It's Just a Little Crush

Friends, I have fallen deeply in love. I know I shouldn’t be rushing into relationships, but I feel like this one is THE ONE. This one is special. I am officially announcing my commitment to the Notice and Note Signposts.

As many of you know, I read a lot of professional books because I’m a giant nerd with some extra time during the day when I’m running Study Hall. It’s the perfect time to check out new information, refresh my professional stance, and think about ways to improve my practice. I’m thankful for that opportunity - especially when something comes along that reinvigorates me and gets me excited about teaching.

This year, our school is reviewing reading curricula. After reading Notice and Note for fiction, and listening to the middle school teachers talk about how they liked their current curriculum of novel studies and close reading, I suggested we take a look. Books were purchased for those teachers, a school visit was planned, and we were all hooked. I was so excited about the possibilities that I wanted to try it out myself. I started working with my fourth and fifth grade reading pull out groups to teach the signposts.

I don’t want to sound dramatic, but I’m a dramatic lady, so here ya go: IT WAS MAGICAL! Kylene and Bob didn’t revolutionize reading instruction, they just took a simple idea and made it make sense for all readers, but struggling readers in particular. When students are reading, we want them to be thinking, which means they need to recognize when something seems important or interesting or funny or strange, so that they can think about those ideas and make connections and predictions and comparisons. The problem is, many struggling readers STRUGGLE!

  1. They are working hard to read the words on the page and make meaning that details often get lost.

  2. They know they should be making connections and predictions, etc., but they don’t know what’s important. It’s on the page - isn’t it ALL important??

  3. They have been taught comprehension SKILLS, but the strategies to spot where to stop and use those skills is not always clear.

The signposts identify where students should be stopping to think. They identify important aspects of stories (things we find in almost every novel we read with young adults) and give students a guide for their thinking. The strategy is simple so that the thinking can be complex.

For our first novel study, I taught three signposts (I didn’t teach them all at once): Contrasts & Contradictions, Aha Moment, and Memory Moment. The students listened and followed along as I read the novel aloud. I did this because I want them to focus on using the strategy and recognizing it in text. When they read on their own, they will be reading a book at their independent level.

I have loved the conversations that have come out of teaching these signposts. The students are comfortable recognizing them in most situations. My groups still need guidance. Sometimes they get caught up in the story and don’t spot some signposts, but that’s why we’re practicing together. I don’t expect that they will immediately be experts - I want them to be familiar with the language and do the thinking that goes along with them.

We are now in our second novel study and I’m adding on the remainder of the signposts. I can’t wait to finish out this year with readers who are a step up in their learning for 6th grade and ready to tackle new literature with these awesome strategies.

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