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Thoughts on Comprehension

Posted 07-10-2011 at 06:11 PM by tangerine

I'm reading Comprehension From the Ground Up by Sharon Taberski. I'm right in the thick of it, and will have to go back a second time to take planning notes for next school year. This first time through I am just trying to soak it in and think about it.

I keep coming back to a couple of thoughts.

One is that Sharon really emphasizes slowing down, being choosy about what we do, and doing what we choose to do...very well. I like that. In the age of NCLB and Race to the Top, we keep cramming more and more in. My VicePrince ended our school year by talking to us about the new schedule - extended day, shorter recess, etc. She also discussed the dreaded "down time" and how we need to eliminate that. We're making lists of time wasters and streamlining how we teach procedures all in an effort to find more instructional time to fit more in to the day.

I'm all for more instructional time. BUT. I am not all for making the day even more chaotic and busy than it has been. I don't feel like we need to cram more in. I feel like we need to be choosier about what we do and we need to work to do those things better. That's not the same as doing more.

The second thing I hear from Sharon Taberski is about the importance of conversation in the classroom. A coworker and I have had many spirited discussions about the value of conversation in the classroom. (There's irony there, people - a good discussion about the value of discussion.)

One reason why my day doesn't always flow seamlessly from subject to subject with the all-important Anticipatory Set is because we get sidetracked by conversations. Good conversations. Meaty conversations. Conversations about books and about our lives. We're making connections and thinking and talking and learning and it's messy sometimes and a little chaotic and we get off track.

I suspect that getting off track is a big no-no with the new schedule. But, I can't in good conscience cut down on classroom conversation. I very much believe that it's one of the keys to my success in the classroom. It's that *thing* that can't be pinned down that just works and helps grow readers and writers and mathematicians and THINKERS in my room.

I can't give that up. Sharon Taberski even agrees. It's much more valuable than practicing release-test questions, that's for sure.

~Tangerine
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