Monday, October 31, 2011

Reading Supervisors

Note: What struck me most were the roles that the supervisors who participated in the survey were least interested in.

Roles most desired: coordinate all aspects of the reading program, supervise reading personnel, knowledge of research, etc., support classroom teachers, participate in curriculum development, supervise reading programs, participating in setting policies in reading methods, and select reading staff.

Roles least desired: involving community; develop school recreational reading programs; interpret standardized tests for school board, parents, etc.; confer with parents; prepare reports; demonstrate materials and methods to staff; meet with other subject coordinators and staff; plan meetings to help parents support the reading programs.

Comment: To me, the “meat” of the roles for supervisors are the roles the supervisors least wanted to participate in. The roles most challenging. WOW! Of course, I did not see the questions and they could have helped to sway the direction of the answers. Still…. RayS.

Title: “Actual and Desired Roles of Reading Supervisors.” K Mack. Journal of Reading (April 1991), 568-570.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Adult Literacy

Question: Why don’t adults who need help with literacy enroll in adult literacy classes?


30% Personal and family concerns

 27% Lack of confidence

13% Cost

14% Not interested in organized education

16% Not interested in available courses.

Comment: I thought these reasons were interesting. I especially noted “lack of confidence,” at 27%. I’m willing to bet that this reason is part of many of the other reasons as well. RayS.

Title: “What Keeps Adults Out of Adult Education Programs?” Journal of Reading (April 1991), 566-567.

Thursday, October 27, 2011


Note: The term “scaffolding” has become a buzz word, or cliché,  in education. This short note defines its meaning and tells where it came from.

Quote: “ ’Scaffolding,’ a popular concept in education today is a term coined by psychologist Lev Semenovich Vygotsky….”

“Scaffolding means that with the help of a teacher, you can do something that you can’t do on your own.”

Title: “ ‘Scaffolding’ Is Providing Support.” Journal of Reading (April 1991), 564.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Training in Paraphrasing

Question: How can teachers train their students in paraphrasing?

Answer: Students on an index card quote from the text. Next, they paraphrase the quote.

Comment: This training is necessary. Students should learn to paraphrase most of the ideas they cite. After writing the quote and understanding it on one side of the index card, the student turns the card over and tries to write the paraphrase. It’s too easy to quote the text and copying sometimes leads to lack of understanding. Students need to practice paraphrasing. They also need to learn to cite the paraphrase. RayS.

Title: “Using Paraphrasing Cards to Reduce Unintentional Plagiarism.” N Stahl and JR King. Journal of Reading (April 1991), 562-563.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


Question: What are some suggestions for teaching students how to summarize? What happens when students don’t learn how to summarize?

Answer: “ ‘Writing summaries? No. I don’t teach my students how to write summaries. They should already know that skill when they come into my classroom.’

                So says many a secondary teacher. English teachers spend much more instruction time on the writing of full narrative and expository texts or critical analysis than on the production of summaries. In content classes, writing emphasis is on research papers for which the use of summaries would be very helpful. But because they lack training in doing otherwise, many students copy verbatim instead of summarizing for their papers. It seems that even though summarizing is expected of most students in the United States, few receive direct instruction in summary writing.” P. 536.

 What are summaries? “Summaries are short statements that condense information and reflect the gist of discourse.” P. 537.

(1) “Summary writing must be initiated from the text pattern with which students are most familiar—narrative.

(2) Initially, summary writing is most effective if it uses a narrative or time structure.

(3) Direct instruction of summary writing has proven to be most effective.

 (4) When students are given a format such as enumeration and time sequence with text frames, they are usually successful.

(5) A key concept map is an effective organizational tool for summary writing in content classes.

(6) Most students, even adults, progress through developmental stages as they write summaries. Their summaries develop from chronology to ones based more on logical arrangements.” Pp. 538-539.

Comment: I’m guilty. I always expected students to know how to summarize and I never taught them how to. RayS.

Title: “Writing Summaries Promotes Thinking and Learning Across the Curriculum—But Why Are they So Difficult to Write?” Margaret Hill. Journal of Reading (April 1991), 536-539.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Reading and Thinking

Question: What is one step in thinking through reading?

 Answer/Quote: “Basically, teachers in the subject areas have begun to discover that visual organizers such as time lines, Venn diagrams, inductive towers, concept maps, causal chains, force fields, and flow charts help students recognize and take control of the intellectual processes which bring meaning to the study of academic content.”

Comment: In other words, designing a visual representation of the content encourages students to think through ideas in the chapter, article or book. Should perhaps be the first step after reading before discussing the ideas read. Of course, the visual organizer will vary with the purpose of the content material. RayS.

Title: “Using Visual Organizers to Focus on Thinking.” John H. Clarke. Journal of Reading (April 1991), 526-534.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Reading Process

Question: What is the reading process?

Answer/Quote: “The first thing that children acquire in learning how to read is sometimes called ‘access to word.’ They learn that the words of their language can be represented in print and that they can understand words in print in much the same way that they understand words in speech. The last thing that children acquire might be called ‘access to scholarship’—the ability to think and reason in response to print without deliberate consciousness of words. Between the initial accomplishment and the ultimate accomplishment of any reader lies a rather long transition period, roughly the time between fourth grade and adulthood. The success of this transition depends in large part on how well schools are able to nurture reading as a process of thinking and learning.” P. 508.

Comment: I believe that this quote summarizes succinctly the reading process. RayS.

Title: Journal of Reading: A Themed Issue on Thinking and Learning Across the Curriculum.” Guest Editor; Thomas H. Estes. Journal of Reading (April 1991), pp. 509-509.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Quotations about Reading

Question: How engage students in discussions of the reading process?

Answer/Quote: “In my reading classes I use the book The Delights of Reading by Otto L. Bettmann (Grodin 1987). It contains quotes from famous individuals about how they feel about reading and writing. I have my students comment about what they believe the quote is saying, if they agree with it or not and why.” P. 662.

Comment: Another source of Quotes on reading is A History of Reading by Alberto Manguel, Penguin, 1996. Many books contain quotes on writing, including Writers at Work: The Paris Review Interviews. Ed. Malcolm Cowley, 1965 and Good Advice on Writing, Safire and Safir, 1992. RayS.

Title: “Thinking Over Famous Quotations on Reading.” M Lewis. Journal of Reading (May 1991), 662.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Introducing Poetry

Question: How introduce the nature of poetry?

Answer/Quote: “Since most college students arrive with rather staid concepts of poetry, an instructor may need to challenge their assumption, leading them to question what they expect in poetry and to understand how poets must decide to work either with or without fixed forms.”

Quote: “In the first class discussion dealing with poetry, my students and I compare and contrast two poems which exemplify that some poems have form and others seemingly do not. I assign Robert Frost’s ‘Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening’ and Jim Hall’s remarkable ‘Maybe Dats Your Pwoblem Too’ (from The Mating Reflex, Carnegie-Mellon University Press, 1980. I ask one simple question about each, ‘What makes this a poem?” and then one about both, ‘What do these poems share that makes them poems?’ “ p. 661.

Comment: Sounds like a good way to introduce poetry. RayS.

Title: “ ‘What Makes This a Poem?’: The First Day of Poetry.” TJ Viator. Journal of Reading (May 1991), 661-662.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Reading Aloud

Question: Why read aloud to students of all ages?

Answer: “In the last ten years, there has been a rebirth of interest in reading aloud to young people. Jim Trelease’s The Read-Aloud Handbook (1979) sold over one million copies and appeared in a 1989 revision The New Read-aloud Handbook. Margaret Mary Kimmel and Elizabeth Segel’s fine book For Reading Out Loud! (1988) is now also in its second edition.”

Quote: “These missionaries of read-aloud point to the joy of sharing books with youngsters, the intimate bond it builds between parent and child, the sense of a community of readers it inspires in the classroom, and the educational benefits derived from the experience. Study after study shows that if youngsters are consistently read aloud to, they will improve their vocabulary as well as their reading comprehension, and that listening to fine books favorably affects students’ reading interests and language development (McCormick, 1977). Indeed, the highly quoted Becoming a Nation of Readers (Anderson, Hiebert, Scott, and Wilkinson, 1985) states that ‘The single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children’ “( p. 23).

Quote: “The rebirth of interest in teachers reading aloud to students is now old news. What’s new is the growing realization that more and more teenagers are defining reading motivation not in terms of fiction but nonfiction. We need to tap that interest and make more nonfiction titles an integral part of read-aloud programs in middle schools, junior highs. And high schools. Far from being a lifeless collection of facts, nonfiction books offer teen readers prose that teaches, entertains, and provokes thought—‘the very stuff of life. “ p. 642.

Comment: My memories of teachers who read aloud to our classes stretch from Sister Mary Rupert in fourth grade to Brother Henry who brought to life Shakespeare through his animated reading aloud of The Merchant of Venice in high school. I’ll never forget wondering how Portia would resolve the problem of the pound of flesh. Wonderful memories. RayS.

Title: “Nonfiction in a Read-aloud Program.” B Carter and RF Abrahamson. Journal of Reading (May 1991), 638-642.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Authentic Evaluation

Question: How can reluctant readers evaluate their performance in a reading class?

Answer: The teacher asks individual students to respond to a series of questions about their performance in the class. Here is one teacher’s questions for “Mike.”

> “When you first came to my class, you jumped right into what we were doing: letter writing, reading, asking questions writing about pheasant hunting. Most kids take a lot of adjusting to all these expectations. Why were you so willing?

> “What was there about this class that made you such a hard worker? You took charge of your own learning like few students I have seen. Why?

> “Describe the class. What do you remember about it?

> “What did you learn about yourself as a reader? As a writer?

> “I had a most puzzling experience concerning you. I did not say anything at the time, but I would like to ask you now.

> “What were the conditions in our class that made it okay for you to be successful? What was missing in other classrooms situations?”

Comment: While some questions will be generic, some will require personal knowledge of each student. Time-consuming, but the answers will provide useful knowledge about the students and your teaching. I’m sorry I did not use such authentic evaluations like these letters with my students. RayS.

Title: “Learning about Reluctant Readers Through Their Letters.” MB. Isakson. Journal of Reading (May 1991), 632-638.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

ESL (English as a Second Language)

Question: What is the basic technique in working with Junior High students whose native language is not English?

The Problem: “You teach reading. You get a new student. A common event in the life of a teacher. But this student does not speak your language. Your anxiety level rises as you realize that you do not speak the student’s language, either. Yet you are expected to teach the student to read. What do you do? I’ve faced that problem, and this article presents some of my solutions.” P. 628.

Quote: “I did everything I could to get them to use all of the language arts. I had them write as much as possible, read as much as possible, listen as much as possible, speak as much as possible, and think as much as possible in doing all the other activities.”

 In writing, the author used communication logs in which the teacher posed questions and the students, using their dictionaries, figured out the meaning of the questions from the dictionary and wrote their  answers.  Here are some of her initial questions: “What do you like here? What do you miss about your country? What do you like to eat in America? What do you want to know about me?” p. 629.

Comment: The goal is good. Use all the language arts as much as possible. The communication logs proved to be especially useful. Assumed that most families had at least one person familiar with the English language at home. Discovered that most techniques used with native English-speaking students worked with ESL students when adapted by increasing the amount of discussion. In the directed reading assignment (DRA), for example, background information on the topic of the chapter; title; sub-titles; first sentence of each intermediate paragraph; last paragraph; charts, diagrams, pictures; purpose for reading and/or questions the students will read to answer. RayS.

Title: “Working with New ESL Students in a Junior High School Reading Class.” BM Arthur. Journal of Reading (May 1991), 628-631.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Process Approach to Reading in ESL Class

Question: What does the author mean by “Reading Process”?

Answer: These techniques were used in an English class in China.

> Asking students to anticipate what might happen in a story by detecting hints given in the title.

> Reading a story in which a part was deliberately removed and then having students write in the missing part.

> Reading a passage with large sections left out and then asking students questions on their overall comprehension.

> Reading a piece of writing twice: first without and then with the title or an illustration to see how understanding of the text changes when clues are provided.

> Reading something with nonsense or invented words in it and guessing the meaning of the words by making use of the context.  P. 626-126.

Comment: These techniques come under the heading of trying them on yourself before trying them with students. RayS.

Title: “Using the Process Approach to Reading in an EFL [English in a Foreign Language} Class.”Fan Xianlong. Journal of Reading (May 1991), 624-627,

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


Question: How can a teacher learn students’ notetaking practices?

Answer/Quote: Below is a notetaking assessment:

 Pre-lecture (Never, Sometimes, Always)
> I read assignments and review notes before my classes.

> I sit near the front of the class.

> My notes are organized by subjects in a loose-leaf notebook.

> I have a definite notetaking strategy. (“Date and label notes at the top of the page. Draw a margin and keep  all running lecture notes to one side. Use other side for organization, summarizing and labeling. Indent to show importance of ideas. Skip lines to indicate change of ideas. Leave space for elaboration and clarification. Be selective. Abbreviate when possible. Paraphrase. Use underlining, circling, and different colors of ink to show importance. Cover one side of notes to study.” P. 615.)

> I adapt my notetaking for different classes.

> I use only one half of the page in taking notes.

> I date each day’s notes.

> I use my own words in writing notes.

> I use abbreviations whenever possible.

> My handwriting is legible for study at a later date.

> I can identify the main ideas in a lecture.

> I can identify details and examples for main ideas.

> I indent examples and details under main ideas to show their relationship.

> I leave enough space to resolve confusing ideas in the lecture.

> I ask questions to clarify confusing points in the lecture.

> I record the questions my classmates ask the lecturer.

> I am aware of instructor signals for important information.

> I review my notes immediately after class to make sure that they contain all the important points of the lecture and are legible

> I underline important words and phrases in my notes.

> I reduce my notes to jottings and cues for studying at a later date.

> I summarize the concepts and principles from ach lecture in a paragraph.

> I use my notes to draw up practice questions in preparation for examinations.

> I use my notes to find ideas that need further explanation.

> I use the reading assignment to clarify ideas from the lecture.

Comment: The same assessment can be used for taking notes on the reading assignment. RayS.

Title: “Enhancing Students’ Notetaking Through Training and Evaluation.{ NA Stahl, JR King and WA Henk. Journal of Reading (May 1991), 614-622.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Informal Reading Inventories (IRI's)

Question: Emmett A. Betts originated IRI’s. What were his thoughts about them?

Answer: By his own assessment, 40% of students are placed in books too difficult for them.

What does 90% comprehension mean? What kinds of comprehension? Literal, critical, or creative?

The real purpose of informal reading inventories: It’s the behaviors that are important—finger  pointing, tension, word-by-word reading, ignoring punctuation—clues to poor reading.

He’s sorry he established numerical criteria. It’s the behaviors that are important.

 Comment: The IRI enables the teacher to determine materials the student will read easily, the materials that are at the instructional level where instruction should begin, and the frustration level. The purpose is to provide the instructional level. RayS.

Title: Emmett A. Betts on Informal Reading Inventories.” JL Johns. Journal of Reading (March 1991), 492-493.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Journals and Comprehension

Question: What can be learned about students’ reading comprehension from their journal entries?

Answer: The teacher can learn from journal entries what students understand or don’t understand about the lesson’s content.

Comment: It doesn’t take long to read journal entries by students if you don’t correct the entries. Note writing problems for later teaching. Or underline the problems in red without comment. RayS.

 Title: “Using Journals for Content Area Comprehension.” LR Gauthier. Journal of Reading (March 1991), 491-492.

Thursday, October 6, 2011


Question: Why should teachers prepare FAQ’s (frequently asked questions) ahead of time? 

Answer: Prepare FAQ’s (questions that students in the past have asked about the course content) ahead of time before teaching the lesson. These FAQ’s can be used at various times during the lesson or when summarizing the course content. They can be added to. They should make student questioning a more comfortable experience, encouraging them to be less fearful of asking questions.

 Comment: I think it’s a great idea. Students are familiar with FAQ’s from using computers and software. RayS.

Title: “Getting Students’ Questions Without Stress.” Harry Michener (An idea borrowed from Mathematics Teacher, November 1990). Journal of Reading (March 1991), p. 491.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Mimetic Documents

Question: How can I help students understand the “mimetic documents” that accompany many types of text?

Answer/Quote: “Pictures help us identify objects and their physical characteristics…; diagrams help us identify the functions and interrelations of an object’s parts….’ And process schematics help us understand the changes that objects undergo during steps in a process….” P. 486.

Quote: “In all three cases, mimetic documents have helped understand the world as depicted in, for example, some dictionary, encyclopedia, or textbook, but each type of document has limitations. Pictures and diagrams display objects only in stationary states. Process schematics show changes but provide little insight as to how we might manipulate the processes.”  P. 486.

Comment: In all the years that I have taught using information from textbooks, I have ignored the “mimetic documents,” the pictures, diagrams, and process schematics that are meant to help students visualize the accompanying information. Perhaps my teachers also ignored them. On the other hand, I have great difficulty in visualizing directions, for example, how to put a gas grill together. I wonder if my “learning disability” of not visualizing directions is partly the result of my failure to pay attention to “mimetic  documents,” the often overlooked accompaniment to reading. RayS.

Title: “Understanding Documents: More Mimetic Documents: Procedural Schematics.” PB Mosenthal and IS Kirsch. Journal of Reading (March 1991), pp. 486-490.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Response Journals and Literature

Question: What is the value of response journals in developing understanding of literary works?

Answer/Quote: “The response journal (Bleich, 19975; Petrosky, 1982; Rosenblatt, 1976, 1978) is one forum for students to chronicle and evaluate their own meaning-making….” P. 476.

Quote: “These entries….demonstrate the important metacognitive dimension a journal can add to reader response pedagogy. Students who record and evaluate their interaction with text over a period of time invariably come to understand both the general process of how a reader negotiates meaning from a text and the specific sources of his or her own meaning-making.” P.  478.

Comment: I regret that I never had the opportunity to use response journals as a student and further regret that I never gave my students the opportunity to use response journals in their reactions to what they read in literature. At this late date (age 77), I am using response journals in my reading. They provide a dimension in meaning through my reflections. In fact, my blogs are a form of response journals. RayS.

Title: “Developing Metacognitive Awareness: The Response Journal in College Composition.” EV Newton. Journal of Reading (March 1991), 476-478.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Advance Organizer

Question: What is it? And Why?

Answer/Quote: “Ever since his first study on the advance organizer, Ausubel (196)) has maintained that the learning strategy is useful.”

Quote: “The advance organizer is a set of materials that is related to new material but written on a higher level of abstraction, inclusiveness, and generality than the new textual information. The function of the organizer, which is presented to students before they read unfamiliar material, is to link what the learner already knows to what the learner needs to know before s/he can successfully learn a task. One must not confuse advance organizers with summaries or overviews that are presented at the same level of abstraction, generality, and inclusiveness as new material. Overviews or summaries simply emphasize important points and achieve their effect by repetition (Ausubel, 1962)….”

Comment: Hard to find an example of an advance organizer, even on the Internet. The example in this article is a combination of defining the subject of philosophy  related to the material to be read on a specific philosophical concept and background information on René Descartes, whose ideas are discussed in the reading material. Therefore, I conclude that an advance organizer is a general discussion of the topic together with other background information related to the topic. I’m going to have to try some examples of advance organizers.

Advance organizers can take different forms, including graphics, narratives (in the form of a story), expository (explanation), skimming (title, first paragraph, first sentence of each intermediate paragraph and last paragraph).  RayS.

 Title: “Does Instruction on Metacognitive Strategies Help High School Students Use Advance Organizers?” KL Groller, JP Kender and DS Honeyman. Journal of Reading (March 1991), 470-475.