Friday, November 30, 2012

How Do We Handle Reading a Tough Novel?

I've been thinking a lot this year about how to get more feedback from students to make our time together more effective.  Today, our fourth day working through the tough classic The Outsiders, I wanted to know how students were handling the layers of reading they need to do -- the literal comprehension, the interpretation, the reflection, and oh, right, the enjoyment!

Students let me know how they were annotating the text and how it was going.  A few notes, as you can see above:

  • Some students are going to painstaking effort to show their thinking -- emphasis on the pain. This is no good.
  • Some students want to listen to me read aloud or listen to the fun voice on the CD, but they can't figure out the best way to listen, read along, and record their questions and other thoughts
  • Students are doing a lot of questioning in the book and marking more questions than any other group I've had -- this has actually taken the place of more traditional predictions in our room, because we're focused on idea that come directly from the text and we anticipate will be answered by the text. (Ditto connections -- our emphasis is connecting ideas within the book) I'm pleased that our KNOW/WONDER emphasis has carried over from Wonder, which was an easier book to understand
So, we used this feedback to create the following guide/anchor chart:

Yeah... it's super messy. Thinking is that way sometimes.

We decided it was important for us to discuss three things, as we reflected on our reading processes with rigorous texts:

  • Reviewed the purpose of annotating (it's a process to help us, not a product for them to show me)
  • Reviewed other phrases past teachers have used to describe annotating
  • Reflected on the benefits of recording our thinking

We also came up with a better game plan for next week.  Students in all classes are nearly evenly divided by how they think they can most effectively read and think about the text.  We decided that they can pick from these three in-class reading options:

  • Reading silently and checking in with a peer or me
  • Having me read aloud to them in a small group (a few in block 3/4 helpfully suggested I attend play practice to pick up some new reading techniques ;))
  • Listening to the CD in a small group and deciding as they go when they should stop it to talk and record their thoughts.  Block 5/7 suggested the best places to stop might be the places where SE Hinton made an extra block of space, because it looks like that is where scenes or big ideas change.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

What's Important? An Annotation Intervention


Block 1 came to a screeching halt today about three conferences in to my Outsiders check-ins.  The previous night's homework had been to finish reading and annotating Chapter 1 and to submit a Google Drive form with points of confusion (things Mrs. Taylor needs to clear up) and WONDERs (things we think the book will answer... we hope!).

Careful Preparation ... but for the Right Things?
We'd prepared yesterday by:

  • starting our reading together -- it's tough being dropped right into a new setting!
  • thinking aloud and walking through some annotations together on the ELMO
  • talking about the purpose of annotating (to help us interact with a text, NOT to create a new product) 
  • discussing what we could do in our texts to show our thinking: marking questions, identifying exclamations, circling interesting/unfamiliar words, jotting down reactions and things we want to remember, and underlining important ideas.

Great preparation, right?


What did I see, y'all, when I came around to check in on your reading and to address your points of confusion?

Either 1. a whole lotta nothing underlined or 2. a whole lotta everything underlined.  When I mentioned my observation, I asked how people know what to underline or highlight in a text: "You underline what's important, Mrs. Taylor."

It was time for an annotation intervention.

What's Really Important?
We've talked quite a bit about identifying important ideas in non-fiction, but it didn't occur to me to frame the following question in the context of fiction: "How do we know something's  important in a piece of fiction?"

Check out our findings:

Many students snapped photos of our anchor chart, so they could refer to it during their next chunks of reading.  Thanks all of you for your thinking!