Sunday, February 7, 2016

Strategies for Teaching Paired Texts

In the Lone Star State, fourth grade marks the time our students start being tested on paired texts. That means double the reading, double the connections, and double the thinking. Thanks, STAAR! My nine and ten year olds are TOTES ready for that... *smh*

No matter my feelings on the subject, my kids are going to be tested on paired texts. So I might as well make them fun, right?! And truthfully, I have seen some majorly awesome thinking coming from my little boos as we've started on our paired text journey.

To get our paired-texts-comparing-and-contrasting-juices flowing, I started with Venn Diagrams. This is nothing new to our kiddos, right?  They know about comparing and contrasting. But did you know how powerful Venn Diagrams are to help students understand COMPLEX ideas? As they are classifying information, they're recognizing complex relationships. As the rockstar teacher you are, make sure you're asking the deeper, higher level questioning as they're getting their Venn on. Some examples of questions/thinking stems to present to your students are: 
- How are ___ and ___ alike?
- How are ___ and ___ different?
- A similarity between ____ and ___ is?
- A difference between ___ and ___ is?
- A theme found in both selections is ____.
- How are the characters alike in ____ and ___?
- How are the characters different in ___ and ___?
- Why do you think ____ was mentioned in both stories? 
- One idea present in both selections is _____.

There are tons of FREE Venn Diagrams available for download on TPT. And Venn Diagrams don't always have to be circles... Check out all the fabulous F-R-E-E Venn-Like Diagrams from 

After some hardcore Venn-ing, we continued to explore paired texts with some super fantastic games from Jennifer Findley of Teaching to Inspire. It was such a fun way to introduce the questions students will see with paired texts in a non-test like format. Jennifer's Paired Passages Reading Centers give you FIVE paired texts with gameboards. We started with a poem and fiction pairing. We read, discussed, and strategy-ed both selections, made some connections between texts, then got our game on. The kids LOVED it!! And I did too- they were flipping between stories, proving answers and DISCUSSING both stories... Which was continuing that complex thinking AND are the exact things they need to do when kicking a paired text's butt! 

The next step I took on our paired text journey was with a straight up paired text. But about some pretty cool dudes - Lebron James and Michael Jordan. Perhaps you've heard of them? My kids sure had!! They were very excited to dig in, and I took this opportunity to introduce our paired text strategies. I am so thankful that my student teaching was in a 5th grade ELA classroom. The strategies I'm sharing are from my cooperating teacher, Kathy Brock. She was an inspiration to me! 

The first paired passage strategy I use is LABEL your passages. First passage gets a 1 and the second passage gets a 2. Pretty easy stuff for the kids to pick up. 
Why do this, you ask? A few reasons. 
- When the kiddos get around to the questions, I want them to label which story they need to flip back to for text evidence. 
- If my kiddos get confused on where to find and answer, all they have to do is FLIP TO THE CORRESPONDING STORY. I will push, push, push this during practice and PRAY they do it on their own come STAAR time. Lol. 

Here's an example of what I'll expect my kids to do using a released STAAR test from 2013. The cute red font represents the labeling strategy I'm teaching my kiddos. 

The T-Chart strategy comes in on the questions that deal with passages 1&2. Students need to find proof from BOTH stories. So I bring back the Venn Diagram thinking but in T-chart form because it's easy and quick. Here are the steps:
- Make a T chart. Label it 1 and 2 (this represents the stories)
- For each answer choice, find the proof in both stories. Record the paragraph number. 
- The correct answer will have a paragraph number under BOTH stories for "compare" questions (shown) or under ONE story on "contrast" questions. 
Pretty easy to see that the answer is A on this "compare" question!

These strategies help my kids THINK, PROVE their answers, and GET THE RIGHT ANSWER. And once they have these strategies down, they will be second nature to them. 
Paired Text? Consider your butt kicked. BOOM. 

There are so many fantastic teacherprenuers on TPT whose products have played a HUGE roll in my our paired text journey. Here are some products that I big puffy heart love. 

- Readers's Notebook Response Pages by The Thinker Builder. I use these response pages for EVERYTHING, not just paired texts. You have got to check out Michael's blog, he's like a reading genius in my opinion!! 

Paired Passages Reading Centers by Jennifer Findley. As mentioned above, my kids just LOVE these! Reading and working paired passages ALL THE TIME gets BOOOORING. Liven things up with games! Your kids can still practice their strategies but in a fun and stress-free way. 

- NBA Legends Paired Texts by Keith Geswein. Keith is Kimberley Geswein's (KG Fonts) hubby, and equally as talented! He offers paired texts on NBA, NFL and Soccer legends. Perfect for those reluctant readers in your class!! And my girls were just as stoked to read about Lebron & Michael as my boys were! 

I hope some of this info inspires and helps you! 
How do you tackle paired texts in your classroom? I'd love to hear from you! :) 

1 comment:

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