Today, I’ll explain how and why I implement interactive reading passages into my primary classroom. I often get asked, “What reading materials do you use for your small group instruction? books or passages?” The answer is both! While I definitely put more books than passages into my students’ hands, it is important for young readers to be able to successfully tackle a reading passage. Of course, as educators, we need to be mindful of when our children are “ready” to be presented with a reading passage. A very young student who is still working on one-to-one correspondence and relying heavily on picture support for every page of the text is not a child we should be giving a reading passage to. (I will always believe that nothing can replace the importance of putting a quality book into a budding reader’s hands.)
“So, why do you create and teach reading skills using passages?”
For starters, reading passages are everywhere! Newspapers, magazines, internet articles, standardized testing, high school and college reading material…I could go on and on. Think of your own life as a teacher. I’m going to bet that at some point in your teaching career, your principal or curriculum director has handed you a page of text to read during a PD day or a workshop. As a result, it is vital that our students practice their reading skills on as many different formats of text as possible. So, what are some differences in reading a book versus a passage, and why should I implement passages into my instruction?
*There is (usually) less picture support.
At some point in their lives, readers need to be able to successfully rely less on picture cues and more on the text. Think: chapter books, college reference books, and newspaper articles that only contain one master photograph. For some students, this comes naturally and easily. For other students, this can take some practice and getting used to.
*Without a heavy amount of picture support, context clues are crucial!
Let’s reflect on this scenario: A young child comes across a difficult word in a book. We’ll pretend the sentence is: “The boy felt so gloomy.” The child has never heard of the word “gloomy” before. “Can the picture help you figure out what gloomy means?” You ask the child. The child looks at the picture and sees that the boy in the illustration is crying. “I think gloomy means sad,” the student says. Now, let’s pretend that same sentence is located in a passage that does not contain the highly supported illustration as the book. The student has to use other sentences and heavily rely on his or her understanding of the text’s events to successfully uncover the definition of “gloomy.” Definitely more of a challenge, right?
*We can mark up a reading passage.
Sure, we can slather sticky notes all over a book to show our thinking in the margins. We can even place a sheet protector over the page and use a dry erase marker to underline text and make notes. But there’s nothing like being able to freely take a pen, marker, crayon, or pencil to a reading passage and underline, cross out, make comments, draw arrows, and write down reactions to your hearts content! To put it simply, I love using reading passages in my classroom because we can completely tear apart the page (in a GOOD way!)
This past year, I wanted to create some reading passages that helped my students directly interact with a small amount of text – in a BIG way. I needed some reading passages that focused my students’ attention on Tier II and Tier III vocabulary, encouraged discussion regarding vocabulary words and context clues, required them to go back into the text to reread and discover information, and of course provided the opportunity to respond in writing to what they just read.
Today, I’m going to use my new Spring Interactive Reading Passages to show you the steps I take as I use these passages for instruction within our small reading groups. Here we go!
My fall, winter, and spring interactive reading passages all contain the same five components:
1) Three Tier II and/or Tier III vocabulary focus words
2) A main photograph (nonfiction passages) or illustration/picture (fiction passages)
3) Short, manageable, PAIRED reading passages
4) Text Evidence component
5) Written and/or pictorial comprehension response to the passage that is set up to mirror an “Interactive Notebook.”
First, I draw students’ attention to the title and the picture/photograph on the page. We predict what we think we will learn or read about in today’s passage. Then, we read, locate, and highlight the three focus vocabulary words for the passage. Hearing, reading, and locating these words within the passage – prior to reading the text – boosts their confidence when they read the passage. We can focus more on what the words mean and the clues surrounding the word, because the students are less likely to put all of their focus into decoding or laboring over the word when they read.
Depending on the reading level of each group, there are various ways we have read the text. Sometimes, we follow a “I read, we read, you read” sequence. Other times, we read the passage together, then they read it with a partner, and read it a third time by themselves. For my higher readers, we may simply whisper read it by ourselves a few times through, while I prompt and assist as needed.
As we read, I draw their attention to the three focus words as we encounter them within the passage. I spend a great deal of time helping the students focus on context clues in order to uncover each word’s meaning. As a small group, we also discuss how to use the words in other scenarios and within our everyday lives. Often, these discussions lead to a more in-depth understanding of the topic and/or the storyline of the passage. As a teacher, I love having these passages on hand because they not only focus on vocabulary development, but they do not overwhelm my kiddos with TOO many new vocabulary words. Text that contains little to no new words will not broaden my students’ vocabulary or challenge their comprehension. Text that contains too many new words would completely overwhelm my kiddos and cause their comprehension to shut down.
After we have thoroughly read and discussed the passage, the students complete the text evidence component. The comprehension skill that the text evidence component addresses varies from passage to passage. Sometimes, it requires the students to go back into the text and underline the definition of a word. Other times, the student must go back into the text to identify components such as the setting, character, main idea, etc. I love that this requires students to reread and “prove” their answer.
Finally, the students complete the “interactive notebook” section of the reading passage. Once again, each pack covers a wide variety of comprehension skills. Some of these comprehension skills and strategies include:
*main idea and details
Want to try a FREE interactive reading passage out in your classroom? Each of the three packs includes a FREE reading passage in the Preview Downloads. The interactive reading passage below can be found in the Preview Download of the Spring Edition. Click HERE or click on the image below:
The entire BUNDLE pack of all three editions (Fall, Winter, and Spring) can be found HERE.
Do you use interactive reading passages in your classroom? What are some benefits of using interactive reading passages that YOU find helpful? Leave a comment below to share and let us know your favorite reason for using reading passages during your small groups! 🙂
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