Notice & Note: Strategies for Close Reading

I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter weekend!  I spent part of the long weekend reading Notice & Note: Strategies for Close Reading by Kylene Beers and Robert E. Probst. I have a ton of thoughts running through my head now that I am finished.  I thought I would share two of them with you today to help me better understand what I have read.

Common Core Standards require students to closely read a variety of texts.  What does that mean exactly?  I have seen the posters everywhere on Pinterest and in the blogisphere that breaks close reading down to what you do each time you read the text (reading the text two to four times).  Many of those say that students should be annotating as they read.  My question has always been:  How are students supposed to know what they should be writing in the margins that is actually helpful in deeply understanding a text?  It seems too simple to just have them write a question mark next to a part where they have a question or an exclamation point next to something that was surprising.  If they are closely reading, there should be a transaction between the reader and the text.  Students should be thinking deeper about the questions they are having or why he or she finds the part surprising.  Beers and Probst give you six signposts that you can teach your students to help them dig deeper into the text and create meaning by transacting with the text at a deeper level.  What do you do to help your students dig deeper into a text without leading them to the meaning you derived from the text?

Another term that has risen to the top of discussion since the implementation of Common Core is 'text dependent questions."  In Notice & Note, the authors write, "We worry that a focus on text-dependent questions may create a nation of teacher-dependent kids...Text dependent questions usually suggest that a teacher has crafted the questions and the order of them to lead students to a predetermined meaning of a particular passage" (p. 43).   The authors suggest that teachers work with students to create their own text dependent questions.  They even provide a structure to help teachers do this with their students. (Clicking on the picture will bring you to Google Docs so you can download your own copy.)
I don't want my students to become dependent on me.  I want them to be independent readers.  Questions they create on their own are more engaging and authentic than any question I could ever write.  Students are trained that there is 'a right answer' when the teacher asks a question.  If I am the only one creating the questions, they will never fully engage in the text.

One sentence really stood out to me and I came back to it over and over again.

I would love to know:  What book has changed you?

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  1. Thank you SO MUCH for this post. We haven't begun Close Reading yet, as we're not expected to until next year, but we were trained in it this year, so that we can "dip our toes in" and try it.

    After being trained, needless to say, most of us are lost. Posts like this really help me understand it. We'll be finishing our reading book in a few weeks, with about a month of school still to go, so I'll be trying some close reads with a few units I found on TPT. Hoping to understand it better and tweak things a bit.

    Teaching Powered by Caffeine

  2. I just ordered this book on Amazon. Now I can't wait to read it!

  3. I loved this book! There is a nonfiction one coming out soon, although I am not sure when. This is one of those "game changer" books for teachers! Great post!
    Creating Lifelong Learners

  4. I loved reading this book! Douglas Fisher also has some great work out there on reading closely and the Common Core.

    Thanks for the powerful! I have read so many books that have moved me. Most recently, The Book Thief won heart. How about you?

  5. I loved this book and have taught my class all 6 signposts. I feel it has really helped them think more deeply about the text. I know I need to reread it now, because I didn't catch the part about text dependent questions…I guess that wasn't my focus at the time. Now I'm ready to tackle that as well! Great post! Can't wait for the NF version to come out!

  6. I'm reading this book in a book club right now. I hope to try some of the sign posts next year. The two books that have moved me and stayed with me for quite awhile are Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns. I cried, I hoped, I felt for each character in both books.

  7. I recently finished this book too! It was so good!