"The most rigorous reading the student can do involves more than simply drawing upon the basic definition of words; it involves exploring the understandings of those words that the student brings to the text and weighing them against the apparent understandings of the author." pg. 42
Question 7: Do text-dependent questions foster engagement?
I knew a lot of kids in high school and college who loved Spark Notes. They wanted the quick and easy way to study for our literature tests. I never bought into that. I love reading, even when the book doesn't reach out and grab me. I read every book assigned to me in middle school, high school, and college. I think there is growth to be had by reading books outside your interests. Sometimes I disagreed with what the other students thought about the books (via the handy Spark Notes), but I could always make connections that helped me grow. I don't think the other kids got that experience...
There is a place for text-dependent questions, but I agree that there needs to be connections being made with the text. Why would anyone read anything if the main goal was to pick out information without connecting it with something in our experiences? That sounds horrible to me.
pg. 43 - "... we worry that a focus on text-dependent questions may create a nation of teacher-dependent kids. Text-dependent questions suggest that a teacher has crafted the questions and the order of them to lead students to a predetermined meaning of a particular passage. With this understanding of text-dependent questions, students come to rely on the teacher to ask the questions."
In the two years I have spent in 4th grade, I have been puzzled and frustrated with my student's lack of questioning skills. For the most part, they solely rely on me to walk them through things. I hate that. There will be at least one or two students who ask questions and those are the outstanding readers. They ask themselves questions and make connections naturally as they read. If I am honest with myself, we have done this to kids. Kinda heart-breaking.
I hope this book gives me the tools to effect some change. I really like how Beers and Probst outlined encouraging students to create their own text-dependent questions. This isn't a new concept; I have heard it before and done something similar in class. Unfortunately, it wasn't something we did on a regular basis.
Instead of woefully lamenting the lack of questioning skills in my students, I am going to give my students the tools they need to become questioners of text.
One more thing --
I am so glad Texas isn't a Common Core state! We do want our kids to bring their experiences into their reading. My class this last year made some marvelous connections to our class read alouds. It was amazing to sit and share those connections. It made each book personal and relevant. How else are we to interest kids (or anyone) in reading for pleasure?
Question 8: Must everyone read the same book?
Ok. Time for no judgement. Can you do that? Just for a minute?
I want to tell you about our whole class reads this year. Remember, this is a non-judgement zone. :)
Together we read The One and Only Ivan (I projected the book onto the screen for the kids to see as I read it to them), Among the Hidden (each student had a book to follow along and read from), The City of Ember (each student had their own copy, but I did most of the reading), and The People of Sparks (I read aloud to the class from my copy without projecting it).
I wanted these books to be about enjoyment. I had them answer a few questions, not anything wonderful, make a few products, and discuss aspects of the book. I did not have packets for each book. Nor did I use this as a focus for our ELA time. This was mainly to share my pleasure in reading.
And you know what? It worked! A cheer went up when I said, "Let's read from our book." They would groan when I put it down for the day. I was good at ending on chapters with cliff hangers! It amazed me that as the year progressed, their memories improved. They had to hold the events and feelings of the books in their minds over the course of weeks.
So do I think everyone should read the same book? Yes!
Should that be the only way you read in class? No!
The only books I chose for my students were these read alouds. They had complete autonomy in their reading from my classroom library and the school library.
Don't be an extremist! It shouldn't be one or the other. Let's enjoy books in every way we can.
Please share your thoughts about these two questions!