TCRWP Ideas for Teaching Into Higher Level Comprehension

5 Oct

Poking around the TCRWP site I found this collection of videos aimed at helping teachers work on higher level comprehension.

They’re all worth investigating, but the last video, of Mary Ehrenworth presenting to school leaders, gives ideas after idea for how teachers can address the Common Core reading standards that focus on higher level comprehension.  I struggle sometimes to figure out how to break down some of these complex standards for students, and teach them in a concrete way, and the way Mary presents each cluster of standards using current books kids are reading (like The Lightening Thief and Twilight) brings them to life.

Some ideas she shared that resonated were:

  • Look at themes from books and think, what other books have these themes?  For example, in Because of Winn Dixie, we see that one child can change a town and community.  Read that book in conjunction with a book like Freedom Summer or Wringer, or Hoot.  Tease apart how the characters and themes are similar, and different.
  • Around minute 20 she begins to address literary traditions.  The idea that Harry Potter connects to Narnia, which connects to Lord of the Rings.   Or that Twilight is really a modern, vampire-influenced Romeo and Juliet.  Children can look at a book as being a part of a literary tradition and again compare and contrast how the book carries on traditional themes and plots, and how it subverts them.
  • Series, especially series at around a 5th and above reading level, allow readers to synthesize over hundreds of pages and see characters change.  Artemis Fowl is a fantastic fantasy series for seeing a character develop.  Katniss approaches the second Hunger Games differently than the first.
  • Finally, at the end, Mary puts all the ways of thinking about books together to analyze Brave Irene with the group.  It’s always fun to see how you can do this kind of deep thinking work with picture books that every student can access!

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