October 28, 2013

Where Text Structure Can Lead You

            In our quest to discover text structure evidence, I felt I was loosing myself, and the kids, time and effort in other reading tasks.  Was I spending too much time on it, was it that important, what was this really about?  Then I opened my eyes!  I saw what I was really teaching them!  So, here it is!

    1.    Key details and support:  When you are looking for evidence for text structures, you are pulling out key details and support for whatever the topic is, in either type of reading.  In informational text, we were defining and explaining the topic through key details.  In fiction, we were pulling out key details and support for each of the characters we were investigating! 

    2.  Main idea:  If you are pulling key details and support, this leads to the most natural learning of main idea.  You have to know what you are reading about to pull evidence and support!  

    3.  Summary!:  Yes, summary!  As we were circling and highlighting and finding and writing, it jumped out!  We were gathering information for a summary!  We could use that information, in order, to write a summary-for either type of text feature!  It was right there, and I couldn’t see it at first!

4.  Character traits:  This comes naturally in the descriptive pieces Roald Dahl writes.  Students were gathering traits about them that they could use to prove that they really understood who the character was and how their behavior impacts the text! 

Awesome!  I was so surprised!  I had it planned that we would work on summary, and I wasn’t sure how I was going to go about teaching it, how I would target the work for success, and it was staring at me!   And it all came together through grading a homework assignment.

            For homework, the kids have been reading nonfiction texts.  They need lots of practice with the basic and these are working.  One of the ones that they read the week I was sorting through all this thinking was Spider Silk.  As suddenly as the skills popped out to me, so did the parts of a spider-as a graphic organizer!  Spider Silk was a descriptive text that they could pull evidence from and practice all the skills above.  And, I was feeling bad about not doing a single, fun holiday activity.  I came up with a readcraftivity-a reading activity that is a craft!  Here’s what we did.

            First, I cut off the bottom of the assignment.  I didn’t want the distracted by the questions they got right or wrong.  I passed it back out for them to read and highlight.  Here’s a student using their reading journal as a guide-amazing!!

Next, they chose the 8 most important facts and wrote them on black strips of paper.  These strips could be arranged in an order that allowed them to group ideas together. 

Then they went to work on writing a summary.  I had gone through what a summary is and made a chart.  This is a copy of a chart I found on Pintrest. 

 (Sorry of the bad pic-no phone today!)

Once I approved their summary, they wrote it on the body of the spider.  Then they glued the 8 legs in the order that they used them in their summary.  The final touch was to add eyes to a head and write the main idea on the head! 

(Here's I built to show the kids)

I feel like this is what text structure really can do for kids!  It can answer so many questions and thoughts and wonders.  It is not just about what is on the page and why. It is about all this, and more.  We have two more to look closely at-compare and contrast and cause and effect!  I have questions now about how these will impact real learning, what I can do with them, and the effect it will have on the kids, and I am truly excited to find out.  And, there may be a turkey readcraftivity in my future!

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