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Incorporating Cascade Reading into the Classroom – Part 3

by Dr. Jack Dempsey and Michele Landis
In the first part of this applied series, we showed how the Cascade Explorer Tool and our Chrome Extension could help students in summarization tasks, and our most recent blog discussed how the Cascade Explorer could be used to teach students how to understand and create complex sentences. Be sure to check those activities out as well!

The Many Styles of Written Language

In this last entry of our applied blog series, we’re shifting focus to how texts can vary in many different ways. For example, students may need to read from a textbook describing how volcanoes form over time. Those same students on the same day may need to also read William Shakespeare. Needless to say, the kind of language used in these two texts is going to be wildly different! Students might like one type of text, but they may heavily dislike another, which could exacerbate existing issues with reading enjoyment, described by Navkiran Dhaliwal’s article for Good E Reader: Study Finds Children’s Reading Enjoyment at Lowest Levels. Despite these differences and whether or not students enjoy one text versus another, they need to understand all these styles of language, which can prove difficult, especially for struggling readers.

From our experience, students who enjoy reading with the Cascade Format specifically comment how they enjoy that each sentence looks unique. Similarly, these students report being able to focus on the text more easily and remember what they read. As students encounter increasingly diverse texts, the Cascade Format can help them understand more about what makes each text unique.

Classroom Activity: Comparing Styles of Writing

The Cascade Format improves reading comprehension by visually cuing the structure of the text. This reduces the reliance on students’ grammatical knowledge and instead places the burden on the text presentation itself. One way for students to become more comfortable with different styles of writing is to help them understand more clearly how one style differs from the other. One activity that may help students solidify this skill is an explicit examination of how writing styles differ from author to author.

For example, the picture below shows how the writing styles between F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby and Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince can be visually apparent.

The Great Gatsby
The Little Prince
To facilitate this examination, have your students do the following:
  • Provide students with several readings transformed into the Cascade Format using the Cascaded Explorer or Chrome Web Viewer.
  • Instruct students to read for comprehension.
  • After reading for comprehension, instruct students to reread while paying attention to the shapes of the sentences.
Written language varies a lot, so there are many different styles for students to grow accustomed to. The Cascade Format, along with some simple classroom activities, can help! Reading changes lives, and Cascade changes reading!
Cascade Reading

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