Saturday, January 21, 2012

Making Connections

The report of the National Reading Panel (2000) identified five areas of reading instruction (phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and text comprehension).  Each section of the report "defines the skill, reviews the evidence from research, suggests implications for classroom instruction, describes proven strategies for teaching reading skills and addresses frequently raised questions".

The area of text comprehension is discussed in terms of skills children must develop in order to become competent readers.  These include visualizing, summarizing/synthesizing, inferring, questioning and making connections.

Making connections consists of establishing self-to-text, self-to-world and text-to-text associations. It is the latter component I silently applauded when my students made connections between two Greek myths this week.

I was reading the story of Icarus and Daedalus from The McElderry Book of Greek Myths that one student brought from home.  This story leads right into the tale of Theseus and the Minotaur but after reading for about 20 minutes I was going to stop before I began this next chapter.

However, the children were so disappointed that I was stopping and their persistence for me to continue was so strong that I kept on reading.

When I got to the part in the story where King Minos sends a fleet of ships to pursue Theseus after he defeats the Minotaur and escapes the labyrinth with Ariadne's help, they shouted out that this was just like when "King Menelaus sent Odysseus and all the ships to go after Paris and Helen".

It seems like a small thing I suppose, but I was floored by this connection because it was so perfectly spot-on.  It IS like that!

And I began to think how cool it is for first grade students to not only know the story of the Iliad and the Odyssey, but to make connections that are this brilliant?

Next week we tackle the story of Jason, the Argonauts and the Golden Fleece.  When I told them this one child made another connection..."Oh, I know Jason. He is that guy who goes around in the mask and kills people".

Oh, boy!  Not the literate connection I would have hoped but who could argue?  The kid has a point.


Joy Keaton said...

JaJaJa-hahaha-sonsonson. That's awesome!

Ms.M said...

I find it spectacular that not only are your kids making these great connections but that they are doing it with the Greek myths.

You had me laughing with that last connection. It is such a perfect kid moment. Been there for many of those myself.

Ms. M

Steve Reed said...

Kids are so smart. It's incredible what they can absorb. I wish someone had taught ME mythology at that age!

LOL @ Jason!

Gary said...

Joy - I knew you would enjoy the Halloween connection. Or is Jason Friday the 13th?

Ms. M - Thank goodness for this here wee blog so I can document these things. I enjoy going back every once in a while to revisit these things.

Steve - Greek Mythology isn't normally taught in first grade but it really does seem like a perfect fit. And when they dive into it again in the older grades they will have that much more experience so can go deeper into the stories and the meaning behind them and do all the comparative mythology stuff that Joseph Campbell did.

Barbara said...

First grade is such a perfect time to soak up mythology. Are you going to move on to myths from other countries? You could easily devote the entire year to studying mythology and they would be all the richer for it!

Angella Lister said...

i think it is the way you teach. they are brilliant little sponges soaking up everything you bring to them. but you have to bring it first. and you do.

Gary said...

Barbara - I think we are going to stick with the Greeks and some Roman myths for our in-depth stuff but I have to sprinkle a bit of the others around a bit. They are SO into it. My favorite thing is watching them play "Odysseus" or "Medusa" during recess.

Angella - They have also become such experts that when I say something wrong they correct me. Brilliant!


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