Unit One--Introduction to Texts: Layout and Structure

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Strategic Reading Across Content Area

Introduction to Texts: Layout and Structure

Materials Needed

  1. paper or opened word document to jot down reflections
  2. textbook you use in your class, if applicable
  3. ETAP 623 textbooks

Course Objectives Addressed in This Unit

  1. Participants will be able to (PWBAT) distinguish between narrative and informative text and discern which strategic reading strategies work best for each structure
  2. PWBAT investigate the importance of setting a purpose for reading through manipulated readings.
  3. PWBAT examine a text’s layout and note how the design of the page might lead to difficulty in comprehension
  4. PWBAT create authentic situations that will encourage students to become strategic, independent, readers in their classroom.


Lesson One

Overview: Many students are asked to read textbook chapters. For some students, this is an easy task to accomplish. As teachers, sometimes we assume that students know how to read a textbook, or at least we expect that they read everything we want them to read. Textbooks are jam packed with information, but the layout is not always easy for readers, especially struggling readers. This lesson hopes to make participants aware of this issue so that they may find ways in their own classrooms to combat this so that textbooks can be used to their utmost potential.

Essential Question:

  • How can the layout of a text influence/hinder reading comprehension?

Content:

  • Text layout: index; bolded words; chapter overviews; captions; ‘see figure’ references; text boxes within chapters; glossary

Skills:

  • Examine a text to identify particular text features that might aid, or hinder, comprehension

Objectives:

  • PWBAT examine a selected textbook page and identify potential problem characterstics.
  • PWBAT develop guided reading questions that will draw students' attention to commonly overlooked items.
  • Through examining a text and creating a scavenger hunt, PWBAT introduce students to text features.

Activity One

1. Written Reflection: Please answer the following to guide your thinking about the topic.

  • What difficulties might a reader, particularly one who struggles with reading comprehension, encompass when reading a textbook? Do you currently use a textbook? Reflect on what reading you assign and if you give any guided support to assist with the reading (i.e. guided reading worksheets, etc).
  • Have your students struggled with textbooks readings? How have you assessed this. (Or, if you do not currently have students, how might you assess this?)

2. If possible, share your reflection with a colleague/friend. (Ideally, it would be posted under a discussion space)

Activity Two

1. Look at this image of a textbook page: (from slgloss.jpg) Slgloss.jpg

2. Looking at the layout, what might some students have difficulty with? Jot down your ideas BEFORE you read ahead.

3. If you didn’t already, ask yourself: are there parts that students would skip over? Many students do not read any information set off in boxes, or information listed on the side of the page. When you assign a chapter, do you expect your students to read that information? Sometimes important information is listed here. Vocabulary words are sometimes defined on the side, or on the bottom as footnotes. In the example you looked at, supplemental information was provided to aid understanding of the topic. On the ELA exams, some passages have textboxes like these and students are expected to read them or else they will miss out on pertinent information.

4. Reflection: What are some ways you could address this issue?

5. Pretend you are planning a guided reading worksheet.

  • Formulate two questions you might ask that would require students to read the boxes.
  • Which is better: telling students where they will find the answers to the questions, or having them hunt for themselves. Why?

Activity Three

1. If applicable: look at the textbook you teach, or one that is used in your school. (Or…use one of the ETAP 623 course texts). Identify 3 examples of how the layout might confuse students—why?

2. Look at the chart below to see if any of the textbook features you identified are listed. Then, list this on the chart below (copy and paste the chart into a word document, or into your notebook). For each corresponding box, list whether these are listed in your textbook (and where). In the last column, list if (and why) these could be confusing for your struggling readers (or, even your “lazy” readers).

File:Textbook Feature.doc

Activity Four: Assessment'

1. Create a scavenger hunt of the textbook, making sure you address the following:

  • index;
  • bolded words;
  • chapter overviews;
  • captions;
  • ‘see figure’ references;
  • text boxes within chapters;
  • glossary.

You may design this scavenger hunt as a worksheet or in other any format you wish. If any of the above text features are not present in your textbook, then substitute them with others.

2. Self Reflection: Reflect on if your thoughts of textbooks have changed since the beginning of this unit.

Lesson Two: Setting a Purpose for Reading

Overview:

There are many reasons for reading a text. Reading for enjoyment is different than reading for an academic purpose. Likewise, reading informational texts requires a different framework than reading narrative. As teachers, we must set up the reading for our student, especially struggling readers, so that they will be able to employ appropriate fix-it strategies when their comprehension falters. Setting a purpose for reading provides them a better focus so that they are less distracted. It is important to note, however, that setting a purpose for reading is not the same as having students look at questions they will answer at the end of the reading so that they will merely hunt for the answers. Depending on the purpose set, entirely different meanings may be extracted from a text.

Essential Questions:

  • What benefits can be gained from setting a purpose for reading?

Content:

  • Importance of setting a purpose for reading

Skills:

  • Plan a purpose for reading and understand that different meaning can be extracted from a text based on the purpose that is set.

Objectives:

  • PWBAT understand the importance of setting a purpose for reading through examining an optical illusion and through manipulated reading in which they read the same text mutliple times for different purposes.
  • PWBAT create essential questions for a reading passage of their content area in order to focus the reading for students.


Activity One

1. Look at the following optical illusion from http://www.qualitytrading.com/illusions/

Eskimo.gif

2. What do you see? (or, what did you see first?)

'3. Look again. If you saw a head/statue of a Native American, now look for an Eskimo and vice versa.

'4. Ask yourself: If you weren’t told to look for an Eskimo, would you have found it (and vice versa)? When we set a purpose for reading for our students, we provide them with proper scaffolding. If they don’t know what they are reading for, they might be easily distracted in their reading. However, setting a purpose for reading does not mean giving students the questions they need to answer. This usually results in a hunt and peck game. Instead, students could be given essential questions to ponder as they read.

Activity Two

1. Read the following story once and jot down what you think is important in the first column of the attached chart (below).

"The House"

The two boys ran until they came to the driveway. “See, I told you today was good for skipping school,” said Mark. “Mom is never home on Thursday,” he added. Tall hedges hid the house from the road so the pair strolled across the finely landscaped yard. “I never knew your place was so big,” said Pete. “Yeah, but it’s nicer now than it used to be since Dad had the new stone siding put on and added the fireplace.”
There were front and back doors and a side door which led to the garage which was empty except for three parked 10-speed bikes. They went to the side door, Mark explaining that it was always open in case his younger sisters got home earlier than their mother.
Pete wanted to see the house so Mark started with the living room. It, like the rest of the downstairs, was newly painted. Mark turned on the stereo, the noise of which worried Pete. “Don’t worry, the nearest house is a quarter of a mile away,” Mark shouted. Pete felt more comfortable observing that no houses could be seen in any direction beyond the huge yard.
The dining room, with all the china, silver and cut glass, was no place to play so the boys moved into the kitchen where they made sandwiches. Mark said they wouldn’t go to the basement because it had been damp and musty ever since the new plumbing had been installed.
“This is where my Dad keeps his famous paintings and his coin collection,” Mark said as they peered into the den. Mark bragged that he could get spending money whenever he needed since he’d discovered that his Dad kept a lot in the desk drawer.
There were three upstairs bedrooms. Mark showed Pete his mother’s closet which was filled with furs and the locked box which held her jewels. His sisters’ room was uninteresting except for the color TV which Mark carried to his room. Mark bragged that the bathroom in the hall was his since one had been added to his sisters’ room for their use. The big highlight in his room, though, was a leak in the ceiling where the old roof had finally rotted.

Chart: File:"House" notes-Ames.doc

2. Read the passage a second time and jot down what you think would be of interest to a home buyer.

3. Read a third time and jot down what you think would be of interest to a robber.

4. Are there any differences between the lists? Reflect on how this activity might be useful for students.

Note: I’ve done this as a listening activity with my students and it works really well, especially in connection to ELA prep for the listening section. When I taught Content Reading 7 at Dover UFSD in 07-08, this activity was given to me by the teachers of the other sections. There was no information about where it came from. I searched for it on the internet before I used it this year and found that it originates from Anderson & Pichert (1978). See the following link for a coded copy: http://iea.fau.edu/pusateri/CognDemos/11Compre/11cPersp.ppt.

Activity Three: Assessment

1. Self-Reflection: Why is it important to set a purpose for reading? How might this connect to your academic discipline?

2. Select a reading passage for your students from your textbook. Formulate two essential questions that you could present to students as they read in order to focus their reading.

3. Optional: Find a passage from your textbook (or from another source) that you could have students read for two different purposes (i.e. perspectives: north vs. south perspective in the Civil War)

Supplemental Lesson: Narrative vs. Informative Text

While it might be easy to distinguish narrative texts from informative, there are key differences that students should look out for to guide their comprehension. There are many reading strategies that can be used for each particular text structure. Although narrative text is most often encountered in English Language Arts, it might also be found in other disciplines. For example, biographies in social studies would be narrative. It is important to understand that “narrative” is not synonymous with fiction.

Activity One

Look at the first two ELA passages via the following link. After skimming through the stories and the questions that are asked, create a venn diagram that lists the distinctions and similarities between the two texts, structurally. http://www.emsc.nysed.gov/3-8/ela-sample/gr7-bk1.pdf

Activity Two: Assessment

Find two passages (one narrative; one informative) that you could use in your discipline that present similar information (i.e similar time period, could be used in same unit). Reflect on how you would approach these two passages.


Go to Unit Two--Metacognitive Awareness and Strategies