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close reading informational text

Don’t neglect connectives like “even though”

BUT. DESPITE. WHEREAS. ALTHOUGH. IN CONTRAST. INSTEAD. HOWEVER. YET. WHILE. NEVERTHELESS. NOTWITHSTANDING. Our students may gloss over these words as they read, not realizing how powerful they are. Words like these signal a causal relationship that is in opposition to what a reader might have expected. These words are a BIG DEAL. Technically they’re called …Read more

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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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Can they explain the main idea statement?

Can your students explain what their main idea statement means? Is a superficial understanding or misunderstanding of the main idea impacting their ability to identify or explain supporting details? We may need to give students time to unpack the main idea.  A few suggestions for helping students unpack a main idea statement: 1. Ask them …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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Sample Lesson – Close reading with NewsELA article

Do your students need help with clearly stating a main idea? And with organization when they elaborate on that main idea? Last month I had the honor of teaching close reading of an informational article to a small group of fifth grade students for a demonstration lesson in front of 40 educators in the North …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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Complex sources? Give students a head start with THIEVES

Teaching students to use the mnemonic THIEVES (Manz, 2002) to preview a text is an easy way to nurture students’ sense of agency as they tackle feature-dense nonfiction sources. The poster below (created by a colleague!) reveals the details of this strategy–students preview, predict & then summarize their predictions. A FEW TIPS Create THIEVES bookmarks …Read more

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Quick way to review text & content before close reading

I tried something new–I provided a list of “key details” from a section of text as a way for students to review content before engaging in close reading of a more difficult section of the text. During a previous lesson, the 3rd grade students had read an article about Dolores Huerta (in the McGraw-Hill Wonders …Read more

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Analysis of Responses to 8th Grade Text Set & Prompt, Part 2

In the last blog entry, I shared a rigorous text set and prompt developed by an middle school ELA team. The team and I met (via Webinex) to discuss the students’ written responses. First we look at the strengths of each student’s analytic essay; then we discuss the students’ needs as writers. Integrated into this …Read more

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Do students understand what we mean by “key details”?

Is the term “key details” vague for your students? I’m teaching 2nd/3rd grade students this week and trying out an anchor chart that attempts to make the term “key details” more concrete for students. I think a “key detail” might change depending on what our purpose is for reading. Here are a few of the …Read more

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