I have been working with a group of second grade students on how to integrate reading and writing.
We have been using informational texts as our common element and the students have experienced quite a bit of success reflecting on their learning.
To begin, we discussed why readers read informational texts. Although there were quite a few purposes for reading informational texts, we boiled down our thinking to tree main purposes for reading informational texts.
I read aloud a page from a Seymour Simon book, Sharks, and had the students follow along on a photocopy. I wanted to be sure that the students' thinking and understanding was not hindered by their decoding ability. The Seymour Simon text was beyond a readability level for many of the students, but as I was reading it aloud, it became accessible to all the students.
After I read the text aloud twice, the student and I revisited the first paragraph to identify the most important idea out of each paragraph. The students were able to explain why as a READER they thought each idea was the most important.
The next day we revisited the piece again and talked about what we did as a READER that helped us to understand the text.
The students were very insightful when they shared how they were able to better understand the text. They especially focused on how helpful it was to reread the text multiple times, each time looking for something different (answers to their questions, things they already knew, etc.). No one complained about having to reread and each time the students were very engaged in the task.
Finally, we used the same text about sharks to focus on writing crafts that Seymour Simon uses to make his writing more understandable to the reader. The students were able to identify ways that the WRITER made his text more understandable for the reader.
Using the same text over and over really helped the students see the connection between reading and writing. It was also great because we did not have to worry about the content of the piece. My goal was not to teach them about sharks, but rather how a READER and a WRITER do things to help with understanding.
Sharks by Seymour Simon
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