Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Powerful Reading Strategies for Common Core English Literature Classes

Sometimes in literature, students encounter very challenging material. A teacher's job is then to try to assist the students in connecting to the central theme or idea.  With the common core approach, long lectures will be replaced by students interacting with the text on many levels and in many different ways.  Students will take an active role in accessing the material individually, with partners, in whole class activities, etc.  Teachers will now be creating imaginative activities which will fully involve all students in the learning process in an exciting fashion.

One approach which energizes students about a piece of literature is the SILENT TEA PARTY.  Here the teacher has pulled out short challenging quotes from the text to have students analyze to guide them in making predictions as to the content of the new text. 

The way they do this is to match the quotes with the items in the questionnaire the teacher provides.  This is a pre-reading strategy to build a foundation for the students to approach the text with.  This anticipation guide is there to introduce the students to a very complex character before they actually start reading the novel.  Using this idea, students are building background knowledge to support them in eventually reading the text. 

Notice student movement as they circulate the room looking at other quotes and how they were matched up.  Note that this is done in silence. With this approach, students are fully focused on the reading of the quotes and their interpretation of them as they describe the character.

Another approach to assisting students in interacting with challenging text is the WALL OF SILENCE .  In the text they are reading, the female character is silenced by society.  For students to fully grasped society imposed silence, they had to silently post quotes from the text that resonated with them.  No talking was allowed.  Tableaux were used (groups of 3-4 students creating a freeze frame of a scene that was important to them).  Every student took part and each frame was of a different section of the novel.  Silence is broken by circle discussions where small groups share insights while other take notes (focus is on LISTENING carefully). 

There is much more of course, but the main focus here is that students do the work with teacher support/facilitation.  Think of it as a type of role-reversal.  Set high expectations, scaffold student attempts to reach those goals, and get ready to be amazed at what students can do.



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