Reading to get ready for the Common Core

I’ve been reading a great deal about close reading as I prepare to teach the Common Core.  In close reading as proposed by the Common Core, the teacher decides what passages to analyze and creates a series of text dependent questions to lead students to a deeper understanding. There is nothing wrong with that, but the Core standards also value independence and how is a student going to learn to close read on their own if it is always teacher driven? 

Enter Kylene Beers and Robert Probst book Notice & Note: Strategies for Close Reading, which I just finished reading. This book shows you how to teach students six “signposts” commonly found in fiction that alert the reader to slow down and think about what the author is doing. These signposts teach students how to recognize passages worth analyzing on their own so that they can close read independently. The missing link!

The book is divided into three parts – the first explaining the authors’ thought process in the process of developing these lessons, the middle explaining the and defining the signposts, and lastly, the lessons themselves. The authors developed the signposts by reading the most frequently taught novels from the middle grades and high school to search for features that could be useful across multiple texts.  They originally had over a dozen and worked it down to the six most useful on the advice of teachers who were field testing the signposts. 

The six signposts are:

Contrasts and Contradictions

Aha Moments

Tough Questions

Words of the Wiser

Again and Again

Memory Moment

The book gives complete lessons for each of these, and suggestions for multiple texts. The authors were not attempting to write a book to help implement the Common Core, and in fact, you can tell they are not crazy about them. Even so, these strategies to bring the reader and text closer together can’t be anything but a good thing!

You can watch a video introducing the book here.

You can view online resources here.

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