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Interacting With Text & Book “Marks” Freebie

The Common Core standards place a big demand on teaching students how to interact deeply with text.  A couple months ago, I discussed some of the important changes in reading instruction and text complexity.  (You can read those past posts by clicking {HERE} and {HERE}.

In order to help my students directly interact more with the texts they read, I started using more articles and passages in my guided reading groups.  This provides the opportunity for students to write in the margins of an article to record their thinking while they read the text.  We also do this with Post-It notes (because we all know children act like they’ve never known the joy of a square piece of paper before when they are handed one. 🙂  Below are some ways my students recorded their understanding of an article on sea turtles this afternoon. The article came from the National Geographic Young Explorers website, which has tons of interactive articles that you can view with your class on the Smartboard or on the computer.  

In the picture below, I asked the students to whisper-read the page on their own and underline a sentence they were confused about.  This little girl did not understand why the author said that there are not many green sea turtles left.  I asked her to jot down her thoughts on why sea turtles might be disappearing.  (Her notes: Fish might be eating them.)  On the left was a close-up picture of a sea turtle covered in oil.  We used the photograph to uncover the real reason the author was giving and then discussed ways they could help, even if they were 7 years old and living in Ohio.  (I had to politely explain that going on vacation a lot and bringing the sea turtles into the bathroom to clean them up was not a realistic way we could help….)  This kind of thinking really helped the girls connect to the text because they were now feeling empathy for these sea turtles and SO interested in learning more about them!
 If you look closely in this next picture, you’ll see that this little girl put an exclamation point after the sentence.  The exclamation point signaled that this was an interesting fact for her.  Truly, I wish you could have seen her little, shocked face after she read that sentence.  You’d have  thought I just told her I was actually Mrs. Claus in disguise.   However, this little exclamation mark is proof that she was connecting to the text, understanding what she was reading, and reflecting on it. 
In the picture below, I posed a text-evidence question to the group.  I told them to whisper read this page and underline the sentence that tells them why baby sea turtles have to hurry to the ocean after they hatch.  This was a great reading-for-purpose exercise for the kids.  I also asked them if the sentence gave them any other information about baby sea turtles.  This little girl told me that this was a problem for baby sea turtles.  She labeled her thinking by writing the word problem beside that sentence.
While you could not see the entire lesson that I did with this group, it’s important to note that I did not preview any part of the article with the students prior to reading.  Each page of the reading was done with strategic purpose.  I posed a question they could find directly in the text, had the students whisper read, and then reflect and think about their answer.  I then had the students show me evidence of the answer by interacting directly with the text – underlining sentences, labeling their thinking, and using symbols to signal their understanding.  
The first thing my students asked me after I closed our group’s lesson was if they could keep the article to share with their parents. One little girl wanted to keep it in her book bin to read to her partner during Read to Someone.  These students felt a sense of ownership to what they read and to the thinking they did during their reading.  They were tied more deeply to the topic because I had not done a picture walk prior to reading. (Picture Walks often spoil the entire story for students and the children now have no purpose or interest in finding out what happens.)  
Because I teach firsties and do not want to overload my kiddos, I created this bookmark for them to use while they complete close reads with me.  It helps to remind them of the three different codes we are using right now.  As they get better with this skill, I will add more symbols to the bookmark.  You can grab this for free by clicking on the picture below and downloading it from Google Docs.  There are three different pictures to choose from. 
I hope this post gave you some ideas to help your students interact directly with text and tackle some of the high text-complexity pieces that the Common Core expects us to use with our students.  🙂  Thanks for stopping by!
Classroom Freebies Manic Monday
Happy Learning,

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