Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Starting with Comprehension

by Andie Cunningham and Ruth Shagoury. The full title of this book is what really caught my attention when I was looking for resources to read for teaching kindergarten, Starting with Comprehension Reading Strategies for the Youngest Learners. I've been working with reading strategies with transitional readers for five years and began to wonder how would I adapt my thinking for my new friends.

This book was just perfect not only because it talks about each reading strategy but it spent more time sharing examples and vignettes from a kindergarten classroom. The language they shared as they discuss reading strategies with our youngest learners made perfect sense. It's not simplified because they are little kids, it's using language they can relate to. Here are a few examples from the text...

-"If you were in my brain, you would hear me thinking about..."

-"Schema is the stuff already in your head..."

-"Determining importance, the special ideas that are hidden."

Each chapter is filled with anchor charts and a progression for how to develop the reading strategy in a kindergarten classroom. The authors share children's literature they have used to build strategy learning with which is also helpful. When I finished this book I felt it would be one I will refer to as the year progresses and our learning together grows.

However, what I absolutely loved about this book goes beyond strategy learning. It was how these two teachers look at the whole child and each child is looked at for strengths and weaknesses as an individual. They stress the importance for setting up a community and figuring out what each child is already an expert of. The students come already filled with knowledge and passion for things. This book urges us to find out this information and use it to help guide student growth. The other idea that went beyond strategy learning was the idea of using different languages to demonstrate learning; whether it be clay, models, paint, drawing, and movement. Much of the student work was done with drawing which ties in to some previous reading I have been doing. Children are not cookie cutters and this makes perfect sense, " We support our community when we use a variety of tools for expression throughout our work together. It's important that I find a medium to give all students a means to express their unique voices and their understanding of our comprehension strategy work."

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