Saturday, January 18, 2014

Workshop on Close Reading with Kylene Beers!

If you ever have the chance of hearing Kylene Beers speak, jump on it! She is such a dynamic and engaging speaker with a great sense of humor too! I had the privilege of attending her workshop last week at TCRWP. The title of her workshop was, "It's Rigor,  not Rigor Mortis: Strategies that Create Attentive, Close Readers Who Actually Want to Read." If you have not read her recent professional book, Notice and Note that she co-wrote with Robert Probst, then add it to the top of your TBR pile! Click here to read my post about this professional book.  

She began the workshop with having us turn and talk to define the word "rigor" and explained how it can be easily misunderstood.  She said, "Rigor resides in the energy and attention given to the text, not in the text itself.  Also that rigor without relevance is just hard!" 

During the workshop, she shared a few different strategies that we can use immediately in our classrooms with students.  The first strategy that I loved was called, "Possible Sentences." For this strategy she said to have students number 1-5 on their papers and tell them that they are to write five possible sentences using the words that you listed on the board/Smartboard that were taken from a nonfiction article.  Tell them they may use up to three sets of words in each sentence, but no more. Also that they may add additional words so they can write complete sentences that make sense.  Have students work in groups to do this, but make sure you have each student write their own five sentences instead of having one student be the writer for the group. This will ensure that each student is engaged in this activity and trying out the strategy instead of being a passive learner and only observing.  Kylene Beers had us try this strategy out during the workshop and displayed the words on the screen below for us to use when writing our 5 sentences.  
*Photo taken by me during workshop

The words are from the article Hard at Work from Times for Kids in 2003. Click on the link below to access the entire article.  

While students are writing their 5 sentences using the displayed sets of words, create a 2 column chart that can be displayed for students to see.  Title the left hand column "Sentences" and the right hand column "Questions." Have students volunteer to share their sentences and as they share them, type them into the left column of the chart.  This is still all happening before students read the article.  Then have students turn and talk to share questions they have based on the information in the sentences they wrote that are displayed now on the chart.  Go one sentence at a time and have students generate questions they have from that one sentence. 

Example of possible chart: 

Ten year olds in the poor country of Ecuador are being forced to work.
Who is forcing them to work?
Where are the parents?
Where is Ecuador?
Is it only for 10 year olds? Do boys and girls do the same work?
How are the kids chosen? 
Ten year old children work 12 hour workdays earning as little as $27 per week.
Why 10 year olds?
When do they go to school? Do they go to school?
Do parents have a choice?
Who is supervising?
How do the parents feel about this?
With heavy knives they climb banana trees for as little as $27 per week and are exposed to harmful chemicals.
Were they trained for this work?
Why type of harmful chemicals? What are the effects of the harmful chemicals?
Who are the bananas for?
Is this legal? 

After generating and sharing questions, give students the article to read.  Then have them write 1-5 on their paper below the sentences they wrote.  If the information in their sentence is correct, they write no change needed.  If not, then they need to rewrite the sentence to make it accurate.  When kids have to go back into the text to see if their information is accurate and/or to rewrite their sentences, that is close reading.  

This is a strategy you can use with any article and Kylene Beers said that once students write their sentences and generate questions about the information, they are begging to read the article because they are interested in the topic and want to find out what it is really about.  She said that it completely engages students while also teaching students to read closely.  She told us that when using this strategy with articles, we need to make sure we use tier 1 words (everyday language) from the article to make sure students are familiar with the meaning of the words. If they aren't familiar with the words, this strategy will not be beneficial for them.   

Thank you Kylene Beers for an outstanding workshop! I am planning on using this strategy soon with 
my students! If you use this strategy in your classroom or try it out, please share! 

Enjoy the weekend! 

1 comment:

  1. Hi! The link to the article isn't working for me. Do you have a copy of it still?