From Isabel Beck’s book Bringing Words to Life, give them the definition and let them play
Instead of saying: “Does anyone know what mimic means?” Say: “To mimic means to imitate someone but in a way that’s sometimes playful and often mean-spirited. Tell me an animal you could mimic easily [and insist they use mimic in the sentence?] Good, when might you get in trouble for mimicking? Good, when might it be ok to mimic someone? How is imitating someone different from mimicking them? Why might someone mimic their little brother or sister. Good, now write me a sentence about a gorilla in a zoo mimicking a person. Go.” Word play, using the word 10 times in various ways, is the way to master vocabulary,
‘I know how to read!’ they declare indignantly year after year.
‘Yes, I know you know how to read the words.’ I reply. ‘But, do you understand the significance of what you’re reading?’
It’s a battle (which DOES have something to do with the all boy cohort) to get a lot of them to read independently but getting them to think about their reading skills helps. Sharing the reading strategies listed in the reference section of this blog encourages them to think about more than just enunciating the letters on the page. It gives them what many boys need – short term goals. They can see how to progress.
Regularly (because they forget) I use these reading strategies to discuss how they are going to approach a new text. We start by skimming and scanning for ideas we understand, then we move on to asking questions of what we don’t understand and reading backwards and forwards for clues. This naturally leads to inferring and interpreting and finally, they feel confident to develop their own ideas about the text. This also works really well in small group guided reading.
With non-fiction and media texts, this can be followed up with ‘What I knew, what I learned, what else I want/need to know’ which can prepare them, with clear goals, for independent research. When reading fiction, starting with the reading strategies gives them a lot more confidence to proceed with voicing their own opinions about writer’s point of view and how readers might react
I’m open for discussion, but in long term planning I try to structure the reading strategies alongside Bloom’s taxonomy – progressing through continuous and overlapping arcs of learning.
Knowledge – skimming and scanning
Comprehension – asking questions, reading backwards and forwards