How one Reading Interventionist uses BookPagez to teach critical
thinking skills and support comprehension
ANNIE MASTERS, READING INTERVENTIONIST
As a practicing reading interventionist for more than a decade, having worked with students from ages four-eighteen, the biggest problem I have encountered among my students is not that hey can not decode, but they can not understand what is read.
Her Take on Whole Language vs. The Science of Reading
In the world of education today there is much to do about how to best teach children how to read. The issue has become politicized and the two camps (whole language vs. the science of reading) and has created what is known as The Reading Wars.
The evidence supports the science of reading (SOR) approach which examines what actually occurs in the brain when humans process sounds and turn them into known words. Functional MRIs have allowed scientists to have a clear picture of what occurs in our brains when we read and why some children and even adults struggle to read proficiently.
SOR finds its roots in the Simple View of Reading posited by Gough and Tunmer in 1986. The researchers created an equation or almost a recipe for what ingredients make up proficient reading. Made up of only two ingredients, the Simple View of Reading is true to its namesake. Good readers are able to efficiently decode words and then map the words onto their existing vocabularies, resulting in the comprehension of what is read:
D(decoding) x LC (language comprehension)=RC (Reading Comprehension)
The goal of reading is to comprehend or understand what is read.
A byproduct of the SOR is that in kindergarten and the early grades, there is an increasing focus on phonemic awareness and phonics instruction often leading to neglect in teaching young children how to think critically or even deeply about what they are reading or what is being read to them.
Even without the new focus on letter-sound mapping which permits the decoding of words, teaching children how to comprehend read text has not been occurring. Our country’s reading NAEP scores decreased in 2019 for both fourth and eighth-graders. The ensuing pandemic has only exacerbated the situation.
How BookPagez Helped Annie Meet Her Instructional Goals
As a practicing reading interventionist for more than a decade, having worked with students from ages four-eighteen, the biggest problem I have encountered among my students is not that they can not decode, but they can not understand what is read. This does not have to be the case.
When I encountered Bookpagez, years ago, I was amazed at the quality of the resource. Here, was a site that had taken the best in children’s literature and created an archive of comprehension strategies embedded in explicit lesson plans that were there for teachers to examine and download into their own self-created files right on the site.
In the world of teaching reading, especially reading intervention which often has no prescribed curriculum, I felt like I had hit the instructional jackpot. Everything I had learned while earning my master's degree in language and literacy on my way to becoming a reading specialist was included in the lesson plans for each book.
Comprehension like phonics has to be systematically taught within a well thought out and intentional curriculum that allows for students to develop deep understandings. This is what Bookpagez does.
BookPagez in Action
For teaching younger readers books such as Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon which I recently taught using Bookpagez to my K5 students, Bookpagez provides a menu of comprehension strategies. I chose making connections, allowing my students to feel empathy for Molly Lou as she acquires self-acceptance.
Included in all lessons are graphic organizers which add visualization another evidence-based comprehension strategy. Students see their thinking while documenting either through drawings or writing their own take-aways from a text. What typically results are deep conversations between the students and their teacher about what was read touching upon the author's purpose and the overall theme of the book. Older students are invited into book club scenarios that create a community of readers. Running records exist for all books as well as word work.
Bookpagez covers all components of literacy for each book. I can honestly say, I have never encountered this among the hundreds of resources I have examined over the years piecemealing my own intervention curricula.
Using Bookpagez has truly helped me to become a better teacher of reading.
I have often recommended it to colleagues as a source for differentiation. The possibilities for good literacy instruction using Bookpagez are truly limitless. It is truly an invaluable resource for any teacher who wants to create an engaged community of readers within the classroom while nurturing a love of reading.