Cue my most recent professional development! One of our county's reading gurus came to our school to tell us all about "text sets" and how to implement them in our classroom. Now I know the term "text sets" has been around for a while and I have always heard a few different meanings for the phrase but this PD showed me text sets in a whole new light. Maybe it's a Common Core thing, but Florida is just starting to semi-embrace CC (we're just calling it something else) so forgive me if you already know this!
The purpose of this text set is to attempt to not just introduce a topic, but issues within the topic, and have students form opinions based on their evidence from many different sources/forms of media. For our pre-reading activity I used video clips, articles, and maps. One of the things that the presenter kept mentioning was that we DO NOT teach during this lesson. This is all about the students teaching and thinking for themselves. Using this graphic organizer (go ahead and grab it, it's FREE!) they fill out each square after each new piece of evidence and write down all their thoughts, then finally form their opinion. I cannot take credit for this organizer. The presenter showed us her version but I created my own and swapped the order of some of the boxes.
Step One: Introduce the Topic and Purpose Question
My topic was about population policy. I started off by just asking some general family questions of the kids. Who was the second child in their family? Who was the third? Who had more than three siblings? Were their parents a third child? Then the "hard hitting" questions came out. What if I said every family could only have two children? Who would still be here?
It was very interesting to watch the faces of the third children. I asked them if there was any way that could ever be a rule, only being allowed to have two children, and they were very adamant that it could not! Then I introduced my Purpose Question: "Is it ever okay for the government to "manage" your family and tell you how many children you can have?" Unanimous "no" ladies and gentlemen.
I introduced the graphic organizer (which I printed on gray card stock and laminated so they would last me longer) and the purpose behind it and told them to only fill out the box I told them to when I tell them to. You can actually go in any order you want but I started from the top and went left to right.
Step Two: This Makes Me Feel/Think
Our first source was a three minute video clip about what exactly is China's One-Child Policy. It was very informative and gave the background as to how it got started and looked into one "invisible child's" life not being able to fully exist. It was very moving. After watching the clip I told them to read the directions and fill out the first box.
Step Three: Stop and Jot
For the last three boxes the students would be using articles that I prepared for them on a key ring. Each pair of students grabbed one article and read it together. I only had two articles, one that showed the benefits of China's population policy and one that was against it. After they read their article and discussed their thoughts and opinions with their partner, they had to read the directions and fill out the Stop and Jot square based on what they just read (not the video).
Step Four: R.E.S.P.O.N.D.
You can have the students swap articles if you would like, but I had mine tell each other what they read about. They did know this ahead of time to help them prepare key points and the main idea. They were also allowed to reference back to the article. After teaching each other about the other side of the issue, students chose one way to respond to what they just learned: R - rephrase, E - explain, S - summarize, P - pose a question, O - opinion, N - note your thoughts, or D - describe. Again, this section is only writing down their thoughts and feelings based on what their partners just taught them. They never read the other article, just learned about it from their table mates.
Step Five: Citing Textual Evidence
This is where it all comes together. Now that students have seen the video, read the articles, made connections, etc. they write down their final answer to the Purpose Question in the last box using text evidence to support their opinion. It was interesting to see some of their unanimous "No's" go to "well maybe..."
My kids absolutely LOVED this pre-reading activity. They couldn't wait until we started the novel after they found out that this is what it would be about. As I stated in the beginning, I did very little teaching during this time. A couple kids had questions about what words meant and what not and we did end up having a whole group discussion on the two articles at the end but by that point they already knew everything. I wasn't teaching them anything new. It was very satisfying to watch my fifth graders be such independent learners and thinkers!
You could use text sets and the graphic organizer for SO MANY subjects! The Reading and Writing Project has tons of digital non-fiction text sets already set up for you by subject to get you started. It is an amazing way to cover citing evidence, differentiating reading levels, text features, social skills/communication, in-depth knowledge on any subject, and so much more! I keep thinking of different topics I would love to use this with! What are your thoughts and suggestions? I would love to hear any ideas you have in the comments sections :0)
Happy Friday y'all!