Strategy of the Week:
Mark ItOne of the big focuses in Common Core is having students do "close reading". Close reading involves students analyze a high-quality text and glean understanding from it. It involves the ability to identify key points and evidence included by the author.
One of the ways that I like to start out close reading, especially with my ESOL students, is to use what I call the Mark It strategy. As students read, they mark the reading with a set of standard symbols (each with a different meaning) given by the teacher. Here are some of the symbols I use below:
You can use these symbols or introduce your own symbols with their own meanings. This gives students a way to easily and quickly annotate the text, as well as with monitoring and thinking critically about what they are reading WHILE they are reading it. It makes it easy to find important places in the text when they are answering questions, looking for evidence or participating in a classroom discussion.
If you are using a reading that students can't actually mark on, such as a textbook, you can give each student an overhead marker and a transparency that they can lay over the textbook page. If you are using a magazine or a class set of readings, the can be placed in clear page protectors that students can mark on with overhead pens or dry erase markers.
I found that when my students used this strategy consistently, their reading comprehension improved vastly. I even noticed my students doing it on the state test at the end of the year! I hope you find this strategy as useful for your students as I do for mine.