By: Brooke Hult
(students from the Bowles Elementary School
in the Rockwood <Missouri> School District)
Hand-Me-Down Tales from Around the World: A Second Grade Literature Unit
As we further develop materials that reflect our student populations, many districts across the United States are experiencing an influx of students arriving from different countries. Similar to the earlier vignette, a significant challenge exists in that schools are deciphering how to best teach literacy in students’ native languages while having students bring their own lives and perspectives to texts:
This modified anchor chart was replicated for English learners based on the “Big Questions” emphasized in Disruptive Thinking :
1)What surprised me?
2) What does the author think I already know?
3)What changed, challenged, or confirmed what I already know?
(Panadero & Alonso-Tapia, 2014). Self-regulated readers are aware of whether their thinking patterns about a text leads to an outcome of making constructive meaning of the text. Further, a self-regulated reader is focused on achieving goals, such as the goal of making useful meaning of a text; has positive self-efficacy, or confidence in her ability to comprehend the text; and makes strategic use of learning strategies to understand a text (Zimmerman, 1986).
Increased self-regulation as a reader enables a student to more successfully transfer their knowledge and skill as applied in one setting (with one genre or style of text) into other settings (with different genres and styles of texts) without the need for guidance from a teacher. The crossing over of concepts from one context to another allows readers to construct new, more in-depth understandings of concepts (Brown et al., 1989). Dialogue helps this transference to happen. Instruction hopefully fosters participation as a community of learners (Rogoff, 1994). These communities are understood as “groups of people who have some common and continuing organization, values, understanding, history and practices” (Rogoff, 2003, p. 80). Students learn from experience and dialogue with one another in a community of learners as they move between roles of the more experienced expert and the less experienced novice. Collaboration can lead to “the gift of confidence” (Mahn & John-Steiner, 2002) as students benefit from teamwork with more experienced peers, teachers, and reading specialists to help students make learning gains related to foundational skills in reading if students are presently below grade level child who is struggling to understand a text can receive support from a teacher during repeated readings of the same text. It is important to ensure that the student isn’t reading a text that is too difficult, at a level where the student might become frustrated. The instructional steps depend on careful observation and assessment of the student’s reading behaviors and conceptual understandings. Ultimately, the goal is not merely the practicing of various skills (though skills related to fluency or phonics are important!) but it is to help children to gain interesting, useful and meaningful understandings of the texts that they read.
The Contingency of Scaffolding Moves
Communication tied with strategic use of assessment will help teachers to make use of scaffolding moves based on the readiness of a students. Formal and informal assessments help a teacher to make thoughtful choices about how to provide guidance so that the student gains increasing independence and expertise as a reader. When a student is practicing a reading skill that has not yet been independently mastered, a teacher uses instructional scaffolding by helping the child to develop understanding of how to use this skill with guidance. As an example of scaffolding, a child who is struggling to understand a text can receive support from a teacher during repeated readings of the same text. It is important to ensure that the student isn’t reading a text that is too difficult, at a level where the student might become frustrated. The instructional steps depend on careful observation and assessment of the student’s reading behaviors and conceptual understandings. Ultimately, the goal is not merely the practicing of various skills (though skills related to fluency or phonics are important!) but it is to help children to gain interesting, useful and meaningful understandings of the texts that they read.
A key to effective scaffolding is to seek critical moments, understood by Myhill and Warren (2005) as “those moments in a lesson where something a child or teacher says creates a moment of choice or opportunity for the teacher” (p. 55). Myhill and Warren explored ways to use scaffolding in the context of inquiry through dialogue. When in dialogue with a student about what she understandings from reading a text, a teacher can probe and ask questions, helping the student to think more deeply about the text.
Lack of clarity over how to engage in scaffolding points to a need for increased dialogue and training in this area. This article highlights a key difference between discussion of scaffolding as a process and discussion of scaffolding as a scripted, limiting construct. When a teacher uses a scaffolding move based on a script, but has no process-based plan in place, this action is not in line with research-based practices. Instead, scaffolding is part of an overall process of providing support that helps a reader make sense of challenging texts that she would not be able to comprehend without support, but meanwhile this support is gradually released as the student gains increasing skill and independence. Scaffolding is a process that takes careful planning and a high level of skill to implement in a way that helps readers gain increasing control over their use of reading strategies so that these strategies are transferred to different contexts. The observations and assessments needed by a teacher cannot be scripted, they need to be the product of careful attentiveness to a student.