and the integration of these components. Students should have an opportunity to practice each group role. After they have developed proficiency in applying the strategies and the roles, students are ready to independently implement CSR. The teacher divides the students into small heterogeneous groups, assigns roles, and supplies text for them to read.
For Your Information
The amount of time it takes to teach students the CSR strategy depends on their age. A teacher who implements the strategy several times a week will find that it typically takes two to three weeks to teach the CSR strategy to third-grade students and one week to teach it to middle- and high-school students. As they teach CSR, teachers can continue to teach their subject matter content and so are not losing instructional time.
While students are independently implementing CSR in collaborative groups, the teacher acts as a facilitator, moving from group to group, spending approximately three to five minutes with each. Doing so allows the teacher to ensure that all of its members are actively participating and learning. The teacher can make certain that they are doing so by:
- Listening to students’ discussions
- Monitoring students’ learning logs
- Checking clunk definitions and clarifying troublesome or difficult words
- Checking and offering feedback on gists
- Modeling the strategies or roles
- Encouraging students to be active participants
- Modeling cooperative behaviors
As they monitor their students, teachers should make mental or written notes of clunks and gists that they wish to discuss with the entire class. In addition, teachers can:
- Highlight the performance of students or groups who are implementing the strategies or roles exceedingly well
- Share and discuss innovations created by the groups
For each video below, identify what stage the teacher is implementing.
Reprinted with permission from the Vaughn Gross Center for Reading and Language Arts at The University of Texas at Austin, copyright © April 18, 2009