When I first began teaching, I taught reading strategies in order as stated by my curriculum map. One day, I was dutifully teaching students how to predict, complete with a really cute crystal ball. After students started practicing at their seats, I overheard one student ask another student:
"Do you think I have to predict today? I've already read this book before."
In that moment, I realized that I was placing more emphasis on the strategies themselves than the actual comprehension of the text. Students saw the strategies AS THE POINT instead of a tool. Clearly, I was addicted to teaching reading strategies, not teaching reading. Essentially, I cared about the strategies more than the reading. (Although this error was well-intentioned, it was absolutely ineffective.)
Are you addicted to teaching reading strategies?
Here are a few signs:
Sign 1: In most cases, every student is working on the same reading strategy in the room.
You direct the use of reading strategies of reading strategies in your classroom at all times. You tell students which strategies to use when. You prompt, model, and prompt again until students get the answer you expect.
Sign 2: Students in your class tend to use one reading strategy at a time.
If we're working on summarization, we summarize. And that's it. Strategies are often used in isolation based on the topic or story of the week. Students don't often use or discuss other strategies beyond your focus.
Sign 3: Students can't explain why a certain strategy should be used in a certain situation.
Students use strategies so that they can meet the expectations in the classroom and get a good grade. They aren't sure WHY they actually use these strategies, and they can't explain WHY when you ask them.
Sign 4: Students associate graphic organizers/writing prompts with reading "completion."
Students see reading as "complete" when the finish the graphic organizer or writing prompt associated with the strategy. This finite view of both the strategy and the task of reading limits the student and the learning.
Although I still continue to teach reading strategies as a part of my instruction today, it is a much smaller part of the literacy block. Interacting with the text, thinking aloud, and making active reading decisions based on the text now drives how I craft my instruction. Over time I've seen my kids become much more independent and confident readers via this philosophy.
So, let go a little bit.
Give students strategic options, not automated routines.