To Read or Not to Read

From Chapter 4 of Tracey & Morrow :-) Click here to buy the book for $6 - ways less than your book store I’m sure!

Discuss the theory of constructivism.

Based on active construction of knowledge by individuals - you have to be doing something to learn something - so active listening (Simon Says) counts, as does actively playing a video game

Explain the concept of inquiry learning.

To actually internalize the knowledge, you have to try things, get data, draw conclusions, think scientifically and reflect on that learning.  My mom was a quack, a medically trained quack. Before she became a nurse, she worked in the mailroom and for an airline doing reservations. When she would learn something new for the day, she’d ask her boss to go home early to reflect on what she had learned, and they allowed it! Ok, so this was back in the 70’s, and maybe we can’t get away with this today, but it does show that management valued learning.

What is the importance of schema theory in learning to read?

Schema theory is how people organize their own learning, like a file cabinet or a tower of legos.  The more elaborate the filing system, the easier it is to learn new things. I actually say this out loud when my manager is giving me new information, like “wait, I have to open a new file for this”.  Yeah, I’m a quack too. :-)

Think of it as the Marie Kondo of learning.  Your brain has to be organized to accept new information, the way your office has to be organised to accept new items.  Who can study, read or be productive in clutter? Exactly. 

Explain Rosenblatt’s transactional/reader response theory.

So of course, I was expecting some sort of mathematical transaction with reading, which is basically how I understood it.  It’s how you go about the business of reading. Your transaction. All readers have their own experiences and responses to reading because each reader is different.  There are fact oriented responses and emotionally oriented responses, or Math and English responses (to me anyway). Math responses are factually based, solid grounded in something you can refer to.  English responses are based on feelings, and are mushy, you respond based on something in your life or how it made you feel. 

Explain psycholinguistic theory.

Focuses on the links between psychology and language.  How we acquire, store and retrieve language. Do you figure out new words by what you think they mean in the text/passage/novel or do you sometimes make the mistake and read ‘preteen’ as ‘between’?  They are predicting the word that comes up based on what it looks like or based on what makes the most sense in the passage. I see this a lot with my 2nd grader, and it’s kinda funny.

Discuss the whole language theory.

This theory on how children learn is used by teachers to derive strategies for teaching.  Ok, well not exactly. Teachers just say whole language, without knowing the background of the theory, but that’s okay too.  This one expands on the Psycholinguistic Theory and suggests that reading is a natural process that comes to children easily, especially if they are immersed in high-quality, literacy environments and exposes to meaningful, authentic literacy experiences and high quality literature.  Right, easy peasy (rolling eyes). Lets see… how many children in our classroom are actually exposed to high-quality literary environments at home???? Who is this authority on what makes literature ‘high-quality’? I don’t disagree with the theory, just how teachers implementing this in the classroom?

When I ran a charter school, I had to scour the shelves for novels and trade books by black and brown authors because the children need to see themselves in books, to me that was high-quality.

Discuss the metacognitive theory.

Oooh, I like this one.  Thinking about your thinking.  Teaching students to be aware of and in control of their own cognitive process.  Not sure why I keep hearing that ranger bear say “Only you can prevent forest fires, only you.”  Anyway, the goal is to get the student less and less dependent on the teacher for learning. This one actually shows that when students own their process, they make great gains in reading comprehension.

Discuss the engagement theory.

This one is super simple, can’t even believe they became famous on this theory.  If you like to read, you will want to read, and you read often. Duh. Engaged readers spend 500% more time reading than disengaged readers.  Whoa, that percentage tho’! So, if you are a disengaged reader, the 20 minutes you struggle to complete nightly is a chore, and your engaged counterpart is over there breezing through an hour and half like nothing!

How could each of these theories be applied in a reading educational setting?

Schema shows up in the classroom as brainstorming, making a web and those KWL charts.  I prefer the sun and rays of light, but I’m also a math teacher that loves geometry.  Basically it’s a visual representation of the word or concept to get the creative juices flowing.

Transactional is asking a bunch of questions when reading and how it may or may not connect to the students.

Psycholinguistic is the teacher using those running records you see all over Pinterest.  It’s like fluency on steroids, the same text read repeatedly and with guided reading.

Whole Language is choosing this ‘high-quality’ literature and having longer literacy blocks (thank this theory for the 90 minutes), having centers and perhaps a reading nook or student choice time.

Engagement Theory gave us themes in the classroom, student choice, hands-on-activities and reading response in groups.

Metacognitive is the I do We do You Do.  It is the most effective of all of these applicable theories, because the student internalizes their own process.  Except for it really to be effective for students, teachers have to overcome the difficulty in learning it.  I guess we have some metacognitive work to do of our own (rolling eyes again).

How could each of these theories be applied in a reading research setting?

Shema would work to study the ways in which a students’ organization of knowledge affects their reading abilities, great for reading comprehension and background knowledge before reading.

Transactional is appropriate if you are interested in students' individual responses to literature and the qualitative nature of those responses.

Psycholinguistic is a hard one because the value in this theory has decreased because it’s premise is false.  Oh no! Better readers don’t rely on these clues in the passage, because they are better readers and can actually decode the darn word and construct meaning.  It’s the low readers that rely on these clues and are grasping at straws because they have no idea of what the word is.

Metacognitive would be used to name the strategies that the students are actually using - knowing the strategies to use actually does help them to become better readers.

Here’s a link to a powerpoint from a conference a few years ago that explains these theories and framework for those of you that like powerpoints!

If you are a teacher, parent, home-schooler, or simply a member of the community that wants the world to read, check out my 150 response to reading prompts