Sunday, March 4, 2012

Slice of Life Four - Comprehension

 Slice of Life is sponsored every Tuesday by Stacey and Ruth from Two Writing Teachers. For the month of March we are challenging ourself to write a Slice A Day. Here we go! 

Comprehension, as a reading teacher it is something we need to consider. Is that student understanding that book – is it too hard, to easy, not interesting, not a good fit? The best way I know to check for comprehension is reading conferences. I’m a strong believer in them. I learn so much about my students when we confer. I know some people are big fans of AR for checking comprehension. Suffice to say, I am not. In fact, my feeling about AR are eloquently stated in this article found HERE.  But I don’t want to debate the merits, or lack thereof, of AR – I’d rather discuss other means to finding out if your students understand what they are reading.

I began doing reading conferences years ago. I wasted a lot of time fearing I wasn’t doing them “right”, that I needed a list of specific questions to ask them. Luckily, I relaxed and just began to talk to my students about what they are reading. Books like Patrick Allen’s Conferring also helped as well. Now I even have a fancy Livescribe pen I use to record the conferences. But sometimes even this isn’t needed.

Thursday we raced home afterschool. My mother in law was driving down from Chicago with my brother in law who had flown in from California. He was staying for two days. We had hung out at school a bit later than usual and my boys had played on the playground as I worked. As we rushed into the house the boys turned left and I turned right into the kitchen. I put things away in anticipation of their arrival I heard a shout from my oldest son Luke, who is nine.
He yelled out, “Mom, remember the chapter “Crossing Swords” in Knuckleheads?”

“Um, yes. Why?” I replied

Giggles from the bathroom. “Liam and I just did that.” Luke said.

Lord help me. I guess he understood the book – or, at least that chapter.