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Helpful Predictions vs. Not

“That’s not enough,” I said. The students’ mouths dropped open. The look on their faces said “Whaaat???” We’d just watched the first dozen seconds of the video “Baby Elephants.” I’d paused the video and asked them to make a prediction. “Based on the introduction, what do you think you’ll be learning about in this video?” …Read more

3 Steps – Launching Students into Reading Multiple Sources

Kids FALL IN LOVE with reading multiple sources on a topic–once we introduce them to the idea. So how do we get them hooked? In a way that’s manageable for us? Could it be as simple as these three steps and a set of 2-3 books on the same topic? (Attached as a word doc …Read more

It’s ok to confer about just a word or phrase

Do you have students who blow through texts, getting just the gist, but not really thinking through specific details that might make a difference in their understanding? Recently when I leaned in to confer with a student, he had just read this sentence: Surf lifesaving clubs are Australian institutions dotted along the country’s coastline.  This …Read more

Observing for what students are “not saying” during conferences

During conferences, I listen to what students are saying but I also listen for what they are NOT saying. For many students, when you ask them to tell you what they have learned from a complex informational text (or a part of a text), they will talk about content they understood without you. Rarely will …Read more

Beware of how students mask comprehension struggles ;)

When I lean in for a reading conference with a student (who is reading an informational source), I always start by asking her to tell me a little bit about what she is learning from the source. I say, “Tell me what you learned in this section” or, in the case of narrative nonfiction, “What …Read more

“Why do we have to annotate?”

“Why can’t I just highlight?” Ever heard that from a student? A few weeks ago I had the honor of teaching a class of 5th grade students with the objective of convincing them that annotating is a powerful way to make sense of a source–I did this by helping them realize the value of annotating …Read more

On the power of inquiry charts…my kids surprised me when…

Recently I had the honor of talking with Sara, a teacher in Iowa, whose students have started using inquiry charts. In a nutshell, these charts help students determine what is important and organize their notes as they read-view-listen to multiple sources. (If you’re not familiar with inquiry charts, please check out an article I wrote …Read more

Our students know so little if…

When our students read just one source on a topic, I would argue they still know almost nothing about that topic or issue. I know you know this. It’s not until they read, view, listen to multiple sources on that topic that their understanding is transformed. This is not a new point. My argument is that students should …Read more

Hey, Mom! Guided Writing

“Who will you tell?” This is a conversation I’ve started having with students at the guided reading table before they write in response to an informational source. I usually start by saying something like the following: When you go home tonight and your mom asks about school, you could just say, “It was okay” OR …Read more

It’s about NOTICING when they need to compare/contrast

Lesson plan + set of follow-up sources. It’s not just about teaching students how to compare and contrast. We also need to teach them to notice when they need to ask comparison questions. Below is a description of a series of lessons I had the honor of teaching last week exploring this idea. I’ve also included …Read more