Monday, July 25, 2016

Reading Nonfiction Notice and Note: Signposts 3,4,and 5

Summer is slipping away! I am continuing my book study of Nonfiction Signposts. Today I am focusing on summarizing my reading and my take-aways from signposts 3, 4 and 5.

Signpost 3 Numbers and Statistics

In this section I learned that noticing numbers and stats can help students with many skills including:
Make comparisons
Draw conclusions
Make generalizations
Make inferences
Differentiate facts and opinions
Identify details
Recognize evidence
Understand author's purpose/bias

Question for middle schoolers when the signpost shows up: Why did the author use these numbers or amounts?

Numbers and statistics provide precision. They help students see the point the author is trying to make if they take the time to really stop and think about the numbers. Often in class when we are sharing nonfiction I stop at numbers or statistics naturally and ask things like: Can you believe 12,000....wow...that is a large number...etc. Students, however, are so ready to read for completion that they often overlook the significance of numbers and statistics in nonfiction. This signpost helps them to pause and think as they read. They are able to soak in the amount and after soaking in the number, the text may mean more to the student. Numbers can help students visualize what is being read and analyze it further. Analyzing numbers and statistics can lead students to question the author and not simply accept all nonfiction as fact as well. I see this as a great signpost to pull readers further into nonfiction text.
TAKEAWAY:
Numbers and statistics help students relate nonfiction to visuals and make text visible for students in a deeper way.

Signpost 4 Quoted Words

Here I saw that quoted words help students with:
Recognizing author's purpose and bias
Make inferences
Draw conclusions
Identify point of view
See cause/effect relationships
Identify facts and opinions
Compare and contrast

Quotes offer personal perspective, other's words, or a voice of authority for text.

Question for middle schooler when the signpost shows up: Why did the author quote or cite this person and what did it add?

Personal perspective can give a first-hand account of an event. This can help a reader connect to the text as it helps build empathy around the event and makes the event relatable for the student. Voice of authority gives an expert view of a topic or event. It can be shown with personal perspective to balance the writing. Other's words shows that the author is not alone in a view. It often occurs to show others agree with the author. This is found in persuasive and argument writing.

I love how the anchor question causes students to generalize, infer, and draw conclusions. This is where students use deep thinking to connect the quote to the topic and truly dig into the text! This will lead to deep conversations in nonfiction discussions in the classroom. I look forward to using this signpost.
TAKEAWAY:
Quotes offer ways of being in a moment, share other perspectives on a topic or idea, and give expert information about what is being read. All of these things will help students to read closely and question what they think/read.

Signpost 5 Word Gaps

In this section, I learned that recognizing word gaps can help students when they struggle with nonfiction comprehension because of vocabulary and unknown words.

Anchor questions for word gaps include: Do I know this word from some place else? Does this seem like technical talk for this topic? or...Can I find clues in the sentence to help me understand the word?

Tools for confusion due to vocabulary:
"When you don't know anything about what you don't know, then realizing you don't know it doesn't actually help you know it."
They discuss 4 distinct areas of word confusion: 
Descriptive Language
Comparisons like similes and metaphors or other figurative language can confuse students, especially when they don't understand the content or what or how it is being compared. The descriptive language adds to the confusion. Read around the figurative language to see if meaning can be found.
Multiple Meanings  (DO I KNOW THIS WORD FROM SOME PLACE ELSE?)
Students know one meaning of a word but the word is used differently in context.
-Need a dictionary or  to use context clues to determine this meaning if the meaning a reader knows does not seem to work.
Distant References (Can I find clues in the sentence to help me understand the word?)
Students only read the sentence to find a word meaning rather than thinking further back due to textbook "help" which makes them dependent readers.Students can get the gist and move on, or look back further for possible references or read more to see if it helps with meaning.
Rare Words and Technical Talk (Does this seem like technical talk for this topic?)
Words known as Tier III words. These can confuse readers as well. These are often defined in textbooks, but they are not the only things that confuse readers when they don't understand text! Use a dictionary, textbook, friend, teacher, etc. to find the meaning.

Most confusing words are not the words we have never seen before, but the words used in varied ways, words involving figurative language, and multiple meaning words! The best way to understand more words is to read more!

Steps to figure out a word that is unknown:
1 Identify the problem. 
2. Look for what is familiar. (Is part of a word familiar?) prefix, root, multiple meaning word....
3. Look for concrete examples of the concept that is not understood...images, sidebars, examples...
4. Go for the gist (syntax surgery, sketch to stretch)
5. Use a dictionary or thesaurus.

Tips
Learn the concept first and then the technical term.
If a text does not give any clues as to the meanings of particular words, define the words first...BUT...in real life reading students need to have fixes for what to do when these problem words arise.
Students need to find word gaps and find ways to bridge those gaps.

TAKEAWAY:
Vocabulary can add confusion to textual understanding. Giving students the tools to navigate vocabulary and all of the problems that occur when unknown words are met in a text and cause confusion will help students with independent reading. It will take many tools and much time to overcome all of the different needs students have when it comes to word gaps! With persistence, we can give students the tools they need and prepare them to take on nonfiction independently, understand what they read in a deeper way, and bridge the gaps.

Finishing the signposts I see these being implemented after the 3 stance questions. I will introduce a few at a time with shorter texts and we will implement them as the year goes on. I look forward to discovering how these signposts impact conversation, engagement, and understanding of nonfiction.









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