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Incorporating Cascade Reading into the Classroom – Part 2

by Dr. Jack Dempsey and Michele Landis

How Does Reading Make Students Feel?

In the second part of this applied series, we want to highlight some of the subjective benefits of Cascade Reading. Most of our research is focused on showing how the Cascade Format improves reading comprehension outcomes, but it’s also important to make sure students and teachers enjoy using it! After all, reading enjoyment and reading motivation both play a crucial role in long-term reading success.

In a semester-long study, (currently submitted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal), we asked both students and teachers to tell us what they thought about the Cascade Format. This is what we discovered:

  • 44% of students preferred the Cascade Format over traditional block text
    • Students reported a better ability to remember text
  • 38% of students indicated interest in continuing to use the Cascade Format
    • Students reported less difficulty answering questions about the text

Open-ended feedback included students expressing that the text felt less daunting or intimidating. Some students also noted that each sentence looking different helped them understand what each sentence meant. It’s no coincidence that these comments line up with the science behind the Cascade Format’s design. With more than 40% of students preferring the Cascade Format, it’s bound to make some of your students happier! In a previous Blog we showed how the Cascade Explorer Tool and our Chrome Extension could help students in summarization tasks, so be sure to check that out as well!

Classroom Activity: Forming Complex Sentences

As students progress through secondary school, the language they need to use in assignments becomes more complex, and as reported in this EdWeek article, by Sarah Schwartz, How Schools Can Support Older Students Who Lag in Reading, many students are not prepared. Therefore, students need to acquire the ability to not only comprehend but also write complex sentences with ease. To help students learn to create these sentences with less effort, our Cascade Explorer tool could help. Here are the suggested steps:

1. Show a complex sentence in the Cascade Explorer, followed by several simpler sentences that convey the same information:

Cascade Reading Snippet Example

2. Discuss with students how these sentences are connected with key phrases like “afterwards.” Discuss exactly how all these individual sentences can be combined to make a more complex sentence.

Cascade Reading Snippet Example
3. Give the students two new simple sentences in the Cascade Format:
Cascade Reading Snippet Example

4. Have students combine these into one single sentence using what they’ve learned. Then discuss how they did so.

Cascade Example Combined Sentences

Showing students how complex sentences can be broken down and how simpler sentences can be combined can be a great way of helping them understand more complex sentences! This activity not only helps them understand complex structures while reading, but it also helps them understand how to produce them in writing!

Cascade Reading

How was your experience?