Tips on Literacy Teaching and Learning

When teaching literacy, one important part of the learning process involves students developing their comprehension skills. In the past two weeks of class, my understanding of how to teach comprehension has grown as class lectures, Chapters 1 and 4 of Flint’s Literate Lives, and Donalyn Miller’s The Book Whisperer have all addressed the practice of teaching students to make connections in response to the text they are reading.

In class, we discussed the levels of literacy development and the importance of comprehension in the reading experience. In Literate Lives, Flint identifies intertextuality as a framework for teaching students to make connections. This process, defined as “constructing links between texts and our ideas and experiences, suggests that there are connections that are based in the text itself” (Flint, p. 101). Similar to the structure of our Professional Book Circle roles, Flint identifies the three areas for literary connections are: (1) text to text – comparing the text to other readings, (2) text to self – comparing the text to personal experiences and knowledge, and (3) text to world – comparing the text to the greater context of the community and society.

In regards to practical application of this strategy, Miller highlights aspects of using connections to develop comprehension skills in The Book Whisperer. Miller has her students keep a ‘Reader’s Notebook’ where they right entries of books, authors, and then responses to prompts or questions about the reading (p. 96). One extension of this practice is that Miller writes letters or asks questions in response to the students’ writing in order to deepen engagement and comprehension. Overall, utilizing intertextuality provides important opportunities for students to place reading in the context of their lives and not just as a classroom or academic requirement/assignment.


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