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Three-phase plan for learning?

Below is a guide I’ve developed for planning and teaching with informational sources. Each “phase” can be one or more lesson periods (20-40 minutes) based on the needs of your students. My hope is to make teaching with informational sources (texts, video, infographics, etc) more manageable. There’s so much we can do with these sources, …Read more

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Discourage students from taking notes like this. Here’s why.

If students are reading multiple texts on a topic and taking notes on each of those sources, I require that (or strongly suggest) they write notes in phrases–just enough words to help them remember what they learned or what the author was saying or the student’s response to information. In most cases, I strongly encourage …Read more

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Think-pair-share can go awry. Yup.

I’m a strong believer in students talking about what they’ve learned from informational texts. Good conversations about nonfiction have the potential to – increase students’ understanding of texts, help students clarify their thinking, help students expand their understanding, build bridges to stronger writing. But a critical component is teacher support. Without teacher support, even our …Read more

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Do our students notice “definitions” & “examples”?

Do you students notice when authors provide definitions and examples? Many nonfiction authors use these and other types of details¬†when they describe concepts like forces, magnets, weather and so forth. Readers need to recognize these types of details to understand these concepts. I was surprised one day to find out the middle grade students I …Read more

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How do we know what to teach? Start with an easy assessment

You know your objectives for teaching as far as curriculum, but you also need to know what your students know how to do in relation to those objectives, right? If you are teaching for identifying main ideas and explaining textual evidence–what can your students already do to identify main idea and explain supporting details? If …Read more

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NEWSELA–I like this site but beware…

Just be careful. NEWSELA is a great site for short informational articles for students to read. The¬† content is usually worthy of student-led discussions and writing about in response. The beauty of NEWSELA is that the same article is available at different Lexile levels. (When you click on an article, check out the blue bar …Read more

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Critical Thinking Across Multiple Texts – Choosing Texts Part 2

I’m hooked on the art of locating and layering texts for students to read and think across. In my last entry, I described a series of lessons where middle school students used an evolving definition of “honorable” to think critically about the role of medieval age warriors and modern warriors. We chose text excerpts and …Read more

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Critical thinking across multiple texts – Part I

In a 7th grade social studies class I visited a few weeks ago, the students used an evolving definition of “honorable” as a lens for reading multiple texts on warriors – ancient and modern. In the image below, the blue text was our original definition. As the students engaged in discussions about what it means …Read more

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Can your 6-8th grade students explain how two authors present the same info and reveal different points of view?

Here’s a lesson for teaching students to analyze how two authors writing about the same topic may shape their presentations of key information by emphasizing different evidence or advancing different interpretations of the facts (Common Core Standard 7.9). Go to Science News for Students and locate an article that cites a study. Most of these …Read more

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What about using the language of text structure to help students compare texts?

Teaching the language of text structures can help students compare and contrast texts more easily. I gave a lesson to a 5th/6th grade class a few weeks ago with two current event articles on drones. The first article “How can you get a bird’s eye view?” from Wonderopolis is written in an enumerative (or descriptive) …Read more

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