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Improving Reading Comprehension by using “Signposts”

As the Resource Room teacher, I have some flexibility in choosing my novels, based on my group each year.  This semester, I chose The Giver. What a wonderful book!! I’ve always loved it, and after seeing the movie, I knew this was the perfect book for my 8th graders.

My thematic foundation for this nine weeks is a continuation of the 2nd nine weeks: “Opinions, Choices, and Consequences.” My students are continuing to make connections between their choices and actions and the consequences of those decisions.  This life lesson is one that all young adults need to learn.

As we are have just began the novel, the focus is on “Adherence to the Rules” and how the rules shape the setting, affect the characters, and create conflict. The students need to understand the general rules of the society before we move on in the story. In the first few chapters of the novel, students have been making observations and inferences and analyzing the text to predict and determine the conflict in the novel.

Through the close-reading and analysis of The Giver, students will actively use reading strategies that will enhance their comprehension of the literature. The strategy I am using is called “Notice and Note.” It comes from the book Notice & Note: Strategies for Close Reading  by Kylene Beers & Robert E. Probst. This is a strategy I read about over Christmas break. The strategy prompts students to seek 6 different signals from the author.  Over the course of the novel, students will learn to use these signposts independently as they read.  The Signposts include:

  • Contrasts and Contradictions
  • Again and Again
  • Memory Moments
  • Words of the Wiser
  • Aha Moment
  • Tough Questions

I did not purchase the book which was a little pricey. Between Pinterest and some general research I was able to piece things together and find a way to make the strategy work for my students.

So far, so great. I can’t think of a more perfect book to introduce this strategy. The first three chapters alone are full of examples of Contrasts and Contradictions, Again and Again, and Memory Moments.

It has been very exciting watching my students’ hands shoot up in the air as I read something that needs to be marked. Right now, as a class, they have a lot of questions:

What is going on in this community? Why are there so many rules?  Who made up these rules? Why don’t the people think it’s strange? When does this book take place? Is this our future? 

Some students caught on very quickly and only needed a day to understand the signposts, which I introduced one at a time. (We’ve only covered the first three so far.) Others are having a little more difficulty, but through guided practice and a lot of discussion, I see more and more students participating with confidence.

I typically read a short passage from the chapter out loud. When I see several students marking their books, I pause and we talk.  One thing I’ve noticed is my students aren’t highlighting EVERYTHING like they typically do. They are searching and listening for specific pieces of information (the signposts) which helps them really focus on what’s happening in the novel.

As I hand out assignments for community work or dwelling work (more on this later), I remind students to look at the annotations they’ve already made in their books because that is where they will likely find the answers to important questions.

If you are in need of something simple and applicable to all novels, “Notice and Note” may be a strategy that works for you.

Do you use Notice and Note in your classroom?

Have you purchased the book? Is it worth the pricetag?

I would love to hear your thoughts!

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One response

  1. […] some of my own material to match what I already have created in my classroom, which you can see here.  I probably spent an hour making the videos and the accompanying handout, and each video was a […]

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