Friday, October 14, 2016

"What's in the Bubble?" Reading Strategy from The Reading Strategies Book

If you have been following my blog, you know how fond I am of Jennifer Serravallo. She started her educational career as a classroom teacher and has become, in my eyes, one of the most genius literacy consultants and authors out there. On the very first page of The Reading Strategies Book, Serravallo states, "The strategies I've crafted in this book stand on the shoulders of decades of research and master teachers from whose work I've been fortunate to learn." Educators can't go wrong with teacher tested and approved strategies that are backed by research!

After spearheading a book study dedicated to The Reading Strategies Book last year, I have since fallen in love with the book over and over again. I routinely review it in search of support strategies for my struggling readers. I am never disappointed and often feel I've hit the jackpot of resources. If you own the book, you know exactly what I mean. My copy (above) is highlighted, dogeared and tabbed all over the place. 

Since I'm a Reading Specialist servicing a handful of grade levels, I have invested time in making mini charts for strategies my RtI students often need. Invested time, meaning I've photocopied the images from the book, sized them to fit in my mini tabletop pocket chart, cut them apart and laminated them. When they are in the tabletop chart, I have the ability to swap the strategy visuals out for the different groups. However, I also place large anchor charts of the strategies most of my kiddos need throughout my room
Let's forge ahead to the strategy called "What's in the Bubble?" found on page 167 in the book. This strategy falls under Goal 6- Supporting Comprehension in Fiction: Thinking About Characters. It is best used with students reading at Levels C through M and is focused on the skill of inferring. If students are to fully comprehend fictional texts, they need to better understand characters by being able to infer character feelings and traits. In Serravallo's words, here is how she explains the strategy to students:
We can pause and think, "What's my character thinking here?" or "What might my character be saying here?" Even when the text doesn't tell us, we can imagine, noticing what's happened so far. Pause on the page and put a thought or speech bubble above the character in the picture, point to the bubble, and say what the character might be thinking.
The student pictured below is in 3rd grade and is reading at a Level I. I service him one on one for various reasons. When asked a question, he often responds by reading the text, which of course isn't a true response because he's just reading words. For instance, if I were to ask, "What do you think is happening here on this page?", he would automatically begin reading the text without even trying to answer the question. Since this is the case, I modified the activity when working with him to better meet his needs. 
I first placed sticky notes over the text and had him just look at the pictures. I asked him "What might this character be thinking?" in various spots in the book as we flipped through the pages. We discussed his thoughts orally before I had him write anything down on the thought clouds using some of the suggested prompts below. After just looking through the book, I gave him four thought clouds and explained to him that he may begin reading, but throughout the reading he will need to stop to write down what the character on that page may be thinking. 
He did an amazing job with the activity and was able to write character thoughts that went well with the images. He loved the thought clouds and wanted to reread the story. (Yay!) To switch it up a bit, I had him remove the clouds from the correct page and jumble them up. He then reread the book while placing the clouds onto the page that correlated with the image. I was able to use "Yes! That thought matches with what's happened so far." from the suggested prompts below.
Overall, it was a successful strategy for this student. I'm pleased with the results. If you would like to try this strategy with any of your students, but don't own the book (Why don't you own the book?!), you will find the recommended student prompts Serravallo suggests below. 
  • What just happened? So, what might your character be thinking?
  • What words is your character saying in his or her head?
  • Before you turn the page, pause and think about what he or she would be thinking.
  • Put your thought bubble on that page.
  • That's what's happening. What might she or he be thinking?
  • Yes! That thought matches with what's happened so far.
  • Pausing there helps you think about what the character's thinking.
One last tip: For students reading at the lower levels (Level C, for example), Serravallo mentions using thought clouds on tongue depressors. Students may place them on the book pictures to orally tell about the characters' thinking, which can be done independently or with partners. The image below shows the thought clouds I created for my students.

Happy reading!


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