Text Talk is an approach to read alouds that is designed to enhance young children’s ability to construct meaning from decontextualized language. (Beck & McKeown, 2001; Beck, McKeown, & Kucan, 2002). The idea of creating this collection of Text Talk lessons was sparked from the work of Beck and McKeown’s research and findings. These lessons provide educators with a resource to accomplish the complex and demanding task of developing children’s literacy using read-alouds. The ultimate goal of a Text Talk lesson is twofold: 1.) Getting children to talk about the text, considering ideas using decontextualized language to improve comprehension, and 2.) the acquisition of vocabulary. (Beck and McKeown’s journal article can be found at the end of this book.)
In order to increase comprehension, teachers are reading while adding interspersed discussion to focus, monitor, and scaffold learning; helping the children to respond to the text rather than the illustrations. Discussions are based on the actual text instead of permitting students’ responses to rely strictly on their background knowledge.
Using explicit instruction, 3 or 4 vocabulary words are taught after the story has been read. These words are chosen based on their ability to be generalized, the frequency the word will likely occur in future text, and their importance in comprehending the text. The teacher gives the word within the context it was used in the story and then provides a child-friendly definition. Students repeat the word to create a phonological representation of the word. This is followed by interactions with the word by the students in different contexts to assure understanding. The word is then repeated, and this process continues with the remaining 2 or 3 words. Finally, students are asked a series of questions comparing, giving examples and then given a scenario from which to choose the correct word.
The Text Talk lessons contained on this web page have been created by educators involved in Utah’s Reading First project—primarily classroom teachers. We would like to thank each of them for their hard work and creative ideas. These teachers are dedicated to the cause of teaching all children to read. We applaud their efforts and dedication on behalf of Utah’s children.
The lessons here can be printed and copied by viewers. A complete cd of the lessons and book lists are available from the Reading First Department at the Utah State Office of Education. Please contact:
Rebecca Donaldson, Director of Reading First, at 801 538-7869 firstname.lastname@example.org or
Jana Johnson, Office Specialist, 801 538-7988 email@example.com