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Dig a Little Deeper...

...and find something more.  In conjunction with my last post, I am focusing on Blooms in the daily routine.  In order for our students to go deeper in understanding and processing, they must be trained that they are capable of and have permission to do this! Have you ever thought that smart kids have to be taught that they are smart and can do far more than they ever thought? They do! If we teach them to chew and swallow text (i.e., read, comprehend, answer questions) we then must also teach them to digest and extend on to gaining "brain nutrition" from what they've read.  I'm proposing that we get more out of a passage than testing strategies, and teach kids that there is more there in a text than what the questions ask.  In fact, I'm gonna go as far as to say, throw out the questions every once in awhile.  GO for the good organic stuff: the information for learning's sake.  It's okay to use a passage for more than testing strategies.  It's okay to read it and re-read it several times over several days. Students will gain confidence and power over the text.  Struggling readers gain fluency and those higher readers gain skills beyond the testing strategies. Training our students to look deeper because there is something there worth finding is going to make them better readers. Training their brains to stretch each time they read is a far better skill than just locating information. What if the goal was never the success on the questions, but to get them to think critically about fiction and nonfiction regardless of the "test questions." If you train them to think in those deeper terms, the rest is cake! (Maybe I'm hungry with all the food references here!)  We need to look at understanding, and move to analyzing, evaluating, and creating!  I just took you through several steps of Blooms...and here we are at the top, where we should go OFTEN.  We are putting those "action" verbs into our lesson plans, right?  Do you ever get stumped on how to make Blooms "happen" in your class?  It's not hard, and you don't have to go to TPT and buy something to do it.  It shouldn't be all oral, but that's good too.  I try to head toward "evaluation" and "creating" and hit "analyze" as many times per week as possible! Here is just one activity that will hopefully help someone see beyond the (boring test) passage.  Steps are easier for me to follow that paragraph form, so I'm gonna use that format:
Step 1:
Find a nonfiction passage that is full of facts on a particular topic. (Preferably one with several sub headings under the main topic.)

Step 2:
Spend a "whole group lesson" time reading it together and making note of the text features (understanding.)

Step 3:
Spend some independent reading time having the students re-read the article silently, this time doing some sort of "active reading" strategy in whatever form that takes in your classroom.  (We call our nonfiction notes "key facts.")

Step 4:
This step is optional...but have the students buddy-read the article again, compare notes, make changes in their notes with their partner (analyze), and answer the questions (if your goal is for them to practice answering questions - it's got to be done, right?!)

Step 5:
Explain to your class in another "whole group lesson" that they will be creating a brochure from the topic of the article.  Our topic in this example was the state of Arizona and the places of interest there. Their audience was tourists who wish to visit Arizona and its attractions.

Step 6:
Have the students highlight the parts of the article they want to include (in their own words) in the brochure (analyze the article for the most important parts).  I also had the students use a "safe" website on their iPads to find more information about the topics they chose and take notes on what they found.
Step 7:
Make the brochure (create).  We just "tri-folded" a half sheet of construction paper.  It could be done in a "foldable" such as a book, or whatever you choose.  The students created a cover on the front and used the other five sides to highlight five attractions. If your students were reading about sharks, they could choose five different types of sharks, or five topics about sharks in general.

Step 8:
Begin to write on the brochure and share information they read.  Draw pictures based on what they read and learned.  Share the final product with their group or "table."

When there is a product and a purpose, the students will work so much harder and the understanding is far greater than basic recall and answering questions.  What have you taught them if you do this once? A fun way to fold paper. A couple of facts.  That would be about it!  We have to train them to use their brains and help them to go deeper each time they read.  What if every text was an "event"  in your classroom.  Not something to be read a couple of times and put in a folder to take home. First, you would have to make sure the texts you choose are worthy!  There is so much to choose from.  Choose wisely and make your plans reach the top each time!!  Challenge accepted!?

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