Insights for Sunday School gleaned from the book “Teach Like a Champion” (by D. Lemov).
How all teachers can (and must) be “READING Teachers“
When you ask a student to read aloud, don’t specify how long you want them to read. If the student has trouble, and you have not specified “a paragraph” (or a set number of verses), it gives you a non-embarrassing way to move on to the next reader. Keep reading lengths ‘random’ to create some anticipation among the other students. This will help them follow along.
Keep the identity of the next reader unpredictable. Going “in order” or “around the circle” tends to let students at the end of that order opt-out.
Keep durations short. This allows the reader to invest themselves in the short amount of time they know they will have. You’ll get more expression and enthusiasm. Changing readers creates an anticipation among all, gets them to follow along more closely, and let’s the teacher know who has been paying attention.
Teach students to “bookmark” their place in the text with their finger. When the reader reaches the end of a section and you ask them to stop, tell the class to “bookmark” the end with their finger while they look up to the teacher who is making a comment or asking questions.
CHAPTER TWELVE: Teaching Students to Understand What They Read
Champion Teacher Reading Strategies
When students and teachers read together out loud, champion teachers….
- Provide background on what students are about to read.
- Provide “context” for the story (such as historical context)
- Decode difficult vocabulary before reading it. (This helps in pronunciation too).
- Outline the story and identify key concepts before reading.
- Pose questions about the text ahead of time for students to consider as they are reading.
What strikes me is how Sunday School teachers typically do the OPPOSITE! They usually just:
- Dive in with no explanation or background.
- Wait until a student stumbles before helping them learn a word.
- And wait until the reading is OVER to tell students what’s important to remember!
In fact, many teachers play a cat & mouse game of “do you know what I know.” This puts the students in an adversarial role right from the first word. Fortunately, the solution is simple, –read the “Champion Teacher Reading Strategies” again.
When reading aloud a story, the teacher will stop and ask questions at various points. These should include:
- Why do you think that person is acting like that?
- What do you think that person will do? Predicting what will happen next builds interest.
Champion Teachers regularly go back to the text with their students, re-reading certain lines or sections. They will give specific instructions about where to find the answer to their question. “Why did he do that? Look at the last two lines of the paragraph.”
Neil Note about teaching with our software…
In many of our programs, we include background notes interactively during the story presentation, and place questions during and after the story. The kids will want to skip them to “get to the wigglies” and that is why we strongly recommending GOING THROUGH the software WITH your children, rather than standing back.