As an educator, I am consistently seeking creative and engaging ways to help my students deepen their comprehension of text. As we know, “Variety is the spice of life.” Whether in the workshops I facilitate, or in the classrooms where I model lessons, students want to be actively engaged in their learning.
Research from Richard Strong, Harvey F. Silver and Amy Robinson states that, “Students who are engaged in their work are energized by four goals—success, curiosity, originality, and satisfying relationships.”
A protocol I often use to engage students is the “Three Levels of Text Protocol.”
This protocol hits on all 4 goals:
- Success (the need for mastery)
- Curiosity (the need for understanding)
- Originality (the need for self-expression)
- Relationships (the need for involvement with others)
The purpose of the protocol is to deepen comprehension of text; non-fiction and/or fiction and explore the implications of the author’s purpose and engage students to synthesize the text with their own background knowledge and experiences. By doing this work, students display a felt need to understand the piece, express their own thoughts and feelings, and actively interact with others in meaningful discussion. Each round consists to three steps/ levels, with four participants to a round and takes about five minutes to complete.
- Level 1: One person leads the round and reads a passage they have selected aloud.
- Level 2: The person says what she/he thinks about the passage (interpretation, connection to past experiences, etc.). The teacher can also provide open-ended questions to keep strengthening specific reading skills.
- Level 3: The person says what she/he sees as the implications for his/her work. This is where the students begin to brainstorm how the text will guide his/her work in a writing piece, a project-based learning task, or further research on the topic.
Once the student has finished, the three other participants provide up to 2 minutes of feedback to what has been said. This can be framed by having student give a compliment such as, “I like the way you provided examples to support your thoughts.”, or, “It was really cool how you integrated your experiences to defend the author’s purpose effortlessly.” They can also ask a question for further clarification.
After the 4 participants have gone through one set of rounds, they debrief on the process. It would be recommended to model this in class a few times before letting the students do in on their own. I would suggest the teacher uses a gradual release of responsibility: I do, we do, you do. Students should be comfortable and confident with the process. As the students engage in this development, the teacher moves around the room and listens in to each of the groups and jots down notes for future instruction.
Until next time, happy teaching and learning!