About the Flixies series

The Flixies stories (available in English and Afrikaans) have been written to address two critical crises:

 

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In order to develop essential and critical comprehension skills, seven different thinking skills are introduced and applied systematically throughout the Flixies series. Three consecutive stories are used to teach each of the thinking skills.

The Gradual Release of Responsibility

The teaching strategy used to improve reading comprehension is the gradual release of responsibility

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QUESTIONING

Readers who spontaneously question as they read engage with the text, read thoughtfully, with better comprehension, and have a constant sense of expectation and anticipation. This questioning triggers the other thinking skills, enabling the reader to:

  • make inferences and predictions
  • focus on the relevant information
  • make connections
  • summarise and integrate information
  • visualise and reflect.

VISUALISATION

Visualisation is the ability to create a mental image of something that is not seen, but which can be pictured in the mind. It is a cognitive strategy which we subconsciously engage in various situations. The reader draws on everything he or she knows and stands for, in order to create meaning from the text.
Visualisation, therefore, enables the reader to develop a personal, unique meaning and understanding of the text.

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MAKING INFERENCES

Experienced and skilled readers “read between the lines”, i.e. they make inferences about what the meaning could be, but which does not necessarily appear directly in the text. They think about

  • what the author might mean
  • what might be implied through the author’s choice of words
  • expressions
  • choice of language
  • visual text.

This strategy of making inferences whilst reading and testing these against information which might follow keeps the reader involved in the reading process and picturing the events in their imagination.

MAKING CONNECTIONS

Making connections is a cognitive strategy which enables readers to learn from and grow through the new information that comes across.
Readers who make connections while they read, bring the superfi cial words and letters to life. The connections readers make bind the new information with individual past experiences and prior knowledge, thereby bringing about a richer meaning.
In literature readers differentiate mainly between three types of connections:

  • text-to-self
  • text-to-text
  • text-to-world.

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SUMMARISING

The ability to summarise while reading is only possible if the reader learns to focus on the essence and decide which information is of importance. The reader who summarises while reading builds in short periods of rest in order to digest what has been read, select what is necessary in order to understand the text and can recount the essence in his or her own words.

MAKING PREDICTIONS

Experienced readers who are consciously engaged in the text learn from experience to use their pre-knowledge, as well as possible textual clues, in order to anticipate the context of the text while reading or even before reading it. Prior knowledge includes:

  • vocabulary and language associated with a specified topic or concept
  • knowledge of text organisation and structure
  • possible knowledge of the author’s style
  • or any other connections which could assist in making sensible predictions.

Young, developing readers have to be taught to spot the more subtle clues within the text and to combine these with their own background knowledge in order to make meaningful predictions.

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CLARIFYING

Clarification is a complex process that enables the reader to know immediately when and where there is a break in reading comprehension, and what should be done to restore it (to repair comprehension). lt therefore involves the ability to continually check one’s understanding of what is being read, and to have corrective strategies in place when needed (“fix-up strategies to maintain meaning”).

INTEGRATE APPLICATIONS

In the last four books, all of the thinking skills are integrated, and learners are taught how to use the most effective thinking skill to improve comprehension.

Each Flixies book has its own teacher’s guide.

The guide includes:

  • An explanation of the teaching strategy used.
  • An explanation of which comprehension strategy is used and which step of the teaching strategy should be applied in that specific book.
  • Highlights in the text, with a side-panel modelling the teaching strategy and highlighting key points in the text for application.
  • Key words are provided to display and use in the introductory discussion.
  • Worksheets with comprehension activities based on the story are added to the end of the guide.

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