Archive of ‘English’ category

Text Dependent Questions

What does the text say? (General understanding and key details)
How does the text work? (vocabulary, structure, and author’s craft)
What does the text mean? Logical inferences and intertextual connections)
What does the text inspire you to do? (write, investigate, present, debate)

Nancy Frey and Douglas Fisher San Diego State University, USA

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Differentiation and Explicit Teaching

This one looks great for providing clear explanation of explicit teaching and differentiation in the areas of Spelling, Reading, and Punctuation and Grammar. We have identified the need at our school for more focus on explicit teaching in terms of sentence structure, and differentiation is continually an important factor in meeting the wide ranging needs of individuals and cohorts within any class.

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Text Complexity

Novice readers are unable to recognise when to access prior knowledge. Explicit teaching of this skill required. Here meta cognitive thinking is really important – thinking about one’s thinking.
A key aspect of meta cognition is self-management – which consists of: evaluation, planning and regulation. Evaluation refers to analysing the task characteristics and personal abilities that affect comprehension. “Planning involves the selection of particular strategies to reach the goals that have been set or chosen. Regulation is the monitoring and redirection of one’s activities during the course of reading to reach the desired goals.”
Instruction about meta cognitive thinking led to increased comprehension and performance.

By providing reading materials related to field trips or current areas of study, a student’s field of knowledge about that topic can be expanded.

Exploring the task
Selection of texts will depend on what the teacher is expecting students to do with the text. If independent reading is required then the text needs to be something matched to their performance level. If teachers want students to access more complex texts they have to teach the text. The Australian Curriculum is about increasing the rigor of what students can read through high-quality instruction. The teacher has an important role here – not just setting the work.

Explicit teaching and a supportive framework is required. Opportunities for students to practice strategies with others, discuss ideas and listen to how more able readers interpret and think about texts, and then apply these strategies (gradually) more independently are really important factors in a quality teaching program.

Teacher-Led Tasks
As apprentices, students need to have thinking made visible. There are a number of components that can be modelled, including comprehension, word solving, text structures, and text features.
Comprehension – teachers can model- visualising, inferring, summering, predicting, questioning or monitoring. These should be used as appropriate to the text being explored not curricular used with a certain number of weeks allocated to each strategy. Readers have to learn to notice clues that trigger specific, useful cognitive strategies. Students need to see these as problem solving strategies to be used when meaning breaks down.

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Text Complexity – Notes and Relections

Motivation is a very powerful factor. The following factors impact motivation positively:
1. Relevance
2. Choice
3. Success
4. Collaboration
5. Thematic units

Avoid these 5 practices because they have a negative effect:
1. Nonrelevance
2. Excessive control
3. Difficult lessons
4. Frequent individual work
5. Disconnected units

Two other factors that teachers have a high degree of control over are: curricular organisation and social interactions. The first helps ground relevance by establishing purpose in lessons, design of units and choice within investigations are important. “To propel learning forward we need students to engage in incrementally more demanding (but not impossible) tasks – in the company of others who are learning and with expert guidance close at hand when the group gets stuck.”
Goal setting is another dimension that can impact strongly on learning. Teachers can promote deliberate practice through goal setting with students when they link goal-setting activities back to the established purposes. Goal setting should be a regular part of the instructional design process.

“Thinking about one’s thinking is essential for pairing the known with the unknown and us a critical factor in distinguishing a novice from an expert.

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Text Complexity – Raising Rigor in Reading – Fisher, Frey, Lapp

Comparing Skills and Strategies

Strategy Skills
A conscious plan under the control of the reader. An automatic procedure that readers use unconsciously.
Requires thought about which plan to use and when to use them. Do not require thought, interpretation, or choice.
Are process-oriented, cognitive procedures the reader uses, generally unobservable in nature. Are observable behaviours, found on taxonomies, skills tests, or answers to questions.
Instruction focuses on the reasoning process readers use as they interact with text. Instruction focuses on repeated use until it becomes habitual.

“Strategies become skills with instruction and practice. The challenge is to apply these skills to increasingly complex and diverse texts.”

A chart enables students to compile information for a closer understanding of a topic and understood by analysis of several texts.

Learning about a topic

Text 1: Important Ideas

Text 2: Important Ideas

Text 3: Important Ideas

What I learned from Text 1

What I learned from Text 2

What I learned from Text 3

What I learned from reading the texts


A teacher can help students to fully comprehend and analyse a text, regardless of their instructional levels. Students can read, discuss, and scrutinise a text multiple times to conduct a deep analysis and comprehension, with their teacher acting as a guide.Each revisit strengthens the readers’ base of knowledge, language, concrete reasoning, evaluative judgment, and text analysis skills.

It’s difficult to create a simple lesson to teach students to understand a complex text. It takes time to develop the thinking skills necessary to read complex texts. It also takes really good instruction. It is possible to teach students to read complex texts but it requires more than just giving students hard books and hoping that they get better at reading. Teaching starts with a deep understanding of what makes a text complex.  Text complexity involves both quantitative and qualitative factors, and what a teacher requires students to do with the text can also build in complexity.

With appropriate instructional supports, texts can be reread and analysed to unearth complex structures, themes and insights. Once read and understood the text can be more deeply analysed in terms of content, such as events, chronology, motives, time sequence, propositional hierarchies, story grammar, and logical structures.

3 factors explored:

1. Quantitative measures of the text

2. Qualitative considerations about content, structure and cohesion

3. the reader and the task

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