Literacy: Improving Reading Comprehension in Chemistry

improving reading
comprehension in chemistry
Sue Klemmer / Camden Hills Regional High School / NEACT
• minimize side talk
• get up whenever!
• ask questions any
In the next 90 minutes ...
What is “literacy” and how do we
know when we’ve got there?
6 specific tools for improving
reading comprehension
What does this look like in
the classroom?
1. Do you have clear expectations of what you
want students to be able to do?
1. Do the students know what your
expectations are?
What is it?
•What does it mean
to be “scientifically
•What are the
hallmarks of a
student with
“excellent reading
skills” in chemistry?
1. Pick a “recorder” and “reporter.”
2. One by one (“roundrobin”)
introduce yourself and share
what it means to be scientifically
literate, as recorder jots down
3. Do a 2nd round on what
excellent reading skills look like.
4. Look over your lists and find
“bright ideas” to share with the
rest of us.
5. Your reporter will speak for you.
Lexile Scores
score =
Jane Doe’s score is 1150
• anything rated above 1150+50
= 1200 she’s likely to have
trouble reading independently
• anything below 1150-100 =
1050 she’ll likely find very easy
CC grades 11-12
CC grades 9-10
# students < 1160 = 8/79 = 10% likely to find Zumdahl text difficult (rated 1210)
# students <1230 = 16/79 = 20% likely to find Creations of Fire text difficult (rated 1280)
get Lexiles at
Time = Effort? Difficulty?
1. NEVER “reading for reading sake”: always
in support of teaching science.
1. These strategies must be explicitly taught
and practiced.
What do you do?
•Make a list of the
types of strategies
you use when you
read PD content.
•What factors
influence you to pick
one strategy over
1. Change“recorder” and
2. Create a tally list of all the
strategies used by the group
3. Be prepared to share the
most common strategies.
4. Do a 2nd list of influencing
5. What do you notice about
this list?
6. Your reporter will speak for
Concept Maps
• asks students to understand RELATIONSHIPS
rather than DEFINITIONS
• important to have labeled links that create
“concept-link-concept” sentences
 one of the more time-consuming strategies to teach
 very powerful in tandem with other strategies
 can be very helpful to teachers in spotting
 See me Wednesday for more!
Sample Map #1
What do you notice?
Survey Says ...
electronic vs. paper
have a purpose!
 if the PURPOSE is mastering content, try …
 “red/green” for main points and confusion
 “circles/lines” for key vocabulary & definitions/examples
 if the PURPOSE is reading research, try …
 “bold/underline” for claim vs. evidence
 “box it” to identify parts like procedure, etc.
 if the PURPOSE is review or application, try …
 “underline/star” for all the places where the author talks
about what they already know vs. new examples or
Highlighting Assignment
The goal of reading this
article is to understand
the difference between  Do it. (5 min!)
accuracy and precision.  Pair up: (3 min!)
Use one color of
• Discuss the differences
highlighter to mark all
in your choices.
direct references to
• How is this different than
accuracy, and another
one-color highlighting?
to mark direct
 Be prepared to share
references to precision.
something enlightening
Remember: BE
that your partner said.
• KNOW: list 3 things you know about the
topic before reading
• LEARN: list 3 things you learn from the
• WANT: list 3 things you now want to know
about this topic
actively engages what students already know
“hooks” their curiosity
can students find the main idea?
also useful as a “probe” for understanding (don’t teach what
they already know; spot misconceptions)
✘ not good for dry text
✘ not good if you want students to know details
Anticipation-Reaction Guide
• consists of about 6 true/false statements
• some “low Bloom” level statements
(clear answer in the text)
• some “high Bloom” level statements
(infer or synthesize from text)
 actively engages what students already know
 a highly structured strategy
 useful for difficult text, to help find key points
 requires more prep on part of the teacher
Ant.-React. Assignment
Follow the directions on the “AnticipationReaction” worksheet.
 Do it. (7 min!)
 In your teams: (5 min!)
• Pick a new reporter and a new recorder.
• Share your answers to each question. If
there is disagreement, come to consensus.
• Which questions are higher on “Bloom’s”?
 Be prepared to share your insights.
Frayer Squares
 F-squares ask students to think comprehensively
about multiple aspects of the same topic
 this is a good choice for detailed readings
 there are multiple versions of F-squares; you can
tailor the “corners” to suit
Blank Square
cautionary tale – keeping the purpose in mind!
 One of my “lenses’ for chemistry is the “three worlds”
 I thought about redesigning the corner of the F-sq. ...
meet two goals at once!
 BUT: My texts aren’t organized this way ... so it would
not help students’ reading comprehension.
Frayer Square Assignment
In May, my students read
sections in 2 different chapters  Do the assignment on your
of our text – one on acid
own. (3 min!)
nomenclature and the other on
 In your team: (5 min)
the nature of acids & bases.
• Go one round with “I
They could takes notes in any
noticed ...”. If you noticed
something similar to
Here are 2 samples from
someone else, paraphrase
students who chose to use
her first and then add your
Frayer squares.
o What do you notice about
• Share your warm & cool
their reading skills?
feedback for each student.
o Write a “warm” red and “cool”
 Be prepared to share
blue sticky note feedback to
something that “resonated.”
each student.
Survey Says ...
Survey Says ...
Annotated Sample Problems
goal: have students actively read sample
problems in their textbook
goal: students will focus on the process, rather
than memorizing “plug ‘n chug”
 This is very much a “work in progress”.
✘Columns always seem to be wrong size.
✘Many students find it awkward.
Current Annotation
Survey Says ...
Future Annotation
work backwards!
With Math & Science Teachers
• Survey expectations for “shown work” on tests.
• Identify common elements and unique needs.
• Develop a “learning progression” of expectations
Redesign “annotation” form to
meet dual goals of better
reading comprehension and
performance expectations.
Creative Annotation
1. Independent readers analyze & reflect upon
their own capabilities.
1. These skills develop more efficiently with
teacher assistance.
Building Metacognition
SURVEYS can be useful for you and your students.
•How much time do you spend taking notes?
•Is strategy “x” helpful? easy? does it change the way you read?
PEER REFLECTION is a powerful tool and saves teacher time!
• “think-pair-share”: do it on our own, then share what you’ve
done with a partner, then pairs share best elements of each
other’s work with another pair or the class
• “warm-cool” feedback: using 2 different colors of sticky notes,
provide a specific comment on something done well (warm) and
a constructive comment on something that could be improved
• “ask and receive”: each partner completes an index card “I’d
especially like feedback on …” and gives it with work to partner
for coaching
EXIT SLIPS ask students to reflect on and communicate their
understanding of content and/or confidence level with skills.
Survey Says ...