This week, we turned our attention to nonfiction reading and reading with a purpose. The ultimate goal of the process I am about to describe to you is to write a 3 paragraph essay about the positive and negative effects of the Columbian Exchange, using evidence pulled from various sources. So keep that in mind when you are reading. Also, I am only going to write about the reading part today. The writing part will get written about at a different time (probably when we are done with it ;) )
With our purpose in mind, I began a guided reading of the article with the students. As I read the article aloud, I began to model how I wanted students to highlight instances of positive and negative effects. I was constantly drawing the students' attention back to our two main purpose questions. If something popped up in my head that wasn't necessarily related to our purpose questions, but still was important to the main overall topic (of the Columbian Exchange), I wrote the notes in the margin. They followed these four steps while reading:
At first, the kids followed along and copied me. Slowly I began releasing responsibility of the highlighting and noticing evidence to them. Finally, by the last paragraph of the article, they were able to highlight evidence of our two purpose questions on their own! Not bad for 45 minutes of instruction!
this sheet from Kristen at Ladybugs Teacher Files to drive home the point that text features are another way to gather targeted information from nonfiction text.
I then did a guided reading of that same text the following day. Now, this text itself was just a really high level text, so it took a lot more explaining on my part.....HOWEVER, the kids were able to go in and highlight evidence of our purpose questions pretty much on their own. We still did it as a guided lesson, but they were right there with me, if not ahead of me.
On this final day, I gave the students the last of the three articles. This time, I asked them to apply what we had learned and work on their own (well, in partners.) They wrote the purpose questions at the top of the page again, and got to work reading, discussing, and highlighting.
I can not tell you how impressed I was with the discussions that took place while the students were working on their own (there was quite a debate on whether or not tobacco moving from the new to old world was positive or negative, and the talks about the horrible effects disease had on the natives in the Americas were fabulous) They really seemed to grasp the idea that we were reading for a purpose and once they had that purpose, finding evidence to support it was no big deal! They weren't just highlighting anything they felt like, rather they were targeted in their approach to what was important.
I have to say, I am really excited about how the reading portion of this went. The kids were digging into the articles (which I pulled up off the internet....actually adding the graphs and diagrams to myself from online as well) and learning all at the same time. Now, on to the writing portion.....wish us luck! ;)
Can you see applying this technique to a different unit of study? Have you done something similar? Tell us about it!