Isn't it interesting how education buzz words keep popping up? Five years ago, it was Learning Focus Strategies and we were all talking about activators and summarizers and H.O.T. questions. Now, the buzz words on everyone's lips are close reading and text evidence. Why do we need new words for what everyone has been doing? Maybe we haven't been doing it exactly right.
I think about my own comprehension as a reader. I love to read, but I was never great at remembering all the details about every book I read. As for taking tests, forget it - we had to remember what we had read - not show text evidence. In 2014, students are required to show how they know what they know. Isn't that the best? We want our students to know how to find the information, not keep all of it in their memories so they can pass a test, then forget it.
So, I have been working on this skill with my third graders and I have to say, they are getting it! I ask them all the time, how do you know? They know I want to hear them say, "It's right here Mrs. Hanneken." The next step has been giving them the words to tell me what text evidence supports the questions I have asked. This is the cool thing...it's only a few phrases, but it has given them a huge boost in their ability to show text evidence especially in writing. The author states.....the author states on page XX....because....for example....for instance...according to the text. Even my struggling third graders can synthesize the question, find text evidence, and respond in the correct way. I think this is a huge improvement in reading instruction. Students aren't left to wander around in text trying to make sense of what the author is saying AND answer these hard questions that we teachers torture them with.
I feel hopeful about the new buzz words and the reading strategies that they bring. Seeing these young readers being successful with the harder text they are required to read and comprehend is making me happy. How about you? What do you think about close reading and text evidence?