The concept of “explaining & seeking information” as a lens for developing meaningful talk will ensure opportunities for students to “connect ideas, practice asking questions and summarize learning” (Fountas/Pinnell, 2008). In his text, The Language Rich Classroom, Dr. Himmele provides content area reading strategies that support this type of talk (never mind reading & writing), allowing students to build content knowledge and vocabulary in an authentic way! One example of this in practice is called “Responding to Headings.” As students preview an informational text, they change each heading into a question. Each “question” can then be answered utilizing knowledge and vocabulary gleaned from the text. This can be done as a writing exercise via a graphic organizer or (for the primary grades) as an oral language activity that can be memorialized via an anchor chart! Some of Himmele’s many other Content Area Reading Strategies include:
Written/Drawn Conversations: Students are asked to write or draw about a concept after reading a text. The class is then broken up into small groups where students swap their work. The partner then reacts to the work via an oral response (this can be written as well) providing a summary, additional questions, etc. Then groups can be selected to report to the class.
List-Group-Label: As a small-group activity students list terms related to the upcoming text. They then categorize the terms and add a heading to each category. Once the text is read, the charts are revisited to determine if their self-generated terms were indeed relevant and if the categories fit. Each group can then modify their charts and report out to the class.