Picture yourself with a group of students. You’re assisting as they read a text. You hear your own words, “Reach into your toolbox. Is there something that might help you as you’re trying to understand…?” Most of us have used the toolbox metaphor. I did, multiple times. I’d notice the puzzled expressions on my students’ faces. To assist, I would expand my
thinking (aloud) to include a suggestion that they might consider a text feature, like a diagram, or find details in the illustrations that help identify the setting to make meaning. I would explain that this is like a “tool” in their toolbox. Using this explanation multiple times and still faced with puzzled expressions, my inner voice wondered how powerful it would be to hand each student a box filled with “text tools” to provide the opportunity to actually get their hands (their thinking) into the text, much like mechanics use their hands to work magic on an engine. Ideas lead to questions: “What tools? What would they look like? How are they different for the younger readers in contrast with the more experienced? How might tools be utilized by learners who process faster or who already have a deeper understanding of a text? What about tools that support writing as well as reading comprehension?”
With these questions in mind, I embarked on a journey that lead to the creation of strategy cards and other hands-on tools, in six toolboxes, all contained in one larger box. The tools
encourage students to go deeper into reading comprehension; an additional set supports grammar and writing. The box is leveled - one for Kindergarten-1st grade students and
another for 2nd-5th grades.
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