See my response with images here:
Reading Reflections: The Importance of Stance Part 2
Last school year I used these stance bookmarks with my 6th grade students. We concentrated mostly on What Surprised Me? as we read nonfiction. It was a real discussion starter my students enjoyed. I look forward to going further with this during the coming school year.
Nonfiction requires a skeptical stance as nonfiction invades our world and our thoughts and perceptions.
The big questions above can help our students to think more deeply about the nonfiction they read and read it with a critical eye.
What Surprised You?
Have students mark passages that surprise them
Students reflect on how this question affected their thinking
What Seems Wrong?
What Makes Me Want to Know More?
What Did the Author Think I Already Knew?
Looking closely at What did the author think I already knew? can benefit my students in a big way. This question reminds students that when they don't get something, they must look for answers themselves. This empowers our students to be independent learners. Students learn what they are missing and how to acquire the prior knowledge on their own. They have a plethora of resources available, and we can empower them to research and learn what they need to understand in order to understand what they are reading. As teachers, we can lead our students to find the answers themselves by focusing them on this question when they don't get it or feel confused. They can learn to think about what they do not get, and why they don't get it.
What Challenged, Changed, or Confirmed What I Already Knew?
We read nonfiction to learn something
Learning involves changing the way we think about an idea or issue
We can change in several ways:
Confirm what we thought
Modify our thinking
Change our mind completely
This seems to really hit the bias and argument piece of our curriculum. It gives students a new lense as a reader. I see these 3 questions being impactful to begin our reading of nonfiction.
I love your visuals! I am glad you have already had a chance to try some of this out with students. Did your students find them useful as a tool to prompt them into this stance? Thinking of your stance bookmarks and the discussions we are having with DIY Literacy, are you considering how your students can create the bookmarks themselves instead of getting pre-made ones?
Heidi I definitely will have students make their own bookmarks for questioning when reading nonfiction. I can not wait to empower my students to own their learning by using tools they create! I do plan to hang my versions in the room though! I would love to share my PDF file. How would I do that? I don't see a way to link anything when I comment which is why I put the link!Can you help?
I know you shared your bookmarks as PDF's with me on the questions. Would you mind us linking them up here too?
Kristi, I can add it to this site. Wanted to make sure you didn't mind first. :0)
Hello all! I'm joining in with this section I'm all caught up now, but thought it would be easier to start responding here instead of going back to earlier blog posts/discussions. I'm intrigued by the thoughts about nonfiction being a more intrusive genre than fiction, which the authors claim is more invitational. I'm interested in that idea - that we are to question nonfiction because the author is intruding upon our world, not inviting us into his. I would argue that we can still question fiction (are the characters realistic; is the plot believable - even when it's science fiction or fantasy; do the characters' motivations ring true, etc.), but I understand that the definition of nonfiction is understood to be "not fake" or "true" when that isn't necessarily the case. I think this is a very important stance for students to know. "Developing the skeptical eye" is an excellent step toward critical and rigorous reading.
The questions in the "Creating the Questioning Stance" are surprisingly simple, but I can see how they could open kids up to figuring out what the author wants us to understand/believe/do. This questioning stance can help teachers shift from giving kids answers to encouraging them to be curious, and ultimately, lifelong learners. In your podcast, Heidi, you reiterate Beers and Probst's assertions that we don't want learned helplessness in our students - that "I don't get it" response. The questions help them figure out things for themselves - exactly what we want!
I've been experimenting with flipping the classroom by having students read short texts for homework and respond in 3-4 sentences on Google Classroom (I also have them watch videos of me or others presenting a mini-lesson). That way, they are ready to do more with the text the next day because they've already read it. It also eliminates the problem of varying reading rates. I will try shifting the request for them to "respond" to answering the 3 questions from this book (I like the idea of presenting/modeling each question in isolation first for my 5th graders - then as the year progresses, having them keep all 3 in mind - when they come to me in 6th grade again, we can just start with the 3 questions all at once). I think I may get better responses on GC (although, some kids are already very good at open-ended responses).
I'm with you, Heidi, in that the 2nd question is my favorite and lends itself very well to self-directed learning and research.
Love your visuals, Kristi. I can see that I need to learn more about sketchnoting and "Sketch to Stretch". I think that would be a fabulous way for many of my students to expand their thinking. I hope I signed up for that session at High AIMS! ;-)
I also need to buy DIY Literacy. I almost bought it at All Write.
One more thought - the 3rd question about changing, challenging, or confirming your thinking is so important for teaching our kids open-mindedness. I think it also applies to fiction!
Some sentences I marked:
"What we didn't hear were problems that we thought were most troublesome - problems about author's intent or author's biases. This makes sense, because often authors go to great lengths to "hide" their intent or biases. We found that the NF Signposts were powerful in awakening students to the reflection demanded by texts, especially those that are persuasive in nature." (92)
"This does take time. If your goal is to impart content and that's it, then this probably isn't worth your time. If your goal is to create independent learners, then this is a critical step." (99)
"Learning is more than memorizing; it involves changing the way we think about an issue or an idea." (101)
Thanks so much, Heidi, for providing this space for us!
Thanks for joining Holly! Do see Tanny McGregor's sketchnoting session at HighAIMS! (she's doing it twice!) My principal brought her to my building to do it and I did the Heinemann webinar she did. I would recommend catching her other HighAIMS session too...
And thanks for checking out my podcast...
I love to hear that you are experimenting with flipping your classroom. I think we could easily do a model of introducing the questions in a video lesson that students/families could access. My challenge is finding the right text to model with... there are so many wonderful possibilities! I'm also looking to have students practice these questions with a digital discussion of a text using NowComment. What is great about these questions, especially for us gifted specialists, is the open ended nature of the questions. This is perfect for pushing that depth and complexity in thinking!
Getting that "skeptical eye" going...
Heidi - I subscribe to Scholastic's "Storyworks" for my 5th graders and "Scope" for my 6th graders. Their articles can be read online, so I link them to Google Classroom. They're great short texts!
I love the idea that nonfiction invades our world, and I do agree that when we read fiction, it definitely invades our world, but it is indirectly. What I love about their take on nonfiction is that it directly affects us and our thinking. We question what we believe, modify our understanding and more! I feel like this angle really gives us some added depth and complexity and will lead to amazing discussions! I am thinking of linking several nonfiction texts per week to Google Classroom and including some bonus articles related to the texts. I will have students respond to their reading and comment on other students' comments on a blog each week as part of their requirement. I will vary questions/expectations depending on our focus for the unit. We will then have in class discussions grouped by the nonfiction texts that my students read and responded to. This may be in class work for some or home work for others, it just depends how they choose to use their time each week.
I use Scope with my 5th and 6th grade readers and it works great. I vary discussion/assignments based on our lessons in each class. I do want to add more choice this year and I think by giving several choices students will be more interested in the readings and responses will be authentic. I can let you know how it works! Any suggestions are welcomed!
Adding more choice with the readings would be interesting - I wonder how the online discussion would go if we did that. If we directed their responses by big questions, it may be even more engaging - they could see how their thoughts would pertain to various topics. Hmmm....
I think the open-ended nature of the questions is perfect to have the students do the thinking. In the beginning, modeling and working in pairs can help the students develop their own structure for answering the questions which will help them ‘own’ the reading and engage more effectively with the text.
Since I’ll be teaching both ends of the spectrum next year, it will be interesting to see how each group reacts to this idea. Many times my GT kids tend to think they know it all, and this will help focus them on the idea that authors of Non-Fiction expect them to know things, whether or not they do. I remember when I began my licensure program, my first professor was throwing out all the acronyms that most of us use daily, but I was lost. I had to specifically ask her to explain each one to me so I could understand what she was saying. It’s no different for students, but sometimes we expect them to remember things that we’ve taught them and they forget, the same is true in reading non-fiction as well. One of my concerns is with my struggling students using this as a way to give up on reading and wait to be spoon fed information.
Many students (especially my middle schoolers) ignore anything that they disagree with or that challenges their thinking. By looking using this question as a way to interact or annotate their text, it will hopefully help them to dig a bit deeper into a text, which will encourage more rigor no matter what the lexile level is. I can see some of my more stubborn students struggling to acknowledge anything that challenges them.
Your concerns are so valid (waiting to be "spoon fed" info and lack of acknowledging a challenge). I love that the questions are open ended and I think the approach leaves room for students to be pushed out of their comfort zones. I'm excited to see how trying it out works for your students!
Pattie, that struggle to get kids to "acknowledge anything that challenges them" seems to be pervasive among adults as well. Not just "other" adults, but me! I have to think deeply about whether or not I allow myself to be challenged by different thinking before I can expect my students to do so. It's an incredibly sophisticated way of reading. How many adults do you know that only watch a certain news show or read a certain newspaper because it already reflects their thinking? If we can get kids to open their minds early in the game, maybe we can hope for a better future! I think it would be important to let kids know that we adults struggle with this, too.
Ohio Council of Teachers of English Language Arts