A Week in Reading: Tuesday ~ Touch the Text

Wednesday, May 25, 2016
While I love a good Monday, Tuesday is my favorite day for whole group reading. Why do I love Tuesdays so? Because it's the day we dig in, dig deep, and stretch, stretch, stretch! Here's what we do on Tuesdays (usually...)

We use the Journeys curriculum, and I shared earlier that I'm not fond of their structure for the first read of the story. They suggest stopping throughout the story on Day 1 and peppering the kids with questions. There are generally upwards of 15 questions offered up during the first read. In my opinion, first reads shouldn't be interrupted repeatedly. In fact, if we're reading a text that a majority of my class can handle on their own, the first read is done independently. If you've seen all the posts about Close Reading, you know the first read is to "get the gist". Do they understand the general purpose of the story or text and what it's about? I don't know about you, but if I were reading something for the first time, I wouldn't want someone interrupting me every page or so asking me questions about what I'm reading. Just let me read it, then I'll talk about it! I feel the same way when I teach. Just let us read it, then we'll worry about the comprehension questions.

Here's what my guide looks like. This one isn't as question heavy as most, but I save the questioning for Tuesday and pick and choose the ones I use.

So, Tuesday is that day. We dive in for our second read. The second read really depends on how we did the first read. If I read it aloud for the first read, then we might break into partners for a buddy read while my most struggling readers join me for some guided reading. We have 1:1 iPads, so the second read might be scanning the QR code to launch the audio for the story and kids follow along. (It's so nice for them to hear another voice other than mine reading to them!) We then have some discussion. Kids have a turn and talk partner so everyone participates and we pose questions. I might start us off with some of the comprehension questions from my teacher's guide, or I might lead with one of the questions the kids asked while we were reading. They always turn and talk first, taking turns with who gets to answer first, then I call on students for responses. I don't do the whole "raise your hand if you have an answer". If I've given you the time and resources, then I expect every single student to have some kind of response. Even if your response is, "We couldn't find it. We need some help", that's fine! But everyone participates and no one gets a free pass.

One of the shifts in ELA with the Common Core was text dependent questions. Here's a great quick handout on that from Mary Lirette at Mrs. Lirette's Learning Detectives. Head over to her website to grab a free download of this handout and the 10 anchor standards. They're a must have!


Here's the key, though, in my opinion. Are you pulling your hair out trying to get kids to cite evidence from the text? I was! Then I decided to create a new routine. We touch the text. Sounds simple, right? It really is! When I ask a question, the first thing they have to do is touch the text. If it's a text based question, the kids work together to flip to the right section of the story, hunt down where the answer or evidence is, and touch it. If it's not text-based, they still have to find support for their answer in the text and touch it. Then, they ground their answers in the text. When they talk to each other, they use complete sentences, give their answer, and give support.

Also, when one student is speaking, other students are listening and offering their level of understanding. This is a move I took from watching teachers implement Number Talks (which is amazing if you haven't seen it in action). If kids agree, they do the "me too" sign in sign language. (Here's a free printable of that sign from Clutter Free Classroom). If they don't understand, they tap their foreheads. If they disagree, they use the "different" sign to show they have a different idea. This helps me see immediately how everyone is doing. I can then tailor a follow-up question based on students' reactions.

Here's what it might look like in an absolutely perfect world :)

Me:  What is an ichthyosaur? Touch the text, then turn and talk with your partner.
(Students locate ichthyosaur in the text, then discuss together.)
Teacher: I heard many of you say it was a dinosaur. I'm looking for a complete sentence and text evidence. Kimberly, share what you and your partner found.
Kimberly: An ichthyosaur is a dinosaur. It had sharp teeth and fins. It's name means "fish lizard."
Kaiden signs "me too".
Me: Kaiden, add on to that.
Kaiden: It's a dinosaur that swam because it had fins. It ate meat because of its sharp teeth.
Kids are signing their responses. Everyone agrees.

Ok, so it's never really that easy and beautiful. Usually the ancient heater is humming so loudly Kaiden can't hear Kimberly and half the kids are tapping their ears meaning they need the person to speak up and the phone rings because someone needs to go to speech, or the office, or to a group and my timer goes off because it's time for recess and someone needs tape because they accidentally ripped their paper. But, even though we're constantly a work in progress, they have touch the text down pat! They're able to translate that skill into their written response because they know to get back to the text to find their answers and evidence.

Now do you see why I love Tuesday? Even in all the madness that can happen when you've got upwards of 26 kids with all different abilities and needs, coming together around a good story or piece of text, engaging in discussion, and being successful at it is a beautiful thing!

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