April 12, 2017

Using Close Reading to teach Test Prep Strategies...Theme

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After days of reading "Swimming with Sharks," we were ready to wrap it up and move on to other texts and genres. Before we left, I wanted my students to think about the theme of the text.

The majority of my class is composed of ENL students {English as a New Language} and it's a wide range from Level B to Level U; Emerging to Advanced. (My levels B and C readers were not present for this lesson, nor would they be expected to complete such a complex task as new readers.)

Knowing what I do about my students and the way they think--they really aren't outside of the box thinkers. They are more "let me take what is in the text and copy it down' types of thinkers, which is perfectly acceptable in many cases, but for this lesson, again, I need them to think deeply and come up with their own ideas about the text.

Which leads me to this strategy...

We practiced this strategy with the model text, "Swimming with Sharks" and we re-read the last paragraph.

We thought about Sarah's struggle and how it related to the problem and solution. We took it a step further and thinking about what it all meant and why the author teaching me this?

Here is what they came up with:
They called them out and as I wrote them on the paper, they explained how the theme fit.

They were even able to name empathy and perseverance! I was so excited 😊

Before they went on to their independent work, I had them choose a theme from the list and write some reasons why this theme fit "Swimming with Sharks." As the students finished their post-its, I looked at them quick and gave them immediate feedback.

Some students who were able to clearly show details to support their chosen theme, then went on to complete the independent task using "Lawn Boy."

Others had to work on it again. I was able to see where students went wrong and help steer them on the right course before they had to try it on their own.

For the independent part, they had to answer this question in their reader's notebook:

What is the central message conveyed throughout the story? Cite specific examples and details from the text. 

Once they were finished writing their responses, I read them and wrote my feedback in their notebooks. Using my feedback, they needed to revise their responses. Some of them only had to add a detail, while others had to rewrite their response completely.

Here's some examples of the reader's notebooks:
    **she used post-its to show how she used the strategy and then wrote her response**

**this student was on the right track, he just needed to add in those specific details**


**This student's first response didn't answer the question. Using the feedback, he was able to accurately and completely respond to the question and give examples 😊**


Have you tried any close reading strategies? Leave a comment below telling me what close reading strategies you use in your room. If you don't use any, no worries, just write "none" 😉

1 comment:

  1. I appreciate that you have decided to share your experience with other teachers. You were wise to do that because constructive criticism always works best and here you can hear words of admiration as well. I see that you have decided your kids will be great orators in the future, because the activities you picked out are just great. Soon enough your students will write a great essay online with the help of such a talented teacher. Thanks for sharing the worksheets, they are smartly done and fun to work with.