Learning Strategies for Constructing Meaning

Students can be helped to learn strategies in a variety of ways. Some strategy learning takes place through reading and writing experiences (Dole et al., 1991). Thematic units with authentic literature provide students with opportunities to utilize the same strategies and skills across a theme. The experience of reading authentic literature and responding to it in authentic ways supports students in learning strategies.

Directed Strategy

Students can also be helped to learn strategies through Instruction/Modeling more directed instructional experiences (Pressley & Harris, 1990). Cooper (1993) presents guidelines for effective strategy instruction based on existing research in this area. He suggests that strategies should be taught only if the student demonstrates a need for the strategy. Only one or two strategies should be introduced at a time; these strategies should be modeled using authentic literature that has been read by the students. The modeling should take place at the point when it is most useful to the students and should not be done in isolation, away from the literature.

All modeling, practice, and application of the strategies should be as interactive and collaborative as possible. Practice and application of the strategies should take place within the context of real reading and writing. Gradually, the teacher should scaffold instruction by reducing the teacher modeling and increasing the student modeling and use of the strategy. This is the transfer of responsibility that researchers have identified as important to effective strategy learning (Pearson, 1985). Students should be encouraged to use the strategy in other curricular areas.

See also Literature-Based Instruction

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