Notice and Note Book Study Part 4

Welcome back for part 4 of the Notice and Note online book study. Today we are looking at the following:

Do Text Dependent Questions Foster Engagement?

In Texas, as in most states with high-stakes testing, students are taught to be text dependent when answering reading comprehension questions. This is because the questions are designed to try to eliminate bias since all students do not have the same background. These questions lead to a predetermined meaning, established by the people who write the tests.

Do your students seem engaged when answering those types of questions? Mine didn't. The difference in student engagement during testing type situations and a genuine discussion of our reading in class was palpable. 

I confess to leaving testing type materials for students to complete when I was out and had a sub. In my district, you seldom knew who the sub would be and whether they had any experience teaching. Even if they did, it was rare for them to understand the workshop approach I subscribed to. When I returned from being out, I often heard students complain that the sub didn't let them really read. They hated answering those types of questions, yet they loved real discussion and debating questions they asked each other.

In this section the authors give suggestions for ways to develop their own text-dependent questions, facilitating more engagement. When students develop the questions, it's because they truly do not know the answers. It generates a completely different type of engagement.

Must Everyone Read the Same Book?

I confess that I have been at both extremes of the spectrum on this issue during my teaching career. I started out teaching with a basal. I knew no other way to teach. I later read a book that inspired me to start reading workshop with my third graders. When I started the workshop approach, every student read books of their choosing. I found it so difficult, though, to teach certain concepts required by the state standards when all my students were in different books in different genres. I came to see that we needed to be in a common text at least part of the time. Not just because I needed to teach certain concepts, but also because I believe that there are certain books that all students should read and they might not if left complete freedom of choice. I stayed in this middle ground through much of my career.

What are you thinking? Go on over to Primary Inspired and link up. Or leave comments here. I'd love to hear from you!

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