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
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.