Sunday, February 28, 2016

Treat Yourself Self to Reading Nonfiction: Notice and Note Stances, Signposts, and Strategies

By: Angela Bunyi

When I was asked to read, review, and write a blog that provided easy “take-away” points for the newest nonfiction edition of Notice and Note, I eagerly agreed. I devoured and heavily relied on the fiction edition that preceded it when I was an intervention teacher for the upper grades.
Then I became a little overwhelmed as I quickly realized that this book is not for the faint at heart. But don’t be dismayed! I adore this book, perhaps more than the fiction version because I believe the importance is more impending for our profession. It’s important to state upfront that ANY blog post review on this book will merely be a cursory skimming of the 298 pages. This one included. It is not a book that can or should be digested in one sitting.
In other words, it’s that good.
So, before I even begin, here is my take away for you. Treat yourself by grabbing a copy of this book yourself and read it. Slowly. I challenge you to read this book over a series of weeks. Ten to twenty minutes a day. It just doesn’t feel right covering much more because of the depth and importance contained within.
And think about this important nugget for just a second. How many books, articles, and PD have you received that give you an approach on how to read fiction deeply? Countless. Now think about nonfiction. Does your brain tend to think of nonfiction text features and facts? If so, there is so much more to dig into! This starts off with the mere definition of what nonfiction is (within the first twenty pages). I don’t want to give this away but if you are using the age-old “not false” or even “informational” be prepared to have a few aha moments while reading.
Of course, it wouldn’t be right to at least cover a few key ideas to gnaw on. Cursory level, mind you.

For those that are familiar with the first book, this book is clearly divided into four sections: Issues to Consider, The Importance of Stance, The Power of Signposts, and The Role of Strategies. Fitting right in with the nonfiction, 21st century approach, you will find QR codes in each section to watch the lesson concepts in action. Each section also includes the research, student examples, and common questions.  
Speaking of questions
Students are asked to read nonfiction text with three questions in mind:
§  What surprised me?
§  What did the author think I already knew?
§  What changed, challenged, or confirmed what I already knew?

These questions require you to disseminate important from interesting facts as well as questioning sources.
My inclination was to immediately go for the nonfiction signpost section when I got my hands on the book. I adored the signpost examples provided in the first fiction edition and copied them exactly as shown in the book for my students. This version does not disappoint, but it really is just one of the four sections compared to being the section for me in the fiction book. There are five signposts described by the authors:
§  Contrasts and Contradictions – when the author presents something that contrasts or contradicts what the reader is likely to know, think or have experienced, or shows a difference between two or more situations, events or perspectives
§  Extreme or Absolute Language – author uses language that leaves no doubt about a situation or event that exaggerates or overstates a case
§  Numbers and Stats – author uses number or words that show amounts or statistical information to show comparisons in order to prove a point or help create an image
§  Quoted Words – author quotes others, directly, with what we call a Voice of Authority or Personal Perspective, or citing Others’ Words
§  Word Gaps – author uses words or phrases students recognize they don’t know

You can download an overview of the four sections from Heinemann, which I found very helpful:
Launching It in Your Classroom
The authors include a five day cycle of lessons, which I have NOT tried in my classroom YET. First off, I am now a first grade teacher and need to adjust it to fit with instruction in my classroom.* Secondly, I am also taking my own advice and going back to digest it all. This includes creating posters for questioning, signposts, bookmarks, and watching all the videos.
Which means, I am here for any questions you have as we both read through the book together. Share your thoughts, successes, or suggestions!
One more resource you might want to check along with the book are the Notice and Note student bookmarks which include both the fiction and nonfiction signposts.

Angela Bunyi is a first grade teacher at the Discovery School in Murfreesboro, TN.  She enjoys bursts of healthy eating and working out, reading in her sunroom, and petting her cat, Mochi.  #shemightbeacrazycatlady 

*Beers and Probst state, “By 2016, every student in school will have been born in the 21st century. They will have grown up with the world at their fingertips.”