PS/IS 686 | Brooklyn, NY

4th grade “Old School” reading instruction and the “New School” reading instruction.

Dear Families,

Decoding refers to the process of translating a printed word into a sound.  Decoding is not reading.  Yes folks, it is not.  A lot of us learned how to read using Dick and Jane books or text books.  The text was prepared to introduce children to predictable word families.  You probably were never instructed to ask questions as you read, picture, recall memories.  Reading is attending to the print in addition to thinking as we read. 



Ellen Keene has done a lot of research around the work of reading comprehension.  She has distilled the work proficient readers do to this list.  These strategies will be covered in our nonfiction unit.  However, we use an inquiry method to teach them and let the kids “discover” them and “name” them on their own.  We do not use direct teaching to teach these strategies.  The students “uncover” them when I provide experiences that allow them to engage in this work.

This is what proficient readers do.

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To begin our study of nonfiction reading I gave them a difficult passage to read.  I then asked them  to annotate whenever they had to do “reading work.”  Here is the article we read.


After marking up the text, as a class we began to “name” each strategy.  They came up with a great working list of the “work” readers do when they read nonfiction.  They “named” these strategies.  See if you can identify the work Ellen Keene writes about above?  Can you do it?

Good readers of nonfiction do these awesome things!

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As the Nonfiction unit progresses we will focus more on synthesizing ideas, drawing conclusions, asking better and smarter questions and determining the main idea.  They will learn how signal words (ie. words like-in contrast, in addition, for example, likewise) and the written structure (compare contrast, sequence, etc) help the reader make sense of the ideas presented to them.  We will use graphic organizers to help us take notes.



Happy Thanksgiving!