Oral Language, Seeds for Early Literacy

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Looking at Comprehension Through a New Lens

Based on notes from David Dickinson, “Oral Language, Seeds for Early Literacy,” Research Symposium, 10/27/05
Before reading a book to children, teachers should:

  • Clarify the plot in the story

  • Determine what the characters are trying to accomplish and why

  • Identify possible points of confusion

  • Determine the gaps in information (unstated action, motive, reaction)

  • Think about what is unclear, what the character sees or knows

  • Consider accommodations for special needs and English learners

  • Select specific vocabulary-Text Talk

Reading #1:

  • Introduce the book. Discuss the cover and predict what the story is all about.

  • Read the entire story without asking questions, avoid interrupting the flow.

  • Clarify challenging vocabulary as the story is read-brief and subtle

  • Take some time for brief discussion or Text Talk

Reading #2:

  • Start with prediction and recall focused questions (before and during the reading) and move to more complex questions.

  • Lead follow up conversations, ask open ended questions (avoid “Did you like that?”)

  • Discuss the storyline, characters (roles, feelings, reactions), setting
  • Clarify possible points of confusion (gaps in information, unstated motives, character thoughts/actions)

  • Vocabulary (Text Talk)

Reading #3/4:

  • Link the story to their personal experiences

  • Discuss the sequence of events in the story

  • Engage children in reconstructing the story (flannel board story, dramatize story, assign roles for acting, retell story with props or puppets, retell story using sequence cards)

  • Encourage children to use new vocabulary from the story

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