What Does It Really Mean? Part 2

Hello everyone. I was able to ask Sunday Cummins a few follow-up questions after she read my last blog post, What Does it Really Mean? 

I reflected on using the STP strategy in conjunction with her strategy Explode & Explain in that post. Below are her answers to the questions. 

Question 1: What improvements have you seen over time with the use of this strategy? 

Sunday: That’s a good question. I guess your blog post reveals my best answer – the integration of other strategies into the Explode to Explain experience!

 Question 2: What are the biggest challenges you have noticed with students using this strategy and what suggestions do you have to overcome them? 

Sunday: Sometimes, students don’t know what to write in an annotation. They have a sense that a particular detail is important but they don’t know what to write. I’ve added a scaffold to support this – at the end of any shared annotating (whether it’s with Explode to Explain or for some other purpose), we analyze and name the types of annotations. Some examples include: 

  •  name a type of detail an author has used like “comparisonreal-lifeinition” or “real life example” 
  • create a quick sketch to help visualize, 
  • share a helpful connection, 
  • jot a question mark when you don’t understand and may need to come back to that detail. 

We list these annotations on an anchor chart students can reference as they annotate on their own. 

Question 3: Do you ever ask students to try and explain vocabulary words with this strategy? 

Sunday: Just like you have folded STP into Explode to Explain, I think you could fold in conversations about unfamiliar vocabulary and the types of context clues that authors use to help readers understand those words. This could help the students think about what to write in their annotations.

I think conversations are essential to learning new words. Think back to how we learned to read. We first learned to talk and communicate by hearing others use words. We had learned the sounds of the English language before we could talk. We heard words used by others before we used them ourselves. I know and use words today I have rarely seen in print or written. I struggle to spell some of these and automatically recognize them in print. It is the same way for our students when they are exposed to new language, even more so because they have limited experiences. Having conversation and building connections to new vocabulary is essential. 

Thanks for answering these questions and your insight Sunday.


Author: Troy F

Reading Specialist & NBCT in Literacy. Academic Coach for online Graduate classes.

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