Best Book I Have Not Read

Writing, Reading, Teaching, Life, Attempting to Balance it All

Metacognition Venn Diagram January 16, 2009

Filed under: comprehension,comprehension strategies,Uncategorized — bestbookihavenotread @ 11:37 am
Tags: ,

Maggie’s teacher’s wall chart-based on Comprehension Connections: Bridges to Strategic Reading by Tanny McGregorimg_0960


Textmapping Project October 19, 2008

Filed under: comprehension,school — bestbookihavenotread @ 4:19 pm
Tags: , , ,

I came across the following website mentioned in the e-mail newsletter I belong to for Mosaic of Thought. It asks us to “Please share this site with your colleagues!” The Textmapping Project. Below is an example from the website I thought was pretty interesting. 

Mapping a Scroll 

Bullet point. Red arrow pointing the the right. Mapping is a specific form of marking that focuses on describing text features in spatial terms. 

Bullet point. Red arrow pointing the the right. The value of mapping is that it enables comprehension to be modeled in great detail. It makes the structure of information clear. It is the illustration of comprehension. It provides an effective way of showing students what good readers do to build good comprehension.

Bullet point. Red arrow pointing the the right. The first step in mapping a scroll is to decide what it is that you wish to accomplish. What is your instructional goal? Is there important information that you want your students to understand? Are there strategies or techniques that you wish to model for the class? Is your goal to…

  • introduce and preview new content?
  • model reading and study strategies?
  • review content previously covered?
  • test your students’ knowledge of what they read?
  • or something else?

Bullet point. Red arrow pointing the the right. Once you have completed the first step and you know what you need to accomplish, the remaining steps are very simple. In general, you will follow a three-step process:

1. Identify features that are relevant to your purpose. Think about their significance to your purpose.

Drawing of an scroll with arrows drawn pointing to each of the headings.

You  and your students  will have a much easier time recognizing and identifying features on a scroll. You will be surprised by the difference; features seem to pop out at you, and the purpose and significance of different features will become instantly obvious.

2. Mark them.

Drawing of a scroll with each heading highlighted and circled.

It is important that you actually mark the features. Simply noticing a feature is not sufficient. Students  and teachers  who are just beginning to learn about Textmapping commonly are lazy about marking; and it shows. Once you have practiced Textmapping for a while, you will understand just how direct is the connection between marking and active reading. You will find that the more you mark, the more actively-engaged you will become with the text.

3. Mark their areal extent. Stand back and look at what you have done. In the example below, notice that the sections are now more clearly distinguished. You can instantly see which sections are longer. This, in turn, provides useful information about how the illustrations relate to the flow of ideas in the text.

Drawing of a scroll with a box drawn around each section. Illustrates how drawing a box around each section makes it easier to see at a glance how the sections compare in terms of size and typographic context.

This marking step is critical. Many students have commented that as soon as they draw a box around an illustration, or a section, or the answer to a question, that chunk  in their words  “stops moving,” and “is a lot easier to find.” In essence, what they are saying is that drawing a box around chunks of information accomplishes two things. First, it says, “Everything in here goes together.” Second, it defines in spatial terms how the boxed-in chunk relates to the other chunks around it, as well as to the text as a whole. Many students find this very helpful. It defines a text in simple, graphic terms  in a way that is explicit and concrete. In effect, it says, “These are the pieces, and here’s how they fit together.”

Try applying the active reading and metacognitive strategies that you already know and teach. Use these strategies to guide and inform your marking activities.
For example, try using SQ3R (Survey, Question, Read, Recite, Review). Notice how different SQ3R feels when practiced on a scroll! Notice how being able to see the entire text changes the process for you  how it makes thingsexplicit and concrete. Notice how standing and moving around changes the way that you interact with the text  how it contrasts with sitting still to read a book.


Mosaic of Thought

Filed under: comprehension strategies,school — bestbookihavenotread @ 3:20 pm
Tags: ,

I get a daily newsletter from the Reading Lady’s Mosaic of Thought that brings thought and ideas from fans of the Mosaic of Thought and other like-minded individuals. If you are interested in joining this listserv the address is

or you can check out all the great resources of all types at The Reading Lady’s Mosaic of Thought page . She also has pages dedicated to reader’s theatre and other related language arts


Primary Comprehension Toolkit September 21, 2008

I am most of the way through the teacher’s guide of the Primary Comprehension Toolkit and I am impressed and excited! I began using the grade 3-6 Comprehension Toolkit a year and a half ago and our building began using it for all 4th and 5th grade at the beginning of the last school year (2007-2008). It is one of the few resources that all 15 teachers have been able to agree on-everyone likes using it and thinks the learning it promotes in our students is very worthwhile and comprehensive. 

Last year one of the fifth grade teachers and I went through and divided the texts that came with the Comprehension Toolkit and added onto the lessons as needed from the Toolkit Text book for grades 4 & 5. We then made binders for each teacher by grade level.  We agreed last year that teachers would use the binders as suggestions, but if they found new books or texts, they were free to substitute their own titles. The division of the texts left no teacher feeling frustrated that the “lesson had been taught” by the previous year’s teacher. We all saw the value in teaching and reinforcing the comprehension strategies in both grades, but most teachers wanted the security of knowing which texts to use and also the security of knowing their like-kind colleagues would be able to talk to them about how the text had gone when used in their classroom. Once teachers had taught the lesson once, they felt more comfortable branching out into their own text selections. 

I like how the Primary Comprehension Toolkit’s Teacher’s Guide lists the 12 Principles that Guide Our Work.

1. Teach for Understanding and Engagement

2. Create an Environment for Active Literacy

3. Understand that Text Matters

4. Foster Passion and Curiosity

5. Share Our Literate Lives

6. Create a Common Language for Literacy and Learning

7. Build Instruction Around Real-World Reading

8. Provide Explicit Instruction with the Gradual Release of Responsibility Framework

9. Make Thinking Visible

10. Recognize that Reading, Writing, and Art and Interconnected and Synergistic

11. Differentiate Instruction Paying Special Attention to the Needs of Developing Readers and English Language Learners

12. Teach with the End in Mind


There are also sections on how to set up an active literacy classroom in a primary grades, how to fit the primary toolkit into reading workshop, a basal based program  or into content areas, depending on time constraints. 

It seems that the lessons are easier to transfer to your text selections than the intermediate edition, but I haven’t compared them lesson to lesson, so it could just be me being used to the format and equating familiarity with easier.


Samuel Blink and the Forbidden Forest September 17, 2008

Filed under: books,comprehension,kidlithosphere,read alouds,school — bestbookihavenotread @ 1:08 am
Tags: , , ,

Not having power or school is excellent for reading. Sitting where there is enough light to read is a challenge, but a fun one. I’m trying to remember which blog led me to add this book to my must read stack-wow were those bloggers right! The biggest challenge as a read-aloud would be if you are okay saying ‘hell’ aloud-not as a curse , but as a translated Norweigan word for prosperity (now I don’t speak Norweigan so I will take the author’s word for it). “Welcome to Hell” (prosperity) is used in chapter three and not just once so be prepared.

I love how the book starts with a list/description of all the characters you’ll meet. If you’ve read Franki Sibberson’s read-aloud work in her Day to Day Assessment in the Reading Workshop or Still Learning to Read, this novel would be great for those type of read-aloud comprehension strategy work.

There is a touch of Roald Dahl to the story that I appreciate, as well as a few parts that reminded me of Maniac McGee. The main character and his sister are orphaned in the first chapter and sent to live with their only living relative (hmm-Series of Unfortuante Events?), an aunt that they don’t remember meeting before. Having parents, home, and home country being taken away all at once has caused Samuel’s sister to stop speaking and Saumel to be very resentful about almost everything. Not only does everyone speak a language Samuel does not understand, the aunt’s house is very remote and the children are forbidden to enter the nearby forest. An unusual black cat is the first sign that the forest is very strange, but that’s not enough to keep the children from wanting to enter. Samuel had fortunately discovered a hidden book in the attic (hmm-Spiderwick Chronicles?) that he takes into the forest as he tries to find his sister. The book doesn’t necessarily keep him safe, but it does help maneuver through meetings with different trolls and fantastical characters. 

Eventually Samuel’s love for his sister does allow them to both escape safely, but it was close too many times to count. 

Even with the similarities that I pointed out, I still think this would be a great intermediate-aged read aloud. I think that so many students are familiar with the previously mentioned books that it would be for them (or for the class) to compare and contrast Samuel Blink with some of their other favorite fantasies.

The next book Samuel Blink and the Runaway Troll was just released September 4th. I need to find a copy of it and add it to my must-read stack!

BTW-my husband will often read children books that I recommend and he loved this one. I think I should get him one Matt Haig’s novels for his birthday!