Getting the Last Word

Thursday, February 13, 2014
brought to you by Lori
Get caught up on days 1, 2, and 3.

Suzanne likes to be slightly dramatic sometimes. She has this whole bit where she pretends to be a kid who has just been asked to read. Seated in front of her kids, she looks everywhere but at her book, she whispers to a friend, she falls asleep [last year I watched her demonstrate this and she hit her head on the desk just a little too hard.] Funny thing and I both know she's not too far from the truth. But what do we do about it? One of the reasons our kids miss test questions on their state assessment is simply because...well...they don't read. If they do read, then they are certainly not thinking about what they're reading. 

This comprehension strategy is used to encourage reflection during and after reading and helps with finding appropriate text evidence. To begin, distribute copies of the text you want to work with. Place students in small groups, asking them to read with the expectation that they mark several places that are interesting or simply that cause them to think. I would set a timer for this. Yes...your kids all read at different paces, but if you wait for everyone to finish, you'll never get done. Consider what you're reading and set a reasonable amount of time. 

When each student finishes reading, have them choose their favorite quote or piece of text evidence and copy it on the front side of the index card. Without talking, have them take a moment and write some thoughts on the back of the card. Offer some guidance by suggesting they think of a connection, a question, or even an extension of the original idea. I would time this as well. 4-5 minutes worked well for me.
Students re-enter the text to find moments they connected with. The pressure is on because now they have to have something to say!
Once their cards are completed, front and back, set expectations for the group conversation. If you use dice, each student rolls. The student with the highest number goes first. He will read his card but NOT his comment on the back. Moving clockwise, everyone else in the group gets to comment and then he gets the last word. He can read what's on his card, disagree or agree with what others have said, ask questions about the comment others have made, or simply read what's on his card. Repeat the process until everyone has read his comment. Again, I would put a time frame on this entire conversation. About 10 minutes was great for my kids. 

After they've discussed the article, kids can do any number of tasks with the text to demonstrate their understanding. The point is, you've empowered them by allowing them to talk about their own observations and listen to the observations of others.

Kids love getting the last word. This time, they're just doing it your way!

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