Building Great Readers Through Habits
We teach students strategies so that they can deliberately activate plans to solve problems they might encounter when reading a text. But our goal doesn’t stop at the successful execution of a strategy. Just as a novice driver needs to be taught how to steer into a skid on an icy highway, readers need plans for getting through the tricky spots. A great reader has assimilated these strategies so that they become second nature. Just as a great driver can react correctly to the sudden skid, a great reader can negotiate the turns a text may take with a level of fluency and skill not seen in the novice. Habits are a routine, a way of life, not just something that is done to fulfill an assignment, or because now we’re in English class, or because there’s a summer reading list of 25 books.
Consider your own reading habits. Our guess is that you are able to become engrossed in a book without intentionally planning for strategies to support your comprehension. If the going gets tough, you consciously fall back on some strategies that have proven useful, such as tracking back to the place where you lost meaning. Yes, our students need to have a bag full of strategies that they can use when they encounter difficult texts. But most of the time, they should be skilled readers who automatically use what they know at the time they need it. The table below provides a description of the differences between skills and strategies.
Comparing Skills and Strategies
|A conscious plan under the control of the reader||An automatic procedure that readers use unconsciously.|
|Requires thought about which plan to use and when to use them.||Do not require thought, interpretation, or choice.|
|Are process-oriented, cognitive procedures the reader uses, generally unobservable in nature.||Are observable behaviors, found on taxonomies, skills tests, or answers to questions.|
|Instruction focuses on the reasoning process readers use as they interact with text.||Instruction focuses on repeated use until it becomes habitual.|
© ______ 2009, Allyn & Bacon, an imprint of Pearson Education Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. The reproduction, duplication, or distribution of this material by any means including but not limited to email and blogs is strictly prohibited without the explicit permission of the publisher.
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