Sunday, December 30, 2012

Analyze This!

The December/January 2012/2013 edition of Reading Today includes an interesting article by Maureen McLaughlin and Douglas Fisher entitled "Teaching Students to Meet the Common Core Standards in Grades 6-12? Analyze This!" Since the term analyze appears in 3 of the reading standards- Key Ideas and Details- 3, Craft and Structure- 5 and Integration of Knowledge and Ideas- 9, the authors explore how to teach students to analyze before they are expected to meet standards including the skill. They define analyze three ways:

1. examining the structure of information in detail, particularly for the purposes of explanation
2. demonstrate and ability to see patterns and to classify information into component parts
3. taking something learned apart for the purposes of thinking about its parts. (p. 12)

In order to be able to analyze informational texts, the authors focus on two components: generating and responding to questions and using text structure. Questioning teaches pattern seeking and structure examination as well as breaking things apart. The authors note Ciardiello's work (1998) on teaching four levels of questions- memory, convergent, divergent and evaluative. This strategy involves teaching key words that require different types of thinking and how to answer such questions. Many questioning strategies have been developed and proven effective. Marzano's McREL group even identified questioning as one of the most effective teaching techniques It is good to teach the material; it is also effective for self-utilization. Reciprocal teaching focuses on generating questions and also provides question starters (see my blog at or Kelly Gallagher's Twenty Questions homework assignments ask student to use metacognition, as students read they develop twenty questions that will be the springboard fro discussion Question-Answer relationships involves teaching students to categorize questions to help them know where to find answers. All of these strategies develop question generating and responding skills. Teaching these strategies on both fiction and nonfiction texts is important for developing the skills that students will need to develop for analyzing material as required by the CCSS.

Long have reading and literature teachers taught text structures for fictional works. We have all seen plot maps and graphic organizers identifying the characters, setting, problem/conflict, solution and at upper grades introduction, rising action, climax, and denouement. Some content area teachers have taught graphic organizers with cause and effect, chronological development, comparisons, and problem and solution. Just teaching these structures is not enough. We need to teach how to "use the structure to predict subsequent author moves and as a memory aid" (p. 13). This is where we as teachers often fail to complete the circle of instruction. We teach the beginning, but not the why and what is it good for. Rarely do we ask students to use these structures to build metacognition. They use these awarenesses because we tell them to, not because they independently thought they would be useful to develop understanding of text. Since this is what the CCSS requires of them at the high school level, we need to teach them at the earlier grades. This is where we have the most room to grow. 

No comments:

Post a Comment