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teaching with informational text

Book review & text-dependent questions for War Dogs: Churchill and Rufus

War Dogs: Churchill and Rufus (Selbert, 2013) has a lot of potential for teaching in grades 4-5 with students studying World War II.  While this book is listed for grades 2-5, I think it would be hard for 2nd and even 3rd grade students to understand the main ideas. For all readers, the author assumes …Read more

Helping students identify two or more main/central ideas in a text

I’ve been thinking about how we can help students identifying multiple main/central ideas in a text. Traditionally we’ve focused on identifying one main idea, but beginning in 5th grade (and continuing in 6th and 7th), the Common Core Standards for Reading Informational Texts expect students to be able to “determine two or more main ideas …Read more

Is “text evidence” becoming a fill-in-the-blank?

A few weeks ago I had the honor of working with a class of students who were writing an analytic essay in response to a text about Frederick Douglass. During this lesson, I’d posed a text-dependent question and we’d carefully read the article and taken notes.  When we moved from taking notes to using those …Read more

Value of Conversation Before Students Write in Response to Prompt

Love this short video clip on the Teaching Channel of a 5th grade teacher helping students make meaning of informational text through conversation. The students sit in a circle for a 20 minute discussion; they signal to the teacher with two fingers when they have a thought to add to the previous student’s comment or …Read more

Giving up I-R-E and Coaching Student Conversations

I’ve given up calling on one student at a time during whole group instruction. A few weeks ago I was walking down the hallway in an urban school and stopped to ask a fourth grade student for directions. She knew where I needed to go, but she struggled to tell me. “Like…well, it’s down there…like …Read more