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Four strategies designed to support learning disabled readers at the middle school through high school level compose the Collaborative Strategic Reading model. These strategies work best when students with a range of reading comprehension abilities work in reading teams of no more than five students. Collaborative Strategic Reading approaches offer readers methods by which they can unpack a word or text’s meaning through their prior knowledge; seeking the meaning of unfamiliar words or phrases via the context and word families; focusing on a passage’s main idea; and creating a summary that reviews the material.
Collaborative Strategic Reading centers its strategies on reciprocal reading. This method involves students reading the same text. In turn, each student steps into a “teacher” spotlight by reading a section out loud. The other members of the group are “students” who then ask questions that the “teacher” answers about the text’s theme. Next, the “teacher” offers a summary of the text, the “students” consider areas that need clarification, and as a group, they predict expected outcomes based upon the text.
Reciprocal reading is a type of cooperative learning. This term is given to a method that groups learners at diverse levels together and offers techniques and strategies that the students themselves use to help others in their group. This approach not only strengthens academic understanding, but it helps create a sense of security in that all members strongly identify with the group and are therefore invested in its success.
Student-friendly techniques used in Collaborative Strategic Reading include clink-and-clunk, get the gist, and wrap up. Clunks are word segments that need explanation because students have no prior knowledge about them. They represent affixes or involve root words that are unfamiliar, or the context doesn’t make their meanings evident. When practicing get the gist, students look for central ideas and themes by examining characters, settings, symbols, and objects. During wrap up, students work independently to create text-based questions, which they then answer in order to summarize that they’ve read.
Roles other than that of “teacher” include a clunk expert, a gist expert, an announcer, and an encourager. These roles are assumed at some point by all learners in a group. The clunk expert uses a set of cards that delineates the steps involved in clunking, while the gist expert leads the team in its search for meaning. The announcer’s job is to determine which group member should contribute next, and the encourager is the team cheerleader who offers applause when the team is doing well and offers encouragement when the team is discouraged.