Critical Literacy

Building Character, Kindness, and Empathy in Readers

Zoolander, Centre for Ants

Is literacy a human right?

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Anchor Texts

Notice and Note

"Just as rigor does not reside in the barbell but in the act of lifting it, rigor in reading is not an attribute of a text but rather of a reader’s behavior—engaged, observant, responsive, questioning, analytical. The close reading strategies in Notice and Note will help you cultivate those critical reading habits that will make your students more attentive, thoughtful, independent readers."
—Kylene Beers and Robert E. Probst

In Notice and Note Kylene Beers and Bob Probst introduce 6 “signposts” that alert readers to significant moments in a work of literature and encourage students to read closely. Learning first to spot these signposts and then to question them, enables readers to explore the text, any text, finding evidence to support their interpretations. In short, these close reading strategies will help your students to notice and note.

In this practical guide Kylene and Bob:

  • examine the new emphasis on text-dependent questions, rigor, text complexity, and what it means to be literate in the 21st century
  • identify 6 signposts that help readers understand and respond to character development, conflict, point of view, and theme
  • provide 6 text-dependent anchor questions that help readers take note and read more closely
  • offer 6 Notice and Note model lessons, including text selections and teaching tools, that help you introduce each signpost to your students.

Notice and Note will help create attentive readers who look closely at a text, interpret it responsibly, and reflect on what it means in their lives. It should help them become the responsive, rigorous, independent readers we not only want students to be but know our democracy demands.

Talk About Understanding

Reading education pioneer Ellin Oliver Keene demystifies comprehension instruction by describingwhat it can look like when readers comprehend deeply and what it can look like when teachers aim for this deep comprehension. This ground-breaking book is illustrated with video footage of Ellin modeling the reading instruction she describes. Here, you can watch Ellin use language and teaching moves that help students go beyond superficial reading comprehension to lasting understanding.

Talk About Understanding offers:

  • “Outcomes of Understanding” Markers—descriptions of the behaviors present when children understand a text deeply including ways to assess with and teach toward these outcomes.
  • “Talk About Understanding” Principles—suggestions to modify teaching language and teaching interactions to deepen children’s ability to comprehend.
  • “From the Inside” Video Segments—classroom footage of Ellin teaching lessons that illustrate use of the “Outcomes of Understanding” markers and “Talk About Understanding” principles from the book.

Do your students understand their reading as deeply as they need to? Talk About Understandinghas the guiding principles, the teaching suggestions, the carefully described outcomes, and the video support to help you teach your students how to comprehend, thoroughly and eagerly, the varied and complicated texts in the world around us.

Bridging Close Reading and Critical Literature

In this unit students will utilize a close reading strategy known as signposts. While reading the texts presented below, students will be stopping to notice and note. The discussion will be centered around the signposts students find. As students notice the development of characters and realizations of themselves they will be led to a deeper understanding of the world around them giving them a global perspective. Furthermore, students will realize that literacy is one of the most valued treasures.

Evaluation Criteria

  • Is a passion for literacy demonstrated in the text?
  • Can a reader empathize with the characters?
  • Are signpost prevalent in the text?
  • What does this text say about reading?
  • Does this text allow for readers to gain a global perspective?

Literature Selection