Mark’s student, who was assigned to read the biology text, has finished reading. Now, Mark holds a conference with the student to talk about what she learned from the text. She tells Mark about the way plants get energy from the sun.
She marked her favorite part, a description of a plant turning its leaves to face the sun. Then she reads that part aloud so Mark can hear. Together, they go over a chart he gave her before she started the reading, which she has now filled out. It drew her attention to the key concepts in the chapter, important cause-and-effect relationships, and graphs in the chapter showing trends.
The student has some questions as well. From a passage about leaves changing color in the fall, she flagged a few terms that she had trouble with while reading. One of them is “carotenoid,” the name of a pigment chemical that is responsible for leaves turning orange in the autumn.
Now, think about how the vocabulary question this student raised fits into what you’ve learned about reading strategies. How might Mark have prepared this student to read the passage more fluently? If you were Mark during the after-reading conference, how would you explain the new word to the student?
Perhaps you’d begin by explaining the way the chemical is related to the color orange and pointing out an image in the text with orange leaves. The student might chime in that she notices what looks like the word “carrot” at the beginning of the word “carotenoid.”
She’s right! And her observation provides a great opportunity to point out the usefulness of making inferences. The word “carrot” and the word “carotenoid” both have the same root word, and both words refer to things that are orange. This is an example of how a reader can take her outside knowledge, connect it to something she observes in the text, and use the connection to draw a conclusion about a word’s meaning.