Notice and Note: Using Inner Conversation to Monitor Comprehension with Contrast and Contradiction

Even though I teach sixth grade, I have to spend a lot of time in my reading block modeling and teaching students how to monitor their reading comprehension.  One of the best ways I've found to do this is by teaching my students about the inner conversation that good readers have with themselves. I start with an anchor chart of what that "voice in your head" is doing while you are reading and we discuss how readers who pay attention to their thinking, are more apt to learn, understand and remember what they read.  I teach my students that as readers they must leave tracks within their thinking.

Notice & Note: Strategies for Close Reading by Kylene Beers and Robert E. Probst is a perfect book for educators who want students to connect with a story, and monitor their own comprehension.  In the book, Beers and Probst discuss the idea of six signposts that are apparent in good literature.  These signposts, or elements that occur in most genres of good literature, help students make connection to text and think authentically about what they are reading, instead of just "finishing" a book.  I basically devoured this book when I began reading it.  It justifies so many things that I believe about reading, and how to create a community of readers in your classroom.  It challenges students to dig deeper into text, and find the authenticity behind what they are reading.  I've begun teaching the sign posts to my students, and they are excited about reading again.  They are excited to dicuss a book, or story, or poem with their classmates.  They feel a little like detectives as they leave tracks, and make connections.

Signpost #1 Contrast and Contradictions
I began the signposts by teaching Contrast and Contradictions.  We created an anchor chart which defines the signpost, and I gave my students a tabbed book for their interactive notebooks where they could create an anchor chart for each signpost as well.  This helped to give them ownership in their learning, and a place to refer back to for anchor questions.

Contrast and Contradiction is the idea that there is a contrast between what we would EXPECT a character to be doing and what the character actually does.  An author will use this in a novel or story for character development, to show internal conflict, theme, or show a relationship between the setting and the plot of the story.  The key to the signpost is in the anchor question.  For contrast and contradiction we are looking at WHY would the character act this way?  It allows students to pause in their thinking and make inferences and connections within the text.

After explaining the concept and creating our anchor charts, I began by showing my students a video that contained several contrasts and contraditions.  I used the Pixar short Presto which is about a magician and the conflicts between his bunny and himself.

I stopped after the first section where a Contrast and Contradiction occurs, and modeled for my students in our tabbed book what was going on, and then used the anchor questions to write about what I was thinking at this point in the story.  LEAVING TRACKS!  Then I continued on with the story stopping at several other areas that showed a C/C and had students turn and talk about it, always emphasizing the anchor question, and that is the key to the deeper understanding.

When we finished with the lesson I  had them read and find at least one C/C in their independent reading books.

On the second day we reviewed Contrast and Contradiction using this great video by Brent Peterson.

Then I modeled the C/C again using the short story "Thank You Ma'am" by Langston Hughes.  This lesson is completely modeled for you in the Notice and Note book.  So if you are nervous about how to get started teaching the signposts, Beers and Probst do an amazing job walking you through the steps with students, and give tons of ideas and books to help you.

Here are a few other books that you could use to reinforce the idea of Contrasts and Contradictions with your students.  (LINKS GO TO AMAZON)

I especially liked using The Crossover by Kwame Alexander.  This Newbery winner is written completely in poetry prose, so it is a perfect way to show my students that Notice and Note Signposts can come in all forms of literature.  I have been using it as my own independent reading book example with my students.

Here is a link to the Notice and Note book if you are interested in learning more about helping your students think deeper about text.

I'll share my experience with AHA Moments soon.  Meanwhile, I would love to hear about any resources you may have for using Notice and Note in your classroom!  

Ratios and Rates Videos {Mid-Week Math Motivation}

Ratios, Rates and Proportional Reasoning is a pretty big unit for sixth grades.  It is one of the largest shifts in the Common Core Curriculum as students make a change from a dominant Place Value math standard to learning about the comparison of numbers with reasoning.  Today I wanted to share a few video resources that I use in the classroom to help make this unit more engaging.

Have you seen this video my Math Antics?  One of the things I LOVE about this video is the explanation of how ratios are a comparison of numbers.  It explains to students how we often think that a comparison is a greater than or less than relationship, but ratios is a relationship of numbers with division.  Great guidance!!

This video is a great way to review the concepts of ratios before getting into more of the specifics of rates.

When I teach about Unit Rates and Unit pricing, I show my students this video from Consumer Reports.  It gives them a great overview, and they can go to the grocery store and see it in action!

It's interesting within the video to see that not all grocery stores and companies compare unit prices the same.  For example, some share their product in ounces, while others share the unit rate in pounds.  It was a great way to add in some ELA standards as we briefly discussed the need for universal unit pricing!  Anytime you can add in a cross-curriculum concept that makes the top even more REAL WORLD applicable!!
I always tell me kids to try and save their parents at least $5.00 in the grocery store using unit rates, and maybe their payback will be a treat or candy bar with the savings!

Finally, my kids LOVE Ratey the Math Cat from Math Snacks:

I like this goofy video because I can pause it at different times while my students figure out what the unit rates would be, or what several different equivalent rates are within the real world scenarios.

Thanks for stopping by for a little Mid- Week Math Motivation!  I'd love to hear about videos that you use in your math units!


Graphing on the Coordinate Grid-- Interactive Candy Style {Mid-Week Math Motivation}

My students and I had the best time practicing quadrants and ordered pairs with this candy graphing game!  It was easy to set up, my students LOVED playing-- giving up their break time for extra chances, and I had almost 100% mastery on this section of my assessment!  I'd call that a Win-Win in any situation!

The Set Up:
Find a space in your school or classroom where you can set up a grid.  I used a wall in our cafeteria because the blocks were already marked, but you could use a classroom wall, playground or sidewalk.  I was originally planning to draw a grid outside, but we've been experiencing some cold weather, so I had to make a change in plans.  Using the cafeteria actually worked out well.  Other classes were really intrigued by what we were doing.  I had a lot of students wish they were sixth graders!  Our custodian even gave me the roll of painters tape!

The goal is to make the grid 6x6.  You could use a single quadrant, or make all four quadrants.  You need to use a 6x6 grid because students will roll dice to find their ordered pair.  Once I had the grid set up, I taped candy bags to coordinates.  I wanted to make the game pretty enticing so I put several candies in a bag, and used a lot of them.  But you could tape individual pieces up if you wanted.  I would do this if I was setting the grid up on my classroom wall.  It would be perfect in a math centers rotation.  Use small candies like lollipops, or fruit snacks etc.  If your school doesn't allow candy treats as prizes, try pencils, homework passess, extra book raffle tickets, etc.  

I also use four giant dice.  Two of them are designated as negative and the other two for positive numbers.  Here is an example from Amazon: (Link is the picture)
(These are listed at 5.99 and you get a set of 2)

Playing the Game:
The basic purpose of the game is to get students to practice finding ordered pairs and identifying quadrants on the coordinate grid.  Students decide which candy bag they would like to go for.  They must identify the ordered pair where it lies, and then I had the rest of the class tell the quadrant.  My students then rolled the die.  If the first number wasn't correct, they got to decide the chance they have of getting candy on another ordered pair with the same x- integer.. bringing in statistics and ratios!  WOOT WOOT!

This lesson was also great for error analysis.  I put a couple of candy bags directly onto the y-axis. The ordered pair would be something like (3,0).  This would be an impossible roll for my students to make because of course there is no zero on the die.  But I didn't tell them this!  I waited for someone to figure it out, or chose a candy bag on the y-axis.  Of course it happens, and it was an AMAZING way to discuss how and why this could not be a choice!

I gave my students who didn't win a few other chances, but not everyone walked away a winner.  That is another great life lesson!  This was a perfect way to work through so many different sections of our integers unit.  It was interactive, engaging, and fun.. I mean who doesn't love candy prizes!
Thanks for joining me for a little Mid-Week Math Motivation!

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