Transfer or Lack Thereof
One of the many ideas that resonated with me was Vinton’s section on the importance of “deep and penetrating” learning that will enable a student to transfer and apply it to different situations and texts. I was struck by the quote from Grant Wiggins that says teachers “need to make sure students understand that transfer is the goal by explicitly saying so.” (p.45) I know that I have heard and participated in many teacher conversations bemoaning the elusiveness of transfer. “It’s like I never taught it!”
And yet, to be honest, I think I could do a better job with being more explicit about this with my students. I know that when we teach strategies, we have used the language of saying things like “Readers ask questions, readers make connections….this is a strategy you will use for the rest of your life.” But do these words hold any real meaning for students? Or do they fall into the “Doing School” category?
I wonder if the transfer element gets lost amidst the piece-meal focus on skills and practice that Vinton describes in Chapter 1? I have worked with many students who struggled with seeing the “big picture” that a text represented. Instead, they got hold of slivers of meaning and completely missed any patterns and/or connections.
Chapter Three: Critical and Creative Thinking
In this section, Vinton talked about approaching reading critically ("reasoning, making judgements, and problem solving" p.31) and creatively ("generative... possibility...subjective: p. 33). The skills required from both types of thinking enable a reader to problem solve a text and come to a more complete and enriched understanding.
I remember several years back having a conversation about reading and talking about a pattern of reading detachment in several classrooms: students could talk about their books but there was little personal investment. The students had chosen their own books for Independent Reading. I referred to it as “bystander” reading. I remember pondering this disconnect. The students could talk the talk but were not IN the book.
When reading Vinton’s description of creative thinking, it made me think that what I observed was this missing piece. One of the wonders of reading is the mind’s ability to imagine, to “generate” people, places and worlds. It also allows the reader to connect, feel and empathise. I want my students to figure out how to enter the world of the text they are reading. Or as Vinton writes: “To bring their whole selves to a text - their feelings, experiences, observations and thoughts.” (p. 17)
First Draft Reading
I am interested in reading Section Two about strategies that can be used. I am curious about how to effectively help students who find it challenging to produce a first draft reading that includes more than one or two details. I am thinking that these students need lots of time, practice and repetition.