A few years ago teachers at my school discovered the book Mosaic of Thought by Ellin Keene and Susan Zimmerman and it lit a fire in our reading program. One of the principles of reading comprehension that these authors define is that good readers make connections when comprehending and making meaning from the text. Readers make text-to-self, text-to-text and text-to-world connections. If one has no experience or schema for a subject it is impossible to absorb and understand what you are reading, even if you know the vocabulary. So we learned to pay close attention to the connections our student were making as they begin to read. We work to focus their attention on the connections we make through direct modeling of our thought process in conversation while we read aloud. This metacognition or awareness of the thinking process teaches students to become aware of their own thinking, and that makes them better readers.
For me blogging gives opportunities to make the connections as I think about what I’m reading, write about it and read what others think of the text and my writing about the text. I think the way we use hyperlinks to refer to other pages/posts/text has changes the way I think while reading. Have you noticed that? Have any of the rest of you thought about blogging in this way? Used it in teaching?
It’s not just readers that make these connections. Infants and todders learning language are building schema for new words every day. Punkin knows “banana” and loves them; the other day he saw me cutting a pear and demanded a taste by calling out “nana!”. Yesterday he didn’t want to eat his meatloaf and potatoes but wanted more peach slices so he shouted “Nana!” when I took away his bowl. For him fruit is ‘nana; he has the schema of fruit and sweetness and he is building on that.
Buddy is learning to be a reader by listening to my reading aloud to him every night. I chose the Bible story and he chooses the second book. We are reading a children’s story Bible that has one short paragraph and a picture on each page. The other night it was the story of the prodigal son. He looked at the picture of the father hugging his homecoming son and listened to me tell the story. His response: “I wish I could see my dad. I am sad and I miss my daddy.” Text-to-self ouch.
He is still on a Berenstain Bears kick and lately it has been The Trouble with Strangers. Papa Bear tells Sister the story of Willy Coyote and Silly Goose, where Silly Goose gets eaten after foolishly visiting Willy’s lair. Buddy response: “Well he’s not going to eat me because I’m special!” Text-to-self youthful immunity.
What connections do your kids make to the stories you are reading with them? What does it tell you about their world, their understanding and their inner life?