Aligning Print and Meaning while Reading

Do your students attend to both print and meaning while reading? Does your instruction give equal attention to both? Chapter 3 in Reading Wellness provides a fun lesson for helping students learn to do this!
Today the book study over at Adventures in Literacy Land's on Reading Wellness: Lessons in Independence and Proficiency by Jane Miller Burkins and Kim Yaris continues with Chapter 3.   Make sure to check out my previous posts (IntroChapter 1, & Chapter 2) as well as those over on Lit Land. Don't forget that you can access the book online (currently free from Stenhouse Publishers) if you want to check it out before purchasing.
Do your students attend to both print and meaning while reading? Does your instruction give equal attention to both? Chapter 3 in Reading Wellness provides a fun lesson for helping students learn to do this!

Print or Meaning?

Chances are that if you are a first grade teacher, you spend a lot of time getting your younger readers to attend to the text itself while reading, right?  Much instructional time is spent learning sight words and phonics skills.  If you are a fifth grade teacher, the opposite is probably true.  You probably rarely listen to your students read aloud anymore and you focus most of your instruction on comprehension strategies.

Which of these is correct?  Is there just a switch one day?  When should it occur?  Burkins and Yaris spend this chapter explaining the importantance of students understanding they need to attend to BOTH the print AND the meaning of the text...ALWAYS!  The authors use the analogy of a puzzle and state that both the pieces and the picture are equally important (love this!). 


Lack of Alignment

Many students focus too much on the text alone or vice versa.  The authors emphasize that errors from young readers are completely normal, but to look for consistent problematic patterns.  I'm sure you know a fluent reader who can zoom through the text and provide a brief retell of what was read...but not attending to larger words becomes an issue with more complex texts.  

The authors even pointed out how adding little words such as "a" or "the" can change the meaning of the text (being patient is completely different than being a patient).  This was eye opening to me, because while completely obvious, such little errors are often overlooked because they seem so minor.  However, they could create a pattern that is hard to change later.

Another really interesting point in the text was the comment that we as teachers are usually doing most of the work.  We are trying to figure out what the errors are, how they were made, and how they can be fixed.  Burkins and Yaris suggest being LESS specific with our prompting and encourage students to figure things out on their own rather than telling them what to do.  This is surprising because I am so used to giving very specific prompts, such as, "Reread the first word and pay attention to the two letters it starts with."  If we consistently help our students this much, how in the world are they going to problem solve when reading independently?

Does that Match? 

The lesson in this chapter is titled "Does that Match?" and is sort of a game for kids.  Basically the teacher is encrypting some of the words.  Students then need to "figure out" what the missing words are and decipher the code.  In order to do this, they need to make sure that both the print and the meaning match when they think they have solved the puzzle.  The text has detailed lessons and examples for multiple grade levels, so be sure to check it out!    

Meeting the Intentions of the Text

As I explained in my introduction to the text, the authors have four main intentions with each lesson in the book and end each chapter explaining how they are met.  
Do your students attend to both print and meaning while reading? Does your instruction give equal attention to both? Chapter 3 in Reading Wellness provides a fun lesson for helping students learn to do this!

Do YOU focus your students' attention too heavily on either print or meaning?

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Do your students attend to both print and meaning while reading? Does your instruction give equal attention to both? Chapter 3 in Reading Wellness provides a fun lesson for helping students learn to do this!

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