Guest Author - Mary Ann Graziani
DRTA stands for directed reading, thinking activity. During the DRTA the student is engaging in predicting, gathering, confirming and disconfirming information. This activity is not just having students take a picture walk and brainstorm what the text is about before reading and then they read the text. The strategy is more complex than that. The purpose of the strategy is during the reading process to have the reader first makes predictions, then gather information or data from the text, then use that information to confirm or disconfirm the predictions. New predictions are then made and the cycle continues. This is very different from having students just brainstorm what the text will be about prior to reading. Although predicting is the important first step in the DRTA which helps the reader begin the cycle of reading, it is only the first step and should not stop there. The activity should continue to gathering, confirming and disconfirming information and the cycle continues with new predictions throughout the reading process. This the procedure for a DRTA using a narrative text:
1. Read the text yourself and select stopping points. The stopping points can be at any point, not just at the ends of pages.
2. Start brainstorming by telling the students what the topic of the text will be. Have students brainstorm what they know or have heard about the topic and write it down on a chart.
3. Tell students the title of the text and ask them to predict what the story will be about. Write down their predictions.
4. Teacher starts reading orally and then stops at the first stopping point. Go over the previous predictions and ask which ones can now be confirmed and disconfirmed. Cross off those that they now think will not be possible and circle those that have been confirmed. Tell students to make changes and add new predictions. For each suggested change to the prediction list, ask students why they think the item should be changed or added.
5. Continue the reading, stopping, changing, and adding process at each stopping point throughout the text making sure to have students explain their rationale for the changes and additions.
After practicing this as a group several times, the students can start doing the DRTA on their own in pairs or small groups. For the first few times you might want to start them off by reading the story aloud to the whole group and then have them complete the DRTA in pairs or small group.
The DRTA activity can also be used for non-fiction text also. This is the procedure to follow for non-fiction text:
1. Brainstorm topic and make list of predictions.
2. Look at table of contents, pictures, and names of chapters in book and what will be covered in each chapter.
3. Start reading. Silent or aloud. Stop at pre determined stopping points and at every chapter or heading and make predictions.
4. After reading a heading portion, start confirming and revising predictions. Circle the parts in the brainstorming sessions that were correct and cross out when not correct after reading. Add to list things that were covered.
5. Write a paragraph about what you circled in the confirming/revising chart.