Construct Meaning. Introduction

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1 Construct Meaning Introduction Students find it difficulty to construct meaning through reading and writing. This has in turn influenced student s performance. Most students perform poorly because they do not understand the content they are reading. Teachers have identified various strategies that can be used to help students develop meaning. The strategies include fix-up strategies, question generating, Inferencing etc. The strategies can be integrated into a learning unit to help students construct meaning. This paper analyzes some strategies that can be used to construct meaning and how they can be integrated into a learning unit. Discussion There are many strategies that can be used to construct meaning. For example, Inferencing can be used to construct meaning. Inferencing refers to the process of judging and concluding from a given text. The students are supposed to reason from the text given. Research has shown that Inferencing is the heart of reading. The researchers argue that students learn how to construct meaning if they are taught how to make inferences. This helps the students improve their ability to construct meaning when reading and writing. Inferencing helps students predict before reading and when they are reading. This helps the students to understand the text. Another strategy that can be used to help students construct meaning is question generating. The students are allowed to generate their own questions when reading. This in turn helps the students understand the content they are reading. The two strategies will be integrated by including reading comprehension section in the lesson unit. Also, by including reading activities in the lesson plan. The reading activities listed below will help the student construct meaning (Beck, McKeown, Worthy, Sandora & Kucan, 1 / 5

2 1996).Moreover, the students can use monitoring or fix up strategies to construct meaning. In monitoring, the student is allowed to know when the text he or she is reading is not meaningful, or when it is meaning. Researchers argue that monitoring is an important step to help students develop cognitively. In monitoring, the reader is capable of identifying problems when reading and fix them when they occur. This strategy helps students to construct meaning. Teachers should teach students how to monitor what they are reading so as to help them construct meaning. There are various monitoring strategies. For example, the asking oneself strategy. The student asks himself whether the content he is reading is making sense or not. Other monitoring strategy is rereading strategy, reading ahead strategy and using a dictionary to look the meaning of words. Also, it will be integrated by including comprehension reading activities like graphic organizers. The graphic organizers allow students to organize their readings well. They will be able to identify main points, characters etc (Beck, McKeown, Worthy, Sandora & Kucan, 1996).Additionally, there summarizing strategy has proved effective in helping readers construct meaning. The strategy allows students to get important information from the whole text. The students should be helped to develop this strategy when reading. Teachers should help students develop this strategy often. This is because the narrative text structure differs a lot from the expository text structure. Teachers should teach students how to summarize the important points from the main text when reading narrative content. Also, they should be taught how to summarize when reading expository content. In narrative content, the students should be taught how to focus on the grammar of the story and the map of the story. In expository content, the students should be taught how to identify the main points. In this case, the teacher can use summary activities to help students construct meaning. The students will be required to read a story and summarize the main points and share their work with other students. It will be integrated by providing activity sections in the lesson plan (Beck, McKeown, Worthy, Sandora & Kucan, 1996).Further, teachers can use directed strategy to help the student construct meaning. The teachers are supposed to provide students with the necessary instructions so as to help them construct meaning. Different students need different instructions. So, the teacher should provide the instructions according to students needs. The teacher should introduce the strategies at the time of authentic literature. For instance, the teacher can introduce such strategies during reading or writing. This will help the student improve his or her capability to construct meaning (Tompkins, 2010). 2 / 5

3 Additionally, including phonic development strategies can help students construct meaning. The readers should be taught how to identify different words and sounds. Most of the students learn how to read through reading. Phonic can help students construct meaning when reading as the reader knows how to pronounce words. Most strategic readers decode words that are printed as a process of constructing meaning. Also, vocabulary and comprehension reading strategies can help the students construct meaning. Research has shown that there is a strong relationship between vocabulary and word meaning knowledge and the capability of students to construct meaning. Students should be taught how to identify vocabulary related to a text before reading. This will help the student understand the text when reading and develop meaning. The teachers can help the students use dictionaries to identify the meaning of words in a text. In addition, the teachers should use comprehension reading strategies like building background to help the students construct meaning (Saskatoon public schools, 2010). The teacher should help students connect prior knowledge and current knowledge through building background. This will help the student construct meaning as he will be able to comprehend the text. Teachers should provide direct instructions in vocabulary. This helps teachers teach few vocabulary and their meaning so as to help students construct meaning. The teacher should teach students how to decode words independently and infer their meaning. Hence, thins will help students develop meaning independently.consequently, study strategies and skills can be used to help students develop meaning. Study strategies refers to activities that students do in order to remember information, organize and locate it. For instance, students can use table of content or an outline when writing. Also, the students can use strategies like K-W-L to read a text. The strategies help students remember the text being read. In this case students can use comprehension and vocabulary development activities. The students will be required to list words in a paper together with their meaning and read it to the class. Then the class and the teacher will determine if the student is wrong or not. This will help the student identify meaning of the various words in a comprehension. The four strategies above will be integrated into the lesson unit by providing a section for comprehension reading, vocabulary development, phonic awareness and activity section (Saskatoon public schools, 2010).activity is asking students to write a poem using the words identified. This will help the students identify the words and their meaning when writing a poem. This can be used together with phonic activity. Also, the teacher can ask students to cut pictures that relate to the words given and place the pictures alongside each word. This will help the students have a deep understanding of the words and their meaning 3 / 5

4 (Saskatoon public schools, 2010).strategy is responding to literature. When students respond to literature they learn how to relate their prior knowledge with the ideas in the text. This process helps students from different backgrounds to give their views about the reading, hence helping them construct meaning. In this case the construction of meaning is said to be a transaction between the content and the students. The test will involve reading comprehension etc. The students can use broadcasting activities to present the story. The students should pretend to be a broadcaster and broadcast the story to other students. This will help students give their views and understand the story (Saskatoon public schools, 2010).The students will be measured using summative assessment. Students are required to sit for a test so as to determine if they are able to construct meaning. The student s performance will be monitored regularly. For example, the teacher will monitor the students as they read comprehensions and retell the story. Then record the student s performance. Also, the teacher will monitor the students as they carry various activities like writing a poem, listing words and relating them to pictures. The teacher will use techniques that cater for students differences. For example, the teacher will use visual and auditory strategies when teaching and evaluating the students. This will help the teacher caster for student s differences (Tompkins, 2010). Conclusion Teachers can use the activities and strategies listed above to help students construct meaning. Also, the teachers should monitor and assess the student regularly to determine their progress. This will enable the teacher provide instructions to students who need further assistance. Reference Beck, I., McKeown, M. G., Worthy, J., Sandora, C., & Kucan, L. (1996). 4 / 5

5 Questioning the author: A yearlong classroom implementation to engage students with text.elementaryschool Journal, 96(4), Northwest Regional Educational Saskatoon public schools. (2010).Instructional Strategies Online. Retrieved from Tompkins, G. (2010). Literacy for the 21st century: A balanced approach (5th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill/Prentice Hall. (Chapter 2) 5 / 5

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