Saturday, March 1, 2014

Rigorously Reading Your Way Through Complex Text

Nancy Frey & Douglas Fisher RIGOROUS READING—5 Access Points for Comprehending Complex Text

Last spring we were given the opportunity to pilot the Smarter Balance Assessment in sixth grade. This next-generation assessment measures student progress toward college and career readiness and is aligned to the new Common Core State Standards. Many would argue this added burden on top of state testing was too daunting and would be of no value. My amazing team led us in a much more positive mindset.

It shouted out to us loud and clear the direction we need to go to truly prepare our students to be the innovative thinkers required to compete in our competitive global economy. It is not enough to know what you know, but more importantly to show and share what you know in a variety of formats; reading writing, speaking, and listening.

Nancy Frey & Douglas Fisher’s Rigorous Reading is the framework to begin the process of developing a research based instructional system where our students accurately learn how to read complex texts. This instruction routine “makes it possible for students to read increasingly complex text and to gain exposure to thoughtful reading instruction that provides access to these texts.” This knowledge is powerful.

Frey & Fisher give the reader the analogy of two bookends. Anchor Standard 10 defines the outcome of instruction on, “Reading and comprehending complex literary informational text independently and proficiently.” On the other end of the bookshelf is Anchor Standard 1 where students, “Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.”  These two standards are the supportive bookends for the remaining standards.

Frey & Fisher support teachers, schools and districts to move toward proficiency through five access points.

1.     Purpose & Modeling: What am I learning and show me how through a teacher think- aloud. (My personal favorite part of the lesson- I do.)
2.     Close and Scaffold Reading Instruction: Teachers guide students not just once, but several times through the text. (We do. We do. We do.)
3.     Collaborate Conversations: Teachers facilitate collaborative student conversations to develop habits of interactions and analytical thinking. (Ya'll do.)
4.     Independent Reading Staircase: Progressing students forward thinking through challenging text to foster metacognitive awareness. (You can do it!)
5.     Performance: Feedback and Instruction is based on assessments for learning to support student’s ability to demonstrate their understanding of text in a variety of ways.

I can’t remember reading a book and being exhausted and exhilarated all at the same time. How can I move forward and share this critical research based practice with teachers? I believe, Frey & Fisher had the same experience because at the end of the book is a linear Professional Learning Guide. The framework is intended for school or district site professional developers to support teachers and leaders to develop instruction on how to effectively comprehend complex text through “Rigorous Reading.”  A rare find and worth every minute of your time!

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