I want to talk about schema. Schema is a great word. I teach the word, schema, to young children. Even children in kindergarten. We talk about adding schema to our schemata. Schemata is the plural form of schema.
And what is schema? What do young children learn that schema is? Well, it’s what they already know. It’s their background knowledge. It’s the knowledge they bring to a text, when you read the text, or the book.
There are different ways to activate, or develop your schema. One way, when you are reading, is to ask questions. That helps a child think about what might be in the text. What’s going to happen in the story?
Good readers predict. They hypothesize. That’s what keeps them reading.
Another strategy that we use sometimes is what we call an anticipation guide. An anticipation guide includes statements, not questions. They are statements that you have the child respond with a yes or no.
Some statements are hard to answer yes or no. So then you discuss reasons why it would be yes and reasons why it might be no. Then you read the story.
And after you read the story, you go back to those statements. Do you still agree with what you thought before you read the story? Why or why not?
I put together some statements here for Cornelius. One I wrote is, You should try to be the person someone else thinks you should be.
Do you always agree with that? Yes or no?
Another one. People will like you if you can do things they cannot do.
It is okay to be different. Is it? Is that what some people think?
Some people do not need friends. Oh, dear.
You can be anything you want to be if you are willing to work hard enough. Is that always true?
Now let’s read the story about Cornelius and find out.
Another strategy you can use before reading is to do a picture walk. A picture walk is when you walk through all the pictures in the text. On the cover, we see Cornelius walking himself. Is that unusual for a crocodile? What is Cornelius going to be like? Have the child predict.
Well, we see that when he comes out of the egg he doesn’t crawl. He’s walking. It looks like someone is observing that over here.
And the others, they are still watching, but they’re not walking. But Cornelius is walking.
And he’s still walking. He didn’t get down on all four feet.
Now it looks like he might be walking away. Oh, my! What happened?
And then we see a monkey. What’s going to happen now?
Well, it looks like the monkey is showing Cornelius something. The monkey is standing on his head.
Oh, he’s hanging from his tail.
And then it looks like he’s showing Cornelius how to do something.
And he is still working with Cornelius. What does that tell us about the monkey?
Now it looks like Cornelius might be going back. Where’s he going to go?
Looks like he might be showing some of the crocodiles what they monkey showed him or taught him how to do.
Oh, there he is. Have you ever seen a crocodile hang from his tail?
The other crocodiles look interested.
Oh, dear, he’s walking away again. What’s going to happen now?
Oh, well he turns back, and there are the crocodiles. Looks like they are trying to do what he was doing.
So that was a picture walk.
So, to help create meaning when you read, you can ask questions, you can provide statements, or you can walk through the pictures.
Remember, reading is about making meaning. So let’s read and find out what meaning we can get from the text.
Begin reading Cornelius. After reading the first sentence, we know the character, Cornelius. We know the setting. The river beach. And we know that he’s done something that one crocodile thinks is interesting.
What do you think Cornelius is going to do after the others become annoyed?
After reading about the monkey, what do we now know about this character in the story? What is he like?
Finish reading the story.
If you used the strategy of the anticipation guide, go back through these statements and see if what you thought before you read the text is what you would think is true now.
So, should you try to be the person someone else thinks you should be?Yes or no?
People will like you if you can do things they cannot do. Well according to the story, not necessarily.
Is it okay to be different?
Some people do not need friends.
You can be anything you want to be if you are willing to work hard enough.
Again, these statements are something to refer to for discussion, to develop your knowledge, and your perspective about the text. It’s another way to enjoy reading to a child.