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Teaching Tip: Helping children comprehend meaning from text

Michele Dufresne

teaching tip

Supergirl - Encouraging students to make connections with stories

A group of beginning readers in Mrs. Brown's first grade in Pacolet, South Carolina, made a pink cape for Daisy. They had just finished reading Super Dog (Level 6/D) and were concerned that Daisy didn't have a cape to wear. They sent Daisy the cape and wrote a letter asking me to write a story about Daisy as Supergirl.   

When Daisy is Supergirl, she will fly, they told me.

The purpose of reading is to make meaning. Sometimes with beginning readers we can lose track of the meaning behind the story as we work to get their skills going. After reading a story we often start to "teach." We point out errors the student made or quickly praise a student for monitoring and cross-checking information. But right from the get-go, we need to focus on supporting students to make meaning from the text. BEFORE we start teaching skills, we need to talk about the story to encourage our students to make connections and to develop empathy for the characters. Start a conversation after the reading and let the students share their thoughts and ideas. 

Mrs. Brown's children clearly felt a lot of empathy for Daisy. They may be beginning readers, but they were thinking about the story and making meaning! And yes, I wrote a story for the children. It is a level 10/F. You can download Daisy's Pink Cape here and share it with your students. 

Michèle Dufresne is author of many Pioneer Valley Books  early readers (including the Bella and Rosie series), Word Solvers (Heinemann), and an early literacy and literacy intervention consultant.

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