One step at a time.
Step 1: Tell them what it is.
We are asking students to read several versions of a text. Some students would prefer to not even read one. We need to be transparent about our goal: to make this reading comprehensible and accessible because _____________________________________ (you fill in the blank for the piece you’ve chosen.)
Promise them that if they stay with you, that this is going to work. It has worked for hundreds of students across the world and it is going to work for them as well.
Step 2: Make the base reading as clear as possible.
The base reading is the magic ticket. If the students really get this, the rest is easy. Go slowly. Make sure that each word, each phrase, each sentence is understood. They need a clear visual of what is going on in this reading. Crystal clear. They may have questions about what happens next, or why something is happening (Great! We want them interested and curious!) but what is in the text should be solid. Ask questions. Check for comprehension. Get a summary. Act it out. Illustrate it. Whatever it takes to make sure that everyone has the same view of what is in the base reading.
Step 3: Continue now or continue later?
Whatever is best for the students. Other than that, it doesn’t matter. Really. If they are still with you, you are prepared and you have enough time, goon to the next version. If not, wait until you meet again.
Step 4: Introduce the next level.
If time has passed since using the base reading, review or reread it. It won’t take long. It will also let you see if everyone really understood it. How? You know the age level, reading level and temperament of your students. Silently, read-pair-share, ask questions….you choose.
Step 5: Read the next level of the reading using a different approach or followed by a different activity.
The goal is to have repetitions of the reading, not to repeat the activity. That is a sure-fire way to lose student interest. As you read, make sure to have students identify new language and new information. Check for comprehension. Engage in conversation with your students about the piece. Encourage them to ask questions, note plot twists,make predictions.
Make sure that you have a short follow-up activity for this version. As long as it is concise, connected to the goals and students will be able to do it successfully, it is a good activity!! Questions, a quick game, a story board, a summary, etc. Start with the activities that have already brought your students success. Look for other ideas to add to your repertoire…you will many more opportunities to use them!!!
Repeat Steps 3, 4 and 5 until the students have read all of the versions of the piece.
The key is to go back to the questions you started with during planning. If the reading has been scaffolded well, and the activities chosen align with the goals, your students will be able to do this very sucessfully!!!
Teachers have successfully read all of the versions of a reading in two days, or over the course of two weeks. For more examples of activities, read through the entries in the Category: Using Readings With Students on the right hand side of the page.
Hint: Do not force an unwilling and resistant class too far. It won’t be worth it. It would be great if they read all five versions of _____________. But if they only get through three versions, so be it.
Hint: If a class has students with a variety of reading levels, allow faster-processing students to read the most advanced version independently while you work with students who need support through a less-strenuous version.
Next post: Feedback from other teachers who use Embedded Readings.
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