Jump to content


What's with the ads?

Photo

Developing advanced reading skills


73 replies to this topic

What's with the ads?

#1 lewelma

lewelma

    Hive Mind Queen Bee

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 6033 posts

Posted 09 April 2013 - 02:15 AM

*
POPULAR

A lot of people are planning for next year, and I thought that a post of mine from the high school board might be helpful to some. Developing reading skills takes many years, and you definitely want the skills in place when your child hits high school. This post comes from a thread titled "why are textbooks are considered bad" http://forums.welltr...considered-bad/

x-post

Let me preface this very long post with the fact that I would never presume to tell anyone how to teach their own kids, so please take what you can from my thoughts and leave the rest....... I want to answer the question about whether reading and studying a textbook is a skill worth learning, because I think it definitely is!

I am going to start with me. I have a PhD in mathematical biology. I did not read until I was 12. I read and studied my first textbook in University at age 19. I remember what it felt like to not be able to read a textbook, to stare at the page, to dread it. When I started my PhD at age 21, I could not read the peer-reviewed papers -- I still did not have the skill. There is reading and then there is READING.

When I was training to be a teacher all those years ago, I often thought that I would save my students from having to read the textbook. I thought it was just so much more efficient to teach them directly. Then, I took the "remedial reading" class for my education major (yes, that is the name that still appears on my transcript) -- it was all about the importance of reading and how to help kids learn to READ, not just to read. This was the ONLY class in university that I went in with a certain paradigm and left with another. And I have NEVER questioned the new paradigm -- students need to be able to read a textbook so that they can learn independently and are not completely reliant on another person to teach them. Just think about that for a moment. Do you really want your student unable to learn unless a program is perfectly tailored to their learning style? Do you think that they will only ever take classes that will be tailored to their specific style? Will the fail if a class is not taught in their style? And more generally, if they need to learn something for a job, will they be able to do it? Are they completely reliant a tutor or a friend to verbally explain the material? In the end as you advance in your own personal learning, you typically do it independently, and if you don't you are limited.

Now I am NOT saying that the only way to learn is from a textbook. What I am saying is that the end goal is independent learning. And most fields (if not all) have a set of material that must be learned (from lock-smithing to quantum physics), and this material is written down, not transmitted orally. Most fields have a systematic way of getting through the basic material, this is called a textbook. More advanced material has not yet been written into a textbook and this material is published in peer-reviewed journals in each field. So IMHO if you want to learn a subject, you need to get through the basic material systematically, which is a textbook. Now, you don't have to "learn" a subject, you can just dabble in it, and that is fine, but be aware of the difference.

So now you have a textbook, how do you learn from it? You need to make the material make sense to you, and this is where your own personal learning style comes in. You can get the 10 headers from the first chapter and put each header into YouTube and study all the topics until they make sense to you and then check your understanding with the comprehension questions at the end of the chapter. If you don't know an answer or 2, you can go look them up.... Or you could do what I had to do with advanced statistics (multivariate nonlinear time series analysis) and get out 6 textbooks on the same subject, sit on the floor, open each one to the same topic, and read each subtopic from each book until you understand, and then move onto the next subtopic.... You could read the book, and then discuss it with a study group and get them to quiz you and you to quiz them and to ask hard, searching questions and really dig in, until it all makes sense.... You could rewrite the textbook as notes, and then shorter notes, and then just a brief outline..... You could put all the information into quizlet and drill yourself..... You could go to lecture and listen to a professor.... You could get your hands dirty and DO activities, experiments, projects..... You could do what I did for Calculus-based physics and work and rework every problem in the textbook until it coalesced into a workable whole. ETC. The point is, YOU must make the material understandable for you. Typically, there is a set of material that you must learn, and it is not tailored to your personal needs. For example, you need to learn the rules of driving. You don't get to say, "well, I can't memorize stuff easily, so can I have an exception please?" There is a set of material that you expect that your Project Manager, Doctor, Lawyer, Scientist, Developer, etc has to know. They just do. And they won't be certified without it. MY POINT: I think you are doing your students a disservice if you don't teach them how to interact with a textbook. It can definitely be more than just reading it, but each person has to evaluate *what* they don't know yet and *how* they will go about learning it. This must be done in all subjects.

As some of you might be aware, I have spent the last 6 months designing science programs for logic-aged children on the logic board to work with their weaknesses and to celebrate their strengths. The programs I have designed focus on a positive interaction with science and also slowly, over time develop reading skills. No student will learn well if they hate the subject and don't find it useful or interesting. Don't ask me how many times as a highschool teacher some kid has asked me "Why do we need to know this?" Material needs to be applicable to the student, and this is where I think a lot of textbooks fail. If the material is not interesting, my attitude is "make it interesting." Connect it to real life. I would much rather have a student get through half of a textbook and have the material stick because it was connected to real life, then to have them slog through a text that is way too long and too esoteric and none of the material sticks. It is just an exercise in uselessness. But this does not mean you need to give up on textbooks, it means you need to slowly over time develop the skill. It comes much easier to some students than others (I can tell you this from personal experience).

So how do you develop this skill? I am currently in the middle of it with both my older and my younger. My younger does not like non-fiction. He is a fabulous reader - he is currently reading Robinson Crusoe at age 9, but his non-fiction skills are not so good. My older has been learning independently from AoPS math books from the age of 9, and read Gormenghast by Mervin Peak at age 10, but he does not interact well with science textbooks. He LOVES science and reads Scientific American and National Geograpic, but textbooks, not so much. So clearly, there are many many different types of reading. I do not consider either of my children proficient readers yet, even though both can handle certain adult material. If they cannot handle ALL adult material then there is more I need to teach them.

There are many steps to being able to learn from a textbook, and it is not about the age, but rather about the reading stage. Here are the stages as I teach them, because my kids have not be "naturals" when it comes to textbook reading.

Step 1. Read through lots of different types of non-fiction and discuss the pros and cons of each: narrative nonfiction, biographies, paragraph books like Eyewitness, cartoons like the Cartoon Guides, and more full-text books . For a young child, this process will take 2 years (or possibly more). We do this in History and Science.

Step 2. Read through an entire "spread" book like How Things Work. Start to finish, systematically. These types of books have mostly pictures. Each spread is a single topic with little connection between topics. Text is short - paragraphs and descriptive notes about the images. But the goal is to get the feeling of being systematic.

Step 3. Reading a textbook that is easy and *interesting* to the student. Just reading -- not studying, no tests, no reports, just discussion every couple of days. The goal here is to interact with text that is more connected between pages, but with no **pressure**. Plus, it is on a topic that is *interesting*, so there is motivation. Only about 60% is learned, because there is no real studying.

Step 4. Learning to study from a textbook. To actually learn, memorize, internalize ALL of the material. I choose a SHORT textbook and have given my ds 1.5 years for a 1 year course. We are currently doing this now. The goal is to learn how *you* learn. The science course is 2/3rds science and 1/3rd study skills. This part of the process require a LOT of my effort and time. We are currently trialing different methods: Options being:

1) Taking notes in a notebook and then summarizing them (this did NOT work)
2) Taking notes on notecards and then on the front, writing a question that would summarize all the material (this is working)
3) Using YouTube to visualize the reactions ( we are studying chemistry, *this* has been key)
4) Making mind maps, using colors (haven't needed this one yet)
5) Using a program like Quizlet to memorize material (will trial this when the exam approaches)
6) Increasing interest level with fun videos, living books, random experimentation (somewhat important to my ds)
7) Making the material feel like real science by doing a large scale investigation (Very important to my ds, His project will be: What features of parking decks reduce pollution levels?)

At first I sat with him for 1 hour per day and helped him identify important information that he did not know and take notes in an organized fashion. Then I made my own study materials and allowed him to look at them for a few minutes, and then put them away, and make his own. Now, he is only looking at my study materials if he does not quite "get it." Finally, I will quit making study materials, and will just check his as he makes them.

We have also had discussions about how he learns, why it is useful, what the next level of the material would include. I have also been a cheerleader. Celebrating his successes, shoring up his weaknesses. We are not through with this process, as study time will be in October for the IGCSE Chemistry exam, but I will continue with the FULL involvement this year.

Step 5. Independent reading and studying of textbooks with interest to the student

Step 6. Independent reading and studying of textbooks with *little* interest to the student

Step 7. Reading peer-reviewed articles and integrating them into the core of a subject (not done in high school)

Step 8. Reading peer-reviewed articles in a different field, and integrating them into your field of study (I applied economic models to ecological systems, this is very difficult to do!)

And remember, that IMHO reading the textbook is not always about READING the textbook. It is about systematically learning the core material in a field. If you want too look everything up on YouTube and learn it that way, then be my guest. The goal is to get the syllabus (in outline form or textbook form) and *learn* it in a way that works for you. You can definitely get the AP syllabus for any subject off the internet, not buy a textbook, and study the material by looking everything up in Wikipedia. Not my cup of tea, but if it works better for you, then go for it. I would suggest, however, that you seriously evaluate what you are asking your students to do. I hear a lot of complaining that students cannot handle step 6 (learning independently from a textbook with *little* interest to the student), but it appears that they have not worked their way through steps 3, 4, and 5. So, really, I am not surprised that there are tears.

Now, just like teaching adults to read requires special material, teaching High Schoolers to learn systematically from a syllabus takes special materials if they have not yet been through even step 1. You have limited time; they need to earn credits. You are in a pickle. I think you need to do a composite, and this is what I recommend in these situations: they need a textbook but YOU as the teacher need to make it live. So you need to do both. Expect them to read only HALF of a highschool sized textbook and link it to real life issues. Focus on the skills required to learn material systematically. Focus on HOW they learn. Make sure the material relates to them as individuals. Do NOT expect a student at level 2 of my list to sit down with an AP textbook and learn it independently. You are setting them up for failure.

However, I do not think that having a perfectly tailored program just for them all the way through highschool will set them up to succeed in university. The Professors don't have the time to tutor each student. The professors expect your students to be able to learn the material that is put in front of them. You need to TEACH your student how to do this.

Finally, for all those non-majors out there. Please know that science is not nearly as boring as all the textbooks make it seem. Seriously, just do half of a text and LINK it to current events. You will have time if you only study half of a textbook, plus your students will not feel *pressured*. When you study nuclear chemistry, research and write paper on nuclear power plants (the good, the bad, and the ugly). When you study biochemsitry, dig into wikipedia and read about cloning. As non-stem majors, you do NOT have to slog through the ENTIRE textbook. But you should get your students to learn to read them. Slow and steady wins the race. Help them learn how to learn. Don't leave them trapped -- completely reliant on others' goodwill for any learning to happen.

Ruth in NZ
  • Quiver0f10, Kareni, Legomom and 64 others like this

#2 Penguin

Penguin

    Hive Mind Level 2 Worker: Nurse Bee

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 3621 posts

Posted 09 April 2013 - 05:37 AM

Ruth,

Thanks for such a detailed and thoughtful post. While reading it, I was remembering my freshman year in college as an engineering major. By the end of that first year, I realized that I could teach myself most of what I needed to know for my exams from my textbooks. It was a matter of survival, really. I had audtorium-size classes and professors with very limited English abilities :) But it was such a valuable lesson to learn.

You may have just saved me from a mistake, by the way. We are about to turn attention to physics for the remainder of the year and I was planning to pick-and-choose portions of The Way Things Work to line up with my other resources. But I like your idea of learning to go through such a book systematically. Hmm, I have some rethinking to do...

We used the CPO Science chapters for the study of space. There are only three chapters - that would have been a good time to implement the idea of really internalizing the core material of something relatively short . Too bad I didn't think of it then :glare: .

The thing with textbooks like CPO is that notetaking seems kind of redundant to me. Everything is already so clearly broken into subtopics with color and font.

I actually had DS do some Cornell notetaking with Ellen McHenry's Elements and felt like that was a worthy endeavor. Don't get the wrong idea, we didn't do every chapter that way!!!! But with Ellen's text, you have to find the vocab words and the text is not so pre-outlined. We might have only done it for one chapter, IDK. We will use Cells in 7th grade - maybe I will try the 1/3 study skills, 2/3 science with that. ETA that I realize Ellen McHenry is not exactly a standard textbook - but I think it could still serve a purpose in the reading skills spectrum.

I have to think of a way to make the notetaking a studying meaningful when there is no IGCSE-type exam coming. Any thoughts? We didn't really do anything with the notes that we took for Elements. And yes, WE took notes. I worked side-by-side with him, modeling Cornell notes. Actually, next year I am mulling the idea of CM-style term exams. Maybe I would let him use his notes only.

I hope that others will chime in with some more ideas on teaching our students to read textbooks. I think it is a very important skill. Thanks for starting the discussion!

P.S. I am going to send you a PM about IGCSE.
  • Chrysalis Academy and Vanchy like this

#3 Giraffe

Giraffe

    Sitting on the dock of the bay...

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 2611 posts

Posted 09 April 2013 - 06:12 AM

Thank you for a very thoughtful post, that I just might print out and save. It was very relevant for me, as I recently realized that I don't know how to READ, not really. I'm teaching myself now. DD is at learning stage t-5, identifying phonograms, but I think about this stuff for her all. the. time.

Again, thank you!!
  • duckens and Arboreal TJ like this

#4 maize

maize

    Maizgyver

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 18963 posts

Posted 09 April 2013 - 09:36 AM

Thank you for sharing your wisdom Ruth.

#5 ForeverFamily

ForeverFamily

    Hive Mind Level 4 Worker: Builder Bee

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 614 posts

Posted 09 April 2013 - 01:31 PM

Ruth thank you for your wonderful post. I have never thought much about teaching my kids the skill of learning from a textbook. This is a skill that I myself have never had to think much about. I contribute that to the fact that I was homeschooled from 7th to 10th grade (thus I figured my kids would just pick it up naturally). I much prefer a good textbook over a lecture from a teacher almost anyday. I am the type of student where I choose online courses when available. But that being said, I used a textbook for almost all of my subjects while homeschooling. I basically taught myself from those textbooks. My mom was of course available if I needed her, I just figured it was easier and faster to do it myself. But I can see that my kids will not be as used to using textbooks as I was by the time I was in middle school and high school if I don't consciously make an effort of to use some textbooks and teach them how to use them. I was planning on beginning the use of textbooks mostly in highschool. But I love the idea you have of working up to it, so by the time they NEED to learn from a textbook they will have the tools and skills in place to do so.

A couple questions for you Ruth. I am just trying to picture how I would do this with my kids. My kids are young so I know I have some time, but I am the type of person who likes to plan and have long term goals in mind. I know this can vary greatly by student and family, but what IDEAL age would you say a child should be when reaching all of those steps? Or what age were/are your kids when they worked on each of those steps? Ideally should a student have steps 1-5 down by the time they reach high school? Also did you just do this with science, or did you use textbooks for other subjects as well?


Sorry for all the questions and for the long post. Thank you again for your wonderful post, I have learned so much from reading great posts like this from those who have a lot more experience than I do with homeschooling. :)
  • oneddmanybooks likes this

#6 PhotoGal

PhotoGal

    Hive Mind Royal Larvae

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 1092 posts

Posted 09 April 2013 - 02:34 PM

Ruth,

This is great advice. Thanks so much for posting about this! My kids are still young, but I have been thinking about helping them become a little more independent next year. One issue I have right now is that we do science and social studies together, so I end up reading to them and working with them the whole time. In a few years I can see having them read content areas more independently. Maybe I can phase that in a bit.

I hope you are saving these posts for the homeschooling book you will write someday (please please please!). :)
  • Sleep-Deprived and loftmama like this

#7 lewelma

lewelma

    Hive Mind Queen Bee

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 6033 posts

Posted 12 April 2013 - 03:39 AM

what IDEAL age would you say a child should be when reaching all of those steps?


I work backwards. Kids need to have strong study skills in place before 9th grade, so they need experience with studying from a textbook in 8th grade. Given each step takes 1 or 2 years, this is how I do it:

Grades 3 and 4. Level 1. I get my kids reading nonfiction for 30 minutes per day. I push them a bit. I don't want it too easy because they need to be ready for the next stage. My youngest has just finished a 100 page book on archaeology in NZ. It has continuous text (meaning not eyewitness) but it is a narrative, so a bit easier to read. It does have maps and the occasional diagram to study, and each page is about 1/2 photos. It has taken him 4 weeks to read. Today, we went to the library and chose a science book. I want some text that is easy enough to read, but not jerky with too many facts and not enough connection. We found something lovely on astronomy. Although we are studying chemistry this year, the topic for this book is totally his choice as I want him to be interested.

Grades 5 and 6. Level 2. My older in grade 5 read The Way Things Work (we were studying physics). he read 1 spread per day which took about 30 minutes. He had to really study and think about it. Not just a narrative. It took him all year to finish it. In 6th grade he read The Way Life Works, Cartoon Guide to Genetics, and the Stuff of Life for our year on Biology. These books contained difficult topics that he had to think about, but were in a cutsey format which made them more readable.

Grade 7. Level 3. Older ds read 1/2 of Tarbuck's Earth Science. This is a very readable textbook and he chose his favourite chapters so there was a lot of personal interest.

Grade 8. Level 4. This year we are currently using a high school text on Chemistry. we are spending 1.5 years to do a 1 year class so that he can learn how to study. He is interested in science, so he is motivated to learn the material. I am working very closely with him. If a child is more interested in history, you could do this process with history and it would be transferable to science. I would still have your student read a part of a science textbook before high school, but he could learn to study with history.

Grade 9. Level 5. Independently study a text book with interest to the student

Grades 10, 11 and 12. Level 6. independently study a text book with little interest to the student

HTH,

Ruth in NZ
  • Kathie in VA, Mommy22alyns, GVD22 and 10 others like this

#8 54879525

54879525

    Beekeeping Professor

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 55102 posts

Posted 12 April 2013 - 06:16 AM

I love some of your suggestions for how to learn materials in a textbook. I know how I have done it, but some of those you listed never occurred to me and I think they sound great. Thanks for taking the time to post your thoughts.

And alas, Youtube did not exist when I was a student. It's really a great tool!

#9 beaners

beaners

    Hive Mind Queen Bee

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 3127 posts

Posted 13 April 2013 - 12:49 PM

Wonderful post!

My youngest has just finished a 100 page book on archaeology in NZ. It has continuous text (meaning not eyewitness) but it is a narrative, so a bit easier to read. It does have maps and the occasional diagram to study, and each page is about 1/2 photos. It has taken him 4 weeks to read.


Can I ask for the name of this book?

#10 ForeverFamily

ForeverFamily

    Hive Mind Level 4 Worker: Builder Bee

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 614 posts

Posted 13 April 2013 - 01:27 PM

I work backwards. Kids need to have strong study skills in place before 9th grade, so they need experience with studying from a textbook in 8th grade. Given each step takes 1 or 2 years, this is how I do it:

Grades 3 and 4. Level 1. I get my kids reading nonfiction for 30 minutes per day. I push them a bit. I don't want it too easy because they need to be ready for the next stage. My youngest has just finished a 100 page book on archaeology in NZ. It has continuous text (meaning not eyewitness) but it is a narrative, so a bit easier to read. It does have maps and the occasional diagram to study, and each page is about 1/2 photos. It has taken him 4 weeks to read. Today, we went to the library and chose a science book. I want some text that is easy enough to read, but not jerky with too many facts and not enough connection. We found something lovely on astronomy. Although we are studying chemistry this year, the topic for this book is totally his choice as I want him to be interested.

Grades 5 and 6. Level 2. My older in grade 5 read The Way Things Work (we were studying physics). he read 1 spread per day which took about 30 minutes. He had to really study and think about it. Not just a narrative. It took him all year to finish it. In 6th grade he read The Way Life Works, Cartoon Guide to Genetics, and the Stuff of Life for our year on Biology. These books contained difficult topics that he had to think about, but were in a cutsey format which made them more readable.

Grade 7. Level 3. Older ds read 1/2 of Tarbuck's Earth Science. This is a very readable textbook and he chose his favourite chapters so there was a lot of personal interest.

Grade 8. Level 4. This year we are currently using a high school text on Chemistry. we are spending 1.5 years to do a 1 year class so that he can learn how to study. He is interested in science, so he is motivated to learn the material. I am working very closely with him. If a child is more interested in history, you could do this process with history and it would be transferable to science. I would still have your student read a part of a science textbook before high school, but he could learn to study with history.

Grade 9. Level 5. Independently study a text book with interest to the student

Grades 10, 11 and 12. Level 6. independently study a text book with little interest to the student

HTH,

Ruth in NZ


This is great, thank you for taking the time to type all of that up! This is extremely helpful! I will definitely be printing and saving this. You have given me a lot to think about and ponder as I am continually trying to figure out how to give my kids the best education I possibly can. Thank you so much Ruth for all of your posts, they are always so inspiring and helpful.

#11 serendipitous journey

serendipitous journey

    Hive Mind Queen Bee

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 2685 posts

Posted 13 April 2013 - 03:07 PM

Ruth: thank you so much for this timely, thoughtful, and eminently practical & important thread!

I thought I'd post some links RE the Cornell Notes mentioned above, and some other reading-skills related things I have found useful.

Cornell Notes:
Youtube video on Cornell Notes.
Wikipedia article on Cornell Notes.
PDF synopsis on this method from Cornell, with the page set up to look like notes taken Cornell-style.
This page(though not gorgeously done) fleshes out the above PDF a bit.

Next is a study method I think is most easily & helpfully applied at any stage of reading. I have gently begun this with my second grader, by looking at titles and thinking about what the topic will be, asking him what he already knows about the subject and what he expects he might learn. Our "review" is usually narration. This method has been very powerful for me, personally, in increasing comprehension and retention:

SQ3R: Survey, Question, Read, Recite & Review method. Similar to PQRST: Preview, Question, Read, Summarize & Test.
Wikipedia on SQ3R.
Youtube of SQ3R, lecture-style.
Youtube of SQ3R, powerpoint-style.
This siteoutlines it.
Wikipedia on PQRST.


There are many books &c available for improving one's memory skills -- very, very useful for studying and mastering material -- I have liked
Your Memory: How It Works And How To Improve It.

Last is "speed reading" I found this skill very helpful; I never did the book's complete program, just used it as best I could given constraints of Real Life. Rapid reading was curiously useful in reading original science articles -- I would first go over the figures and understand them, then read the article super-fast, then less-fast, then thoroughly. This layering made it possible for me to get a better grasp of complex material. Naturally one can't read deeply & extremely fast, but being able to pre-read with this method has proven invaluable and definitely boosts my own retention. Most folks won't want to do this -- it's rather idiosyncratic.
Rapid Reading:
  • oneddmanybooks, Murrayshire, Mrs Twain and 2 others like this

#12 serendipitous journey

serendipitous journey

    Hive Mind Queen Bee

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 2685 posts

Posted 13 April 2013 - 03:27 PM

....
Grades 3 and 4. Level 1. I get my kids reading nonfiction for 30 minutes per day. I push them a bit. I don't want it too easy because they need to be ready for the next stage. My youngest has just finished a 100 page book on archaeology in NZ. It has continuous text (meaning not eyewitness) but it is a narrative, so a bit easier to read. It does have maps and the occasional diagram to study, and each page is about 1/2 photos. It has taken him 4 weeks to read. Today, we went to the library and chose a science book. I want some text that is easy enough to read, but not jerky with too many facts and not enough connection. We found something lovely on astronomy. Although we are studying chemistry this year, the topic for this book is totally his choice as I want him to be interested.


Ruth, can you share how you get this going with your third grader? Does he get to pick his topic, and it can be either history or science? Do you also require independent fiction reading for literature? Do you start the year off with less than 30 minutes/stretch? I've noticed my 2nd grader can read his own favorite books for quite a while, but seems tuckered by assigned readings. It's not that he complains -- he is actually sort of tired afterwards.

#13 mom31257

mom31257

    Amateur Bee Keeper

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 9818 posts

Posted 13 April 2013 - 05:26 PM

:bigear:

#14 lewelma

lewelma

    Hive Mind Queen Bee

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 6033 posts

Posted 13 April 2013 - 06:12 PM

Can I ask for the name of this book?


Ruth, can you share how you get this going with your third grader?



Digging up the Past: archaeology for the young and curious by David Veart http://www.amazon.co...s/dp/1869404653

I'm going to write out some of the text to point out what I look for in a nonfiction book for young kids. (Also, please know that each kid needs to read a book at his/her level, and I have no idea what level this is at. I am not suggesting that all 3rd graders should be able to read this; it is readable for MY son. You need to find something readable for yours.)

Here is an example of a bit of narrative text:

In late 2009, Mark Andrews was walking along Muriwai beach, wet of Auckland. He passed a stream and noticed something sticking out of the bank. He took a look, but it wasn't an interesting piece of driftwood. it was a waka, a dugout canoe, and it looked very old.

Mark alerted the park rangers and they called in an archaeologist and a local Maori representative. A team of archaeologists, park rangers and local people assembled to safely remove the waka. They had to be careful that the canoe didn't fall apart. It had survived possibly for centuries because it had been kept wet which helps to preserve wood. So they soaked the ancient waka and covered it with tarpaulins.....

Here is a different section that is more expository:

Once an archaeological site has been found, what next? One of the main ways archaeologists explore the past is by excavation. This means they dig things up -- but it isn't ordinary digging....

Look around. Before an excavation begins, archaeologists survey the site are to see what's on the surface. Here archaeologist Hans Bader is using a fluxgate machine to check under the ground before an excavation starts. The machine measures the strength of the magnetic field in the area and can be used to detect and map archaeological features that might be invisible on the surface....

Here is a section that has more science:

Radiocarbon dating seemed to be the answer to an archaeologist's prayer - old questions such as 'when did Maori first arrive in Aotearoa?' could be answered. Unfortunately things weren't quite that simple.

One of the problems in New Zealand was the rats. Rats get into everything, including radiocarbon dates. Kiore, the pacific rat, explored the pacific as a passenger on the voyaging canoes. It was too far for them to swim to Aotearoa, so the only way they could get here was with the humans. Knowing this it made sense that if you couldn't find one of the early Maori settlements to investigate and date, you could look for rat bones instead. Find the first rats and you would find the first human arrival in Aotearoa.

Archaeologists believed that Polynesians didn't arrive in Aotearoa until around 1200 ad. So w hen scientists discovered rat bones with radiocarbon dates of 100 ad people cot very excited. But how could rats get here 1000 years before the first voyagers?....

--------------


So when choosing a book for a 3rd/4th grader, I look for complexity but it MUST be readable. My older ds liked the eyewitness books with the jerky text and read so many of them that he developed great reading comprehension, but my younger absolutely does NOT like that style. He wants an argument to flow. He prefers narrative text, where a story is told, so I started him on simple biographies at the beginning of 3rd grade. But now (end of 3rd grade) I am moving him over into fact books but in a narrative, story-telling style. I also want to see sections where the text becomes less like a narrative, and more expository. The narrative draws him in and gets him to finish the book, but the expository sections encourage him to push himself a bit on his reading skills.

When it comes to complexity, I am look for the text to introduce words that my ds does not know - like radio carbon dating, magnetic field, fluxgate machine, and in this case Maori words. But I want them infrequently so that the reading level is not too high.

Really, if my son is going to spend all month reading a book, it needs to be good. And I need to spend the time to survey enough books to get just the right one -- one at and slightly above his level and that he is interested in. I do have failures. If he starts a book and he does not like it, I need to find out why to inform the next book selection. I get him to read it out loud to me so I can check the difficulty. If he can read it, I then get him to explain the diagrams to me, if he cannot do this then we have a comprehension problem. At that point, if he likes the book, it becomes a shared reading book - each of us taking a turn and then discussing it. If he really does not like the book, then we go back to the library and find something else. I do not just send him in to find a book, I go with him and together we really really search for the right one. He MUST have a book he reads independently every day, or the skills just won't develop. So even if we have a shared book going, he will have a different one for independently reading.

Ruth in NZ
  • serendipitous journey, arliemaria and LaughingCat like this

#15 lewelma

lewelma

    Hive Mind Queen Bee

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 6033 posts

Posted 13 April 2013 - 06:25 PM

Ruth, can you share how you get this going with your third grader? Does he get to pick his topic, and it can be either history or science?

My ds has found history nonfiction to be much easier for him then science. So he has read only history books so far this year. The last one had some science in it, so I asked if he thought he was ready for science. He said yes. So we went to the library and hunted. The astronomy book that I mentioned in a pp will not work. It is really too hard. We must have preread a simple section by chance. So I went back to the library, and we found a science book that is half narrative and half expository (in pull out pages). I think that this will work well.

Do you also require independent fiction reading for literature?

I make a list of about 50 books for my younger ds at the beginning of the year that he chooses from. Things like black beauty and some historical fiction like Johnny Tremain. He has never asked to read anything except what it on this list, so not exactly "required" reading, but all he reads is good books.

He has 1 hour of reading in the morning, 30 min fiction, 30 minutes nonfiction. But he is such a huge fiction reader that he typically does an additional 2 hours per day. It is really nonfiction that has been difficult.

Do you start the year off with less than 30 minutes/stretch?

Absolutely. We started with 10 minutes, then 10 minutes 2x per day, then 15, then 20, and now 30minutes. It takes time to build up the skill.

I've noticed my 2nd grader can read his own favorite books for quite a while, but seems tuckered by assigned readings. It's not that he complains -- he is actually sort of tired afterwards.

This does not surprise me. Building up advanced reading skills takes YEARS. Which is why kids who have not gone through the process cannot read textbooks in high school. They can read, they just can do the advanced reading required of high school.

Slow and steady wins the race.

Ruth in NZ
  • duckens and serendipitous journey like this

#16 beaners

beaners

    Hive Mind Queen Bee

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 3127 posts

Posted 13 April 2013 - 07:06 PM

Digging up the Past: archaeology for the young and curious by David Veart http://www.amazon.co...s/dp/1869404653


Thank you for explaining the process and including some excerpts from the book. One of my daughters has been requesting a book for independent reading or as a read-aloud to go with some of the reading I've been doing about that era in your part of the world, but I'm not sure what is readily available over here.

Back on topic though!

#17 Five More Minutes

Five More Minutes

    Guardian of the Chocolate Stash

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 1483 posts

Posted 13 April 2013 - 07:31 PM

Ruth, thank you so much for sharing this. I've copied and saved your original post and answers to various questions.

I'm wondering if you have a list of books that you have shared or would be willing to share that would work for these various levels? (I'm especially curious about science books right now.) Our local library is very small, and the nearest bookstore is an hour away, so for us browsing for good nonfiction must be done almost entirely online. I rely heavily on recommendations from people like you when I begin a hunt for good books on a topic.
  • SaDonna likes this

#18 Giraffe

Giraffe

    Sitting on the dock of the bay...

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 2611 posts

Posted 13 April 2013 - 11:28 PM

Ruth, thank you so much for sharing this. I've copied and saved your original post and answers to various questions.

I'm wondering if you have a list of books that you have shared or would be willing to share that would work for these various levels? (I'm especially curious about science books right now.) Our local library is very small, and the nearest bookstore is an hour away, so for us browsing for good nonfiction must be done almost entirely online. I rely heavily on recommendations from people like you when I begin a hunt for good books on a topic.


Me too! I'm overseas so everything I do must be online. Then I order the books and have them sent home in the US for pickup in the summer.

#19 lewelma

lewelma

    Hive Mind Queen Bee

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 6033 posts

Posted 14 April 2013 - 12:05 AM

I'm wondering if you have a list of books that you have shared or would be willing to share that would work for these various levels? (I'm especially curious about science books right now.)


I have a list of course, but it really depends on *your* child's reading level and interest.

Level 1: nonfiction books that are not just narratives
Older ds lived on Eyewitness books. They have difficult text and lots of diagrams, pictures, etc to work on understanding.
Younger ds: He is only starting on science as I stated in a pp. The first book will be Walking with Dinosaurs: a natural history by Tim Haines. It is 270pages so should take him a couple of months. It has a very nice narrative that it interspersed with a page of expository text. Looks ideal. Not sure what will be next. We will just have to go to the library. If you don't have a library, then go to a bookstore with your child and try out a bunch of books. You need interest and an appropriate reading level

Level 2: Systematic reading of a fun nonfiction book
Physics: The Way Things Work
Biology: The Way Life Works, The stuff of life, the cartoon guide to genetics

Level 3: Easy textbooks that you only read half of and don't study.
The following 3 textbooks are generally considered readable. I don't much like middle school science textbooks, but that is me.
Tarbuck's Earth Science
Conceptual Physics
Conceptual Chemistry

Level 4. Learning to study a textbook
We are using IGCSE Chemistry. But you could use any textbook that your kid is interested in including any of the above 3.

Level 5. Independent studying from a textbook your child is interested in.
My ds loves physics. So we will be starting with whatever Regentrude recommends.
  • SaDonna, Murrayshire and Five More Minutes like this

#20 lewelma

lewelma

    Hive Mind Queen Bee

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 6033 posts

Posted 14 April 2013 - 12:20 AM

I also want to mention something that I have noticed about the way lots of people on this board teach science. There seems to be a big push for content, curriculum, experiments, etc. I know that there is testing in some states that people are concerned about, but if you are looking to prepare your students for high school science, the main thing that they need to be able to do IMHO is read and study textbooks. So if your kids only want to read, that is ok, and you should not feel *obligated* to buy a curriculum or do heaps of hands on work. It is fine, but not necessary. IMHO, the best prep for high school science is great reading skills, and they take years of consistent effort to develop.

Ruth in NZ
  • GVD22, sagira, birchbark and 9 others like this

#21 Five More Minutes

Five More Minutes

    Guardian of the Chocolate Stash

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 1483 posts

Posted 14 April 2013 - 06:48 AM

Thank you for those titles, Ruth!

#22 Five More Minutes

Five More Minutes

    Guardian of the Chocolate Stash

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 1483 posts

Posted 14 April 2013 - 08:13 AM

I also want to mention something that I have noticed about the way lots of people on this board teach science. There seems to be a big push for content, curriculum, experiments, etc. I know that there is testing in some states that people are concerned about, but if you are looking to prepare your students for high school science, the main thing that they need to be able to do IMHO is read and study textbooks. So if your kids only want to read, that is ok, and you should not feel *obligated* to buy a curriculum or do heaps of hands on work. It is fine, but not necessary. IMHO, the best prep for high school science is great reading skills, and they take years of consistent effort to develop.


I have been mulling this over, and am going to try to put some of my questions and half-formed ideas into words here.

I agree that equipping a student to read and study textbooks is the most important thing we can do to prepare them for high school science (and most other subjects).

But I think there's something else needed for science. I'm reflecting on my high school and undergraduate experience here: I was a student who could easily learn the content from textbooks. In my 4 years of high school I participated in perhaps four or five demonstration labs.

Fast forward to university, where I pursued chemistry: the course content was accessible to me through lectures and my ability to learn from texts, and the lab technicians quickly taught me the basics of working in the lab there. My lack of high school labs was not a limiting factor in the lab. But I did not easily make connections between the textbook/lectures and the experiments, although I didn't recognize that. I just knew that there were some students who "got" the content and the labs in a way that I didn't, even though I could test well in the coursework. And those students continued to enjoy the material, while I was burning out on it. I completed my BSc in Chem, but then chose to switch out of the hard sciences for grad school.

As I think about this, I believe that my failure to make those connections goes way back to a style of learning that prioritized textbooks to the exclusion of observations of real life in any form. Real science can be messy and experiments fail to deliver our expectations over and over and over again. I believe that textbooks gave me a sanitized perception of science, and because I had not cultivated the skill of observing life and comparing it to what I learned in the text, I wasn't able to make those connections that would have facilitated a deep understanding of the material.

So I agree that the ability to read and digest textbooks is crucial. But science learning will be much, much richer and sustainable if it can be accompanied by an ability to observe life and compare it to what is being learned. And I think that for some parents, it's comparatively easy to cultivate that those observations skills, because that's how we already think. But for others, it's intimidating, and we need some help in learning how to observe and how to respond to science's unpredictability. We reach for programs and kits, but some can just reinforce the perception that we have messed up if the demonstration fails.

I wonder if the skill of observation can't be cultivated in any number of ways: going on nature walks and paying attention; participating in astronomy or geology clubs; trying out preplanned experiments (and then trying to figure out why they didn't do what was expected); conducting science-based investigations. I'm not sure ... that's as far as I've come this morning, and I've already written way too much! Thanks for the thought-provoking posts.
  • junepep, serendipitous journey, oneddmanybooks and 3 others like this

#23 momtoamiracle

momtoamiracle

    Hive Mind Queen Bee

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 1337 posts

Posted 14 April 2013 - 09:34 AM

Ruth can you write a book? Or a PDF including all the info shared here that we can download?
  • jg_puppy, Giraffe, prairiewindmomma and 3 others like this

#24 lewelma

lewelma

    Hive Mind Queen Bee

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 6033 posts

Posted 14 April 2013 - 04:16 PM

Oh, now you are talking about my favorite subject -- scientific inquiry and the failure of scientific teaching. When I say that learning to read well is the most critical skill needed for success in science that does not mean it is the ONLY skill needed. My goals for science in K-8 are as follows (in order of importance):

reading skills
math skills
love of science
curiosity and interest in answering questions whether by internet or experimentation
observation skills
general understanding of the scientific method (controls, replications, etc)

Number 1 is reading skills, but the others are also very important. I started a whole thread on goals for science. I'll try to find it, give me a moment...

Real science can be messy and experiments fail to deliver our expectations over and over and over again. I believe that textbooks gave me a sanitized perception of science.

YES! I completely agree with this. But do you think that the standard demonstrations that accompany most science curricula give you any real science? Have you seen my scientific inquiry thread this year? http://forums.welltr...uiry-in-action/
I will also x-post my thoughts on hands on in science as I have thought about it extensively.

And I think that for some parents, it's comparatively easy to cultivate those observations skills, because that's how we already think. But for others, it's intimidating, and we need some help in learning how to observe and how to respond to science's unpredictability. We reach for programs and kits, but some can just reinforce the perception that we have messed up if the demonstration fails.


Oh goodness, you are preaching to the choir. I completely agree that they reinforce perceptions that science is tidy and predictable. So here is the problem that I face. I want to help parents teach their kids science, and because they feel uncertain they reach for exactly the wrong thing. These demos can create serious misperceptions, but without them parents don't know what to do. This is why I have been writing up our scientific investigations in depth. They are always a mess, things never go right, but those ARE the lessons that your kids need to learn.

I wonder if the skill of observation can't be cultivated in any number of ways: going on nature walks and paying attention; participating in astronomy or geology clubs; trying out preplanned experiments (and then trying to figure out why they didn't do what was expected); conducting science-based investigations.

Yes, this is exactly what I would recommend. Really, how hard is it to have your dc read a book on the moon and then spend a month charting the moon cycle and location.

What I see are parents who want to do well by their kids, so they get a science curriculum and teach it to their kids, then they do some demos. When the kids hit high school they are completely unprepared for high school level science. They have never done the heavy lifting of reading scientific material that is just at or slightly above their reading level, and then they are dumped in the deep end with a textbook and expected to learn. Just go over to the high school board for a few weeks and you see it over and over. I have just experienced this with my 3rd grader. We did McHenry's The Elements a few months ago, and my ds LOVED it. He learned so much. But then when I realized that I was reading everything to him and he was only reading novels, I suggested that he read a science book. He baulked. He does not like reading science books -- they are too hard he tells me. Even the easy ones, are too hard. And this is when I realized that I had done him a dis-service by doing all the reading and interpreting. I won't give up our time on the sofa, but he *has* to also do some independent reading or he just won't be ready for the next level. Just like me with The Elements, I think that a lot of parents think that they are preparing their kids for high school science by *teaching* the material, but they are not. The students must do the *learning* which is what teaching them advanced reading skills is all about.

So although I completely agree with the need to connect reading material to real life, I also would urge parents to have their kids develop the reading skills they need. And for me personally, if I had limited time and energy, I would put forth the effort to teach my kids to read scientific material instead of using up all my energy running around finding the materials needed to run a demo every week. If you have energy for both, then go for it. But not all of us do. And when you choose the hands on work you plan to do, choose wisely. Not all 'hands on' science is created equal.

Ruth in NZ
  • sagira, OlgaLA, Giraffe and 7 others like this

#25 lewelma

lewelma

    Hive Mind Queen Bee

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 6033 posts

Posted 14 April 2013 - 04:22 PM

Evaluating usefulness of lab work: posts 2, 3, 4, 14 http://forums.welltr....d.php?t=425932
Goals of scientific education: post 58 in above thread

Goals of scientific education (written a year earlier, so slightly different perspective): post 83 http://forums.welltr....=263107&page=9
Protecting your student from misinformation about how the scientific method works: post 90 same thread
Why you should bother with inquiry work. post 96, same thread
Actually, that whole thread is really good.
  • Five More Minutes, Ellesmere and trulycrabby like this

#26 Kuovonne

Kuovonne

    Hive Mind Queen Bee

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 1674 posts

Posted 14 April 2013 - 04:56 PM

Okay, so I want to try having my fiction loving 4th grader read some non-fiction. I picture it going something like this. I pick out a non-fiction book about something that interests her and is at or slightly below her reading level. Then I hand her to book and ask her to read it. She flips through the pages rather quickly and stares off into space without spending much time looking at any one page. She comes back to me a few minutes later claiming to have read the book. What next? How can I tell if she really read the book and understands it, or if she just glanced at it without thinking about it? How do I coach her through thinking about what she reads? This is my kid who will only do a puzzle if it offers no challenge.

#27 Five More Minutes

Five More Minutes

    Guardian of the Chocolate Stash

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 1483 posts

Posted 14 April 2013 - 08:02 PM

Oh, I love conversations like this! Another post to copy and save. :001_smile:

Oh, now you are talking about my favorite subject -- scientific inquiry and the failure of scientific teaching. When I say that learning to read well is the most critical skill needed for success in science that does not mean it is the ONLY skill needed. My goals for science in K-8 are as follows (in order of importance):

reading skills
math skills
love of science
curiosity and interest in answering questions whether by internet or experimentation
observation skills
general understanding of the scientific method (controls, replications, etc)

Number 1 is reading skills, but the others are also very important. I started a whole thread on goals for science. I'll try to find it, give me a moment...


Absolutely! I completely agree with you, and am looking forward to reading that other thread.

YES! I completely agree with this. But do you think that the standard demonstrations that accompany most science curricula give you any real science? Have you seen my scientific inquiry thread this year? http://forums.welltr...uiry-in-action/
I will also x-post my thoughts on hands on in science as I have thought about it extensively.


I agree that a lot of the demonstrations that accompany science programs aren't real science. I *personally* am finding that the BFSU demonstrations are clicking for me where I'm at right now, because they're in-my-face forcing me to get out there and observe and to connect across disciplines; I'm also finding the TOPS unit studies are helpful because we have sustained time to look at things going wrong and figure out why. :001_smile: (On reflection, BFSU / TOPS are good for me, because they enable us to use a range of different texts to use for our learning -- important when I have girls at different reading and interest levels on the different topics.) But I have been less than thrilled with other demos I've encountered.

And I think I need to start stalking you on the boards! I have just been bumping into that thread about your scientific inquiry, and am loving it. Although I'm wondering (without reading through all of the responses, so I'm sure you've seen this elsewhere) how possible it is for people who aren't familiar with scientific inquiry to do that sort of thing. What has been your experience? Is this type of inquiry only really possible with a strong science parent / leader?

Oh goodness, you are preaching to the choir. I completely agree that they reinforce perceptions that science is tidy and predictable. So here is the problem that I face. I want to help parents teach their kids science, and because they feel uncertain they reach for exactly the wrong thing. These demos can create serious misperceptions, but without them parents don't know what to do. This is why I have been writing up our scientific investigations in depth. They are always a mess, things never go right, but those ARE the lessons that your kids need to learn.


That's exactly what I was trying to fumble towards. It's a real dilemma: we parents need support, but the support itself creates a misconception that sets us up to fail. So ... what sorts of activities/demos provide support to parents who are interested but uncertain, and yet prepare them for the messiness and unpredictability? How can we prepare ourselves to handle the inevitable failure and the work that follows to figure it out?

I think you may need to write a book ...

What I see are parents who want to do well by their kids, so they get a science curriculum and teach it to their kids, then they do some demos. When the kids hit high school they are completely unprepared for high school level science. They have never done the heavy lifting of reading scientific material that is just at or slightly above their reading level, and then they are dumped in the deep end with a textbook and expected to learn. Just go over to the high school board for a few weeks and you see it over and over. I have just experienced this with my 3rd grader. We did McHenry's The Elements a few months ago, and my ds LOVED it. He learned so much. But then when I realized that I was reading everything to him and he was only reading novels, I suggested that he read a science book. He baulked. He does not like reading science books -- they are too hard he tells me. Even the easy ones, are too hard. And this is when I realized that I had done him a dis-service by doing all the reading and interpreting. I won't give up our time on the sofa, but he *has* to also do some independent reading or he just won't be ready for the next level. Just like me with The Elements, I think that a lot of parents think that they are preparing their kids for high school science by *teaching* the material, but they are not. The students must do the *learning* which is what teaching them advanced reading skills is all about.


Ah. I understand you even better now. Teaching the student to read and learn science on their own is necessary, but our default as supportive parents is to deliver the material in a format that's digestible for the student. (I know you'd said that earlier, but this really made it click.) Obviously I need to pop in on the high school board from time to time.

So although I completely agree with the need to connect reading material to real life, I also would urge parents to have their kids develop the reading skills they need. And for me personally, if I had limited time and energy, I would put forth the effort to teach my kids to read scientific material instead of using up all my energy running around finding the materials needed to run a demo every week. If you have energy for both, then go for it. But not all of us do. And when you choose the hands on work you plan to do, choose wisely. Not all 'hands on' science is created equal.


Right. I agree -- time spent on reading is better used than time spent on uninspiring demos that we're not able to accommodate when they "go wrong."

Thank you so much, Ruth. You have given me so much to think about at a time when I'm already rethinking how science looks in our home. And you've been a great encouragement, too.
  • sagira likes this

#28 lewelma

lewelma

    Hive Mind Queen Bee

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 6033 posts

Posted 14 April 2013 - 10:38 PM

Okay, so I want to try having my fiction loving 4th grader read some non-fiction. I picture it going something like this. I pick out a non-fiction book about something that interests her and is at or slightly below her reading level. Then I hand her to book and ask her to read it. She flips through the pages rather quickly and stares off into space without spending much time looking at any one page. She comes back to me a few minutes later claiming to have read the book. What next? How can I tell if she really read the book and understands it, or if she just glanced at it without thinking about it? How do I coach her through thinking about what she reads? This is my kid who will only do a puzzle if it offers no challenge.


I have so been there with my second boy. Here is what I did and it worked like a charm....

Ok, here are 6 steps that you could place within level 1 of my original post of reading nonfiction material.

Step 1.Find a topic she is interested in learning about. Anything. Is it helicopters? The design of kites? Castles? Whatever. (If you tell me that she has no interests what-so-ever, then we need to have a different conversation). She needs to pick a topic that she knows little about, otherwise books written at her level will mostly contain only material that she already knows. Now go to the library and find a couple of books at what you think is her reading level (or lower to start).

Step 2. Check her reading skills. Sit on the sofa and have her read a page out loud. Can she read it? I am not talking about being fluid in oral reading, just if she can read the words. If she can go to step 3, if not you need to get an easier book.

Step 3. Check her comprehension skills. Don't have her explain what she just read outloud because often kids are focused on the verbal skills not comprehension when reading outloud. Instead have her read a paragraph to herself while you read it to yourself and then ask her what it is about. Can she understand it? If so, move to step 4; if not, this is the skill you need to work on.

Every day have her read a paragraph silently and then explain it to you. Model for her how you deal with difficult material. Teach her what to notice about the paragraph. Show her how there is usually a topic sentence that will orient her to the paragraph. Then have her hunt for parts of the paragraph that were difficult. Was there a tricky sentence? Was something awkwardly worded? Show her where you had to go back and reread something because it did not make sense to you. Show her how you read a sentence, and then look at the picture and read the caption, then go back to the paragraph. Show her how to use her finger to hold her place in the paragraph while she studies a diagram. Show her that even *you* as the adult need to *think* about what you are reading. Do you ask yourself questions? Do you stop and reflect about how it applies to something else you know? Tell her all these things. You MUST model very explicitly what you are doing when you read difficult non-fiction material. Once she has mastered one paragraph at a time, then move to a full page read silently and then discussed. This process took my ds 4 months.

Also, sometimes this step is better done with material slightly above the child's reading level. Sometimes kids need to see *why* they need to work harder. Some kids like to rise to the challenge because they find 'baby' books boring. Obviously, this depends on the child and you must do it carefully so as to not discourage your student.

Step 4. Model silent reading. Once you are sure she can read the book that you have picked, then you must sit with her with your *own* book and read silently side by side. No getting up for water, no answering the phone, etc. This is silent sustained reading. I had to do this for a full YEAR with my younger before he could read independently. We started with 10 minutes and worked up to 30 minutes.

Step 5. Independent reading. Set a buzzer and have your child read for 10 minutes independently while you are not in the room. (yes, you need to go back to 10 minutes even through she has been doing 30 minutes with you there.) If you have gone through the above process, this should be possible. But if it is not, then you need to set up a reward system. I would not make it a quiz to verify the book has been read, instead I like to internalize rewards. Tell her that lots of people give themselves a little reward to encourage them - even adults. You want to loose 10 pounds, so you promise yourself a new dress if you do it, etc. Tell her that independent reading is important to be an educated adult and what would she like to reward herself with? If she can read for 10 minutes for 5 days in a row, then what would she like to give herself? Everyday *she* determines if she met the goal of 10 minutes, not you and she records it on a chart. She needs to internalize the desire to read so it cannot be *you* deciding if she has met the goal an doling out the reward. Be very very careful as to how you use rewards if you need to use them. As she gets more confident, get her to up the goal each week until she is at 30 minutes.

Step 6. Increase the difficulty of the reading material. Slowly over the period of years, increase the level of material that she is reading, so that she will be ready for level 2.

HTH,

Ruth in NZ
  • Kuovonne, Tress, TheAutumnOak and 6 others like this

#29 lewelma

lewelma

    Hive Mind Queen Bee

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 6033 posts

Posted 14 April 2013 - 10:59 PM

I have just been bumping into that thread about your scientific inquiry, and am loving it. Although I'm wondering how possible it is for people who aren't familiar with scientific inquiry to do that sort of thing. What has been your experience? Is this type of inquiry only really possible with a strong science parent / leader?


It really depends on the topic your child studies. Some projects are more difficult. My son's science fair project last year on oceanography was very difficult to design. So if I did not have science experience, I would have steered my child to something else.

But my younger son's current study is a technology project and would be easy to lead. He is trying to develop a good technique to make paint from natural materials. I know NOTHING about this. It is really just trial and error and problem solving. There is just not a whole lot of "science" in it. Currently, there is no experiment, controls, replications etc, and there is no hard core scientific concepts. As far as I am concerned, anyone could guide this project as long as you are persistent and patient!

Here are just a few easy to lead projects: My children have done projects on surveying ferns and mushrooms where they recorded distributions and abundance in the forest. They have also learned to predict weather using cloud formations by reading books and through trial and error. There was a student at the homeschool fair last year who studied which non-stick spray was the best, and all she did was make lots and lots of muffins and figure out which ones popped out easiest.

If you want I could come up with lots and lots of projects for non-science parents to lead.

Ruth in NZ
  • oneddmanybooks and Five More Minutes like this

#30 lewelma

lewelma

    Hive Mind Queen Bee

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 6033 posts

Posted 14 April 2013 - 11:01 PM

our default as supportive parents is to deliver the material in a format that's digestible for the student.


Yes. Beautifully said. This is the problem. It does not prepare them to succeed in a rigorous high school science course. Students need to struggle as this forces them to develop methods to deal with difficult material.
  • sagira and TheAutumnOak like this

#31 lewelma

lewelma

    Hive Mind Queen Bee

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 6033 posts

Posted 14 April 2013 - 11:27 PM

It's a real dilemma: we parents need support, but the support itself creates a misconception that sets us up to fail. So ... what sorts of activities/demos provide support to parents who are interested but uncertain, and yet prepare them for the messiness and unpredictability? How can we prepare ourselves to handle the inevitable failure and the work that follows to figure it out?


Observation. Go outside and count birds, study ferns, observe the moon. etc. Ask questions. Why do ferns grow here but not there? Do bees and wasps visit different flowers? How many worms are in my vegi garden? Where is the moon when it is full? make charts, diagrams, graphs. This is super fun. It is real. It encourages curiosity. And it gets you outside!

Experimentation. A lot of labs are easy to turn into real scientific experimentation. You just ask "which." Here are some easy tweeks that I did for SaDonna.
Can worms mix soil?: duh, yes of course they can. This is a demo. You could change it by comparing which soil (clay, sand, compost, etc) can worms mix more easily?
Can I dissolve shrimp shells?: demo, but easy to change to : Which vinegar dissolves shells faster? (white, red, cidar etc)
Do bones get brittle when soaked in vinegar? change it to: Which bone breaks easier? (chicken thigh bones that has been soaked in vinegar, another bakes in oven, another a control)

Methodology. A lot of science is about learning how to use the equipment. This includes microscopes and dissections.

Demonstrations. for any process that a child cannot picture or intuitively understand. Demonstrations show laws or proven facts/processes etc. My ds looks up every single reaction in his chemistry book on youtube. It really makes things come alive. For kids who have trouble with intuitively understanding physics, you can play with incline planes, pulleys etc.

Just be clear with your children what the purpose of the hands-on work is. Kids hate doing the obvious. So don't do the obvious. So for a demonstration, you need to get it "right" because you are trying to show them something that is already proven. But if they are doing an experiment, their results can never be wrong, because they should not know the answer already or they are wasting their time. I'm sure that is clear as mud, so if you have questions, just ask.
  • Tress, serendipitous journey, oneddmanybooks and 3 others like this

#32 SunnyDays

SunnyDays

    Hive Mind Queen Bee

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 3176 posts

Posted 15 April 2013 - 01:14 AM

Ruth, this has been so helpful and inspirational to me! My DS is very much a textbook kid, so I want to help him get the most out of good quality material. And, he's not interested in doing any of the "demo" projects in the science book.... he reads through them, shrugs and says, "Yeah, I get what they're saying," and moves on. :)

The reading plan, as well as your observation/experimentation thoughts, are stirring some ideas for me. Thank you!!

#33 lewelma

lewelma

    Hive Mind Queen Bee

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 6033 posts

Posted 15 April 2013 - 01:55 AM

And, he's not interested in doing any of the "demo" projects in the science book.... he reads through them, shrugs and says, "Yeah, I get what they're saying," and moves on. :)


Make sure you read this thread where I flesh out my thoughts on the purpose of science activities. It will really help you figure out what will be useful for your son and what will definitely not be: http://forums.welltr...-of-activities/
  • Murrayshire likes this

#34 Five More Minutes

Five More Minutes

    Guardian of the Chocolate Stash

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 1483 posts

Posted 15 April 2013 - 08:51 AM

If you want I could come up with lots and lots of projects for non-science parents to lead.


I want! :D

I'm sure you've heard this before, but ... have you considered compiling all of this wonderful material of yours that I'm finding across threads into a single manual / PDF / book? In my frantic copying of all of your posts, I'm already up to a decent-sized document that I'm looking at reformatting and synthesizing to make it easier for me to reference. I'm sure I'm not alone in wanting to keep your ideas handy and accessible!

ETA: I just read (and copied!) the posts from one of the threads you linked, and I see that you are working on a book. :hurray: We need it!

#35 Chrysalis Academy

Chrysalis Academy

    Amateur Bee Keeper

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 10194 posts

Posted 15 April 2013 - 09:00 AM

I needed to post on this thread so I can find it again, I keep losing it. Ruth, you are my science-teaching mentor extraordinaire!

The part of this thread that is *really* resonating with me is the I read vs. she reads part. I am working on having my dd read her own nonfiction more, having me read aloud less. Then the challenge becomes how to make sure I stay engaged, checking understanding & retention, having discussions, rather than just handing off the book and saying "go read it." What a constant dance this homeschooling thing is!
  • Sleep-Deprived and sagira like this

#36 lewelma

lewelma

    Hive Mind Queen Bee

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 6033 posts

Posted 15 April 2013 - 04:42 PM

I am interested in your thoughts about "living books" ala Charlotte Mason, versus "textbooks," especially for younger children. My dd is in 1st grade, and reads and comprehends very well. We have not used any science textbooks. Are you advocating not relying on living books in the younger years, or are you mainly talking about preparation for being able to crack open a 2 inch thick college textbook and get through it? I really appreciate your detailed thoughts about this entire process, it really makes me think about things I have not before, and how I figured out how to sit down and study in high school and/or college.


Definitely living books for younger kids, but make sure that they read more than just the narrative style. There needs to be some expository text, some diagrams, and even some graphs in the living books by the time they are in 5th and 6th grade. I only get text books for 7th and 8th grade -- 7th grade just to read one and 8th grade to learn how to study from one. But it would be difficult for a student to read a textbook in 7th grade if he/she had only been reading easy, fun nonfiction in 6th grade. The material from grades 3 to 6 must increase in difficulty each month so that the there is not jump in 7th when you hand them a textbook.
  • sagira, Murrayshire and eternalsummer like this

#37 lisabees

lisabees

    Hive Mind Queen Bee

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 3738 posts

Posted 15 April 2013 - 09:22 PM

I could cry, Ruth. This thread was started the week I needed it most.

I have a dyslexic sophomore who has NO idea how to read from a text. In fact, in his ps, they don't bring textbooks home. In class, the students learn from power point after power point. Their binders are filled with black and white copies of lists, definitions, etc. They study these for a test.

DS is struggling greatly in Spanish 3. I asked for a textbook. I read it to him and do extra activities online with him. I can see that I am doing him a disservice.

From now on, I will have him read the text (and no, I understand this is NOT advanced reading). I know I can add all of the extra stuff so he gets the big picture, but I need to teach him how to interact with the text in a way that works for him. Mom is not always going to be there!

Another a-ha moment in parenthood. Thank you, Ruth!!

And just a note - you had written me a beautiful plan for my astronomy-loving 7th grader. In addition to The Great Courses Intro to Astronomy videos (from which he takes notes), he is reading through Conceptual Physics and Scientific American, attending astronomy club meetings and enjoying his free reading (which can be advanced, depending on the book he chooses). I can see that this path is paving the way for a successful science-filled future. It is relaxed, yet inspiring and somewhat rigorous at the same time.

#38 lewelma

lewelma

    Hive Mind Queen Bee

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 6033 posts

Posted 16 April 2013 - 12:39 AM

I have a dyslexic sophomore who has NO idea how to read from a text. ..... I read it to him and do extra activities online with him. I can see that I am doing him a disservice. ....From now on, I will have him read the text .....I need to teach him how to interact with the text in a way that works for him. Mom is not always going to be there!

I have been where your ds is, and I definitely know how it feels. Make sure that you take this path slowly. You have 2 more years to get him independent, so incrementally have him take over the role that you have been playing. With an end goal, you can judge where you can step back and where you need to step in so that this transition is successful.

And just a note - you had written me a beautiful plan for my astronomy-loving 7th grader. In addition to The Great Courses Intro to Astronomy videos (from which he takes notes), he is reading through Conceptual Physics and Scientific American, attending astronomy club meetings and enjoying his free reading (which can be advanced, depending on the book he chooses). I can see that this path is paving the way for a successful science-filled future. It is relaxed, yet inspiring and somewhat rigorous at the same time.

I am so glad that this is working out for your ds.

#39 lewelma

lewelma

    Hive Mind Queen Bee

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 6033 posts

Posted 17 April 2013 - 12:54 AM

Okay and to go out on another limb, are there any science textbooks you'd be willing to say you like? Or don't like? :) I am a Christian, but I don't have to have evolution-free books. I want good science.


We used Tarbuck's Earth Science as my son's first textbook to read only. He was interested in the topic and this text is very readable. I have also heard good things about Conceptual Physics and Conceptual Chemistry. I am not very far down the path into high school, so cannot give you any other recommendations. Just ask on the high school board.

This year, he is learning to study using Cambridge IGCSE Chemistry. I am not wowed by the text, but it is short, readable, and approachable with lots of photos and graphs. It has nice review questions and more challenging questions. It has a workbook that goes along with it and lots of printable worksheet. It has prepared tests and a whole bank of previous exams online. Given that I want him to learn how to study, it is a good text.

I personally do NOT like middle school textbooks as they have too many side bars and "how-to-study" notes sprinkled throughout. I would rather teach my child directly and find what works for him, rather than have a textbook that is 2/3rds contents and 1/3 study skills. But that is me, and others might love them.

Remember, the best textbooks to use in 7th and 8th grade with your student are on topics that *interest* your child. I have a science lover, others might use US history, or Art History, or Economics. Whatever. But remember, the goal is not to finish a very fat book in 7th or 8th grade. This is just an introduction to the reading of textbooks, so 1/2 of a fat textbook in 7th grade is fine, and in 8th grade I would look for a short textbook that is doable in a year.

Ruth in NZ
  • Murrayshire and eternalsummer like this

#40 MistyMountain

MistyMountain

    Hive Mind Level 4 Worker: Builder Bee

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 2772 posts

Posted 17 April 2013 - 01:18 AM

Thank you so much for the steps you provided on getting a child interested in non fiction. That was helpful. Your advice is very good.

#41 lewelma

lewelma

    Hive Mind Queen Bee

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 6033 posts

Posted 17 April 2013 - 03:34 PM

Thank you so much for the steps you provided on getting a child interested in non fiction.


Today, my little boy told me that he was so excited by his nonfiction book that he was going to read it INSTEAD of starting a new novel. This is HUGE. He is my little fiction reader - always with his nose in a book, but always a fiction book. I have been making slow but incremental progress for 2 years on improving his nonfiction reading, and I am finally seeing the reward for my efforts. Slow and steady wins the race!
  • lisabees, Chrysalis Academy and TarynB like this

#42 loftmama

loftmama

    Hive Mind Larvae

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 153 posts

Posted 23 April 2013 - 10:04 PM

Just copied this into a doc - 106 pages in 12pt. It's that helpful. Thanks!

#43 DandelionPrincess

DandelionPrincess

    Just Visiting

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 68 posts

Posted 24 April 2013 - 12:53 AM

oh my goodness, this has 100% caught my interest, i looove these types of conversations!! thank you so much for this information, im glad to have found it when my son is so young and i hope to implement this as he grows. definately good reading for me :)

#44 DandelionPrincess

DandelionPrincess

    Just Visiting

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 68 posts

Posted 24 April 2013 - 12:59 AM

also, at which point do you suggest really starting nonfiction? ds is only 5 and just finding his footing with reading, but i find myself pushing fiction for him as that has always been what i have been interested in, tho i know nonfiction is an excellent way to interact with history and science in the elem years. any suggestions for one so young?

#45 lewelma

lewelma

    Hive Mind Queen Bee

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 6033 posts

Posted 24 April 2013 - 01:45 AM

also, at which point do you suggest really starting nonfiction? ds is only 5 and just finding his footing with reading, but i find myself pushing fiction for him as that has always been what i have been interested in, tho i know nonfiction is an excellent way to interact with history and science in the elem years. any suggestions for one so young?


I think that most kids like looking at pictures in books about trucks or castles or animals etc. I would have these types of books laying around and encourage picture looking from age 5 (or younger). But this is just picture looking, not actually reading text. What it does do, however, is develop positive feelings towards nonfiction and might even draw them into reading just a bit. But NO pressure, please.

When it comes time to get them reading nonfiction, it really depends on your child. If a child clearly prefers fiction and is resistant to nonfiction, I would gently start her on non-fiction at age 8 *if* the child is reading well by that age. Gentle biographies are a good transition between fiction and non-fiction. My older boy, however, preferred nonfiction from age 5, so for a student like him any age is obviously fine. If a child has little preference for either fiction or nonfiction, you can trial teaching nonfiction reading at an age 7, but I would be careful. The absolute last thing you want is for your child to have a bad experience with nonfiction which will influence her for years to come. So trial something simple when you think she is ready, but be careful to make it a positive experience.

Some kids have very little trouble with developing nonfiction reading skills, others really struggle. Pay careful attention to your child and adapt appropriately.

Ruth in NZ

#46 Murrayshire

Murrayshire

    Hive Mind Royal Larvae

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 1970 posts

Posted 11 May 2013 - 07:08 AM

I just now found this extremely helpful and inspiring science thread!! Ruth, you are amazing! Thank you so much! Bumping this up so I can find it when I'm planning science!

#47 shanezomom

shanezomom

    Hive Mind Level 3 Worker: Honeymaking Bee

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 319 posts

Posted 17 May 2013 - 02:29 PM

Ruth,
Is the book "The Way Things Work" that you refer to by Macaulay? What about How Things Work by Bloomfield?

#48 lewelma

lewelma

    Hive Mind Queen Bee

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 6033 posts

Posted 17 May 2013 - 05:10 PM

We used the one by Macaulay. It is a cutsey book full of cartoon mammoths which is still a challenging read. The visual imagery really draws in a younger audience and makes a difficult topic seem approachable. I like that each item, like a toaster, is explained on 1 spread, so the student knows exactly what he is required to read. I also like that the information, although well explained, still takes focus and effort to study and understand. Each page is really one big picture of the item, like a toaster, with text surrounding it. My ds took 7 month of reading 20-30 minutes per day to finish the book -- each day he read and studied only 1 spread. I think the book would be appropriate for a 6th grader, although a younger student could definitely read it if she were passionate about the subject (like my ds).

I think the one by Bloomfield is the course book written for the UVA class of the same title that has recently been released on Coursera. It is a textbook written for a non-major University student taking this course.

HTH,

Ruth in NZ
  • sagira likes this

#49 crazyforlatin

crazyforlatin

    Hive Mind Queen Bee

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 3884 posts

Posted 17 May 2013 - 05:31 PM

Ruth,
Is the book "The Way Things Work" that you refer to by Macaulay? What about How Things Work by Bloomfield?


The one by Bloomfield has small font and thin pages but in-depth to the point where it might stop someone from reading it. Macaulay's book is so much more appealing and is presented in a way that even a passionate second grader will try to read and absorb in order to see how something works. Save Bloomfield for high school or older/passionate middle schooler (after he has read Macaulay's).

#50 EppieJ

EppieJ

    Hive Mind Level 6 Worker: Scout Bee

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 556 posts

Posted 28 May 2013 - 01:12 AM

:bigear: My ds is approaching 7th grade so I am listening with great interest!