In May, the Twin Cities Area Reading Council TCARC had the privilege of hosting an evening with literacy guru, Jennifer Serravallo, with her presentation focused on Complete Comprehension.
Jen has written many books in the area of literacy; and her newest book, Understanding Texts and Readers, (available in September 2018) helps educators connect assessment to instruction through an understanding of reader behaviors and text levels.
Those in attendance were both enlightened and entertained as Serravallo spoke about the importance of understanding reading behaviors and text levels to help guide instruction. Jen stressed the role of assessment as a necessary component to support students’ growth in comprehension. In order to understand our students’ reading behaviors and comprehension we first need to assess them. We need to hear kids read and engage them in dialogue that will elicit their understanding of the text. It is also important that we know what types of responses should be expected to show comprehension within various levels of text.
In order to know the types of responses necessary for true comprehension at various text levels we need to have a working knowledge of text complexity within those levels. When we understand what type of thinking is needed for comprehension at different levels of text complexity, we can then teach strategies that will help our students go deeper in their learning. An understanding of the subtle demands in comprehension across text levels can help us gain a better understanding of our readers’ development and allow us to match them with the appropriate text that will provide that “sweet spot” for learning growth. Serravallo also highlighted the importance of goal setting and how to help readers set meaningful goals during reading conferences. Often our goal setting for students is very generic. We don’t intend it to be that way but sometimes we’re unsure of how to really guide students to that next level of reading development.
Serravallo spoke (and writes in her book) about how to truly understand student reading behaviors and responses along with text complexity in order to help students make meaningful goals. She offers the following framework that divides reading goals into a hierarchy that outlines a clear progression and differentiates between fiction/literature and nonfiction/information.