Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Tough Questions

"Tough Questions" is the last signpost from Notice and Note.  Students frequently think they have a solid understanding of this signpost, but sometimes have a tendency to confuse this with asking questions; a comprehension strategy from CAFE.  The CAFE strategy requires the reader to ask questions typically regarding the plot.  However, "Tough Questions" is when the main character within the story asks a question that allows the reader to better understand the internal conflict in the story (credit to Brent Peterson for the video

Sharon Draper's Out of my Mind is one of my all time favorite books.  Melody is a young lady with cerebral palsy who is not given much credit after being included in the general education classroom.  She is incredibly intelligent, but others frequently only see her for her disability.

As the story progresses, she decides to try out for her quiz team.  She is having success with initial tryouts, but doesn't believe that her fellow classmates or even her teacher have faith in her.  She asks herself a tough question; "Why is it worth studying if I won't even be allowed on the quiz team?"  Recognizing that Melody has asked herself a tough question is the first step, but then the reader must also ask themselves "What does this question make me wonder about?"  As I was reading, it made me wonder if she would ever be accepted and also what would have to happen in her classroom so that she feels as though she is accepted.

Each of the signposts asks readers to do some initial work as far as identification, but the true value of the work comes from the follow-up questions once the signposts have been identified within the reading!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Memory Moment

The "Memory Moment" signpost might be more familiar to students than some of the other signposts from Notice and Note because it is somewhat similar to a flashback within a story.  Check out Brent Peterson's video below for an overview!

Lynda Mullaly Hunt, author of One for the Murphy's, pauses Carley's story to take her back to a previous moment in her life; an opportunity for Carley to come to a realization but also an opportunity to reveal an important aspect of the plot to the reader.

After the character experiences this "Memory Moment," the reader must ask themselves why this memory is important.  Why did the author decide to include this within the plot and what does it reveal to the reader?

From a writer's standpoint, "Memory Moments" are great pieces of a text to lift into a Writer's Workshop minilesson; to analyze how and why the "Memory Moment" was included.

Continue reading and be on the lookout for signposts within your reading!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Again and Again

We are now past the halfway point!  "Again and Again" is the fourth signpost from Notice and Note.  The video below, put together by Brent Peterson, will help you learn more about this signpost!

It's impossible for me to think about the signposts without thinking about books I've read in the past.  Likewise, now that I'm familiar with the signposts, they also seem to jump out at me as I'm reading new books as well.  The trailer below is from a book I read a few years ago.  The new format of a documentary novel, in my opinion, has Revolution'ized the historical fiction genre.  Enjoy the trailer below of Countdown by Deborah Wiles.

The trailer mentions that Franny's life is seemingly falling apart.  One of the relationships that is not mentioned in the trailer that seems to be falling apart is the relationship between Franny and her sister, Jo Ellen.  Deborah Wiles builds tension throughout the text because a mysterious envelope keeps showing up "Again and Again." The reader is unsure of what is in the envelope, but by it repeatedly showing up, the reader naturally wants to know what is inside of it.  The reader quickly realizes that whatever is inside may hold the secret to the wedge that is being driven between Franny and Jo Ellen.

Book two of Deborah Wiles's 1960's trilogy is currently sitting on my To Be Read (TBR) pile on my nightstand.  I'm looking forward to Sunny's story and seeing what signposts will be present!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Aha Moment

Today, we'll look at "Aha Moment" which is yet another signpost from Notice and Note.  Aha moment always reminds me of when a light bulb goes off for a character; he or she has some realization and then changes some of their behaviors or decisions based on their new realization.  Check out Brent Peterson's video below for more information!

This strategy immediately made me think of Lynne Kelly's Chained.  My previous co-teacher and I always describe Chained as The One and Only Ivan meets Boys Without Names.  If you have not read Chained, I would highly recommend it!  (See the work Dumbilli did in a conference while working with Chained)

The main character, Hastin, is looking to assist his family because his sister is dealing with an illness and his mother is already working all hours of the day to try to support her family.  Hastin finally lands a job with a circus and he believes that this is the answer his family needs.  As time passes, Hastin experiences an "Aha Moment" as he realizes that the circus owner does not have the animals' best interests in mind nor the best interests of his employees.  Hastin's working for the good of the circus before he comes to this realization, but his focus of what is most important to him shifts drastically after his thoughts of the circus owner also changes.

Brent Peterson touched upon the idea that a character's behavior following an "Aha Moment" will often lead a reader to better understand the central idea (he said "theme") of a story.  This is challenging work for many students, but another great example of how the signposts can offer support in raising the level of thinking of our readers!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Words of the Wiser

The second signpost from Notice and Note is "Words of the Wiser."  Check out the video below for more information!  (credit to Brent Peterson for video creation)

As I was learning more about Words of the Wiser, I began thinking about Cynthia Lord's Rules (for the record, I just started her newest novel, Half a Chance last night).

(Credit to YouTube user jastrohp)

The Rules book trailer mentions that Catherine is torn when Jason, a young man with a disability, asks her to the school dance.  She wants to go but is concerned about what Kristi, her neighbor, will think about Jason.  Catherine turns to her mother to receive "Words of the Wiser" to determine what to do in this situation.  Not only does her mother provide solid life advice, this piece of writing also provides the reader with some insight as to the central ideas of the entire text that the author is trying to convey.  Identifying central themes within a text is often a challenging concept for students, but locating "Words of the Wiser" is frequently the intermediate support necessary to lead to student success with this!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Contrasts and Contradictions

We frequently begin the school year sharing a majority of the CAFE reading strategies pretty quickly through shared reading, minilessons, and really any time we can throughout the day.  The CAFE strategies were really meant to be primary level strategies, but reviewing them for readers will never hurt.  However, we've found ourselves wondering where to go with upper elementary students once they are comfortable with CAFE strategies.  Kylene Beers and Bob Probst released Notice and Note; these strategies took our readers to the next level!

There are six strategies within Notice and Note which are referred to as the signposts.  The first signpost is known as "Contrasts and Contradictions."  Check out the video below for more information!  (credit to Brent Peterson for video creation)

As I was learning more about Contrasts and Contradictions, I began thinking about some of my favorite books and where I had seen this signpost.  R.J. Palaccio's Wonder instantly popped into my head!


Auggie has a friend, Jack Will, who has always been kind to him.  He befriended him before the school year even began and that has continued throughout Auggie's first year at a public school.  However, when students are dressed up for Halloween, Auggie overhears Jack Will make a malicious comment about him.  This is out of character for Jack Will which is exactly what makes a Contrast and Contradiction.  Identifying the unexpected behavior is the first step in utilizing this sign post.  The next step is, as a reader, asking why Jack Will may have done this.  The answer in this particular situation is that Jack Will was around other students and was apparently trying to fit in by acting the same way the other students were.

After you teach a signpost, you'll notice that you and your students are more aware of that particular signpost.  Your readers will read with that particular lens and be on the hunt for finding opportunities when characters act out of character!