On a recent episode of the podcast, Extra Help with InsideSchools I shared some suggestions for managing students’ ELA (English language arts) instruction online and at home. One of my key suggestions is to think about helping your child with reading in four phases: denotation, connotation, interrogation, and imagination. Some of those words might be unfamiliar, but their meaning is pretty simple. Here’s the gist for each:

  • Denotation: focus on what the text explicitly says, including definition of words and accurate plot or argument summary
  • Connotation: focus on what the text implies, without explicitly saying it; we often refer to this as “reading between the lines”
  • Interrogation: focus on creating questions about the text, including both the content (what the text is about) and form (how the author decided to write it)
  • Imagination: focus on what else the text could have said, including re-writing sentences or passages from other points of view

Parents can explore texts with their children at any age. Even connotation, which seems like an “older” activity, has its version for younger students. For instance, you can ask children how they think one character feels about another character, when they haven’t stated so explicitly. Or, you can ask them to come up with another ending to a story.

Listen to the entire episode where I talk a little faster than I intended (sorry about that; love me some ELA!), but where you’ll find lots of concepts and strategies for helping learners in your life.

And stay tuned for my next post, where I discuss how toilet paper can help you learn math.

Tell us more about the challenges you’re facing supporting ELA at home, or what successes you’re having. Use the COMMENTS to share. We’re all ears.