Close Reading Strategies

I have been an English teacher for 16 years, and like most other educators, I rarely teach things in the same way twice — there are always ways to improve.    I am constantly reading books, journals, and articles for new ways to make my teaching better.  And while I always knew I could be a better teacher, I never knew by how much, until I was introduced to Notice and Note by Kylene Beers and Bob Probst.

Mind blower!  🙂  I HIGHLY recommend attending a conference and buying the book.

It isn’t often I go to a conference and want to immediately begin implementing what I learned…I hadn’t even read the book.

Beers and Probst introduced what they call the “signposts” — the 6 components that appear in ALL fiction writing.  They taught us a lot, and even let us try a few strategies ourselves.

Beers also introduced us to a Facebook Page about Notice and Note.  This page became a vital piece in my own attempt to try Notice and Note in the classroom.  The teachers who have joined this page are AMAZING!  Everyone in the group is implementing Notice and Note (k-12) and sharing their successes, failures, and lessons (with attachments).  🙂 I have never met a more dedicated group of teachers (from all around the world) who are willing to share their ideas in order to improve learning for students everywhere.

Two years ago, my district adopted Fahrenheit 451 as an 8th grade text. I was overwhelmed at the thought of teaching this very complex text to 8th graders.  Enter Notice and Note.

I used a signpost bookmark (taken from the Notice and Note Facebook page) and bought a ton of post-it notes in matching colors, and off I went.  I never knew how brilliant students were.  These signposts gave students a strategy for what to notice in text.

In the past I had always been the guide.  I had always told students what to look for and then asked them to explain.  With Notice and Note, you give students a toolkit and THEY find the examples.  And trust me, they will.  My students absolutely blew my mind.

Was it still difficult?  Of course.  This is Fahrenheit 451.  But, my students learned so much more about the text than I could have ever expected — or would have if I had stuck to the whole “study guide” idea.

The best part of Notice and Note?  Differentiation!!!  Because the signposts are a toolkit and not a guide to the “right answers,” the students are able to find examples based on their own understanding of the text.  I did not have to change my lessons for Honors and Academic classes.  Because the students create the signposts, they guide the discussions…thus the differentiation.

I had students with elementary grade lexiles reading AND participating in discussion on Fahrenheit 451.  Students who had never before spoken in class had the confidence to offer their findings.

I am a hard-core advocate of Notice and Note.  I am attending another Beers and Probst conference in February for the Nonfiction signposts.  CAN’T WAIT!

Give it a try.  You won’t be disappointed.



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