Monday, October 6, 2008

Topic: Non-standard Comprehension

10-second review: What should we do when students respond creatively to what they have read and go beyond the “right” answer?

Title: “In Praise of Wiggle Room: Locating Comprehension in Unlikely Places.” M. Aukerman. Language Arts (September 2008), 52-60. A publication of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).

Summary: Some students will not respond to comprehension questions with “correct” answers. Why? Sometimes they are thinking beyond the “correct” answers. How should you deal with this “problem”? Suggested answer: give students the opportunity to hypothesize other possible answers.

Comment: The problem is to respond in a positive way. One method is standard—ask students to find in the text evidence for their answer.

Giving students the opportunity to speculate about other additional possible answers will give the opportunity to think creatively beyond restrictive answers.

Instead of using “canned” questions with the right answer prescribed in the teacher’s manual, have students generate their own questions. They read the first paragraph of the chapter, the fist sentence of each middle paragraph, and the last paragraph and then students suggest questions they will read to answer.

Teach students that there are three levels of questions: questions of fact that can be supported in the text. Questions of interpretation that usually begin with the question “why?” Questions of criticism that discuss the author’s facts, ideas and style of writing. Questions of interpretation and criticism would have possible multiple answers. RayS.

The purpose of this blog, English Updates, is to review interesting contemporary (2008-2009) articles from professional English education journals at all levels—elementary, middle school, junior high school, high school and college.

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