Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Story Comprehension Reading

    I have been working on a new method for teaching reading. It is called the Story Comprehension Method. It is based on the premise that story is first and foremost what encourages one to read, and to love to read. Therefore, reading should start with reading story, and be followed by reading words.
    After years of working as a children's librarian in the public library I have witnessed parents and children looking for books to spur the love of reading. I have seen children who are adept at reading words, yet gain little love from their reading as their comprehension is not at the same level. I have seen children pushed to the point of finding reading to be a hated task, with little joy. My method works in a simple manner. The child reads for story first, and reads words afterwards..
     When I was a young mother and I wanted my children to learn a new skill, I broke it down into sections. Once the first part was learned, we went on to the second. I remember teaching my two year old daughter to go down a particular slide at the playground. The first time we walked up the steps together and she slid down in my lap. The second time we held hands going up the steps, and she slid down alone, after me. The third time she completed the entire task on her own. Story Comprehension Reading is also a three part method.
     It begins with a wordless picture book. The child is given the book to "read" the pictures. Being able to follow a story, a sequence of events, is an important step to reading fluently. It is also fun.
    Many lovely wordless picture books are in the public library. You can try my method at home using one of those books. A recommended list will follow. Eventually I will create my own books for the method. For now, let's use the popular book Good Dog, Carl by Alexandra Day to follow the method. This is a wordless picture book featuring a baby and a dog.
     Start by asking the child to "read" this book. Looking at pages one and two, the child may say something like, "The dog is looking out the window. The baby is standing up in her crib. The baby gets on the dog's back."
     On the next page, "The baby rides the dog. The dog and the baby get on Mommy and Daddy's bed." Let the child keep reading the book, to herself at first if she wants, and then to you, laughing together as Baby and Carl get into mischief and Carl cleans up. Hopefully this will be an enjoyable experience for you both. This is part one of the Method.
      In part two you will create a series of captions for the book. Eventually, when my Method is published it will be a three book set. For now, we will do the same thing on our own. For example, on the first page you will have three captions, which are the words, Dog, Baby and Crib.Continue with adding simple words to each page of the book, Mirror, Bed, Swim, Dance, Bread, Butter, Grapes, Tub, Wash, etc. Have the child read the story again, this time sounding out the words that have been added. This is part two of the Method.
      In Part Three, you will compose a simple story, using the same words that were in part two, but arranging them into sentences. "The dog looks out the window. The baby is in the crib.The baby makes a mess. The dog cleans the baby." Using the works of others in this way, you don't need to strive for a poetic story. The point is to see how words complement the telling of story, how it works to create a whole, words and pictures. Let the child read the book again with his new knowledge.
     Do not force the child to read the book the three ways one after another. Let the child take her time and get to know the story and the words at her own pace, before adding the complete sentences. Remember always that the point is to create joy in reading and stories.
      I would be very interested to know how this Method works for you and your child. If you could take the time to comment it will be much appreciated. A list of wordless picture books found at the public library follows. A one word caption on each page may be enough to start. Remember too that the point is not to overwhelm the child, but to work with her or his natural curiosity and intellect.
    This is designed for school aged children who already know the alphabet and have begun learning to sound out words at school. It is not for babies and toddlers.For this age group, please keep reading and singing to the child, reciting poetry No known advantage has been recorded for forcing children to read before they are developmentally ready. This method is designed to instill a joy in reading.

Suggested Books:

Aliki. Tabby, A Story in Pictures.
Day, Alexandra. Good Dog, Carl.
De Paola, Tomie. Pancakes for Breakfast.
Lehman, Barbara. Rainstorm
Pinkney, Jerry. The Lion & The Mouse
Raschka, Christopher. A Ball for Daisy.
Spier, Peter. Rain.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Everything I Need to Know I Learned in High School

   Life is a lot like high school, filled with emotional highs and lows and subject to certain rules. Here is my list of life's rules from high school.

1. There is an "in" crowd. Unfortunately, you will never be a part of it.

2. You have to say "hi" to everyone.

3. What you wear matters.

4. Do your homework.

5. Said homework will take longer and be tougher than you imagined.

6.  There will be a test.

7. Get involved.

8. You have to have friends.

9.  No one will ever understand what you are going through.

10. Poetry and literature help.

       What did you learn about life from high school?