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To Understand: New Horizons in Reading Comprehension
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About the Author
Ellin is author of Talk About Understanding: Rethinking Classroom Talk to Enhance Understanding, To Understand: New Horizons in Reading Comprehension, co-author of Comprehension Going Forward and of Mosaic of Thought: The Power of Comprehension Strategy Instruction, 2nd edition as well as numerous chapters for professional books and journals on the teaching of reading as well as education policy journals. Ellin Oliver Keene has been a classroom teacher, staff developer, non-profit director and adjunct professor of reading and writing. For sixteen years she directed staff development initiatives at the Denver-based Public Education & Business Coalition. She served as Deputy Director and Director of Literacy and Staff Development for the Cornerstone Project at the University of Pennsylvania for 4 years. Ellin currently serves as Director of Research and Development for the PEBC, as senior advisor to Heinemann Professional Development and works with schools and districts throughout the country and abroad. Ellin Oliver Keene is a Heinemann Professional Development provider. She presents Heinemann One-Day Workshops, Webinars Series, and all forms of On-Site PD. She is most sought after for her long-term professional development residencies in partnership with Heinemann Professional Development. For an overview of the Keene Residency »
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Top Customer Reviews
Building effectively on the base of her original work, Mosaic of Thought, Second Edition: The Power of Comprehension Strategy Instruction, Keene spells out the next steps in teaching those comprehension strategies by getting them to always think more deeply, more purposefully, more richly. More so than just a mindless rattling off of the comprehension strategies, To Understand challenges you to see how those strategies lead to a deeper understanding of how what you've read impacts you.
So often, we burn through a series of books with kids, inspiring them to read quantity, without much forethought of how this literature must be effecting them. We believe that reading a million pages, or a thousand book, and getting a principal to kiss a goat, is reading success. Keene challenges us to go beyond that, to seek ways that we must inspire our children not only to read books, but to talk about how that reading impacts our minds and hearts. Children have a remarkable capacity to think deeply and purposefully, if given the chance, if taught how to do it, and if supported in the classroom.
Keene offers repeatedly through her book a simple mantra: teach a few concepts, over a period of time, with great intensity, and across a variety of texts and genres. Instead of trying to tackle any state's 134 page document of what's "essential" in literacy learning, she had four pages (four!) of what research says "is essential", and sticking to those, in the face of increasing demands of teachers from NCLB, is the true way to go. Rather boldly, Ellin even encourages us to practice civil disobedience when it comes to making educational decisions for your classroom.
Ellin's writing style is personal and affecting throughout the book. She addresses us personally through many of the chapters, sharing bits and pieces of her life, as she encourages us to always do with our students. Rather magically, she begins each chapter of her book with a focus on a "master", an artist or a writer who exemplifies the traits that chapter is examining. I found these vignettes to be powerful. And as she shares the pain of losing her mother, sending her daughter off to college, and being transformed herself by looking at wonderful pieces of art, the real Ellin comes through.
What this book isn't is a guide for teaching comprehension strategies on day one. While she provides countless helpful charts detailing the information she's espousing, you won't find what to do the first day, what to do the second day, et. al. Ellin trusts her teachers too much for that, always suggesting that we look at our own classes, assess their needs, and teach from there. That trust scares many people, but I find it exhilarating.
In fact, this entire book is best described as exhilarating. When I first picked up "Mosaic of Thought" I had no idea it would transform my teaching and reading instruction so dramatically. Now, as I read her new book, I see Ellin, standing just off in the horizon, just a few paces, beckoning us to move forward ourselves, beckoning us to see "what's next". Buy this book, and savor her vision, her ideas, and transform your teaching again!