When we chose books for the class, how do we read them? Classical educators tend to rely on the quality of the books to drive instruction, but is there a place for mainline reading strategies in a classical classroom? I would say yes, and here is my description of the basic strategies I use in an average week. I am indebted for this post to Robert Ward (@RewardingEdu) for his blog post “A Balanced approach to teaching literature … “
|Who reads what||Examples:||Appropriate Books||Who chooses the book||Spotlight Objective|
|Teacher read aloud: This strategy is to practice listening comprehension and reader response to heard stories. It is appropriate for when the text itself is too difficult for the class, but the story is something from which they will benefit||Reading “The Wife of Bath’s Tale” to a group of 11th graders.
Reading “Robin Hood” to a fourth grade class.
Reading nursery rhymes in primary grades during circle time.
|The classics – canonized literature from the past
Or – popular or nonfiction books from which the students need to comprehend material, and which are too difficult for them to handle alone.
|The teacher, after surveying the subject matters the class is covering and their interests.||Reading comprehension.|
|Student shared read: In which the teacher reads the text and the students track the words. This is appropriate for when many in the class are able to read the text, but the rest need help and the teacher wants to discuss the material as he or she goes.||Making the basal reader into a read aloud in a 3rd or 4th grade classroom.
|A cross-section of books, including classics, modern day, and non-fiction, but must be more or less on grade level in order to properly engage student readers.||The teacher and the textbook editors of the basal reader. Student preferences can be considered for selection of stories as well.||Comprehension, fluency.|
|Small group guided reading: the teacher calls two to six students to a table and they read and/or discuss previous reading as a small group.||Leading a group of students who are reading a fantasy novel above grade level and discussing their progress.
Taking a group of below-grade-level students and reading an adventure story about dogs.
|Inexpensive consumable books which are leveled to the small group’s ability. Because a classroom needs a lot of them, they tend to be nonfiction and inexpensively produced.||Students and teacher collaborate in choosing from available books.
If books must be downloaded, teacher must chose after considering needs of students.
|Word attack skills, text structure, going back to the text to check, text-to self-connections|
|Independent reading books chosen one by one, by individual student readers, and read by themselves.||Allowing the students free rein over the bookshelves when they have completed their work or when you are leading a small group.||Popular novels and nonfiction books are most commonly chosen, but if classic children’s novels are in the library they will also be chosen.||Students chose by themselves.||Fluency, text-to-self connections|