Elaboration as a reading technique
        One of the strategies that good readers use is elaborating on what they read. This is especiially useful for students in the intermediate grades (3 - 5) and middle school. They are being faced with longer texts from which they are asked to make summaries, infer meaning, take notes, and recall information. 

         Elaboration occurs when readers take newly-gained information and add it to the knowledge base they aready have. They sometimes have to take what they have gathered in their reading and use it in another phase of a project that has multiple steps.

         Some parents are at a loss as to how they can help their children with assignments that call for this approach. At its core, elaboration involves getting your young reader to talk about the material. It  is a way to use social interaction to engage them actively in learning. Here are some specific activities that you can try with your child:

         * Take a piece of paper and fold it in half vertically. On the left half of the paper, have her copy word-for-word the passage with which she is working. On the right side, she responds to the passage by asking questions, making personal connections, or interpreting what she has read.

         * While reading a work of fiction, the student assumes the role of a character in the story. Stop at the climax so that your child does not know the outcome. Ask your child to take on the mind of the character. Ask him questions to see what he would do next (as that character), thus predicting the outcome of the story.

         * While reading a piece of literature, have your child look for words or phrases the author has used that give an indication of what the character is thinking and what her motivations are for her actions. In this way, the young reader becomes a detective and is puzzling together a mystery. 

         By using these techniques, your child learns to identify the important parts of their texts. The social aspect of the work you do together makes it more meaningful to them.

         This column has been incorporated into Teach Your Children Well: A Teacherís  Advice for Parents

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