In Harry Potter, the Deathly Hallows are three super powerful magical objects believed to give the owner invincibility. How awesome would it be if we armed our students with 3 magically powerful skills that enabled them to be “invincible” when it comes to reading? Research on the Generative Theory has shown that there ARE 3 powerful things that create successful readers. Without these three things, readers are unable to self monitor and try strategies to help them succeed. Reading becomes a chore rather than something that comes as natural as breathing.
The Generative Theory of reading is born of the research of Diane Stephens on what matters when helping students become successful readers and writers. Her “What Matters” framework places heavy emphasis on meeting students where they are and using assessment as a way to know more about how students learn and shape lessons accordingly.
According to Stephens’ theory, if the following 3 things are in place, the reader will automatically self monitor. They will stop themselves when something does not make sense and will apply a strategy to help.
- The reader understands that reading should make sense. Does the reader understand that reading is about more than just getting the words right?
- The reader believes in his/her ability to make sense of text. Does the reader see reading as an attainable goal everyone can achieve rather than an ability a person is born with?
- The reader sees reading as an enjoyable event. Does the reader see reading as fun?
As teachers, we need to look for and at times create situations for the students to show these 3 things. To start, here are some activities for helping students understand that reading should make sense.
- Use easy to read books that are fun and enjoyable and have high interest for students
- Have students look at a picture and ask them to tell you what is happening in the picture. If the student is just pointing to objects in the picture and naming them (labeling) rather than crafting a scenario for the picture, he/she does not understand that reading should make sense
- Tea Party Strategy:
- Show the students the front/back cover of a book and jot down words they think the author may use in the story.
- Talk about why the author may use those words.
- Categorize them.
- OR Show students various pictures (some actually from book, others not) and have them sort the pictures into 2 groups – Pictures they think will be in the book or will not be in the book. Discuss reasoning behind the categorizing.
- Use wordless picture books to practice telling stories
- Use 3 pictures, tell a story, and write the story together
- Teacher talk – think aloud as you read a story to model how a reader self monitors and the meaning making process
- Oral storytelling
- Interactive read alouds
- Performance Literacy:
- Student draws favorite animal
- Teacher writes the name of the animal
- Ask the child if the animal has a name
- Write 2-3 words that could form the problem of the story (ex: lonely, hungry, or lost)
- Ask questions: What problem do you want your animal to have? When the lion was hungry what did he do? Where did it go? What did it eat?
- Write down the student responses to the questions
- Tell the story back to the child filling in details when necessary. Use plenty of sounds and movement.
- Ask the child to tell the story back to you.
As I explore this topic more in my Literacy Beginnings class, I will share more with you! In the meantime, check out this article:
Or Diane Stephens book: Reading Assessment: Artful Teachers, Successful Students