Do your students struggle with stretched texts? These are texts that are beyond your readers. Stretching them doesn’t have to mean frustrating them. With scaffolding, we can walk kids through texts that are slightly beyond them. Stretch texts are texts that are a half a year to a year above there current reading level, and for many of our struggling readers, this could simply include working with grade level texts. The key is scaffolding your instruction, but how? Today, I’d like to share with you a few ways that you can help your kids tackle texts that are beyond them without having them shut down or break down in tears.
Keep a Growth Mindset
Having a growth mindset is important in this scenario in particular. Intelligence and talent can change with hard work in using comprehension skills and strategies and continued effort even when the work is hard. As we work with students, it’s important to provide useful feedback and suggestions for improvement and reassure our students that if they aren’t proficient with a text the first time, that they’ll get it if they continue working hard.
It is important to show our readers their growth. Focus on where students started and where they’ve gone. If they can physically SEE they’re improving, they will be more motivated to push on versus give up. You can do this by charting their test scores or better yet, make a concept grid that they can color in as they demonstrate mastery of the concept.
Monitor Text Levels
Preteach Challenging Vocabulary
What makes texts challenging? The answer to this is the text level and text vocabulary. If we make students familiar with the challenging vocabulary, it will improve their ability to understand. As you teach the vocabulary, also teach how the words are connected to the rest of the text. Demonstrate context clues and anaphoric relationships. This is when one word replaces another word within the text. Show your students noun replacements, verb replacements, and clause replacements to make meaning clear. If students can watch for these connections, they will be able to better use these clues to figure out meaning.
Tackle Texts Together with Think Aloud
Practice the Process
- P: Preview and Prepare…Students look for clues as well as work with vocabulary
- R-Read…Read to get the gist. Record important information.
- O-Outline and Underline…Reread and mark the text with a pencil. Take notes in the margins.
- O-Organize your thinking…Check questions for the information needed to accurately respond.
- F-Flag the evidence and highlight it…Student confirms answer is correct.