Critical Comprehension [Grades K-6]
Lessons for Guiding Students to Deeper Meaning
- Katie Kelly - Furman University, USA
- Lester Laminack
- Vivian Vasquez
Literacy | Reading (Primary/Elementary)
Because high-level comprehension cannot be divorced from wide-ranging texts
To be literate is to think through multiple perspectives, exploring diverse texts, and using the power of story to give students the life skills to discuss just about anything with critical curiosity. Critical Comprehension transforms this vital work into an accessible, three-step lesson process.
Using picture books, multimodal texts, and thoughtfully framed questions, each differentiated lesson expands students’ understanding of a text through:
- First read: the “movie read”, during which the text is read without interruption
- Second read: The teacher poses questions that probe deeper meanings through interaction with the text to summarize, name and highlight issues, analyze and infer, to make more informed decisions about what to believe and what to question.
- Third read: Harnessing students’ curiosities, the class revisits the text to talk back to theme, symbols, central idea, or social, cultural, historical influences at work on author and audience
Popular media, classic novels, breaking news — the world’s content is ready for students to absorb. But are we ready to help them read it well? Equipped with this resource, the answer is, Yes, we are.
Questions to Consider When Reading for Critical Comprehension
This resource provides questions to consider when reading for critical comprehension to support your work as you and your students read against the text.
Lesson 2: The Transcontinental Railroad
This lesson helps students build their comprehension skills using the book Locomotive by Brian Floca.
I so wish I could have read this book years ago when making my first (clumsy) attempts at helping my second and third graders think more critically about the endless stream of texts they consume each and every day. I could have been so much more effective. Katie Kelly, Lester Laminack, and Vivian Vasquez have provided a treasure trove of detailed lessons and resources designed to help justice-minded teachers not only understand the need for literacy learning rooted in efforts to address issues of injustice, but better understand what it might look like in their own classrooms. My hope now is that teachers are brave enough to do the work that needs to be done!
Critical Comprehension encourages educators to read critically, to take action, and to be part of a necessary global change. Katie Kelly, Lester Laminack, and Vivian Vasquez relate their personal story, which enhances the call to disrupt what they refer to as “the perpetuation of dominant narratives that privilege some people at the expense of others.” They describe opportunities that will allow learners to construct a deeper meaning of texts through a critical literacy lens while moving forward to take social action. This book uses a leading-edge instructional framework to center children of all ages as agents of their own learning. I believe this book will leave you with an overwhelming desire, to work alongside young learners, and will give you the inspiration and knowledge required to "be the change."
Wow. Katie Kelly, Lester Laminack, and Vivian Vasquez have created a blueprint for critical comprehension that needs truly to be in the hands of all educators, pre-service and veteran. It's the book I want to share with my undergraduate students and the book I want my children's teachers to have. It is rife with concrete examples and beautiful questions to springboard the critical thinkers we all aim to cultivate.
Katie Kelly, Lester Laminack, and Vivian Vasquez wrote the book I wish I had when I was first studying critical literacy in grad school many years ago. Not only does this book define critical comprehension for teachers, but it masterfully supports teachers in putting the work of critical comprehension into practice in the classroom. This book is a great text for both teachers just starting on their journey of including critical comprehension throughout their school day and those who have been doing the work for years. The lessons are practical, meaningful, and highly engaging for students. This is a book I will turn to again and again in my work as a classroom teacher and writer.
Critical Comprehension: Lessons for Guiding Students to Deeper Meaning by Katie Kelly, Lester Laminack, and Vivian Vasquez offers teachers a powerful look at ways to support young readers to read with criticality. The book is full of tools, teaching resources, lessons, book lists and questions to help us, as educators, examine our classrooms and practices. The authors help us to understand our own positionality in the classroom and they give us many opportunities to reflect throughout the book. It was helpful for me to get a peek into so many different classrooms to see how some of this work played out with children.
As an educator I feel fortunate to have this team thinking together and sharing their expertise. The combination of their personal stories and classroom anecdotes makes for very powerful learning as we all work to create inclusive classrooms.