38. Recommendations for short story collections and beginning novels for Advanced Placement students.

I do not recommend any one set of instructional materials. What I can suggest to you is a way of clarifying the purpose of reading short stories and novels in advanced placement classes in English or in a foreign language, and a way of teaching such readings.

Why should we read short stories and novels in any language class? Whether in:
English as a Second Language classes,
English classes for English-proficient and English-only students,
Advanced Placement English classes,
Foreign Language classes,
Advanced Placement Foreign Language classes, or in
Primary Language (L1) classes for English Learners;
Why should we read short stories and novels?
How should we help our students successfully read such stories and novels?
What are the teaching steps?

In my opinion the main objectives for reading any literary selection in a language class, whether a short story, novel, a textbook chapter, or a reading selection in a newspaper or magazine, are:

(1) To understand what is read.

(2) To develop vocabulary, master new words, expressions, terminology, sayings, proverbs, new language usage, etc.

(3) To develop high level critical thinking skills: to compare and contrast the new information with information already known, to reach conclusions, to form opinions and judgments, to evaluate the reading selection.

(4) To create new ideas and new understandings, to imagine and design new formulations of reality. To discover, to explore the unknown.

If these are the main goals for reading in class, then it should follow that the teaching techniques to achieve these goals must be unique and appropriate for reaching each goal.

GOAL: To understand what is read.

Sometimes teachers need to remember that the main purpose of reading a selection in class is to understand it THE VERY FIRST TIME IT IS READ. Many times teachers begin reading a selection when students lack the language to understand it. A STUDENT WHO CANNOT UNDERSTAND WHAT (S)HE IS READING IS NOT READING!!!!!!

In a Reading Advisory published recently by the California Department of Education, the Commission on Teaching Credentialing and the Superintendent of Public Instruction, three different ways of reading were identified:

(1) INDEPENDENT LEVEL READING. A student is reading at this level when, BEFORE READING, the student has:

--heard--

--seen--

--used in meaningful oral utterances and thoughts-- and

--given evidence of understanding through oral expressions

95 to 100% of the words (s)he is about to read.

(2) INSTRUCTIONAL LEVEL READING. A student is reading at this level when, BEFORE READING, the student has:

--heard--

--seen--

--used in meaningful oral utterances and thoughts-- and

--given evidence of understanding through oral expressions

90 to 94% of the words (s)he is about to read. At this level, the teacher needs to provide additional experiences and "hands-on" instructional activities where the student has the opportunity to hear, see, and actively use and give evidence of understanding the other words in the reading selection so that the student reads the selection FOR THE FIRST TIME at the Independent Level.

(3) FRUSTRATION LEVEL READING. A student is reading at this level when, BEFORE READING, the student has:

--heard--

--seen--

--used in meaningful oral utterances and thoughts-- and

--given evidence of understanding through oral expressions

89% or less of the words (s)he is about to read. At this level NO READING SHOULD BE DONE. THE BOOK SHOULD BE CLOSED. The teacher should provide lots of ADDITIONAL EXPERIENCES and "hands-on" instructional activities with visuals, realia, dramatizations, etc., that help the student reach the Independent Level.

Thus, before reading, the teacher must insure that the vocabulary in the entire reading selection, 95 to 100% of the words in the reading, have been heard, seen, and meaningfully spoken by the student. Now, lets OPEN THE BOOK AND BEGIN TO READ!!!!!

GOAL: To develop vocabulary, master new words, expressions, terminology, sayings, proverbs, new language usage, etc.

To help students read at the INDEPENDENT LEVEL, teachers must do a tremendous job of vocabulary building BEFORE READING A SELECTION FOR THE FIRST TIME. Prior to reading at the Independent Level, students must be provided:

**very active, experience-based, hands-on instructional activities relating to what they are about to read;

**lots of pictures that depict the meaning of the words they are about to read, or visual representations through realia, or real objects;

**vocabulary building activities where NEW words are presented in MEANING CATEGORIES. Known words in the same categories should be reviewed first.

**many instructional activities that require active use of the new vocabulary words;

**language lessons where students listen, talk about, read the key vocabulary words, and write them on flash cards or in a notebook, with the words organized by MEANING CATEGORIES.

Teachers can help students develop, and master, NEW vocabulary, idiomatic expressions, terminology, synonyms and antonyms, etc., by POSTING IN THE CLASSROOM THE MEANING CATEGORIES, and by posting all known and all new words in the corresponding categories as these are introduced. The reason the words MUST BE POSTED, is to constantly remind teachers and students alike of the new words they must begin to incorporate into their active, every day language use.

Language growth is promoted only through language use. If new (and known) words are heard, seen, spoken, read and written ONLY ONCE, they will be forgotten!!!! By keeping words posted and organized into meaning categories, students AND THEIR TEACHERS can constantly:

-- see these words, and have access to the words by looking up the MEANING category, and

-- use these words in speech, understand them in reading selections, and spell them correctly in writing.

When classroom walls and space run out --because there are many words posted in meaning categories--, teachers can still keep lots of categories posted on charts hung from hangers, and hangers hung from a clothes rack.

Teachers need to remember that BEFORE other new lessons are introduced and new reading selections are presented, teachers need to bring to the students’ attention and review the MEANING CATEGORIES (and the known words in them) that students will find in the new material. Then all new words in the new material can be introduced in terms of the MEANING CATEGORIES and words already known and reviewed.

GOAL: To develop high level critical thinking skills, i.e., to compare and contrast the new information with information already known, to reach conclusions, to form opinions and judgments, to evaluate the reading selection.

AFTER the teacher has developed the vocabulary to READ AT THE INDEPENDENT LEVEL a reading selection for the FIRST TIME, and AFTER the new language, vocabulary and expressions in the reading have become part of the ACTIVE LANGUAGE USE of students and teachers alike because they use the posted words in expressing their ideas and thoughts on a daily basis, the teacher is now ready to help students compare and contrast the reading selection with previous selections already read, to derive conclusions, to form opinions and judgments and to evaluate the reading selection. PLEASE, NOTE: The teacher does NOT need to wait until the entire reading selection is completely and totally read to begin to work on this GOAL. Each paragraph, each page, each section of a reading selection, story, book, etc., lends itself to comparisons, contrasts, conclusions, opinions, judgments and evaluation. Thus, teachers need to work on the three goals presented thus far (See GOALS, above) on a daily basis, as each part, section, chapter, paragraph, piece, portion, or partial segment of the reading selection is read each day.

To accomplish this GOAL the teacher would again POST, and KEEP POSTED, from one reading selection to the next and the next, etc., the categories (s)he wants students to compare, contrast, derive conclusions about, form opinions and judgments, and evaluate in all reading selections read in class. For example, the teacher may want students to compare and contrasts reading selections on the basis of: Characters; their complete names; their physical descriptions; their character traits and personalities; their family relationships, if any; their feelings or psychological traits; professions; main actions they take; consequences of their actions; judgments of their actions. Setting; physical, cultural and historical descriptions; weather and season; etc., etc. Posting ALL categories which should be addressed by students as they read the selection CLEARLY SIGNALS THE EXPECTATIONS the teacher has for high level thinking skills. AND, COMPARING AND CONTRASTING ALL READ SELECTIONS WITH THE NEWLY READ SELECTION KEEPS THE VOCABULARY ALIVE, in use, in constant review!!!!

GOAL: To create new ideas and new understandings, to imagine and design new formulations of reality. To discover, to explore the unknown.

To accomplish this GOAL the teacher needs to POST and KEEP POSTED the questions that follow each reading selection. What lessons have been learned from the story? How should the story end, if different from the ending read? Ways to improve the story? Writing a new --but similar story-- in another time frame: in the remote past, the recent past, the present, the future, the remote future? Remember: To achieve this GOAL students must have ready access to all the words they know and the ones just learned from reading the story, AND they must have ready access to a summary chart of their comparisons, contrasts, opinions, judgments and evaluations.

To teach reading teachers DO NOT NEED TO HAVE STUDENTS facing an open book at all times. First, as indicated in the first GOAL, students must master the meaning of the words they are about to read through experiences and hands-on activities that provide opportunities to listen to the words, speak the words, understand what the words mean, and see the words written and organized into meaning categories. With 95-100% of the words they are about to read heard, seen, spoken and understood, NOW IS THE TIME TO OPEN THE BOOK AND READ, as indicated in the second GOAL, above: read along with the teacher, read silently as the teacher reads, read independently.

Now comes the time to incorporate the new words in the reading selection into ACTIVE USE. Posting the known (from previous reading selections) and the new words (from the current reading selection) helps students in comparing, contrasting, drawing conclusions, forming opinions, making judgments and evaluating all reading selections read, as indicated in the third GOAL, above. Finally, students can venture into the new frontiers of the imagination with ALL words and ALL ideas POSTED for easy access. That is what the fourth GOAL, above, requires.

 

 

 


For more in-depth information, classroom demonstrations, and "coaching" of new and/or experienced teachers, Dr. CARMEN SANCHEZ SADEK offers:

1. Cognitive - Academic Language and Vocabulary Development
2. Cross Cultural Diversity - Multicultural Strategies
3. Effective Instruction for English Learners (L.E.P. students) Parts 1, 2, 3, 4
4. Promoting Academic Success in Language Minority Students
5. Cognitive - Academic Language and Vocabulary Development
6. Oral Language / Literacy Skills / Higher Order Thinking Skills
7. 50/50 Dual Language Programs: design, planning and implementation
8. The Structure of English / The Structure of Spanish
9. Transition: Introduction to English Reading

Web Site Programs for Teachers: Numbers 1, 5, 7, 8, and 9.
Web Site Programs for
Paraprofessionals: Number 3.
Web Site Programs for
New Teachers:
Enhanced Cultural Sensitivity - The Challenge of Students Diversity
Identifying / Responding to Students' Language Needs
Phonemic Awareness: Teaching English phonics to L.E.P. students
Relationship Between Reading, Writing and Spelling
Improving Reading Performance -- Building Oral Language Skills)

Write and e-mail any additional questions you may have, and Dr. CARMEN SANCHEZ SADEK will establish with you, your school or district a Technical Assistance Service Contract. Dr. CARMEN SANCHEZ SADEK will answer all your questions promptly and to your satisfaction.

 

For information and credentials please click on the link below or contact directly:

CARMEN SANCHEZ SADEK, Ph.D.

Educational Consultant, Program Evaluator

National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, Certification (12/2006)

3113 Malcolm Avenue, Los Angeles, California 90034-3406

Phone and Fax: (310) 474-5605

E-mail:  csssadek@gte.net