As new standards and initiatives are implemented in literacy classrooms, it is believed that more innovative strategies or pedagogy need to be shared that will help educators meet academic goals while teaching reading and writing. Educators often observe this trend as their schools or districts provide them with different curricula resources as standards and literacy programs are changed on the state level. Through my teaching and coaching experiences, I have observed that some of the more traditional strategies for reading and writing instruction are still effective and could support teachers in helping students develop their literacy skills. There is no need for teachers to spend additional money on programs that may not be useful after their current school year. Instead, teachers can rely on proven best practices that help support their instruction. Below you will find two strategies that may have been forgotten in classrooms but could still be modeled by literacy teachers seeking instructional soundness during reading and writing lessons. The below strategies can be used at any grade level.
Strategy 1: Robert Marzano Strategy
Strategy Goal/Overview: The goal of the strategy is to deepen students understanding of vocabulary words. The strategy was derived from Robert Marzano, a well-known education researcher and educator. Marzano believes that spending time teaching vocabulary could promote students making connections between vocabulary words and meanings. This method is described as one that could be fun and engaging for students.
Timing: This strategy could be implemented over the course of a few days.
Resources Needed: Chalk Board/Projector/Dry Erase Board
Steps to Implementation:
Step One: The new word is introduced to students. The teacher asks students questions related to their prior knowledge.
Step Two: The teacher tells students to explain the meaning of the new word in their own terms. This could be done either in writing or verbally.
Step Three: The teacher has students create a non-linguistic representation of the word. This could be a picture or some form of other symbolic image.
Step Four: The teacher has students complete activities that make them strengthen their understanding of the word. These activities could involve students creating analogies to express the meaning of the word, creating metaphors, or participating in comparing and contrasting exercises using the word.
Step Five: Teachers encourage students to have a discussion with a classmate about the new vocabulary words. They could discuss the meanings of the words, how to use it in context, or other meanings of the word.
Step Six: Teachers engage students in games to help them review the new vocabulary words.
Strategy 2: Think-Aloud
Strategy Goal/Overview: The goal of the think-aloud strategy is to have students observe a proficient reader/writer (i.e.-their teacher) share what happens in their mind during reading tasks. This strategy is effective while working with students who may be reading below their current grade level, because it shows struggling readers how to gain meaning from texts they may not understand. Teachers can engage in think-aloud exercises during modeled instruction, shared reading times, or during the teaching of reading based skills.
Timing: Time depends on the literacy block pacing. Think-alouds can occur at different sections of the literacy block.
Resources Needed: Instructional resources that are being used during the given lesson (i.e.-workbooks, reading books, etc.).
Steps To Implementation:
Step One: The teacher could read a few lines from a text. The teacher should pause at different parts of the reading to literally think aloud. During the think aloud the teacher could ask questions about text, describe how the read section made him/her feel, or even make an inference or prediction based on what was read.
Step Two: After reading the lines, the teacher could ask students a question based on what was read. The teacher could ask students how they came to their answer or what evidence supported their answers.
Step Three: The teacher will then share his/her answer to the given question and provide students with the evidence or support for the answer.