Words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with deeper meaning.
Once again Ms. Angelou states beautifully a truth. This time it is about comprehension. Here is the difficulty for children; once they can read the words, they must learn to read beyond, beneath, and between the words. We want children to be able to discern the author’s true purpose and meaning. We must help them learn to infer meaning. This inference can begin with understanding individual words and move on to finding the universal theme set forth in the text.
The Comprehension Toolkit lessons by Stephanie Harvey and Anne Goudvis provide several fine lessons for this in their 4th book of the set, Infer Meaning. Its biggest lesson is Background Knowledge + Text Clues = Inference. (BK + TC = I). They give the students strategies for learning to do this important work. I love how the first lesson focuses on vocabulary. We refer to this lesson often in my classroom.
Book 4 includes 6 lessons. All of them bring important skills to the students’ attention.
1. Infer the Meaning of Unfamiliar Words
2.Infer with Text Clues
3. Tackle the meaning of language
4. Crack Open Features: Infer the Meaning of Subheads and Titles
5. Read with a Question in Mind
6. Wrap Your Mind around the Big Idea
Another strategy we use often is to read with a question in mind. Students need to look through the text features to pique their interest. They may bring some background knowledge to the text. They should stop first to think what they already know and ask a question of the text.
One of the most moving lessons is on theme. It uses the text Cheyenne Again by Eve Bunting. The lesson helps the students feel more deeply the meaning of the text and helps them gain a more profound understanding.
These are valuable lessons. I hope you can use them.