How do you get students to consider new information?

I was giving a reading assessment to a 3rd grade ELL student this week. He was reading a book called Hang On Baby Monkey by Donna Latham from the Fountas and Pinnell Benchmark Assessment System.

Unknown.jpeg

 The book is about how baby monkeys survive and are taken care of by the whole troop they live with, not just their mother. After the student read the book and we were having our comprehension conversation, I asked the student, Why is a baby monkey’s tail is important?

The student responded with information he knew about how a monkey uses its tail. He really got “hung up” on (pun intended 🙂 ) how monkeys can use their tail to hang upside down. All which might be true information, but not in the book. This information was not related to what the writer was trying to get readers to consider and understand about baby monkeys.

This student was getting too caught up in what he knew or could make connections with. Sometimes connections or what we know or think we know can get in the way of new understandings. We have to be careful of this, especially when reading nonfiction. We have to make sure our readers notice knew information as they read, and not just dismiss it, without consideration.

I have found the coding strategy to be a very good equalizer for students who do this.

IMG_1569

I have these students focus on information the writer shares that is new, compared to information the writers shares that the students already knew. I do not always have them do this on a paper copy of the text, we do it orally as well. When students stop and consider what information was new to them and code it with a (+) or what they already knew and code it with (*), it makes them fully consider and interpret what the writer is saying.

Do you have readers that do not want to give up on false information? This coding helps with that as well. This could be information they read and interpreted wrong, misinformation that was given to them, or information they only heard part of.

So please give the decoding strategy a try. I know I am not the only one with students like this. Let me know how it goes. What else have you tried to help this type of reader?

Troy

Coding & Note Taking

In my last post I mentioned how my 4th and 5th grade readers use coding and note-taking when reading a text. I have decided to share some examples of this. Some readers of this blog have asked to see some.

I had my 5th grade readers, read two articles and watch a video about Malala Yousafzai. A Pakistani girl who has become a symbol for girls education. I am doing this in conjunction with two other texts. Students read a historical fiction play about MLK and will read another story about a man who is hunting for a lost ship and its treasure. What do all these have in common. Well, all the main characters or people the writers are writing about have a crusade they believe in and are persistent in reaching their goal.

In the first Malala Yousafzai article, taken from her website, I asked students to underline sentences that refer to what Malala’s crusade might be and jot down notes. Most students knew she had been shot, but not much more.

When first introducing this strategy to students, I asked them to pause and write down what the words they just underlined mean to them. Think about what you already know and interpret what the writer is trying to get you to understand. We talked about how when you interpret the writers words and write them down, it helps you understand and remember what you are reading. You are allowing yourself a moment to consider and think. I am not asking students to stop and complete a separate task that could take away from the meaning of the text.  They are completing this within the text itself.

Here is an example of two student’s note taking.

This student pulled in other strategies we have discussed in the past. Notice how they circled Mingora, Pakistan, they were recognizing a type of  detail, to help them. This is notable because, they chose to do this on their own without being asked to.

IMG_1565

Some students used the coding strategy to help them, but mostly were able to just read for meaning and take notes.

The image below refers to the coding strategy. We have discussed, how we can shift the way, we code, to suit what we are reading for.  As you saw some students chose to code the types of text details, to help them understand the article.

IMG_1569

In the second Malala Yousafzai article, taken from Storyworks magazine. I asked students to continue to underline anything they felt referred to what Malala’s crusade is. I also asked them to notice any new information the second article gave, which they coded with an + symbol. When first introducing the strategy of coding and note taking earlier in the year, I modeled it, and then asked them to practice it on a few paragraphs on their own and share what they did with a partner. Then we talked as a whole group. I had them read the text initially just for understanding without coding.  This group of readers have become confident coders and note takers and they have progressed to using this strategy on the first reading of texts. Eventually this is something they we be able to do in their heads.

Here are some more examples of this groups work. Two of the students in this group are ELL students and this is a strategy that has helped them focus reading for meaning.

IMG_1568

Lewis, K. (2015). Malala the powerful. Storyworks, November/December.  (I retyped the article)

This student noted some types of details and used the + symbol to note new information to add on to what they already knew from the previous article about Malala. 

IMG_1567

This student noted a date and a place. (Types of details) She also noted some information she already knew from the previous text and new information. She wrote what she felt Malala’s crusade was also. These students are using what they have been taught to help them authentically read for meaning. 

IMG_1566

This student noted the detail of time, but also demonstrated why noticing this type of detail is important with the note that was added (a very long time). They got a little carried away with underlining which can be a problem. I tell students, if you underline it, you must jot a note about it. This was an ELL student who made lots of vocabulary notes for herself. 

Students worked individually and then shared. They were all focused on reading for meaning. They did not code perfectly, and their note taking can still improve, but it was the process of doing the thinking work readers do in their heads that made the difference on comprehension. I didn’t focus on types of text details or structure but some students used it authentically to help them understand the writers words with more depth. They focused on understanding and used some strategies to strengthen comprehension while staying within the text. That is powerful! They instinctively did this when engaged with the text. This is true transfer!

 

Troy