When the standards came out and were approved as Ohio's Learning Standards we all had to embrace 'close reading'. The information we had on what that was led most to adopt this phrase, "read like a detective".
Teachers swarmed the internet and Pinterest to find out what to do to teach "close reading".
It was not until I read Notice & Note books that I have a better understanding of Close Reading. I read several others takes on this as well. The signposts help to get to the responsive reading that is proposed.
P.26- "The responsive reader is present, in mind and heart, when he is reading the text. Rather than simply collecting facts or trying to remember information that, unless it matters, will remain pointless, he is trying to make sense."
In order to support the students to know
In order to support the students to know what to 'notice' when they are reading and how to react to those signposts.
BTW- I am working hard to get Kyleen and Robert here on Tuesday Sept. 26th for a full day workshop on Notice & Note Signposts for Close Reading. Stay tuned. Seats will go fast, I am sure.
Here is the link to register to attend a full day with Kyleen and Robert at Lorain County Community College.
Moira, Thank you so much for sharing the link! How exciting to have Beers and Probst come for the day! Oh how I wish it were not in the middle of the week and so far away (down here in southern Ohio outside of Cincinnati).
Moira, thanks for the workshop info. I just registered. Looking forward to meeting you in person.
I agree with you so much regarding how these strategies help with close reading. I use Notice and Note in my classes to help students learn to read closely, and this has helped them tremendously. This is much better than scouring pinterest lol! Good to have solid strategies in hand!
I picked out this same quote from page 26. I fear we are too often pushing kids to read to find something for a question or response and theyare not present.
I'm from Elyria originally so I'm going to look into the workshop you mention below! Thanks for the info!
The chapter that really "spoke" to me was Chapter 4 "The Compassionate Reader." On page 46, Beers and Probst said " you must first be willing to enter the text...enter into a dialogue with the text, to interact and not merely extract." As an English teacher and life-long LOVER of books, this is obvious to me. I probably do this 1000x a day while I read for enjoyment, for information, for ANYTHING. However, I feel that our current education system is failing the students in this regard. Why? Because of the test...
Our students our faced with countless hours of simply extracting information from what they have read. The standardized test tells them to read a passage, answer a few MC questions, write a little bit, and then move onto the next piece. The tests are all boring, the passages are boring, so it just makes sense (in their minds) that reading is boring. On the following page (pg 47), the authors make another fantastic claim. They say: "We have turned the aethetic act into an efferent one, and in doing so we may have encouraged them to ignore themselves." SO true! I highly doubt that you will ever see one of the "three big questions" on those standardized tests. Why not? Simply because there is no way that those responses can be scored...they are simply too personal.
So, what are we, as ELA teachers, to do? I feel as though I need to have high performing students...but I am also losing a piece of why I became a teacher. Hopefully, I can start focusing more on getting my students to really "enter the text" (and give them a few dreaded test-prep questions on the side!).
I have the same thoughts! Even in third grade, we tell students that they have to pass a certain test or they won't go to 4th grade because of the Third Grade Reading Guarantee. Reading becomes a hurdle to jump over rather than a venue for learning and changing and growing. And as the teacher, I feel the same pressure the kids do. It's all about helping them make the growth so they can reach a certain level of ability on a test.
I totally agree! What are we, as ELA teacher, to do?
We need to develop responsible, responsive and compassionate readers. But, that is not what the government wants from us. They have passed laws and tests that ask students/children to extract information from a passage.
Have you ever read a the passages on a state test, they are horrible. There is no way any student could relate to those or want to read aesthetically.
I was actually on a committee that worked with ODE...one of my tasks was to take EVERY single ELA test (I did both the PARCC and the AIR). Wow...it was painful for me! I cannot even imagine what it was like for those poor students :/ I made many comments about the passages. After all, in college, we are told to get passages the kids have interest in...and then they take a 4 hour test with countless passages about the National Bank?!!? I have seen my students' level of engagement change depending on what we read. If it is relevant, they truly become invested in the work. They want to talk about it and what they thought about it. On the flip side, boring passages put them to sleep. That is human nature...how many times have I had to re-read something because it is boring?! I wish the state would realize this...
(Sorry for the blank post! On my phone waiting for my daughter's softball game to start!)
The test passages are AWFUL! I struggled with giving my students more "boring" articles, etc. to prepare them for AIR. :(
Not only are the passages horrible, but I feel like the answers are hard. I've scribed test for a few years now and find the passages boring and wording of the questions extra trickey! If you haven't read this article about how the AUTHOR of a poem couldn't answer the questions about her own poem, it's a must read! http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/standardized-tests-are-so-bad-i-cant-answer-these_us_586d5517e4b0c3539e80c341
I am not very familiar with the standardized tests for ELA because I am a science teacher. I have heard that the passages are not that exciting. However, I also heard students say that there were several passages about science this year. If that is true, that makes my science heart very happy!
As the authors stated, "nonfiction should not suggest nonfeeling" (p. 49). The authors suggested that we should encourage students to read nonfiction aesthetically and not just efferently. I guess that all of us will have to get creative in order to better enable our students to read nonfiction passages more aesthetically so that they can better learn about people, the world, and themselves!
That being said, I too am hoping that standardized testing is changed. As several people pointed out, teaching to the test is not the most beneficial practice and as it stands now, I don't feel like the test is all that beneficial to students, families, teachers, or districts. Hopefully things will change.
It isn't just state standardized tests that may not be assessing students appropriately. I enjoyed the section titled "Choosing Not to Read" on page 46. I laughed out loud when the authors said, "As you finished the book you most recently enjoyed, did you pause, hold the book gently in your hands, and say to yourself, 'this time, this time, I think I'll make a diorama'?" (p. 46). That section really made me think about the best practices for assessing students.
As for the Huffington Post article that Jennie posted...I read that this past winter. I was so stunned! On one hand, I couldn't believe it, but on the other hand, I wasn't that surprised. What an interesting world we live in.
I totally agree. My students spend so much time extracting information for assessment purposes that they really do not enjoy reading. The passages are often very boring and students can't relate to them. When I think back to my high school I think of my reading classes. They were some of the best classes I ever had. We were assigned books to read (Breakfast at Tiffany's, A Brave New World, The Bell Jar) and then we discussed them. My teachers really did an amazing job with the dialogue in the classroom. The entire environment of the classroom was responsive, responsible, and compassionate. I think because we are so test driven this is what is missing in my classroom.
Angie- I totally agree and I think I work through this conceptually at different points in my life. So, I totally agree that we need to work on making sure our students are engaged in reading and reading what they are interested in. But, I do worry that we often swing too far with respect to some of these issues. So, we go total choice and interest and don't teach students how to use strategies when they are faced with tough or boring text. I don't want it to be the "main course" of their reading but I do think that we have to teach kids how to get through the rest. I don't know how we do this without killing the love of reading but I know that we need to spend more time on engagement and interest reading but find authentic ways to incorporate reading that is "boring" or hard. As a "real" adult, I do lots of boring reading and it definitely takes a certain set of skills/strategies. I just think we need balance! The selections on standardized tests are often not engaging to today's kids but I want to help them see the reading to learn and reading to enjoy can sometimes be the same and sometimes different but our mindset for both is about using our strategy to make meaning.
Agreed, the key to reading beyond decoding as we know i's to make xonnections. Text's that are relevant and engaging 'compel' students to be all of these three tyes of readers, whether or not they cite textual evidence.
I totally agree that we are losing some of the feeling/enjoyment when we are stressing the extraction of information from reading. As Joan refers to, there is an incredibly fine line that we all balance between stressing specific reading skills and fostering and maintaining reading for enjoyment. I struggle to push myself to read things that I’m not totally enamored with, so I can sympathize with my students when they’re faced with the same issues, but it all comes back to developing the skills to do so when faced with a necessity.
I agree that the tests are not designed with aesthetic reading in mind. But my courses are not about the test. The test is a day in April. My course is a whole year long where we can learn and dive into reading and writing. Where we debate and defend and laugh. The test doesn't bother me in October. Consider changing the emphasis of your instruction. I know it's scary! But think about the aesthetic love of reading that you have and translate that into your instruction. Then, once a week, throw in a few multiple choice questions so the students get used to that format. But the test isn't asking students to not be aesthetic readers. The test questions ask students to defend the answer. You're likely asking them to do that in those rich discussions you're having about pieces of reading. Don't let the test drive you!
I agree. the test is just a snapshot in time. If we prepare the students by teaching them good reading strategies and providing them with meaningful texts to read all year long, they will become better readers and do well on the state assessments. We can't provide them with "boring" passages just because that is what may be presented on the test. We also can't ignore interacting with the text just because extracting is emphasized on the state tests. We are teaching students to be better readers, and this will be what improves their scores.
I COMPLETELY agree with you about it only being a day! I teach AP bio, so we definitely have a test we will have to tackle, but I also remind my students that they are also getting 2 credits (1 per semester) for this class, and my job is to prepare them for college, both the content and study strategies. I think this includes reading strategies. Kids are taught to regurgitate information, even on standardized tests, find the info, use support. I want them to really EXPERIENCE the text and try to put examples to their real life, because then they are more likely to retain it.
Moria I totally agree with you about the state test being the joy sucker out of reading. I don't want to sound like I am on a rant, but the reality is...the state tests don't measure anything accurately. They are trying to hold teachers accountable, but we don't have quality control over our products. There is nothing at stake for the test taker in most situations. Teachers are totally at the mercy of what is happening in a students home life on the day of the tests. I wish law makers had genuine insight as to what we are really doing in our classrooms
I couldn't agree more. We are teaching the kids to close read so they can answer questions. We need to bring back the love for reading and writing. I teach 6th grade, and our ELA class time is about 45 minutes each day. I want to really focus on that flip classroom idea so I can have the kids focus on being more of the responsive, compassionate reader.
Tracey, you have spoken my heart as I read this section and reflected on my litrack learning. We were required to read the classics beginning at an early age. It did fall in love with reading until later in life when I encountered character's that looked like me. However, I always took my time reading because I got involved in the story. When I finished a short story I felt like I had been a part of the action and that I had participated in dialogue with the charaxters. To my thinking, that is deep reading, not close reading.
As the Title I teacher, I don't often encounter students who read deeply. I want so much to help them to read like I do, but at a faster rate (it takese forever). The three questions have replaced all of the ideas/prompts that I used to pose. I can't wait for school to start!
Well we can't control what our students read on the standardized tests, BUT we CAN control what they read in our class and make sure it is meaningful to them. I love the idea of not simply extracting, which in reality is teaching to the test. Instead we need to make sure the students are interacting. this in turn will make them better readers, and although the application of this skill is not explicitly measured on standardized tests, I believe they will do better on the tests after practicing this method all year.
While reading the chapter about "The Responsive Reader," I thought about how often my third graders simply look at the words to pass time, rather than "the richer activity of responding emotionally and intellectually to the words on the page, looking inside oneself to see what lies there, examining the text to see what caused those reactions, and sharing perceptions and understandings with other readers." I feel like some students might have emotional responses to the text, but it ends there. How often do I encourage my students to look at the text to figure out why they had those reactions? Never! And I feel like it is a rare practice to have them discuss this with others.
In the section about news (chapter 3), I was really struck by the challenge of teaching my third graders to sift through real news, satirical news, and fake news. So many adults fall victim to believing everything they see online (and then sharing that fake news!), it seems like a daunting task to teach 8 and 9 year-olds to make these judgments. I do like the questions that were posed ("How does it look?, What does it say?, and How does it make me feel?), but I still think this is an ever-increasing problem in social media! I really saw this challenge firsthand during our research conducted for an informational writing unit. My students wanted to just use whatever information they found, and with elections coming up, you can imagine the kinds of things they were reading about our presidential candidates. I am definitely planning on spending more time this year addressing this issue, though I still don't feel adequate at it myself sometimes.
"We have sticky-noted reading to death." Isn't that the truth? I have heard so many stories of colleagues whose own children used to love reading but felt like that love was killed sometime around middle school. This book is definitely challenging me to work on bringing back the aesthetic aspect of reading so that my students can learn to become lifelong readers and love reading the way I do!
Angela I agree with all that you are saying here! I teach high school special education English I and I feel that the love my students have for reading is dead. When I even try to pull out a sticky note they roll their eyes! This book is making me change my own thoughts on just opening up discussion to my classroom over reading. I hope that by discussing books openly my students will start to love reading again. What an eye opening text we are discussing!
I also feel the love for reading is dead for my special education students. Decoding and comprehension is so hard for them that if they were to read a book on their independent reading level ( often two grade levels below their own ) they say it's a baby book and don't want to read. I have gotten the struggling readers to listen to books on Learning Ally but I have never used that as an opportunity to have dialogue on responsive, responsible, or compassionate reading. So I am constantly struggling with age level and ability. I have been so focused on data and measurement of progress that I also need to change my own thoughts and actions to open up more room for reading discussions in my room.
Angela & Jennie,
As a high school English teacher, I can relate with what you are saying about helping students find the love of reading and/or reading aesthetically again. In a class of 9th graders that I do-taught this past year, we had students annotate the text as we were reading it. It was a suspenseful, short story, "The Most Dangerous Game." I remember one student in particular bemoan several times, "Why can't we just read it?" Years ago, I had taught 7th graders, & we read the same short story. They loved it! Not to say, these 9th graders didn't enjoy it, but it felt different. Perhaps, there is a better way? Is it possible to read something aesthetically with students first, and then go back and annotate and/or use sticky notes? Or, does that, too, "kill the joy" of reading?
How do we teach reading without causing students to lose interest?
My co teacher and I try to make reading run for our special ed kiddos, but I agree, theyre love for reading isn't there because it is just so hard for them to decode and comprehend at the same time.
I think we are really going to focus on the conversations this year for them.
Fake news!! I struggle teaching my 10th and 12th graders how to sift through EVERYTHING that they find on-line. I really liked the section on pg. 42-43. Sometimes, I might try to make things more difficult than they actually are. These three questions (How does it look? What does it say? How does it make me feel?) are so easy to understand for any student...any grade level! I will definitely be using these this upcoming school year.
I also found the section on page 42/43 because it made me realize that I do often make things too complicated. (Does that even make sense that I am trying make it easier yet I somehow make it harder?!)
The three questions that is provides makes me so happy because I feel like I can use those a lot this school year. Hopefully by framing my questions using these guides my students will feel open to book discussions.
These pages were the few pages that struck me the most. I realize that none of our middle school teachers are directly addressing this issue (alluded to, but explicitly taught). We all spend a little here and a little there on this issue. I plan on developing lessons about real and fake news which I will present to other staff members with whom I collaborate so they can bring these ideas into their classroom.
As a librarian, I taught teachers about Fake News, and then one of the high school social studies teachers asked me to teach his students. I had a great time giving them sample articles and then asking them to decide if they were fake or not, and most of them appreciated the assignment in feedback.
A few days later, the teacher told me about the facebook article his elementary teacher wife's friends had been sharing about an OH school teacher who lost an eye b/c of a fidget spinner.
He knew better then to believe it, and he and his wife discussed it, but alas, despite us knowing better as teachers, sometimes we forget when it makes us emotionally really happy (as a reason to take away the fidget spinners :). Great questions by Beers & Probst to ask when regarding fake news!
Oh how I detest the term "fake news" but I definitely struggle in science with how to teach the kids what to believe and what is not fact-based on the internet. We do current events and I struggle through teaching them how to read scientific papers, however, they will continue to get their news from quick sources, twitter, facebook, etc, so I feel it necessary to address the science they see on those sites too. Unfortunately, emotion often elicits belief, so sometimes their beliefs get in the way of the facts.
I totally get what your saying. Teaching third and fourth grade students I almost never encourage my students to look at the text to figure out why they had those reactions? I have a really hard time with them understanding literal questions. Asking them to look within themselves to figure out how they may or may not being feeling rarely happens, if at all. I also find that my students struggle so much with decoding that the "lesson" from the story/book may be completely overlooked because they are focusing so much on the actual print. When I have done read alouds to the class and then have tried with discussions the majority of my students have such a hard time focusing they day dream when I read to them. I need to do a better job at help my students to become compassionate readers.
I agree with your comments. I rarely teach my students to look in the text and figure out why they had reactions. Sometimes my kids struggle with literal questions, also.
I think to help students become compassionate readers I need to pick better texts to read aloud. When I read aloud Stone Fox, my students were really compassionate readers!
My daughter just finished sixth grade and I definitely saw a decline in her reading outside of what was required for school. :( I'm not sure of the cause, but am hoping this book will help me at home and in the classroom!
I find that in math when we do the same quick let’s move on with word problems as reading teachers do with books. We tell the students they did awesome now let’s move on to the next question. Why do we teach students in every subject to get the answer and move on? I love your point of how often do we slow down to explore students' reaction. If students can't learn to explore their own emotions and reactions in the safety of reading, how else will they learn to self-regulate?
My favorite book I try to sneak in every year is called Clone Wars, It isn't expertly written or won any awards but it deals with big issues such as slavery, losing a parent, and self-identity in a 5th grade friendly way. By using the future as a safe space for students to explore these topics students get to practice being responsible thinkers with heavy issues, show compassion by understanding the main characters plight, and share their emotional thoughts with a reflection of the characters in the book.
Angie, good point about math! I often feel like my kids don't get enough time in math to really explore and discover the concepts. There's just so much to cover and so little time. I feel like math tends to get short-changed in third grade (and probably all grades) because of the Third Grade Reading Guarantee and the pressure involved. It seems like we have move on as soon as they're secure "enough" just to get to everything.
We face the same challenge in science. Once a lab or activity is complete, it is so easy to just move on to the next thing. I have to remind myself that the most important part of a lab or activity is the post-discussion. Although I feel like the lab should have solidified the concepts for students, that isn't always the case. It is important to take the time to have students reflect on the lab in order to draw appropriate conclusions. As you stated, exploring their reactions is imperative!
I can actually see a lot of overlap between what the authors suggested in Part 1, and what I should expect from my students during lab activities. Students will better understand concepts if I train them to be responsive, responsible, and compassionate.
The part from this reading that struck me was, "Our students are not too young to learn to respect both the words on the page and their own thoughts and values. We seldom have difficulties persuading them to hang on tightly to their own ideas. THey come to class, too often, ready to assert that whatever they think, whatever they come to believe, is flatly, simlu, indisputably true ad correct." (pg. 38)
++ This is a problem that I encounter year after year in my classroom. Most of the time in my case it is a terrible issue because my students often believe the WRONG thing and they are so sure that it is true. With the new push for non-fiction it is a balance to find articles/texts that are not something that is going to open the door to bias and false beliefs.
"They are often much more willing to defend their thoughts than to reconsider and perhaps modify them. And they should, of course, defend and protect what is reasoned and defensible."(pg. 38)
++ I love how the guiding questions that were provided were used because it is often hard for us to break through the false beliefs/fake news and find the real and valid reasoning behind the ideas.
Jennie, I often face the same problem with middle school students being adamant that their belief about a topic is true, despite evidence that proves otherwise. Is it their age, the climate we live in, trust in their peers- who knows? But I agree that for teachers, there is a responsibility to expose students to nonfiction texts that are genuine, offer enough for the students to think about, and are responsibly written.
I also but a big star next to the fake news questions! Good questions to give to students as we scaffold their thinking about how to approach a nonfiction text. In the same way we orient ourselves to a fiction book by looking at the cover, the summary, the title, etc, we need to orient ourselves to nonfiction texts, websites, etc.
I see this challenge at every grade level with students believing that their belief on a topic is the absolute truth. Reading this section reaffirms that the change needs to begin at the onset of a child's school experience introducing non fiction text and asking those questions at a young age to lay the foundation. Convincing a middle schooler or high schooler that their belief may not be accurate if their thinking has never been challenged is a very difficult task. Responsible reading needs to be explicitly taught early on. If this is emphasized at all levels even the awful passage students encounter on state tests will be more manageable for students to make meaning of.
Jen, the misconceptions students hold to is a constant struggle in my science classroom, and with freshmen (as I’m sure the case is with all age groups), they’re reluctant to let go of what they believe vs. what is fact. And, at that age, they’re holding to being goofy in the eyes of their peers and going for the reaction from the room. I even tried, with a credit recovery class a number of years ago, to use a mockumentary about mermaids to teach determination of real vs fake news/science (a pseudoscience unit) and had a student who would not analyze it as anything other than 100% fact. It’s a struggle!
I'm completely with you with my high schoolers...their thoughts/feelings/perspectives are right and everyone else is wrong, haha! I find that if during class discussions I question someone's opinion first...the other students then feel more comfortable expressing their opinions. Unfortunately, there will always be students who refuse to see other perspectives--but I try to create a class discussion session where everyone can agree to disagree. This usually doesn't happen until closer to the second semester--when my Juniors are more confident and controversial!
I agree! Kids (like lots of adults) are so entrenched in their views that it is sometimes hard to have a conversation with them about these views. We use the "Argument Protocol" often with our kids starting in 3rd-8th grade and it has actually helped a bunch! Here is a link with an in-depth summary and procedure guide http://readingandwritingproject.com/public/themes/rwproject/resources/Content%20Support/writing/How%20to%20get%20Argument_Protocols_Up_and_Going_in_Reading_Workshop.pdf But, it has helped us tremendously when the argument is focused around a text or info in a text since the kids have to argue, counter, rebut and they don't know what side they are taking until we line up. Often, we push kids who are so set in their way to the other side just to build some flexibility in their thinking. It is so amazing! Super fast-paced and the kids love it and learn the routine so easily!
I was just thinking that the Argument Protocol would be an excellent way to help our kiddos think more compassionately about what they are reading. It really encourages students to consider opposing viewpoints and to think aesthetically about the text.
Hello Joan and Barb,
Thank you for sharing the Argument Protocol. I can see myself using that as a resource in my science class! What a great way to encourage our students to become more responsible and compassionate!
The part of the text that really stuck with me was reading aesthetically versus reading efferently. "We've taken the personal out of reading" we've made the reading of fiction and nonfiction about extracting." After I finish a book, what do I do? I don't write vocabulary words in a notebook, I don't answer multiple choice questions, i don't rewrite the ending. I just enjoy the text and share it with my friends. So, why do we ask students to do these things? To prepare them for a test or college. This up-coming school year I will ask myself about assignments I assign. I will question if I would do that after I read a book. If not, it is not an authentic assignment. I want my students to read aesthetically.
But, I feel this sounds great, but I have so many reluctant readers. More than I have had in the past. How do I turn these readers into responsive, responsible and compassionate readers?
On page 33 it says, "what we see is that our young readers are inclined not to question a text. Parents and teachers and other adults they trust tell them things they need to know." We need to selects texts that strike a chord with our students. This is so hard to do with a diverse class. So many of my students value different things. This is a very difficult assignment for all teachers.
Beth Ann I totally agree. I will be going into my 12th year of teaching and I have never had so many reluctant readers! I think that by doing more book talks and sharing of my own reading I am hopefully able to spark an interest. I hope that this is working.
All human beings want choice. I wonder where you may be able to offer choice in what students select to read.
When we want students to 'show me the evidence' it can be done in a manner that promotes responsive reading rather than extracting.
Beth Ann, I've been looking at new books for read-aloud this year, partly as a result of reading this. I feel like I read the same books every year, and I think it's easy to get methodical about that. I'll have to let you know what I find. I got some great suggestions on the RUOS facebook page, so I plan to read several this summer to prepare. I think the texts we choose can make such a difference in the students' ability to connect and really enjoy a text. I agree that it's hard to find something that speaks to everyone, but I do think some books lend themselves more to a connection.
I checked out the Argument Protocol, and I love it. As a high school teacher, I'd love it if my school would adopt something like this in more subjects than just English. Social Studies comes to mind the most. If students were taught leveled strategies, it would make it so much easier for teachers and students to thrive. Districts should consider giving teachers time to curriculum map and time to implement useful strategies like the ones learned in this book. Of course, we do our best to share, but the time to really dig in and get on the same page and follow up is missing.
I agree! It frustrates me to no end when students say their subjects are boring, when there are so many interesting ideas to be learned and studied and discussed!
Hopefully the Argument Protocol can help.
I agree; I was struck with the correlation between this and the first chapter when the student noted that in high school, teachers would have PowerPoints that highlighted the key ideas whereas in college, he had to read and figure them out for themselves.
I have thought about how many of our teachers want to help the struggling readers and thinkers and so distill down all the information and present it as 'what you need to know' instead of asking for critical thinking when encountering new information.
So- full disclosure- I read ahead! These three chapters were exactly what I needed during the Comey testimony. I watched and read and just kept thinking about all the intersectionality that occurs in our literate lives
Responsive Readers- So I was struck by this notion that not being responsive to the reading is like not reading. Perhaps that is where our practice breaks down with the idea of jotting/responding to the book. We have required kids to respond to the book in the form of pre-made questions/evidence accumulation. So, we have lost sight of the time to read in place of our need to document what we believe to be response to reading. I was also struck how their description of the students that are compliant and read when prompted but they aren’t “searching for the next book.” This makes me sad- even when I’m beach reading- I often find a favorite author and read everything they have ever written. I so want this for my readers. But, I think we have to dig deeper into our own understandings of what it means to be responsive. Responsive is using what we feel/think/know as it relates to the book. Not just answering questions or even metacognitive strategies- Thank goodness we’ve moved beyond T-T, T-S, T-W connections. If we think of learning as a growth cycle, I think we have to take everything we know about metacognition, which only focused on our thinking as we read and incorporate textual evidence and push kids to bridge the gap and find the connections between the two. I’m still not sure how to do this seamlessly all the time. On a lighter note, I found it amusing that the authors contend that most of us know that giving kids time and books to read (which we knew was best practice) was still not getting it done. Mindset is such a buzzword right now; it is amusing to think this is also a factor in successful reading.
This chapter speaks to me on so many different levels! I’m a diehard believer that we are first and often only line of offense/defense for building responsible citizens of our democracy. I so want others to be as passionate as me ☺ ! I do believe that we have a responsibility to our self and others to read and respond in a way that either grows our or others thinking and understanding. The three big questions definitely support this type of reading. I also think that asking people to support their thinking with evidence is so important. It is so important that we often make it our priority but we should never lose sight of the reason why we read-either to learn more, learn different or support what we do believe. Responsibility is a new way of thinking why we read! I believe this chapter also talks about the power in reading. I’m always struck by the idea of literacy as power in so many different novels and now even in real life still today. From The War that Saved my Life to The Book Thief to the Narrative of Frederick Douglass it still remains a constant that reading and literacy is power in so many different situations. I would love to let students build their own story/novel connections on this topic and ask them to trace the development over time. We could also include so many different types of nonfiction sources on the relationship between literacy and reading and educational attainment and jobs and wages, etc… Would be great from a historical perspective and a current one… Hmmm, teaching idea!
So, this also is a passion of mine. I’m the sap that cries at a good commercial- I think I might be a tad bit compassionate for others and their stories. I believe this is because I was an avid reader. I read anything and everything of substance as a teenager. I wanted to learn as much as I could. Compassion is missing in our current culture in many ways but we have the ability to subconsciously develop this in our students by encouraging them to read and understand different perspectives in their reading. This struck me as my 4th grader finished The Red Pencil by Andrea Davis Pinkney. My daughter is in the “books in alternative form” pattern right now. She finished Inside Out and Back Again earlier this year and has since searched for every book written in this form. The Red Pencil is considered a middle school book but she was motivated and mature so we read together. (We have already heard my issues with levels and books!) So, she read it. As she sat reading one day while I cooked dinner, I looked over and she was crying. When I asked her what was the matter (she’s a dramatic individual so tears aren’t always a rarity in our house), she said, “This book- it is so sad.” I smiled and then she got mad but I was having a mom/teacher moment of “OMG- she was moved by a book!!!” That is what we want for our kids- not necessarily tears at the dinner table but being moved by a book
As I read about the compassionate reader I too thought the text was raising an interesting question of how to we build compassionate people who can be compassionate readers? Your idea of subconsciously developing compassion in students is a practice I have seen firsthand. When I am having a behavior problem or students are having peer conflicts I like to use myself as an example of a compassionate person. What if when I was tired I just stopped helping students like you stopped helping your partner? When you have a question don’t I listen and not interrupt? When I am upset do I break your things or do I try to resolve the issue? With these questions, I can help students reflect with a concrete model to compare their thoughts too. And this helps students consciously realize the attitude and actions they love from their teachers they can model too.
I too am moved to tears easily with text. I was reading out loud the story Wonder which we had been reading for a few weeks with the little bit of time we had here and there. The story had been picked out by our reading teacher and it was my turn to read while the other teachers pulled students. Never having read this book I was ill prepared for the climax of the story which involves someone being hurt. The students had never been so captivated by me as they saw on my face and eventually in my quavering voice my natural reaction to reading a dramatic and devastating event in the text. I knew I was going to cry which then means I would choke up and need to restart a few times yet I realized in that moment it was a real learning experience for the students to see their math teacher be moved by reading. A few tissues and more than one student crying later we all experienced that book together. Which leads me to truly believe to create compassionate students/readers we must expose ourselves in the same way we want our students to expose themselves to learning.
This is a great story! I have several math teachers who are huge readers at my high school, and any time I have a student who wants to read the Cinder series, I always send them to Ms. D and tell them how much she loves the series too.
I started a series of library awards this year and gave the Math Department the "Best Readers" dept because they have been such great readers!
Thanks for being a part of our book study; I love that your interesting insights into each topic!
For my response, I want to answer the second "Turn and Talk" Question: Do you think the reading of nonfiction offers students the chance to develop a compassionate nature? What examples would you offer that support your thinking?
I absolutely think that nonfiction offers students a chance to develop compassion. I have recently found a love for nonfiction. I used to HATE it! But I think this is why I have come to love it so much...it allows me to step into someone else's shoes. I've recently read Hillbilly Elegy and I Am Malala. Hillbilly Elegy gave me a look into growing up in poverty and what those kids go through. I Am Malala showed me how fortunate I am to have an education. Both made me feel compassionate.
I recently read a blog post from a teacher who has her students read a book about Columbine every year. She says it is the most important book she teaches because "It gives them a new perspective on mental illness, stereotypes and labeling, the legal system, modern media, and – most importantly – the schools they walk in to every day." I couldn't agree more. Nonfiction is SO important! I'd like to hear what nonfiction novels others teach?
I agree that nonfiction offers students a chance to develop compassion. I do find it difficult to find nonfiction books at a second/third grade level that help develop compassion. We read Scholastic News and they have great articles and current events. But, there are not many great nonfiction books at this reading level. So, it is hard to develop compassionate nonfiction readers.
Beth- I think it is great that you are using news articles in your class. At 2nd/3rd grade, they are starting to notice a lot more about the world around them and want to talk about it, but often adults 'silence' their questions out of discomfort of how to talk about difficult topics or because we don't understand it enough ourselves. I'm wondering if you could do some interactive read alouds with interesting nonfiction texts that support the news articles you use or support students studies in other content areas. The reading level of those books may be higher but with teacher support and conversation, it could be a great way to share the work of the higher reading level but allow students access to the book.
I agree that it is very tough to find nonfiction text at the 2nd/3rd grade level that would allow for compassionate thinking. My 3rd and 4th grade students are struggling readers and writers, and some come to me reading at a 1st grade level. Finding a text that they can comprehend AND think about aesthetically is a real challenge. I have found Readworks.com to be a good enough resource to provide students with leveled texts that lend themselves to this process. There is also a section of readworks called "an Article a Day" that I am considering using next year in my classroom. Check it out - it may prove to be beneficial.
I think that my 10th grade students are most influenced by the nonfiction we read, even the companion pieces to fiction (I integrate lots of NF with Of Mice and Men). Night speaks to so many of my students and, even though it's a lower Lexile level than most of my 10th grade readers, it challenges them to think about the world around them today. My students love A Long Way Gone and they talk about this most when reflecting on the course as a whole. Nonfiction asks students to imagine their lives in different worlds. This intersection of imagination, gratitude, and knowledge really provides perspective for my students.
My students LOVE A Long Way Gone. To be perfectly honest, I am not a big fan of non-fiction. Every year I am surprised how much they enjoy the book. The end of the year survey asks for one book i should definitely keep...and that book makes the list EVERY year.
It's interesting that you bring this up because in my end of the year survey the most popular texts read this year were nonfiction texts! My students LOVE the mini-unit I teach every year on Malala Yousafzai and I truly believe it is because she lived in an environment that is so unlike their own. They are always in utter shock at some of the forbidding rules that the Taliban practices.
Your comments about nonfiction are very encouraging to me! Thank you!
This coming year, I am hoping to incorporate nonfiction books for the first time in my American Literature classes. My hope is to have students rank their book choices and read & discuss one of their top choices in literature circles. (Fingers crossed the books will be able to be ordered.)
Anyway, to answer your question, I hope to use these nonfiction books:
Into Thin Air (about Mt.Everst climbing disaster)
The Glass Castle (memoir)
The Last Lecture (a professor with terminal cancer gives his "last lecture")
The Boys in the Boat: Young Readers Edition -- recommended for my reluctant readers (story of 9 Americans quest for gold in 1936 Berlin Olympics)
What types of activities/lessons do you incorporate to foster student's compassion with nonfiction books?
I would think nonfiction texts about things like man's impact on the earth or historical events would also help tap into compassion. For instance, I had my students compare and contrast different texts about segregation/integration (for reading informational standards) and they were emotionally impacted by events/people such as Ruby Bridges and the Little Rock Nine. We also read about immigration (4th grade history standards) and through the examination of artifacts my students made emotional connections. In hindsight now, I see that they were really on their way to being more compassionate readers.
Hi Mindy- I have also had groups read Fast Food Nation and then pair it with the Omnivore's Dilemma. I also have had groups read Let Me Play: The Story of Title IX and any of the Steve Sheinkin books: Bomb, etc… I also had a class get really into People Who Said No: True Stories of the Courage Against Oppression. Just some other ideas. I used to also read 102 minutes the story of 9-11 and then pair it with "With Their Eyes" the first person stories of high school students at Stuyvesant High School. That was powerful reading!
Maybe it is just because I can still hear the way the middle school students talk to each other in the hall, but one line that struck a chord with me was, "But if we can convince our students to read with compassion, perhaps they will begin to act with compassion. And perhaps, as adults, they will enter into conversations with one another with more civility, with more generosity with more kindness toward one another." (51)
Beyond teaching students content, I feel I have a task of teaching my students how to be responsible, thoughtful, productive people in our world. As an ELA teacher, text selection and building a community of responsible,respectful discourse is necessary to achieving that. It sure is a tough task, though!
Yes! I completely agree that our jobs are so much more than teaching content. Hoping that I can help to foster more of the responsible, respectful discourse you mention in my classroom next year.
I agree that a great way to build compassion and understanding in students is through nonfiction texts. My main issue that I encounter is student bias and inability to really have productive conversations. I think back to what my boyfriends professor apparently told him once is that you need to model appropriate conversations like they are kindergarteners in order for them to do it on a regular basis by the end of he year. I don't mean this to sound harsh but since I teach special education I find that many of my students are immature when discussing serious topics. I hope to work on this much more next year through these texts you are all mentioning.
I agree 100%, Jen! I try to do this by reading texts about people who are different from my student in some way or another. This allows us to have discussion about those differences and experiences. You are so right about it requiring a specific community in your classroom in order for these discussions to be respectful and productive.
Jen--this quote also struck a chord with me since I, too, teach junior high. I do believe this can tie into the section of learning to question the text and with close reading. By reading a passage closely, often times I see my students empathize with characters or with people. We can teach them to disagree, but to see from where the author is coming.
During this weeks assignment I enjoyed reading about the responsive, responsible, and compassionate reader. It gave me time to reflect on my readers and what type of readers I want them to become. It's interesting because being a third and fourth grade Intervention teacher a lot the time I am still teaching the students to read. At this particular age it is a time when students shift from learning to read, to reading to learn. As I read these pages it really has disrupted my thought process on the importance of implementing these types of readers into my classroom.Again, I'm so focused on data, measuring growth, assessments and completing assignments I don't feel I have taken the time to make my students well rounded readers and need to implement responsive, responsible and compassionate reading in my classroom.
I enjoyed reading about what it means to be a responsive reader. Often in my classroom I am so focused on the decoding, retelling, and summarizing for data purposes that I have not taken the time to really have the students become responsive readers. I do feel responsiveness is critical for understanding of their own thoughts and feelings as well as thoughts and reactions of others. Often my students also have social and emotional issues. I could start to use the text to help them understand their own feelings and thoughts as well as understanding and accepting other opinions, feelings, and thoughts from their peers as a strategy for teaching them to be more responsive readers. It is often hard for my students to relate and make sense of what they are learning especially with inferencing. I have had students work in groups to connect the text to self, text to others, text to world but I feel I've been missing the boat. I need to help facilitate them with understanding the text and to be present both emotionally and intellectually when reading. I agree with the statement "For kids to become the readers our ever-changing society needs-our democracy needs- they must become responsive readers." Students need to be accountable and understand their own physical and emotional reactions to what they read. They need to understand why they are feeling that way.
Next , I had many thoughts about fake news in the section of the responsible readers. First I feel the responsibility in reading is both to the text and oneself and having the evidence to support it. I often teach my students to extract the information from the text. Show me evidence in the story to support your opinion. Since it is younger children they will often relate what they read to an experience they have had or something their parents have told them. I often find myself saying although that makes sense I would like support from the story to support your thoughts and feelings.If we do not raise readers to be both responsive and responsible they are just reading to complete the assignment and not applying it to their lives or understanding different views other then their own. We would be denying readers the opportunity to think and learn and change their views and views of others.
As far as fake news I try not to be influenced by it. I am constantly checking more then one resource. I help my students by teaching them the difference of opinions and evidence to support facts. I let them know just because something is written it does not mean it is true. They need to find the evidence to support the thoughts or opinions. I feel it is especially hard for students with all of the social media. A simple lesson I try to teach them is just because something is written in a text, email, snap chat etc. it does not make it true. By "liking" or "retweeting" they are just as guilty as the person who made up the story. I feel the spread of fake news is a threat to our democracy because a vast majority of people do not take the time to make sure the story is from a credited source. We as a nation need to educate ourselves on all issues and not take other peoples word. People need to be responsible for understanding the source and the source of information. It is vital for people to understand what news is fact and what is opinion.
Finally, the compassionate reader struck me because I like that it allows the reader to look at other points of views and understand the feelings within them. I rarely think of reading as encouraging compassion nor is it discussed because it is not a standard and how often do we collect data on compassion? This is unfortunate because what better way to develop compassion then reading a good book to understand others perspectives, motivators and thinking? I think reading of nonfiction offers students the chance to develop a compassionate nature because it would expose them to the world. For instance, when you have students read about the lives of their same aged peers in different countries it provides them with perspective not everyone has clothes, not everyone has good parents, not everyone goes to school. I feel it
I feel it opens their eyes to what they do have and to possibly help other less fortunate. As a teacher it is our job to instill compassion. These children are with us the majority of their days. It is our job to make them well rounded individuals. We need to work together with parents to help the youth succeed both academically and socially. I feel a key component is compassion for their work, education, peers, and families.
I couldn't agree more Angie- I too think that fake news and our culture's preoccupation with believing before learning is potentially destructive to our culture and our democracy. I love that our school's curriculum has really endorsed a lot of writing/reading units that force our kids starting in 4th grade on to question, read, write and learn about all sorts of different topics. We have 4th graders doing serious work of reading about the Holocaust in a developmentally appropriate way and then writing about what lessons we can learn from historical fiction books to writing units about should teen soldiers be held criminally responsible for war crimes or how can they as students live and learn as social activists? We live in a time that requires us to teach children skills to navigate these waters- not just content or novels but ways to understand and learn. I know I'm preaching to the choir. But- great points- I couldn't agree more!
Angie -- I completely agree with what you said about assessments and gathering data. Those deadlines can be overwhelming! I hope that encorporating the strategies in the book with Common Instructional Framework strategies and protocols, I will start next year with some fresh ideas to motivate my students.
Responsibility to the Text - Loved the three prompts: What surprised me? What did the author think I already know? What changed, challenged or confirmed my thinking? Students have to think about their responses, but they also have to have done a close read of the text. Definitely plan to use these.
Fake news! How does it look? What does it say? How does it make me feel? I seriously considered posting some of this section on Facebook for grown adults who frequently share misinformation.
Compassion. (I had to laugh when I read the description of how compassion could be made a series of objectives!) "Compassion should sharpen the readers' ability to see other points of view, other perspectives, and to imagine the feelings of those who hold them." (pg. 45) Yes. It is compassion that allows to interact with a text and not simply extract.
I disagree with the teacher's statement about compassion on pg. 51 (3rd Turn and Talk question). How many of our students do not come from a home where compassion is a virtue?
Heather, I am in full agreement! I have from time to time done some PSA on Facebook and called a few 'friends' out for spreading fake news/click bait. The speed of the technology surpassed the "education" aspect. While educating adults may not be easy, it certainly reinforces the critical importance of our role as educators.
I've used the 3 questions/prompts before. I attended a Beers/Probst PD day a few years back and couldn't wait to get back & try this with a short story. It worked amazingly. Rather than asking kids what happened in the story, etc...these questions allowed students to react, draw personal connections and question something they didn't know. By the time students were done sharing their answers to the questions or us answering students' posed questions we had covered everything I wanted to cover. It was a nice & different way to have a student lead discussion.
YES! The 3 big questions are really great for getting kids into a text that they are less than interested in. We all have content that has to be taught and we all do our best to find the most engaging texts we can, but the reality is that is sometimes not possible. This is where I think using these open ended questions is perfect!
One statement that stood out to me most in this section comes from page 38, where the authors state, "They [students] should begin learning, as early as possible, not to misrepresent the text." Too often, students come to me in the high school only knowing how to respond to how they feel about a text. They can provide an opinion, "I hate it" or "The main character is dumb," but they cannot support their opinion with facts or evidence from the text. When my students leave my classroom, I want them to be able to represent the text accurately. Perhaps some of the problems with the proliferation of Fake News has to do with our over-attention on the self and not enough attention to the facts.
I totally agree with this! I find that it is really hard for students to use evidence from the text in order to back up their answers. To my students finding text evidence just seems like an extra "chore." My students often don't think they have to back up their thoughts because their thoughts are always right. Right?!
I think that it takes a lot of repetition for them to get used to this task. If anyone has suggestions on how they do it that would be fantastic.
I hope to address this idea of teaching what is fake news vs. real news with my students early on.
My students also struggle with providing some sort of evidence. I have told them countless times that they are allowed to "Hate" what we are reading...I don't like everything that I read. However, I better hear a good response for WHY they hated it. This past year "13 Reasons Why" was THE show/book to talk about. I told some of my students that I HATED the book...and instantly gave them a list of my reasons. I let them know that it is perfectly okay to agree to disagree on something as long as we can support it.
Supporting what you say is so key to anything that you do in life!!
As far as "fake news" goes, I am coming to think that what all of us see around us is a world flooded with information that must somehow be made sense of. Unfortunately one very human way of doing that is to slice up incoming information into our already very structured and categorized minds. What fits goes one way and what doesn't goes elsewhere. And the longer I teach the more sensitive I try to be in my efforts to challenge views that kids hold, often not very deeply and not with much "evidence," so that I don't inadvertently end up just pushing them further into that position as a defensive response.
While all three of this week's chapters "struck a chord with me," I have to say that Chapter 4: The Compassionate Reader is the one that I had, as Oprah calls it "the a-ha moment." As I was reading it, I found myself thinking about this past school year. Had I promoted this concept with my students? As I continued reading, I kept thinking...overall, no, I had not. Here and there, I might have asked an opinion question, but nothing substantial -- that would have my students thinking about characters, their motivations, etc.
When I read the passage, "So we have to produce readers who enter a text with compassion. Such a reader will be at the very least willing to consider the thoughts and feelings of characters he meets in fiction. He may conclude by rejecting or condemning some characters -- in fact, we probably hope that he will. But he will begin by looking honestly at them." (50) it reminded me of a couple of my students in my 11th grade (inclusion) class who would react to something we were reading with comments like, "Well, she's just stupid" (referring to a character in The Great Gatsby). And, I would ask the student, "Why do you think that?" "What in the story made you decide that she is stupid?"
And, now, after reading chapter 4, I keep thinking those short conversations in class were the most authentic of the entire study of The Great Gatsby. And, it has me thinking how very differently I want to structure it next year. I think that I somehow want to hold class discussions and have student writings about topics like..."Which character can you most relate to the most? Why?" "Which character do you detest? Why?" "Which character, in your opinion, is the most foolish? Why?" And, of course, "What part or parts of the story make you think that?" I think that by delving more into student's opinions of the characters, the characters' motivations, and listening to and/or debating with their classmates, it will help them be more compassionate readers.
I also think that I would have them do this with a nonfiction text that they will read in literature circles - with some variations.
Of course, all of this will need to be set up well. We will have to practice respectful arguing and hearing each other out - whether we agree or not. We will need to talk about putting ourselves in someone's place, etc.
Thinking about all of this, takes me back to my second "a-ha moment" as I read this chapter. When I read the closing statement, "But if we can convince our students to read with compassion, perhaps they will begin to act with compassion. And, perhaps, as adults, they will enter into conversations with one another more civility, with more generosity, with more kindness toward one another," I thought...oh, yes, if we can foster compassion in our reading and in our discussions about reading, we can not only improve their reading, but we can also help foster compassionate citizens. As a ELA teacher, I never really connected how I could help my students be better citizens through reading....and this definitely has me thinking.
"We will have to practice respectful arguing"- so true. I have worked on teaching my 3rd and 4th graders explicitly how to have respectful conversations and discussions. It is work. We model what it looks like (using "fishbowl" strategy), then we practice and I record individual conversations that we can listen to and "critique" later. I work with my kids on 6 "rules" for discourse and then we take time looking for/listening to examples of these rules (which include making eye contact with the speaker, waiting for a pause before speaking, supporting claims with evidence, respectfully agreeing/disagreeing). It takes so much work, but I see how it pays off. This is perhaps one of the best "life skills" I think I can instill.
My advice to anyone looking to incorporate more 'discussion'... prepare for a great deal of modeling and practicing; expect to explicitly teach even what seems the most minor of skills.
I just wanted to say that I am teaching Gatsby for the 1st time in 6 years. I love the questions that you are going to use...such rich discussion questions for that book!
Your idea of what is the character’s motivation is a big concept that is being overlooked into today’s classroom. I don’t believe in the last year of school I heard either the reading teacher or the students talk about a character’s motivation. Plenty on the setting, theme, or attributes of a character though never much deeper than what the character looks like. That simple skill of finding a character’s motivation in a concrete and defined text leads to the more complex skill of figuring out and individuals motivation in the undefined real world. If my principal tries to motivate the whole staff with cookies that will work well on our sugar loving custodian but not on me the food allergy person. Learning what motivates a person is key to leadership, personal relationships, and professional relationships.
After reading Chapter 2 on The Responsive Reader, I watched the short video clip and two quotes stuck with me. The first from Probst -- "Responsiveness is the opposite of indifference." And the second from Beers -- "Responsiveness is where understanding begins." When I was young, I would lose myself in books (I wanted to actually be Trixie Belden after reading nearly 40 books in the series). I could identify with all of the characters and had created the setting very vividly in my mind...much like the younger students Benji and Sharon who were quoted in the chapter. However, as I have gotten older, busier, under more time demands with family/work, I have become more of an efferent reader as referenced in Chapter 4. I extract important info, rarely read for pleasure and miss out on nuances because I'm rushed. I miss reading for pleasure, and I hope that we can, as a profession, find a way to not only instill but sustain a love of reading for our students. This seems like an easier task with our youngest students, but the distractions of social media/gaming/Youtube are encroaching at an earlier and earlier age making this an even bigger challenge for our generation of educators.
Very well said!! I hardly read for pleasure anymore...and I know I don't do a good enough job of preaching it to my students...because I certainly am not practicing what I preach. I'm guilty of prioritizing tv, social media, etc over reading...and as we know our students are even worse because they were raised this way. Extracting important info is still a skill out students need...but making them like/love reading for pleasure is a huge task that we all struggle to do.
Megan and Jennifer,
I had to chuckle a little bit when you said you rarely read for pleasure. It made me laugh b/c I had a librarian ask me once how I possibly have the time to read all of the books I check out. I can't tell you the last TV show I watched, but I can promise that there is a book within a few feet (about a foot away is my current book "The Garden of Small Beginnings" by Abbi Waxman).
That being said, my reading habits have definitely changed since I was younger. I used to be able to literally read for hours on end. Now, I read in short bursts. If it is not due to my kids or household duties, it is due to social media :( I find myself constantly plugged in...and I often think about my current students. Social media is still "new" to our generation, but it is all they will know. It is scary to think about b/c I truly think that it is changing the way we ALL read.
Megan I totally agree with you. I would consider myself a bibliophile, but I honestly couldn't tell you the last time I read for pleasure. I need to change my priorities from checking social media to sitting down with a good book.
Oh my goodness, I’m in a similar boat. I LOVE to read for pleasure, and have found this book study is forcing me to reanalyze what I’m choosing to read, and how I differentiate my “reading for pleasure” from my other reading. I am one to prioritize reading and ignore other tasks. I’ll admit, sometimes I don’t touch grading because I started reading and just wanted to keep reading. I’ve been guilty of reading a physical copy of a book and also having an audio version of the same book checked out (on OverDrive) so that I can listen to the book while walking the dog or driving because I was so focused on reading the book instead of other things (and I don’t have children yet, so I’m not neglecting their needs... but I will be that parent reading during a rehearsal someday! Ha- that makes me remember my mom sitting in the gym during one of my weekend choir rehearsals reading a Janet Evanovich/Stephanie Plum book and laughing out loud, inviting admonishment from my choir teacher.)
Anyway, I’m realizing that I consider reading for pleasure to be the mysteries and thrillers I prefer to pick up, and that I don’t prioritize, in the same way, the non-fiction I am reading. I’ve been working on the same three nonfiction (jumping back and forth) books for a number of months, during which time I’ve devoured numerous other fiction books.
Thank you for sharing what you do in the classroom to practice "respectful arguing!" To be honest, I am going to borrow & implement some of your ideas. Thank you in advance! (I returned to the classroom last school year after an 8 year stint as school librarian. Previous to that, I had a great colleague whom I collaborated daily with for 8 years. She always helped with "logistics" like you were mentioning.)
I totally agree, too, that teaching students how to discuss and listen to one another is one of the most important skills that we can teach our students. Hopefully, next scool year, I will do a better job of it.
Agree, Lisa! These skills are so important to begin fostering at the beginning of the year. It's something I try to do better every year. It's the only way we can help our students engage in respectful conversations. I also try to model and teach how to disagree in a respectful way because we don't all have to feel/think the same way about texts. This is becoming more and more of a real life skill as well!
Lisa, I have been experimenting with discussions in the classroom for 3 years now, and the best advice I can give is be persistent and keep experimenting! I set aside one day a week for students to have discussions on a common text (yes, I have my students read one text that is the same so we can have a shared experience...they still get plenty of personal choice in what they read!) Anyway, on Fridays, we have discussions and it took a great deal of time to establish the routines and expectations. I took it very slow. One week, we focused on just making sure we were working on making eye contact, another on supporting claims with evidence; some weeks we would gather as a whole group and watch 4 people in the middle discuss while everyone around them used a checklist to look/listen for key things. Sometimes things went beautifully; others not so much.
To help them stay focused and on task, I took to training groups to record their conversations (iPads with recording app). I didn't always have time to listen to each group's conversation with 6-8 small group recordings but they didn't know that! Sometimes we would pull out a recording from another group (or even year) to critique.
I do get parents to give permission at the beginning of the year for this however :0)
I love this idea. Talk about engaging. I can envision a classroom of vivid discussion during this weekly event. I like the iPad recording idea. What app have you found that works best? My district has SWIVL devices that could e utilized that video tape and audio tape. I am marking this idea to try with a group next year.
I love this idea of recording small groups. I teach high school and this would definitely help them to stay on task (and not talk about their weekend plans). I may have to ask our IT guy if this would be possible. We are a 1:1 district, but use laptops. I am not sure if they are even equipped with microphones...or how I would get a hold of their recording. Great idea!
I love this idea and I think it is a great way to encourage authentic discussion. If students are not accountable, the discussion will be about lunch, whatever sport or game they are playing currently, or the opposite sex (I teach middle school and boyfriends and girlfriends occupy much of their thinking).
I've used Screencastify as a way to record student groups (as well as other video tasks). It is a Google extension- easy to use but the downside is that it only records for 10 minutes. Just offering a suggestion for laptop users!
The first thing that stood out to me in these sections was the line in CH 2 that states, "When the text matters to them, then we are on our way to having responsive readers." This reminds me of an epiphany I had while reading a previous Beers & Probst text where they stated that challenging readers is NOT about increasing the lexile, it is about how deeply you get involved with a text. Obviously digging deeper in a text is easier when you have engagement.
One of my main goals as an ELA teacher is to find texts that will matter to my students. Even though this involves a lot of work up front collecting interests and having conversations constantly with my students about their lives and interests, it always pays off in the end! I also try to reflect each year with my students about which texts they loved and which they could have done without. This is what influences what I reuse from year to year. It has really helped me choose more effective read-alouds for our unit themes as well.
CH 3 really resonates with me as well. It's a chapter I think I need to reread a few more times because it touches on skills I really want to teach more intentionally this school year. If anyone feels successful in teaching these skills, please let me know! My first goal is to use all three of the Big Questions from Notice & Note Nonfiction. I use "What Surprised Me?" a lot, but not the other two as much.
I really think my students like the unlocking complex texts texts. they like how short they are and how interesting they are. I love using the Malcolm X one and the Helen Keller excerpt. The students get so much out of those. I would like to look at your Malala unit. Thanks Andrea!
I've been teaching 30 years and sometimes I guess I can b a little jaded. And sometimes I read books like this that feel like, "Yeah, no kidding, anybody worth their salt knows that." And I react probably stronger than I should to exclamations such as "our democracy is best served" when we teach a certain way or that somehow by not having "responsible" readers the end of the republic is nigh... My ambitions aren't that grand and even if they were I try to focus on the specific kids in my care... Here's what I'll say as a virtually untouchable teacher just a few years away from retirement: tests and standards are here for the foreseeable future. Play the game. Do the standards. Grade the kids a bit on stuff they have "extracted,"" and try to figure out a way to let them have fun with reading, something most adults in their lives probably don't do and haven't modeled for them. Read aloud those pieces you know like the back of your hand and that resonate in your voice like nothing else. Have them give it a try. If it's a kid who struggles, pick a really short part. Have them stand up and you stand next to them, trading parts. By doing this you are modeling compassion. You don't learn compassion from a book, at least not only from a book. You learn it and learn to practice it with those around you.Risk looking and sounding sillly.
Pages 39-43, the sections about fake news, really hit a nerve. I almost feel as if high school is too late to teach kids about differentiating between real and fake news. Because kids are exposed to social media at such a young age, I'm worried by the time they're teenagers we will have lost them to the world of fake news and irresponsible reading. Certainly, skills to help kids spot fake news needs to continue all through their schooling years...but the sooner we address the issue, the better! There are younger than middle aged children who have Twitter, etc and they're exposed to all sorts of social media sites that bleed fake news. I like the questions on page 42 that people, not just kids, should consider when reading something. "How does it look? What does it say? How does it make me feel?" These can definitely help stop the sharing and believing of misinformation.
I agree with your points above. I had never even thought about the importance of teaching kids to differentiate between the two. As I watch so many post and comment on fake news on social media sites, I agree, we need to start teaching kids at a younger age to tell the difference. The prompts: 'How does it look? What does it say? and How does it make me feel?' are great! I can see myself diving into this a little more with my 3rd and 4th graders this upcoming year.
The most impactful section for me was the Fake News and responsible reading connection. I think as teachers it is so easy to get caught up in "teaching the standards" in preparation for the state test that discerning fake news is not addressed until high school. Think of all the middle school problems that are the result of social media and student sharing untrue information. I am embaassed to say that the information in the section on how to spot fake news sources was new to me. Definitely something I plan to share.
I could not agree more. I get so caught up in teaching standards and collecting data that I am not up to date on teaching strategies for recognizing fake news as everyone else appears to be.
This text immediately took on new meaning to me when I realized how up to date it was with current times. It is impressive to finally find a professional development book that can bring in real time issues like fake news, compassionate readers, and the traditional protocol of efferent reading teaching only in the classroom (39-47). I found myself challenged not to immediately start dismissing the text’s messages due to how new it is in creation. In my career, I don’t think I have ever read a PD book that could reference news and history from just 8 months ago. I feel challenged to trust or learn from a source that hasn’t had time to sit on the educational shelves.
This book like many before it has an easy time creating a flashy one liner of a golden idea to hook on their readers. This part of the book was summed up for me with, we want readers to “come to some reasoned and responsible conclusions” (30). Who doesn’t want to be able to reason a solution? Who doesn’t want to be responsible? Chapter 3 seemed to be more flash in the pan with its bold one liners and attractive graphic organizers (36-37) then concrete strategies. I am sure in later chapters we will read about researched and well-developed strategies for in the classroom though shouldn’t there be a bit more evidence to support the author’s idea of we must create responsible readers?
I disagree that with the statement, “It’s pointless to collect information if you do nothing with it” (30). I find I devote time almost daily to learning information without a goal for the sake of learning, entertainment, or to pass time. Shouldn’t there be something said for reading to learning just because? How else would we find a new hobby to try, pick a greeting card, or find new books? Reading to learn about something like pickle ball or salamanders may not be valuable today though could come in handy at Trivia (trivia competition game done at restaurants) next week.
My take aways are too of course hope students are, “attending to what’s on the page” (32). Nothing worse to spend class time reading to only realize students are ‘fake reading’ and not gaining information. The reflective questions on page 37 could easily be turned into guided practice for centers or a solid way to have a natural discussion after finishing a book to support aesthetic reading. And to remember when I finish a book what is my reaction as a reader? Use what I want to do when I finish a text like discuss with a friend, watch the movie version to pick it apart, or try out an idea from the story are great natural ways to build understanding from reading.
I love the idea of signposts and the 3 big questions. It also struck me that the idea of teachers connecting via an online discussion has such value for us...why are we not doing this more with our students? At least once a year I do this through a website called schoology. The students love it. As a reflective teacher...I realize I need to incorporate this more often. There is real value in letting students "lead" discussions about what they discovered during reading.
Debbie--online discussion for my students is a little intimidating for me because of monitoring. What website do I use that is closed to the class, but I can monitor? How do I keep up with that discussion? I would assume some preparation with students on etiquette? This online world is where are students live, but my lack of knowledge to incorporate this specific task does not allow me to meet them there. I wonder if other teachers have had success with online discussions. What sites to you use?
I haven't been exposed to many sites, but I went pretty simple with discussions by using Google Classroom to set up docs for book clubs or other small group work and students could have a discussion on the Google Doc. This did allow me access to the conversation. I also use Padlet for students to post online and build conversations from their posts.
Here's a not-so-philosophical post, but hey, I'm emoting and connecting to the text which they say is what readers need to do... Who can laugh and relate to the sidebar on p. 26? Where Bob and Kylene regretted use the term "inner stirrings" with 8th graders...ha! I'll start: I was teaching 8th grade English at the time and was having students revise kids' books they brought in to include more "sentence variety". One student, in the very back of the room shouted out, "Miss Jones, how am I supposed to fix this one," and he began reading, "Balls, balls, balls. Balls for you and me. Make one go in and one go out..." I couldn't get to the back of the room quickly enough to trade out his book. It was removed from the elementary side of the library and given to me as a gift when I moved. Each page is almost worse than the next. :)
I might have just laughed aloud REALLY LOUDLY reading your response. This is HILARIOUS-especially that you were gifted the book when you left...hahaha! Thanks for being willing to share that--an awesome teaching idea too, provided the books are slightly more vetted ;).
Eighth graders find themselves in hysterics when we are studying volcanoes. I teach about how silica content affects the thickness of magma and, ultimately, the type of eruption that can occur. Just imagine how they giggle when I'm trying to teach them about the pathway of the magma from the chamber, through the pipe, and ultimately erupting.
I love that you were gifted that book when you moved. That is hilarious!
"But if we can convince our students to read with compassion, perhaps they will begin to act with compassion" (Pg. 51). This is by far my favorite line from the reading this week. The idea that we can use literature to help kids build compassion and kindness has always been one of my goals in my classroom. But as many have mentioned above already, how can we continue to teach the standards and prepare our students for state testing while encouraging compassionate reading? I hope to be able to pursue this farther and be able to merge the two together.
"We have sticky-noted reading to death" (Pg. 46). While I use to believe that sticky-notes could be helpful, I feel that students are only using them to write about whatever we are asking them to respond to from their reading. At least that's what has been happening in my classroom. Partially because I need to see their thinking at times, and I use it as a part of my assessment of my students, I personally in my own reading, both for pleasure and learning, have never used sticky-notes to respond to or reflect upon my reading. Although it seems like it is a good idea, I am now questioning the value of it. I am beginning to realize that this isn't the best way to encourage responsive, responsible, compassionate readers.
I love this idea of the three kinds of readers we need to be-especially the responsible reader who doesn't just passively take in information and do nothing with it.
As I think about this book, I'm trying to think about how I, as a reader of this book, am performing the tasks the book asks of me (I know, meta right?).
I am trying to be a responsive reader by writing notes in the margins and my key take aways on my post-its.
I'm trying to be a responsible reader by thinking about how I will change my practices as a librarian and teacher mentor based on the ideas in this book (not just take it in and do nothing), and how I can be a compassionate reader and feel for both the teachers and students who are affected by both good and bad teaching practices/mandates.
I'm trying to 'walk the walk' as I read the talk, and so far, I am doing okay.
As I read Corin & RJ's comments (p25), it brought to mind how students often respond to informational text. The eighth grade science curriculum is not robust with topics that appeal to my students (geology, plate tectonics, force & motion, etc.), so these are typical responses to their reading assignments. To encourage them to complete their informational texts, I teach them to look for vocabulary and context that they recognize from learning in other subjects (ELA, in particular) in order to help them make sense of the reading. For example, when you see the term convergent boundary, do you know what convergent means? What is a boundary? Speculate what a convergent boundary is based on your answers to those two questions. I have found students get out of the habit of "passing [their] eyes across the page, collecting undigested bits of information from the text, preparing to answer recall questions." Often times, students cite how they didn't expect Wordly Wise vocabulary to show up in science.
The conversation outlined on page 35 is why I use an assignment that requires students to explore current events in science. Not only are they able to research a personally appealing topic in science, but they are also responsible for the source from which they select an article and carefully reading/summarizing it for me. They are practicing bibliographic development without writing a lengthy paper, which leads them to question who wrote the article, how long ago did they write it, and was the website/magazine/newspaper from which the article came reputable. I require students to state their opinion about the article, as well, because I often identify personal bias and show students how it influenced their summary of the article. After a few rounds of this assignment, students are much better at objectively evaluating and summarizing the articles they choose. This assignment is also a great lesson in "I tried to read this and realized it was WAY over my head, so I should have chosen something else," which usually happens when I identify use of vocabulary that is far too scientifically sophisticated.
Another way I encourage responsibility is by making the statement, "I don't get it" illegal in my classroom. Students must engage in the text in such a way that allows them to ask specific questions. For example, "I don't understand how magma is constantly pushing its way through the oceanic plates, yet the plates only move a tiny bit in a year." That tells me they have identified details in the text, but are having trouble conceptualizing it.
Finally, the compassionate reader. I'll start by saying I'm so glad I don't work with anyone like the teacher described in the final T&T question. How can any teacher believe teaching compassionate characteristics it is not part of our job with our kiddos? Yes, I teach science, but there are many ways to develop empathy and compassion as we study our curriculum. When we study volcanoes and earthquakes, we read about catastrophic world events and how people can be physically, socially, emotionally, and financially devastated in the blink of an eye. When we study the cell cycle, we discuss how science is an imperfect process and how mutations can occur causing long-term and significant illnesses or genetic recombination can yield unexpected outcomes. These allow students to put themselves in the shoes of others who have experienced circumstances only imagined by my students. Creating a culture of compassion is most certainly at the top of my list in regard to professional responsibilities.
Thank you for your post! I appreciate you sharing how you incorporate current event reading into your curriculum. I definitely need to more of that this coming school year. As you stated, I will allow them to chose something that is appealing to them. I will have to make sure that we spend time going over how to select responsible sources. I can see having them write a response (summary and opinion), but I also think that I would like to try conferencing with them about their article, perhaps in round-robin format, or something similar.
I hate when students say "I don't get it." My immediate response is always "What don't you get?" It would be better to just tell them that the statement is illegal! I love it!
As I read chapters 2, 3, and 4, there were several things that stood out to me.
The responsive reader must be able to reflect and analyze by being "present, in mind and heart" (p. 26). The responsible reader must be able to draw reasoned conclusions.
My 10th grade science students sometimes struggle to develop their own conclusions based on reason. We try to teach our students the CEL method (state a claim, provide evidence, and then support with reasoning) when making an argument based off of lab results or something that they have read. Sometimes the opinion of the student is not supported by the text, and as the authors pointed out, it is hard for them to distinguish what they are bringing to the text and what the text brought to them (p. 35). By requiring them to support their claim with evidence and reasoning, they become more responsive and responsible readers.
Compassionate readers must read aesthetically, instead of efferently. I found myself wondering how I could encourage compassion in my students when they are reading science-based content. I was happy to see the authors have a section on "Compassion and Nonfiction." "Nonfiction should not suggest nonfeeling" (p. 49) and "it mattered enough to the writer that he took the time to write it, it should matter to any reader who takes the time to read it" (p. 49) were powerful statements. Those statement made me realize that with creative planning, I can encourage my students to be more compassionate readers even when they are reading scientific text.
I absolutely loved these chapters. One quote that stood out for me is, "Responsible reading is rooted in a reader's response, and that response attends to both the words on the page and the thoughts that the reader brings with her." As a teacher and a reader, i know how important it is to interact with a text and to bring my own response, and have my students bring their own responses to the text. Each text is different to each person, depending on their worldview, what they bring to the reading, etc. This is an important component of reading comprehension and should never be discarded. I love the whole premise of this book and can't wait to dive in and read more.
I really like the quote from p 38, "Regardless of their age, students are not too young to learn and defend their position when it is defensible and to change it when new information, insight, or reasoning persuades them." This year through OWP we taught a zoo unit. Should animals be kept in zoos? Before we started we took a survey and discussed and wrote about whether students believed animals should be in zoos. Then we read three different articles, and we wrote more. I was amazed by the students thought provoking work and conversations that went in to this. Then in the end, we did have quite a few students change their thinking and their opinion. This year I want to do more things like this because the higher level thinking that went into this project was amazing.
My biggest take-away from this is the need to change the way we teach novels. On p. 50 what spoke to me what that year after year "reading is simply for answering, for extracting, for telling. It is not for becoming." Interesting. I think I need to choose books that will definitely allow students to "become". And many of you have the same question I have about balance of covering standards and having grade and just reading with the freedom to become. But, I do know that some change needs to occur. First, any suggestions on to approach a co-teacher who likes to over-assign projects and/or questions for novels?? I am the intervention specialist and although we co-plan and such, I feel like sometimes we over-project and ruin the reading experience. Then again, do we do away with the culminating project OR the questions along the way or both?? This is hard. I get that as adults we don't make a diorama after we read (that made me laugh when they said that) but the THINKING and such that goes into SOME culminating projects seems sort of important. I co-teach with one teacher who breezes through books and some who go deeper and spends more time and does more work with them -- I see pros and cons with both.
Grades! Oye! I wish we didn't have to deal with them. Looks like some of you feel that way, too. I agree with the statement on p.46 that "we have made reading a painful exercise for kids." I recall a few years back we were told in a faculty meeting that we needed to have two or three grades in the book each week. Ha! I ignored that. As I tell the class, "You don't need to pass a test to learn something." Once we get through that, then we can start to work on responsive, responsible, and compassionate reading. Until that time we are just detectives.
When we read Frederick Douglass' narrative of his life in my English 11 class I end up with two maybe three grades for the whole thing. BUT, the kids actually read the book. We read it in class and discuss it in detail. I figure if I tell them to go home and read chapter 3 and answer questions, that won't happen. Yeah, I can grade the questions for each chapter, but what does that prove? Not that they really read it and "felt" it. I'm encouraged that they actually are responsive and compassionate readers because the discussions, their questions, and involvement in class activities convince me such.
As an aside, I had to train myself to just chuckle when I occasionally heard a kid comment, "We don't learn anything in class." Their minds have been conditioned to think that unless they are tested every week they aren't learning. That saddens me, but it's the way education works these days. Someday they will realize that they were wrong. You don't need to pass a test to learn.
Some of my daily encouragement comes when I see kids (guys included LOL) who love reading. In my Teen Lit class I do have a number of kids who come in, sit down, and get right into reading. They actually do want "to know what will happen next." (p.25) My challenge is to determine how to develop more readers like this in the class. So far, in the first two assignments, I'm starting to get an idea of how this might happen.
...on to reading assignment three! :-)
While reading these three chapters, there are a number of things that caught my attention. In Chapter two, Corin’s response of “Like what?” really speaks to the common obstacle where students are absolutely hesitant to answer any questions with their own thoughts until they “know what the teacher wants to hear”. It also leads me to think that if we want students to make more personal connections (the subjective side of the coin), we need to minimize the focus on objective “data mining”. More student connection, less “What did the author want/mean/intend/etc.”
There were a number of other parts that drew my focus- basically the entirety of chapter three, with items such as the quote on page 32 : “To encourage and expect nothing more of students than unexamined statements of feelings is to encourage intellectual laziness” puts this idea into a new way that I can think of differently and with more depth. Going back to the “How did this change me” question from the beginning of the book, this quote made me think about how I allow myself unexamined statements of emotion. I often say to myself “that makes me sad” or “that’s funny” but then I move on and I don’t dive further into why it made me feel that way- going back to pushing ourselves (and our students through their reading) outside of our comfort zones. The graphic on page 36 also caught my attention and presented various ways of questioning students to ensure that we don’t allow the laziness, intellectual or otherwise, to persevere. I always find having examples, in this case a few go-to questions, extremely helpful to start out, and from there I can then build upon with my own.
Ohio Council of Teachers of English Language Arts