Deeper Reading: Comprehending Challenging Texts (#3)

“Sheridan Blau says that there are really only three questions we need to ask students after they have read something, and that these three questions encompass three different levels of thinking. The three questions are:
1. What does it say?
2. What does it mean?
3. What does it matter?”
— Gallagher, 2004, p. 86

These three questions stuck with me throughout this chapter. In my venture to try and show my learners how a good reader questions what they read, this may be the answer.

I appreciated the comprehension strategies that Gallagher (2004) provided. The multi-layered timeline (Gallagher, 2004, pp. 93-94) has me intrigued and excited as my learners and I are beginning to read a play this next week. This timeline chart could really help them keep the story straight, while prompting them to ask questions along the way. I plan on putting together a chart of some sort for my learners to utilize as we make our way through the play. This will be interesting, as it deals with the Holocaust, and we will also be researching World War II throughout the play. Some of our questions could also involve looking at what was going on in the world at that time.

“If we want students to use the power of collaboration to raise reading comprehension, not only must we factor in all of the above issues, we must also present students with challenging and interesting tasks. I could have a perfect group size, with a nice blend of gender and culture, a clearly defined task, and focused individual accountability, but all of this will be for naught if the group collaboration doesn’t promote higher-level thinking”
— Gallagher, 2004, p. 114

I have put together what I thought would be the perfect group, only to have my excitement shattered at their inability to collaborate or become engaged. In reflecting on those instances, I realize now that what I thought was engaging was nothing but a “hoop” for them. They were not being challenged in the right way.

My first year of teaching, my principal gave me a chart of higher-level thinking questions and skills. I am sure everyone has one somewhere. This is one instrument I keep with me at all times when I am lesson planning and unit planning. The ten strategies Gallagher (2004) gives in regards to higher-level thinking for small groups are all extremely beneficial, and relevant to that chart of higher-level questions and skills. I find myself with my nose deeper and deeper into this book as he continues to give me ideas of activities and lessons to do with my learners. Gallagher’s (2004) activities and ideas has also given me options to differentiate with.

Gallagher, K. (2004).  Deeper reading: Comprehending challenging texts, 4-12. Portland, ME:Stenhouse Publishers.