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A Brain-Friendly Comprehension Strategy

A Brain Friendly Comprehension Strategy


Sometimes, you just can’t appreciate the potential of a brain-friendly strategy until you try it. Today, I tried the “Oprah Winfrey” interview to help students think more critically
about a story we read. I was honestly surprised at its effectiveness.


Setting Up


The Oprah Winfrey interview is used to increase comprehension and foster literate conversations. Its effectiveness is phenomenal. Today after
reading a story, I set several chairs in a row in front of the class.
“Oprah” sits in the first chair (that is the teacher initially). The
characters to be interviewed sit in the other chairs. Our story this
week was Dear Juno. Dear Juno is about a boy who gets a
letter from his grandmother in Korea. He figures out what the letter
says by looking for clues in pictures. For our interview, I needed a
Juno, a mother and father, and a grandmother. I asked for volunteers to
represent characters in the story, reminding them they’d need to be “in
character”.


The Interview


Once we were all settled, I began by asking several general questions. I asked my “Juno” how he knew the letter was to him, how he knew who the
letter was from, and how he felt when he saw it. Next, I asked the
“grandmother” and “parents” several questions, ending with questions
that required students to make inferences and draw conclusions.
Finally, I let the “audience” ask questions. They were remarkably well
thought out. It was clear comprehension was increasing as students who
had not been able to participate became fluent in the story. They were
highly engaged. The interview only lasted about five minutes. It was a
very effective five minutes.


Finally


This technique can be adjusted for any grade level. I highly recommend this brain-friendly strategy. I plan on using it regularly in my classroom.

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Comment by Eric Arbetter on December 3, 2010 at 8:31am
Great idea. I am always looking for strategies that teachers can use to actively engage students and at higher thinking levels. Thanks.
Comment by Irene Farmer on December 2, 2010 at 9:01pm
I LOVE this idea! I can't wait to try it out on my younger (first grade students) and see how it works! Thanks for sharing!

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