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Old 05-10-2009, 06:59 PM
 
3,084 posts, read 3,116,507 times
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Besides the fact that UNRAAVEL has an extra A in it's spelling, it's an acronym for 8 strategies that all kids can use to help them answer questions on our state standardars tests. It's especially beneficial for students in grades 4 and up because it forces them to pay attention to questions and answers that they would typically miss had they not had some type of strategy to use.

My principal went to a meeting in a school district that had a very high second language or EL population, and after introducing the UNRAAVEL strategy to these students at this one school, the school saw its average score/points shoot up 100 points in one year. She presented it to my staff, and I was just blown away with how easy it is to use with my 4th graders who bought in to it right away.

So what is this UNRAAVEL? The--

U underline the title of the passage
N now predict the passage
R run/read through the passage
A are you circling key words
A are you reading the question
V verify your answer selected
E eliminate the wrong answer
L let you answer be proven


Since 4th graders can write on their test booklets, these strategies force them to pay attention to key things that many of them overlook when they are being assessed. High achieving kids tend to use most of these strategies consistently in order to stay proficient or higher on tests.

I was amazed at the fact that after walking my students through these 8 strategies, how motivated they became to do better, and how much better they did on the reading comprehension tests. One of my students who is a good reader but a poor test taker said to me that by using the UNRAAVEL she is able to read a question and look for the answer right there in the passage before picking any answer that she used to guess on because she didn't know to go back to the passage and look for the answer.

In her mind, after she read the passage, she would read the question, and if she couldn't remember what she read, she just guessed on the answer hoping she got it right. What I have told my kids also is that there are bascially 4 types of questions on any comprehension tests.

The first one is a right there questions where students can go to the passage and find that answer right there in the passage. I tell my students that if you can read, you can find that answer right there for that type of question. For example a right there question from the story Cinderella may be, what time did Cinderalla have to leave the ball?

The second type of question is an on my own question. This question requires students not to look for the answer right there in the passage because the question requires them to infer. This question also requires them to use their prior knowledge and experiences to answer the question. For example, it can be inferred that character A didn't like character B because?

The third type of question is the author and me. This question requires kids to do some inferring simply because the answer is not directly found in the passage. For example, the question may be after reading this passage, the author would agree or disagree with?

The fourth type of question is called think and search. Students can find the answer to these questions in more than one place in the passage, and they may also have to carefully read the question in order to pick the right answer since this question requires them to look for the answer in more than one place.


If some of you are familiar with QAR that stands for Question and Response, that is what I used in helping my kids identify the types of questions that they are being asked on the standards tests so that they could be more successful. By combining QAR and UNRAAVEL, I can see how my bubble kids (kids who missed proficient by less than 50 points) would benefit from it.

What are you using or teaching to help your students become better readers?
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Old 07-11-2009, 11:24 PM
 
Location: NE Pennsylvania
19 posts, read 46,146 times
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This is a wonderful post. Thank you. I'm surprised no one responded. I wish I'd been taught this when I was in school... back in the ice age... so I'm bumping it up.
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Old 07-12-2009, 12:29 PM
 
64 posts, read 176,111 times
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Testing 'tricks' don't teach the kids anything they will need to be successful in life. Every minute that is spent teaching test taking skills is selfishness by the teacher. Its saying "I care more about my job and my standing than about your future'. Teach the skills, and the kids will do just fine on the test without the tricks.
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Old 07-12-2009, 03:44 PM
 
Location: Pennsylvania
3,830 posts, read 5,725,351 times
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Point well taken tarheel coach, but most teachers I know would prefer to do what you say - the mandates on teaching test-taking come from administrators and districts. Intentionally blowing off mandated curriculum can put the classroom teacher in a tough spot.
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Old 07-13-2009, 10:25 PM
 
Location: On a Slow-Sinking Granite Rock Up North
3,518 posts, read 3,506,246 times
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Default Unraavel

Well, I don't recall any fancy acronym for the process at the time, but it seems in line with what a really great teacher (as well as my mother who attended teaching college in the 1950s) taught me circa 1976.

Funny how these "methods" disappear for a while and then come back around "repackaged" so-to-speak.
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Old 07-14-2009, 08:28 AM
 
2,910 posts, read 4,232,974 times
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There are numerous methods similar out there, typically begun by teachers who have found one that works for them. Like all strategies, they are meant to lay a foundation for learning and not meant to be carried on throughout life. They serve a great purpose for the time they are intended.

The point of using one like the OP posted is to get students to slow down and think about what they are reading in order to understand what's important and what can be discarded. Once they have mastered the process, it becomes second nature for most to just do it without having to recall the acronym.

My oldest uses one for teaching math to her 4th graders CUBED or CUBES and my 11 yr old's teachers used something very similar to that as well.

Now I say, the shorter the better, so UNRAAVEL seems to be a bit cumbersome to me, but hey, if it works as a bridge to learning, no problem.

When I was in elementary we learned how to dissect sentences...something I haven't seen taught since then. Though I long ago forgot the exact manner to accomplish this, it did indeed help me to learn how to write a proper sentence and parts of speech.
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Old 07-14-2009, 08:51 AM
 
5,748 posts, read 7,321,265 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tarheelcoach View Post
Testing 'tricks' don't teach the kids anything they will need to be successful in life. Every minute that is spent teaching test taking skills is selfishness by the teacher. Its saying "I care more about my job and my standing than about your future'. Teach the skills, and the kids will do just fine on the test without the tricks.
I disagree that these are testing tricks. UNRAAVEL seems more like attentive reading techniques. In fact, the first part of UNRAAVEL reminds me strongly of the structural and interpretive readings from Mortimer J. Adler's How to Read a Book. With practice, interpretive reading leads ultimately to critical reading, a time-consuming and difficult process that most schools neglect to teach, assuming that once students learn to sound out words their job is done and the kids will naturally take it from there. Critical reading is essential for students who plan to attend college, so I'm happy to see educators giving higher-level reading some attention, even if it does come under the umbrella of test-taking skills.

My thanks to the OP for the information.

Last edited by formercalifornian; 07-14-2009 at 09:54 AM..
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Old 07-14-2009, 03:18 PM
 
27 posts, read 41,797 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hypocore View Post
There are numerous methods similar out there, typically begun by teachers who have found one that works for them. Like all strategies, they are meant to lay a foundation for learning and not meant to be carried on throughout life. They serve a great purpose for the time they are intended.

The point of using one like the OP posted is to get students to slow down and think about what they are reading in order to understand what's important and what can be discarded. Once they have mastered the process, it becomes second nature for most to just do it without having to recall the acronym.

My oldest uses one for teaching math to her 4th graders CUBED or CUBES and my 11 yr old's teachers used something very similar to that as well.

Now I say, the shorter the better, so UNRAAVEL seems to be a bit cumbersome to me, but hey, if it works as a bridge to learning, no problem.

When I was in elementary we learned how to dissect sentences...something I haven't seen taught since then. Though I long ago forgot the exact manner to accomplish this, it did indeed help me to learn how to write a proper sentence and parts of speech.
I remember being in the fifth grade (too many years ago to count) and my entire class had problems with sentences. We didn't know the difference in a noun and a pronoun much less what a verb was. Our teacher was shocked! She actually started us all back over like we were in kindergarten and taught us the basics. She went on to teach us all how to diagram sentences. I learned so much in that 1 year. My children never learned as much about English as I did years ago. Today, I don't think teachers would have the leeway to start back at the beginning to teach students what they have missed. There would not be enough time to do that and still teach everything that had to be covered for the end of year tests. I may be wrong, but I think putting so much emphasis on how one does on a test is setting society up for failure.
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Old 07-17-2009, 03:59 PM
 
Location: The Land of Lincoln
2,522 posts, read 2,776,608 times
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Great post. I always found that my ESL kids loved any strategy they could utilize when test taking. I believe it helped boost their confidence and decrease their anxiety.
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Old 07-17-2009, 11:31 PM
 
3,084 posts, read 3,116,507 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tarheelcoach View Post
Testing 'tricks' don't teach the kids anything they will need to be successful in life. Every minute that is spent teaching test taking skills is selfishness by the teacher. Its saying "I care more about my job and my standing than about your future'. Teach the skills, and the kids will do just fine on the test without the tricks.
You make a very interesting point. But I would love for you to write all of the state Ed departments so that you can voice your opinion about this matter. By the way, when 80% of my students can't speak English fluently, I am spending my time front loading academic vocabulary to them for each lesson, and by the way the research says that I can't teach them more than 10 words a week across all academic areas, being a 4th grade multiple subject teacher, and the rest of the words that they don't learn are supposed to be hummmmmm? done by incidental learning. Man, aren't my hands tied?
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