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Thursday, May 23, 2013

DRTA - Directed Reading Thinking Activity - Russell Stauffer: A READING LESSON TEMPLATE FOR THE DRTA

THE MAN IN THE TRUCK


I have had first, second and third graders to teach reading as a thinking process. Having studied at the graduate level with Stauffer I was well prepared. It was a bloody boot camp with him. In his Reading-Study Center at the University of Delaware we trained with students privately enrolled for reading instruction. There were adults, brain damaged veterans, children levels behind, dyslexics and aphasics. A variety.

This is an example of a Directed Reading Thinking Activity - a DRTA - using the two pictures of Rob Pattinson above which have clearly shown he has packed up and left his girlfriend Kristen Stewart - breaking up with her.

Here's how it would go with students. For my purposes I am fictionalizing a group to work with to serve as an example.

The Man In The Truck: The two pictures above on facing pages at the beginning of the story.

Look at the title and the pictures on the first two pages. What do you think  the story will be about? 

Here you are leading each person to set their own purposes for reading this selection via predictions - teaching the Scientific Method. Not your purposes, their purposes, their reason for reading this selection other than learning how to think critically, which is what you are doing. That is your purpose, your intention. This is your hidden agenda.
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I bet he's taking the dog to the vet.

What makes you think that?


The dog is in the front seat instead of the back of the pick up so maybe it is not feeling so good. Its ears are down and when my dog's ears are down he is unhappy or not feeling so hot.

Stauffer was adamant on the role of experience in reading. Children didn't learn to read in areas outside their personal experience until they knew how to read at an independent reading level. The DRTA approach was to teach hypothesis setting (not theory) how to guess as correctly as possible, how to express a hunch, a guesstimate as Stauffer called it then. He was influenced by Jerome Bruner and Dewey's Experience and Education. Profoundly.

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"I think they are going to the doggie park."

What makes you think so?


When dogs go to the doggie park they get dirty and my mom doesn't want our dog in our good car.

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"I think he's taking the stuff to the auction."

How come?


It's all messy in the back and junked around. He doesn't want it anymore. 

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"I think he's taking the stuff to the DAV or  Good Will."

Why do you think that?


Because it's better to recycle than just throw it away at the dump and I think he wants to recycle. 

How come you think that?

I don't know.

Can you guess?

It's a hunch.

Based on what?

He has a nice dog. It sits up on the seat. He should have a doggie seat belt on though. It looks clean.

Any other reasons?

No.

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"I think he's going to get groceries."

How come you think that?


Hmmmmm. I just think that.

Why?

He's reaching in the mailbox to get the mail, so this is probably the first time he's driven out the driveway today. So it's probably early in the day and that's when most people go grocery shopping. That's when my mom does and my dad too.

What about all the stuff in the back? There won't be room for a lot of groceries. (from another child)

He maybe will dump the stuff or give it away before he goes to the grocery store. Or maybe just pack it better and take it home again. My dad leaves stuff in the back.

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"I think he's picking up some furniture."
"Maybe he's going to the dump with old stuff."
"Maybe the dog just loves to ride in the truck."
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I'll let you readers imagine your own questions for these three. 
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Read to see if you are right.
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As soon as you say this, no more questions. You now honor each person's purpose for reading the selection.
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The rule is that you can ask as many questions as you want BEFORE the person reads the selection. After the person finishes reading you don't get to ask any questions. This is because you are honoring the person's purposes for reading that particular selection. Your purposes are not their purposes for reading it. The individual's reasons take priority. It is about respect for the person's intentions. You are not  playing authoritarian with their mind. This is not a hidden lesson teaching fascism.
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Were you right?
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At this stage of the DRA the child will tell you S/he was right or wrong. If s/he says, "Right," then you ask her/him to read the part out loud that proves it. Oral reading is NOT used to check or judge how well the person pronounces the words. Oral reading is for the purpose of backing up your hunches for someone else, for supporting your thinking. Here you are teaching the Dominating Discourse of critical thinking as it exists at the present time.

What mostly happens is that the children will say who was wrong and why. They love to find another child wrong. Then they need to read the part that proves their  point.  

It is possible a child will say the man is leaving his girl friend or wife and taking the dog. 

Another child is very likely to say that if he were leaving his girl friend would be running after the truck and crying. Or if he were leaving home why would he stop to get the mail, challenging that hypothesis.

On the THEORY part of this, it is that the way a child learns to read is just as important as the fact that s/he learns to read. Since Stauffer defines reading as a thinking process, this stated assumption determines how the child learns to read. A purely phonic approach that emphasizes oral pronouncing of words is not a thinking process but a pronouncing process. 

Phonics are taught as tools for figuring out unknown words, not as a way of checking on whether the child can pronounce the words or not. Not as a testing procedure. Oral reading is purely for confirming or disproving your purposes (hypotheses) for reading the selection.

This is just one way of teaching reading. It is particularly effective in the classroom with a group. The children spur each other on and lively discussions result. Reading becomes an activity that is anticipated with pleasure.

Besides you get much smarter as the kids will see things you didn't notice. 

Children who learn this way are never going to be brainwashed by the tabloids. They are never going to take just one way of reading anything. They are not going to be seduced by the printed page. They are not going to believe one person's way of reading it. They are forever going to be questioning authority. If you aren't comfortable with that kind of thinking child, then try a rote learning process. See and say. Or cat, rat, sat, mat.

If you think these predictions are too sophisticated for young children then you just don't know how smart they really are.