by Carol Fraser Boles, Literacy Specialist
The thought process children (or anyone) go through to understand what they are reading involves a specific sequence of steps. These steps are: predicting, reading, verifying and clarifying, reading.
Predicting* – Requires the student to scan a book or text, then make viable predictions about what he thinks he is going to read.
Reading – Student reads a short portion of the story/text.
Verifying –After reading several passages, or a chapter the student then verifies whether his predictions were correct. At this point, the student also summarizes what he has just learned.
Reading – Student continues reading the story/text.
Clarifying- Student stops reading, thinks about what he has read, retrieves previous knowledge, attaches new knowledge (the information he has just read) to this previous knowledge, then assimilates this new knowledge into his mind. Again, the student is also summarizing what he has just learned from what he read.
Basically, while reading a book or a story or other text, readers keep repeating all the steps in this thought process.
Making students aware of this thought process allows them to learn to monitor their own thinking. Accomplished readers instantly know whether they understand (comprehend) what they are reading, and conversely when they are not. When the latter is the case, good readers automatically re-read for clarification and understanding.
Elementary school teachers looking for a book to help their students learn to monitor their thinking as they read might begin with Donna McDine’s book, The Golden Pathway, about the underground railway. Here is a list of steps to follow while reading The Golden Pathway:
1. Flip through the pages, look at the pictures, illustrations, chapter.
2. Ask students to generate predictions based on the illustrations and the title of the book.
3. Read the first two to three pages of the book. Verify predictions and clarify students’ understanding so far. Let them summarize what they’ve learned about the story up to this point.
4. Repeat this process throughout the The Golden Pathway.
5. After reading this story, engage your class in a discussion about this story, and summarize its message.
6. Extend today’s lesson. Generalize the topic of this story—slavery. Apply the reading/thought process your students learned today to chapters or passages within your social studies textbook.
7. Follow the same procedure—preview the chapters, ask students to make predictions based on chapter titles, bold faced print, sub titles, pictures and illustrations.
*Predicting is not about making wild guesses. Predictions are based on existing knowledge about particular topics, and visual and textual clues provided before reading.
For more articles and information on reading and the importance of prediction, verifying and clarifying, visit www.carolfraserboles.com.