Reflection: Rigor Human Evolution - Chronology Lab - Section 3: Explain/Elaborate

 

Text-dependent questions are more rigorous questions that require close reading of the text in order to respond. Sometimes it is easier to understand what something is by explaining what it is not - these are not the fluff "what", "who", "why", "how" questions that students in the past were often given in response to reading. An example of a low rigor question might be, "What is the main idea?"

Text-dependent questions might require students to compare and contrast, analyze and evaluate, cause and effect, and to make inferences and reach conclusions supported by reasoning.

How to support students in answering these questions? Metacognitive modeling of how to interact with text is a must no matter what other supporting strategies might be coupled with it. Providing students with a purpose for reading is also a must. And by purpose, it isn't telling students they are to read to answer questions. By purpose it is meant that students are given the reason for reading. "You are reading this article to find out...."

As students become more accustomed to the purpose for reading being established, it is time to begin to transfer that responsibility to students. Initially this could be done in a whole class brainstorm, consensus making, and writing the purpose down (preferably at the top of the reading). This can be gradually transitioned so that students determine the purpose in smaller groups, and then set the purpose individually (if possible).

Strategies to couple with metacognitive modeling could include:

- Annotating - there are many choices for annotation. Students can be asked to search for keywords and circle them, to use different colors to highlight or underline specific information, and so on. Students can annotate in teams, which is a strategy quite helpful for EL students. In order to insure that annotation is meaningful, and that everything is not annotated, students annotation initially needs to be reviewed. Students should be asked to justify their annotation. This helps students to refine their thinking.

- Reading the text-dependent questions prior to reading the article. If this is done, it is critical to make students accountable. In other words, don't ask them to read the questions to themselves, silently. It is important that the questions be read aloud, written where everyone can see them, and then analyzed for keywords, meaning, and purpose. Students can transition into doing this in smaller groups after this practice is well established.

- Length of text. Initially it is important that short amounts of text be used. This enables students to keep the purpose for reading fresh and applied throughout the reading experience, and the time from establishing the purpose to discussing the takeaway from the reading short. The complexity of the text is also important. It needs to be accessible to the readers, so that the metacognitive load in the reading experience is focused on learning the process of close reading, rather than struggling through the wording of the text. And of course, there is a lot of be said for success. By using more accessible, shorter texts, students can experience success with practicing close reading and their positive emotional experience will help when the rigor goes up. 

There are quite a few more strategies to couple with close reading and text-dependent questions than those described here. The primary point here is that it is critical that students read and write in science, daily.

  What's A Text-dependent Question?
  Rigor: What's A Text-dependent Question?
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Human Evolution - Chronology Lab

Unit 7: Biological Evolution: Unity and Diversity
Lesson 15 of 15

Objective: SWBAT apply scientific ideas to construct an explanation for the anatomical similarities and differences among modern organisms and between modern and fossil organisms to infer evolutionary relationships.

Big Idea: Students plot the times of existence for the several species of hominids on a two-dimensional time line chart.

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