Sunday, June 30, 2013

Text Complexity, Raising Rigor in Reading by Fisher, Frey, and Lapp

Chapter One - Due by July 5th, 2013


  1. Check out the following link! Just copy and paste in the address bar or type it in and hit return. It offers a deeper look into how a district has integrated text choice. Happy reading!

  2. I was hooked immediately, when the authors discussed how reading instruction is described often as a pendulum, but they instead prefer to see it as “ a subsequent return to a topic, resulting in a deeper understanding”. I think that is so true. Yes, some of what we hear is not all so “new”. We return to “hot topics” frequently but get better each time we revisit them. I hope to get better!
    Modeling of close reading instruction during an interactive read aloud, can be viewed on this You Tube video by TCRWP.
    It was suppose to be for grades 3-5, but I can so see a grade 1 teacher doing it similarly.
    I also liked “The Case for Struggle”, which I highlighted the daylights out of. My favorite: “Productive failure provides students an opportunity to struggle with something and learn from the mistakes they make along the way.” It is about the struggle!
    And of course, Mr. Connolly’s lesson was a favorite. Our first grade has done some work with comparing and contrasting two texts on the same topic. I so liked the graphic organizer on page 13 and will use it.
    The instruction of the Core standards at KMS will drive this “hot topic”! Looking forward to your comments, PB

  3. I too, was taken by the idea of growing ideas through revisiting them (similar to our spiral curriculum discussions in the past) rather than seeing the return of topics as a pendulum like movement without progress. And I agree completely about "The Case for Struggle" - we need to find more ways to show that struggling with a concept or an idea is a sign of growing and learning. One thing I want to think about more is the possibility of introducing texts with different levels of complexity on one topic as a way to "lead students into" the more complex texts, as well as building comparison and contrasting skill.

  4. Who doesn't love new learning!? This has really broadened my thinking about how to choose leveled text for my students. It challenges some of Allington's philosophies about what students should be reading. The section entitled,"Revisiting How We Match Readers and Texts" was interesting. My copy now has notes all over the margins.I especially liked the part that states "The text difficulty level is not the real issue. Instruction is. Teachers can scaffold and support students,which will determine the amount of their learning and literacy independence." How true and shouldn't we all strive to do this for each of our students.

  5. Great first chapter. There were definitely certain students that came to mind as I was reading. Especially my previous ELL students. Those students who need to have an understanding of the text BEFORE they read it. But who also need to struggle and ask questions in order to develop richer vocabulary and schema. (Doesn't this simply apply to all of the students in the long run?:)

    Like many of you have commented, the "removal of struggle" is a mistake worth talking about. I know that I am guilty of providing too much support or background knowledge before/during a text at times. This happens for a few reasons. I get too excited about sharing all MY ideas that I get ahead of myself and them.(What can I say? I like an audience) Also...I guess on some level I'm afraid they may not see it on their own.

    So the questions I am asking myself are: "When is schema/vocabulary building before a text too much for certain students? How can I continue to create a reading environment in which I'm moving my students and myself toward being the intended audience the author wants? How can I continue to create and be comfortable with watching/experiencing a "healthy struggle?"

  6. Sorry guys...a bit of technical difficulties! The last post is mine, SB

  7. I am also struck by the way that we revisit topics in literacy instruction. The quote from 1916 on page 6 "the ability to reproduce is quite a separate ability from the ability to get meaning." reminded me of several discussions I have had through the years. This idea is one that always gives us pause when assessing reading. I think this is why TC assessments gave us a feeling of empowerment. We could use our professional judgement more routinely to really develop a sense of the child's reading level rather than the strict rulings that we felt came from the DRA. The idea that we might challenge our students more if we realized they could "handle it" makes a lot of sense to me. I believe that students will rise to the challenges that we place before them and I hope that with a renewed focus on text complexity we will challenge all students more regularly.
    The idea that this isn't planning failure but providing opportunity to struggle and learn about themselves as readers is something that grabbed my attention. I spent a lot of my time this year in math discussing the practice "make sense of problems and persevere in problem solving." This idea of perseverance was challenging to even my brightest students. I noticed a change in confidence as they worked on this practice. Seeing how this will be connected to their reading through text complexity, I can see how reading confidence will increase for even my struggling readers in the future.

    1. Meg- I like what you had to say about providing opportunities to struggle. I know first hand as a parent of one of your math students that you made her a better math student by continuing to push her, and offered her many opportunities to persevere!

  8. This year I was fortunate enough to attend the English Language Arts Consortium where the entire last day of 4 was spent on Text Complexity, Text Dependent Questions, and Performance Tasks. To say that it is a bit overwhelming would be a huge understatement. Pages 8-10 where they discuss the shift in education from a "script" for teachers to us using our "judgement" and "figuring out" how to help our students is a little scary. I say this because there is little to no guidance out there as to what each standard really means and what they are looking we have thousands teachers out there with a national curriculum trying to "figure out" what it means. What if we aren't all moving in the same direction? Then why a national curriculum? Honestly, I have joined this group so that I can "figure" things out and at least move in the same direction as my peers.

    I too liked the graphic organizer on page 13 and thought, "Wow, that would have made the standard for informational text so much easier to tackle!" Grade 3 friends take need to use that next year!!!!

    On a side note...Kristina Elias-Staron and Donna Drasch are in the process of putting together a text of complex text and it will be annotated with why it is complex! I can't wait!

  9. I just lost my entire reply and now I'm annoyed, so my comment for now is that I was reminded of a great book by poet/photographer Charles R. Smith in which he puts Langston Hughes poem My People to photographs. The readability of the text is rather simple, but the complexity of the meaning enhanced by the photographs is stunning. It is on my wish list to purchase.

  10. Hello Everyone! Greetings from the sunny,hot city of New York and Teachers College. Let me say, it has been a wonderful week. Lots to share with you. I actually read Text Complexity back in April. I am so glad that we are now studying it. The idea of struggle, how and when to have it in our classrooms is so important. One place to make struggle transparent is in the read aloud so students see models of ways to deal with difficulty in texts.
    I have to be honest, I am really torn by this. All week at TC, I have heard over and over again"Allington recommends that 95% accuracy as a measure for independent reading is too hard. His recommendation is to move to 98% accuracy rate for independent reading." Here is the link to his article. - just in case you are interested. Definitely ideas worthy of more discussion! I also like Liz's idea that we talk about the struggle about thoughts and ideas. Can't wait to share some of this great work with all of you.

  11. "Planning for failure". This comment struck me and agree with your thoughts about altering this attitude. Students know when you're planning too much and when you are trusting them to take risks and problem solve! So maybe the new term should be "raising the expectations". It's a thought that went through my mind for a lot of this year especially.

  12. "Productive failure", what a concept! It is a concept that I really like. So often we spend so much time trying to differentiate for the below grade level students when we should differentiate and offer supportive struggle for all students in our classrooms.

  13. When I read this chapter it brought back memories of my curriculum development in Ledyard. When I left, we had just begun this work of utilizing complex texts and Webb's Depth of Knowledge. Our classroom libraries were all leveled and students were exposed to a broad mix of leveled texts. The idea was to build stamina while teachers assisted students in matching texts and tasks. One part that really resonated with me was the idea of the text difficulty level not being the real issue. Daily instruction is the focus. Scaffolding and strategic support for students will determine the amount of learning and literacy independence. This goes back to Marzano as he states that the greatest impact on student achievement is the teacher that stands before them. I also connected to our need for developing, tracking, and editing individual reading plans that will become a part of our data team/data wall process. "If the teacher is doing little to support the students' transactions with text then I suspect more learning will accrue with somewhat easier texts." "...instructional support available will likely help students thrive when working with harder texts." Being mindful and reflective with tight IRP's as a means of progress monitoring can aide our cause with dissecting complex texts. I see us really modeling with complex texts in whole and small groups, building the capacity for independent use. Couple of concerns/areas of growth: 1. Do all classrooms have libraries that offer a variety of complex texts and are they leveled? 2. The need for continued professional growth needs to be a district/building focus as noted in Lisa's comments. Teachers need support as they digest the ever impending rigor found in the CCSS. One suggestion may be for us to generate a survey that could be sent out to all teachers at the end of our book club identifying areas that administration can support their instructional needs and professional growth? Love all the comments, can sense the energy and excitement.

  14. My motivation to finish our summer reading came on a beach day with my daughters. With our toes in the sand, we discussed the question posed in Chapter 4 about the Hunger Games. Those of you who know my girls can relate to how very different readers they are! One reads every book in a series and has at least 3 books going at once. The other waits for the movie! I really wanted to see how they'd answer the question about the significance of Peeta giving Katniss the bread! Surprisingly, it was my non-reader who nailed it AND gave justification for her thinking. However, Morgan quickly argued that Lauren only saw the movie which made the significance of the bread obvious. In reading the book, you had to hold that part in your head and do some deeper thinking. Morgan also had an "aha moment" when I told her the meaning of Panem!
    What I am taking from our summer reading is the Table 4.4 Questions about Texts. I plan to highlight some of the questions to keep in my workshop conferencing binder.