There are so many problems and issues in today's society, and secondary students have the energy, creativity, and desire to solve them. Through this strategy, students will read about other young people who are bringing about change in the world. With these young people as inspiration, students will identify problems at home, at school, or in the community that they would like to solve, and they will design and implement plans to solve them.
In order to be critical readers of complex texts, students must be able to analyze authors' argumentative techniques. Through this strategy, students will read an argumentative text and identify the author's claim, the reasons that the author gives to support the claim, and the evidence for those reasons. Students will review logos, ethos, and pathos and will look for examples of each in argumentative texts. They will reflect on how authors use a combination of techniques to support their arguments and will determine the strength and effectiveness of arguments that they read. Students may then analyze their own writing and make revisions to enhance the effectiveness of their arguments.
Through this strategy, students pay attention to what they notice, what they wonder about, and how they connect to an article as they read. Doing so makes students active readers who can comprehend so much more about what they read. After engaging in this strategy, students are prepared for a discussion about the text, a written response to the text, or other extension activities.
Teachers are always looking for ways to help their students to be critical readers of text as they think more deeply about what they read. The Big Questions strategy that was developed by Kylene Beers and Robert E. Probst does just that. Students answer and reflect on the following questions: "What surprised me?" "What did the author think I already knew?" and "What changed, challenged, or confirmed what I already knew?" Once students are comfortable with responding to these questions, they can use these reflection questions to deepen their understanding whenever they read informational texts.
Before reading a novel, students will read Newsela articles that relate to the theme(s) of or topics in the novel to provide them with necessary background knowledge. Newsela has a vast library of Text Sets for many popular novels that teachers may use or edit for their selected novel, or teachers may choose to create their own. Students will keep track of the information that they learn from the articles, and they will share what they learn with their classmates. Building background knowledge about a topic or theme before reading a novel has a significant positive impact on student engagement and comprehension of the novel.
Summarizing is an important skill that students need in order to demonstrate their reading comprehension. The 5Ws and How Summary strategy provides students with a format to focus on the key ideas from an article that should be included in a summary, and then incorporate those ideas into a written summary of the text. The strategy applies to all content areas, and once students learn how to use it, it is natural for students to transfer the skill to other classes and contents.
In this strategy, students learn the three types of author's purpose first by determining the author's purpose in familiar books that they have previously read in class. Then they look for clues as they read that help show the author's purpose, and they will defend their answers using evidence from the text. The teacher will model determining the author's purpose in a Newsela article, and then students will have the opportunity to practice the skill of identifying an author's purpose by reading additional articles. Then, students can apply what they have learned by writing a text with a specific purpose in mind and using some of the techniques that they have noticed other authors using.
While it is vital for students to be able to determine the central idea of a text in order to comprehend the text, it is often a skill with which so many students struggle. In this strategy, students practice finding the central idea of a section of an article first, and they use titles and subtitles to help them find the central idea as well. Students identify the topic (a word or phrase) of the text and then the central idea (by thinking about what the author is saying about that topic). Then the teacher provides whole class and small group mini-lessons to target specific skills that students need and provides individual feedback to students about their progress. Students ultimately work up to determining the central idea of the article as a whole.
Competent readers engage with texts and read actively, asking and answering key questions as they go. The Question Scaffolds strategy requires that elementary-aged students ask questions about what they read, and it encourages higher-order thinking. At first, the teacher models asking different types of questions, and then students begin to develop their own questions through a gradual release model. Generating different types of questions in response to a text helps students think more clearly about the text, and it ultimately improves student engagement and comprehension.
Kylene Beers and Robert E. Probst developed the nonfiction signposts to help students notice different techniques that authors use so that they ultimately think more deeply about what they read. The five nonfiction signposts include Contrasts and Contradictions, Extreme or Absolute Language, Numbers and Stats, Quoted Words, and Word Gaps. When students pay attention to the signposts as they read, they are better able to interact with the text and create deeper meaning from what they read.
A Gallery Walk is an engaging strategy for students to use as they move throughout the room, reading and responding to text. The teacher posts images, quotes from the text, or questions about the article on chart paper around the room, and groups of students rotate from one station to the next to discuss the different prompts and share their responses in writing with one another. A Gallery Walk allows the students to see different points of view and "hear" several voices through the written conversation. Students can support one another as they reflect on the key ideas of the article, and they can respond to what their peers have written. A gallery walk can be used as either a pre-reading tool to build background knowledge about a topic or as a post-reading response strategy.