Saturday, October 13, 2018


Here's something I've recently started using in my classroom, with excellent results. It's from Kylene Beers' book Notice and Note: Strategies for Close Reading, written with Robert E. Probst. But honestly, I haven't even read the book yet, though it's on my wish list. A while back I joined a Facebook group of teachers who were using the book to teach reading. I read their posts and learned about the Signposts, six elements of plot. There's nothing new about these, but they are so clearly and simply explained in the materials. Here they are:

The teachers on the Facebook group, being teachers, are full of creative ways to teach these Signposts, using short stories and videos and exercises. But all I did was to take a few minutes to introduce each one in class one week (one each day Monday through Thursday, and two on Friday). We had just finished our first read-aloud in each class, and so I used that book to give four or five examples of the Signpost I was discussing, and then asked the students to add some. In each class, kids were able to come up with some immediately.

Next, I started bringing up the Signposts with everything we read together. Sometimes when I had a few minutes left at the end of class I would ask, "Which Signposts have you seen so far in this book?" I started asking open-ended questions on quizzes about the Signposts. Right from the beginning, the kids came up with examples I hadn't even thought of.

I have the six Signposts on the wall in my classroom, and I refer to them all the time. They are easy to understand and they facilitate discussion. Since all they are is elements of plot, they work with picture books, novels, plays - even narrative poetry. They are a great addition to my toolbox, and I'm looking forward to reading the book and learning more about how to use them.

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