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Elementary teacher explaining social studies lesson to group of kids in classroom

Complex text … oh, my!

I don’t know about you, but implementing the Common Core has become an exciting new challenge! I am having to think about text in a whole new way.

Typically, with the old state standards, I was able to use a shared read and elevate the thinking level based on the tasks and the Bloom’s questions that I challenged my kiddos with. However, the old days of a mediocre, shared read are long gone, and we are challenged to incorporate the higher leveled tasks and questions, but also pair them with a complex text to elevate the rigor and critical thinking skills in our classroom. This requires more complex preparation, but I’m finding it to be highly beneficial for my students, and absolutely worth it!

In choosing a complex text, I started with our reading scores from last year, and tried to decipher where my students struggled the most. For me, that was informational text. So I find myself navigating towards informational text when teaching our reading strategies. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of fiction texts that prove to be incredibly challenging for our kids, but I find that with my higher leveled read alouds, and the text I choose for guided reading, I am able to manage a balance.

So I have narrowed down a “short list,” if you will, of the different ways I choose challenging text for my kids.

Language — Can I identify approximately five, meaty, Tier 2 words that “travel well” across curriculum areas? Does the language have enough academic language built in?

Bloom’s Taxonomy and Webb’s Depth of Knowledge (DOK) — Does it lend itself to higher level thinking tasks, and scaffolding questions for lower academic learners? Below, I’ve listed a few Bloom’s and Webb’s DOK resources. (Note: Bloom’s Levels were altered in 2001, and have Evaluation and Synthesis flip flopped, because it has been proven that Synthesizing is actually a higher thinking task than Evaluation.)

Length & Level — Is the length sufficient to teach text structure, include nonfiction text features, or able to be taught over the course of days with multiple reading strategies? What’s the Lexile Level?

Familiarity to the students — After a couple reads, can the text become familiar to students, to enable the teaching of new reading strategies?

It definitely takes time to wade through the different texts, but remember there are some resources out there! These are a few that I tend to navigate to, especially when I want to cross my social studies and science curriculum into our reading time.

Just remember … you are having the opportunity to truly change the way our kids think about and connect to text. Embrace the opportunity to enjoy in-depth discussions and allow learners to listen to each other in order to tap into that critical thinker in all of our students!

Publication Date
August 7, 2013