WELCOME to Chapter 1 of Text Dependent Questions! This book was written by Douglas Fisher and Nancy Frey. I hope you agree after reading chapter 1, is it a gem!
I always love the launch of a book study. I am filled with excitement and quite honestly… I am a wee-bit nervous. These are the things that I wonder:
- Will I notice the same things as the other book-study-ers do?
- Will I miss something that really resonates with another book-study-er?
I am human, so chime in if I skim over that big WOW moment you might have had!
What is Close Reading?
Great question! The book reminds us that close and critical reading is not new and that it has been around for decades. However, dissecting the process in this way, perhaps is.
Here are my two cents… If you have been in education very long, you will see practices cycle. We used to approach instruction one way, then someone comes up with another practice and we might throw out the old and try something new. Then… four years later, we return to a practice we previously did. One thing for certain, given enough time, “best practices” will shift.
Here is my wish for me and for you. When we return to the “old days,” we keep our eyes and ears open. It has been my experience that the “old days” are not exactly the same. There will be subtle twists and changes. In my opinion, a wise teacher takes what they know of the “good old days” and then attaches their new learning to emerge with the latest, greatest version!
Flashback to my high school days:
Monday ~ Teacher hands out a passage for us to read on our own and then answer the questions. It was due Tuesday.
Tuesday ~Maybe I get them right, maybe I get them wrong… the red pen will tell all. I really did not grow as a reader because of this activity.
Fisher and Frey state:
Close reading is an instructional routine in which students are guided in their understanding of complex texts… When students read hard texts individually and independently and then answer questions, we do not define that as close reading. Students have to be interacting with others.”p.2
I think I underlined the phrase collaborative conversation about a zillion times.
Phases of Close Reading
The authors tell us that the path to deeper comprehension begins on the literal level. (Thank goodness because we are all VERY literal over here in kindergarten… right?) Over the course of this book, we will dig deeper into each of these four close reading phases.
- What does the text say?
- How does the text work?
- What does the text mean?
- What does the text inspire you to do?
When we created our Guiding Readers Units, we used similar thinking. Let me show you how they line up. We constructed our questions for Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse this way:
- What does the text say? (Key Ideas & Details)
- How does the text work? (Craft & Structure)
- What does the text mean? (Integration of Knowledge and Ideas)
- What does the text inspire you to do? (Other)
Click on the image to grab this unit for FREE.
You can see there are a ton of questions that could be asked about Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse during our week-long book discussion… honestly, we won’t ask them all. On page 21, the authors remind us that sometimes our carefully crafted questions won’t be used. The students will have insightful observations and conversations that will amaze you and you won’t need all of these questions.
How do you go about selecting books for your close introspection? Is this done as a district, grade level, individually?
Close Reading is Messy
It is clear that close reading does not offer a clear path from Point A to Point B. How does that make you feel? How comfortable are you with trying new things in your classroom? Are you given the instructional freedom to try new things?
Embrace the Struggle
Oh… this might be hard for some teachers. It was for me originally. I agree that kindergarten is more than academics. Students need social interaction and play… BUT they can do SO much more! I noticed in my classroom, sometimes my MOST insightful thinkers, were not necessarily my most successful kids on paper. They seem to be the fearless ones. The other side of this are the students who are used to being right, so when they encounter a bit of a struggle, they want to wait it out until the teacher rescues them.
SIDE NOTE: 6-12 teachers, besides silently judging my grammar ;), I am wondering how closely the 6-12 text matched the K-5 text?
Thank you for joining us for Chapter 1 of Text Dependent Questions! You can still get this fantastic book HERE and catch up!
Now the discussion part… you have a few options:
- Comment below! Easy, breezy!
- Join our Facebook Group… we are a kindergarten crowd, but we promise to let you in for our book chat 🙂
- If you have a blog, you can link up!
Hi, Deedee and all!
First off, to answer your question about the 6-12 text matching the K-5 edition, I think the chapters were nearly identical except for the grade-level examples (I looked at the Amazon preview for the K-12). I’m not sure if they’ll veer off into different directions later, but oh well, it will give us lots to talk about! 🙂
As a middle school teacher, the point that really resonated with me was to LET. THEM. STRUGGLE. I just left a district that had a scripted reading program in the elementary schools. With this particular program, students quickly learned that if they did not know an answer, it would be supplied for them. Oh, the learned helplessness this created! Imagine the culture shock those kiddos experienced when they reached the secondary world and many of their teachers expected them to fend for themselves with the material in the textbook.
In my own classroom, it would take most kids until Christmastime to learn that I would NOT accept “I dunno” (otherwise known as IDK), “I don’t get it,” or a cavalier shrug of the shoulder as an answer. They would have to TRY. At first, this was very uncomfortable for many of them, and they probably thought I was quite mean, but with a measure of kindness and encouragement on my part, my students learned to rely on the strategies taught in class. Also, so that no one felt picked on or humiliated, we implemented lifelines such as “Phone a Friend” or Charades, where a classmate could offer a helpful strategy but couldn’t give away the answer. We all had fun with that and it helped to take the pressure off.
As far as trying new things out in the classroom, I don’t think I have ever completely taught the same way two years in a row. I gauge students’ interests and abilities, what worked in the past, what has worked in other classrooms, etc. (Maybe I just have adult-onset ADD???? Ha! )
I am super excited to learn from everyone else’s thoughts and experiences. Thanks again, Deedee, for organizing this book study!
Oh My Gosh! We might be best friends! My husband used to say, “You have taught forever. What is there to plan? Don’t you just do the same thing as last year?” Bless him!
I lOVED your Phone-a-Friend idea and Charades. I bet your classroom is spectacular!
I am so relieved to hear that the books align! Whew!!!
In my district, we do shared reading and also close reads. We have been strongly encouraged to do close reads as part of our daily curriculum for a couple of years now, instead of the book a day. Our district currently uses the Journeys by Houghton Mifflin. I fortunately am able to use the Guiding Readers at my current school. As I am planning out my year, I try find a title that fits in with my Science or Social Studies curriculum. I teach half day kindergarten and so it is tough to fit it all in during the three hours I have my kiddos. I have a general idea, but I feel it is important as a teacher to use your best judgment when planning and teaching my daily lessons. If something is not working I find I need to take a step back and figure out how to make learning more meaningful for my students, even if it means going out of my comfort zone and trying something new.
I like being in control. What teacher doesn’t? I can be flexible, but not having my kiddos learning be teacher directed is a challenge for me. As I read this chapter and watched the videos, I realized after studying this chapter, that I really need to give my students the opportunity to have ownership of their own learning and allow them to share more with each other and not just share in a whole group setting. I am going to admit this is going to be my challenge, but I do understand why it needs to be done.
In order to truly implement where students share more with each other rather than in a whole group setting you really have to know your students and make sure that there is a safe classroom environment set up, especially for those students who struggle with speaking up and sharing there thoughts and ideas for fear of being wrong or of failure. Close reads can allow students the opportunity to take ownership for their learning and be comfortable in sharing information. Meanwhile they can share ideas and opinions with their classmate using the text as a starting point and allowing my kiddos to build schema, vocabulary and to increase comprehension is greatly important to new readers. Most of all, though is help guide these kiddos into being more critical thinkers and understanding why reading is important.
My district uses McGraw Hill wonders. We have three – four reading selections each week. The hard part for me is generating good questions. The TE has several. I think this book will help me with expand on this skill and help me to organize the TE’s questions. This should help me to know which questions to pose in consecutive reads. Now I just have to decide which selection during the week will be used. I have been using a lot of pair share during questioning. I find my students really engage when they have to express their ideas rather than sit back and allow others to do the answering.
I teach sixth through eighth, and I’ve been working on close reading for three years but don’t feel like I’m there yet. 🙂 Sometimes I feel like we–students and me, too–are rushing through annotation just to get to the fun of holding discussions. The hardest part for me is forcing myself to be quiet and let the students do the work! My goal for this year is to have students developing their own text-based questions for literature circles and Socratic seminars.
We have district-wide novel sets, but for close reading we need lots of shorter texts. I love using poetry for close reading, and we also practice with famous speeches, short stories, nonfiction articles, and of course excerpts from our novels. One of our first assignments this year will be to have students identify a 2-3 page selection from their summer reading novel that they think is “worthy” of digging into more deeply.
My students (gifted classes) read way above grade level, so finding text that is challenging for them isn’t easy. A friend has been using Newsela for informational texts and swears it’s the best thing ever because you can change the readability and get several levels with the same content–great for differentiation when I have a wide range of readers in the same class. I will be trying the free version of that this fall, too.