Welcome back! If you're on the same schedule as I am, you just finished your first week of school- and so I'm sending you a big, virtual high-five for making it through what I consider to be one of the most exhausting weeks of the school year! If you're more than one week in- you're probably really tired and if you haven't started yet, I'm sure you're in the pre-school year hustle and bustle. What I'm trying to say is that, no matter what point you are at, you're probably exhausted from giving everything you have to make this school year amazing for your students. I'm really thankful that even though you're super busy and have so much on your plate that you're finding the time to check in to my blog and catch my latest Reading Strategies Book by Jennifer Serravallo reflection. Today we are already on Goal 9- but if you missed any of the previous posts, check out my full blog here and use the navigator on the right to get to all the previous posts.
As you can see, this week we are continuing with Supporting Comprehension in Nonfiction- but this goal focuses on Determining Key Details. I think this goal is spot on- devoting an entire goal to determining the key details in a nonfiction text might seem like a lot until you've actually tried to teach it. This can be so tricky for students- and more challenging- it's tricky at all levels. Because the quantity and quality of said important details changes as the student's level increases, this is like an always changing rule for them to learn. It's tough- but with the strategies in this chapter, it can definitely be made easier for students.
As Serravallo explains in the opening, "Determining key details is the different between taking a highlighter to every single word in a textbook, and highlighting just those facts that align to your purpose for reading, or that align to what the author is trying to say." (Page 247). I feel like so much is being said here. First- who doesn't know a kid that, when given a highlighter, turns the whole page yellow with what they swear are all important facts?! I know so many of those kids- from elementary to middle school- the desire to paint a page highlighter is never far from a student's mind. Second- when thinking of this as "only highlight the facts that align to the purpose" this brings up two issues. One- and most importantly- you must have the purpose outlined for the students as to what they are looking for and two- the student must know the purpose. That was a short sentence with a whole lot of punch in it. Making sure students know the purpose for learning is an immense battle sometimes but the more clear with are with our outcomes and expectations the better students will be able to accomplish them.
Another awesome point that Serravallo makes is when she says, "Evaluate the quantity of details the student can provide as well as the quality- the student will ideally provide multiple details, from across many sections/portions of the text, that strongly relate to the main idea/topic." (Page 248). This goes along with what I said above, just a little bit deeper. Make sure you are not just checking for how much they noted- but if those notes are valuable and critical to their understanding of they text. If not, you might need to teach them to slim down.
First up is 9.2: Reading with a Sense of "Wow" and I picked this one because I love the notion that we are always approaching text with the anticipation of learning and being "wow'ed" by something. I think sometimes kids forget that we aren't just giving them nonfiction text to torture them- but really because they can learn- and love to learn- something from it!
Plus, look at that adorable visual! Isn't it so appropriate that the kid is opening his brain up to new facts and knowledge! Yes, I admit, that I only really love this because I am a cheesy teacher. However, the more we buy in and the students see us buying in- the more they will participate. If we really, truly act the message of "you can learn so much from this" to students, they will want to learn. You just have to make it exciting and important to them.
Next up, 9.13: Important Versus Interesting. I'm going to jump right to the visual on this- frankly because I wish I had this hanging in my classroom for the last 8 years and am making one to hang up right now (that's how much I love it!).
Oh wow can I remember the millions of times that I have had to remind kids that just because they like the fact doesn't mean it's important to the text. I love the smaller left visual- do I file this in Important or Cool? That is genius! Now, we can make sure students know that we appreciate them finding things they like and relate to in a text- but just not all of it is important to our "school" understanding of the text. Plus, you can use the visual on the right side to organize your post it notes. If you have a kid who loves to use post-its (even for not vital information), let them go crazy with their post it notes but when they are done, give them this two column chart and have them organize their notes. Then they can visually see which are just "cool" and which are important to their understanding. I will definitely be using this strategy this year!
Last up is 9.17: Following Procedures and I picked this one because I like the simplicity of it and think that if you understand how to follow a recipe or procedure that you will be much better off in life in general because you understand how to follow directions. Being able to follow something step-by-step and then have an end product is an awesome checks-and-balances system for students who have trouble focusing on the tiny details.
Let's say you have a student who is struggling to focus on the small facts of a story and only seeing the end result or big picture- when in fact you need them to determine the key details. Try using a recipe and explain that if you just focus on the end result, let's say cookies, you might forget about all the things that went in to making those cookies. You might not know about the milk or the eggs or the flour. Come to think of it, I actually don't think I've ever made cookies from scratch...so maybe I should follow my own advice here! But seriously, recipes and procedures are great ways to slow down student thinking and get them to focus on all the important parts- because without those parts, you won't have edible cookies. Err...I mean...quality understanding of the text!
That's all for today! Check back Wednesday for the last of the Supporting Comprehension in Nonfiction series which focuses on Getting the Most from text Features.
As always, thanks for reading and be sure to write me below with any questions or comments that you might have!