The Fridge Magnet Game is part of WPSU’s Blue Ribbon Readers, a collection of seven interactive games designed to help elementary school students ...
The Fridge Magnet Game is part of WPSU’s Blue Ribbon Readers, a collection of seven interactive games designed to help elementary school students gain reading comprehension competences. The game provides practice with the monitoring and clarifying strategies. It requires students to identify confusing words (by monitoring) and to replace them with words from an alternate word pool that make sense in the sentence (clarifying).
The process of monitoring helps students stay attentive when reading so they will notice immediately when something they read is confusing or doesn’t make sense. They can address problem areas quickly with clarifying or “fix-up” strategies. These strategies rely upon using any prior knowledge available to make sense of the text.
Heather teaches in a rural elementary school in Pennsylvania, a school so small that there is only one class for each grade. When she implemented The Fridge Magnet Game along with other games designed to support reading strategies, her students’ test scores increased. Heather likes the idea that she can assign games to students to target areas where they need more practice. While some students are playing the games on their computers, Heather is free to work one-on-one with a student, or with a small reading group. Blue Ribbon Readers is like having an extra pair of hands in the classroom.
Heather and other teachers know that sounding out words and decoding are the first steps in teaching children to read. Teaching reading comprehension, however, has been a difficult task for educators for decades. Before extensive literacy research conducted in the 1980s, there were few evidence-based approaches for teaching comprehension. Some approaches increased reading levels and test scores while others had little success. Literacy experts Susan Zimmermann and Chryse Hutchins offer 7 Keys to Comprehension: How to Help Your Kids Read It and Get It to help both teachers and parents employ successful approaches. Zimmermann and Hutchins contend that,
“Real comprehension has to do with thinking, learning, and expanding a reader’s knowledge and horizons. It has to do with building on past knowledge, mastering new information, connecting with the minds of those you’ve never met.” p. 7
WPSU used the Zimmermann Hutchins book as a guide to build Blue Ribbon Readers, believing that in addition to their successful approaches, practice is a crucial element. With the book as a foundation, WPSU worked with Penn State literacy faculty members and practicing classroom teachers, like Heather, to develop games like The Fridge Magnet Game.
Skills practice can be tedious, and keeping children engaged long enough for them to build their skill base can be challenging. Thus, WPSU designed The Fridge Magnet Game as part of the Blue Ribbon Readers collection, seven separate engaging games that correspond with the 7 keys to comprehension referenced above.
- Would you rather read a book with words you already know or one that has some words that are unfamiliar to you? Why?
- If you don’t know a word, what are some good strategies to figure out its meaning?
- Share an interest you have that has special words related to it. For example, if you like airplanes, do you know any specific words related to airplane wings or controls? If you like art, do you notice any particular words popping up again and again?
Common Core State Standards
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.K (Kindergarten ): Language
(Kindergarten ): Vocabulary Acquisition and Use
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.L.6 (Kindergarten ): Acquire and use accurately a range of general academic and domain-specific words and phrases sufficient for reading, writing, speaking, and listening at the college and career readiness level; demonstrate independence in gathering vocabulary knowledge when encountering an unknown term important to comprehension or expression.
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.L.6 (Kindergarten ): Acquire and use accurately a range of general academic and domain-specific words and phrases sufficient for reading, writing, speaking, and listening at the college and career readiness level; demonstrate independence in gathering vocabulary knowledge when encountering an unknown term important to comprehension or expression.
- (Kindergarten ): Vocabulary Acquisition and Use